Many buildings in the UK have at least one room that doesn’t have a window. You may be tempted to rent out this room as an extra bedroom or include it when counting the bedrooms in the house to increase value upon sale. However, while it can technically serve as a sleeping place, such a room wouldn’t qualify as a bedroom as per the UK building regulations. In fact, marketing such rooms to lodgers as bedrooms is against the law and can get you into trouble. Without a window, you should label these rooms as studios, playrooms, or home offices.
All bedrooms in the UK must have a window that complies with the specified building regulations. In this article we look at building regulations for windows in bedrooms.
Does a Bedroom Need to Have a Window Building Regulation?
When altering or improving your home, it is important to ensure that you are complying with the current building regulations. The UK government made it mandatory for builders to include windows in the bedrooms as they help to provide safety to the occupants of the rooms.
Window makes it possible for occupants to exit the room in case of a fire. If the room is too high from the ground for you to jump, a window makes the room more easily accessible to firefighters. The window would also serve as a smoke ventilator and will help to keep you safe as the rescue team arrives. For ventilation, the law also requires homeowners to include extractor fans and background ventilators or mechanical supply ventilation.
In the UK, dwellings are must be energy efficient. One way of achieving this is by taking steps to lower the amount of heat that is lost through the windows and doors. When installing windows and doors, it is essential that you keep to the requirements of the Building Regulations.
According to Approved Document L1B, windows, roof windows, and roof lights should achieve a U-value of 1.6W/m2k. They should also have an energy rating of C or better.
Do You Need to Have an Opening Window in a Bedroom?
According to UK laws, bedrooms need to have background ventilators, mechanical supply ventilators, extract fans, and emergency escapes. While you don’t necessarily have to have openable windows, most people prefer them because they solve the need for an emergency escape, as well as the need for ventilation. The window should have an opening space of no less than 0.33 square metres. The width and height of the window should be at least 450 mm.
It is possible to create a bedroom in your basement, but this can create challenges with opening windows as there may be no exterior walls in such spaces. With this in mind, many simply install egress windows that open to the outside of the property. These windows should be 55 cm to 110 cm from the floor and must have at least 5.7 square feet for the opening. The window must also be at least 60 cm high and 50 cm wide. If the opening of the window is less than 4% of the room’s floor area, you will need to include adequate ventilation ducting.
Basement bedrooms don’t get much natural light and they will undoubtably be darker than regular bedrooms. You will therefore need to make sure you meet the minimum lighting requirements specified by the government.
Does a Bedroom Have to Have a Window by Law in the UK?
If you are planning to live in the house and don’t intend to sell or rent it out, you can use your bedroom without a window. While this will pose a safety issue, you will not get into any legal trouble for using this windowless room as a bedroom. If and when you plan to rent or sell the house, you will however have to either install a bedroom window or market the room as a studio or office space.
Does Each Bedroom Need to Have a Fire Escape Window?
To meet current building regulations in the UK, all habitable rooms need to have a means of escape in case of emergencies. Rooms on the ground floor must have a fire escape window or door. Alternatively, they should have direct access to the hallway that leads to the fire escape. If the bedroom is on the first floor at a maximum height of 4.5 metres, you will have to install a fire escape window. Rooms on the second floor will need to have a fire-protected staircase, in addition to the window.
Windows that are specifically meant to be used as fire escapes must have an unobstructed opening of at least 0.33 square metres. The minimum opening width should be 450 mm and the minimum opening height should be at least 450 mm. The lowest part of the opening should be 800 mm to 1100 mm from the floor. If necessary, you can install a step to meet this condition.
How to Make the Most Out of Rooms without Windows
To make the most out of windowless rooms, you will first need to ensure that they are comfortable and inviting. You should try to give the impression of natural light entering the room. To do this, choose a light colour for your walls, such as white, cream, and pastels. In addition to making the room brighter, these colours will create an illusion of greater space. Another tip is to add a large mirror. This will reflect the room to create a sense of more space and will also imitate the impact of a window.
You can also promote the reflection of light by choosing furniture and homeware that have metallic frames or accents. For example, you can pick side tables with gold or silver legs. It is also essential to add ambient lighting to the room, as this will help to make the space feel cozier.
Don’t forget to make sure that the room is properly ventilated, and extractor fans can do the job perfectly. Without them, the space may feel stuffy and dusty. Adding indoor plants can also improve the air quality in the room. At a minimum, such plants will serve as a visual reminder of the world outside, and this is important in rooms that don’t have windows.
Regardless of the improvements you make to such rooms, you will not be able to market them as bedrooms until you add a window. You can instead convert them into home offices, home gyms, playrooms, or studios. Presenting such rooms in the best possible way can make it easier to sell the property or rent the house out.
Building regulations in the UK require all bedrooms to have windows. These are primarily meant to lower the risk of injury in case of a fire. They serve as ventilation for the room and also help to provide emergency exits. While the government can’t stop you from using windowless bedrooms, you will get into legal hot water if you rent the room to lodgers or tenants as a bedroom. When selling or renting out the house, you can market any windowless rooms as studios, playrooms, home gyms, or even home offices.