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Is my existing Mezzanine floor fire rated?

Is my existing Mezzanine Floor Fire rated? We come across this question quite a bit, and to the untrained eye it can be difficult to tell. Only an expert like Cre8tive Interiors can really delve into the detail. What should happen of course, is once a mezzanine floor has been installed, the company installing must provide a Building Regulation approval document to demonstrate the structure has been inspected, from initial design through to construction. The design of the floor depends on the function required and the areas involved.

Office or Storage?

Small floors that are purely used for storage, dependant on the floor area and means of escape may not need fire protection. If the design has been checked prior to construction, there are certain things like the composition of the floor slab, that need to be considered in the initial design. Depending on the height of the floor, the spans of the beams and what the floor is going to be used for depends on the amount of loading that travels down the pillars. Often assumption have to be made, and the bottom of the posts can have large floor plates in order to spread the loading onto the base floor that the mezzanine structure is going to sit on. So it is not usually an issue.

Fire Protection

Another consideration if whether offices, or people are going to be working on the raised floor area. If offices are built, then there is an extra level of fire protection needed, which is usually where suppliers fall down. Many ceiling fitters for example, will just fix a cheap basic ceiling and no-one will know the difference. However ceiling tiles and grid may not necessarily be fire rated, so in effect you do not have any fire protection for the underside of the floor. You may think so what? As mentioned in our previous posts, the problem with a steel floor is that in the event of a fire, the whole structure bends and softens. The steel will not melt, but the steel beams are stressed formed, rolled sections, so the heat anneals the steel releasing the stresses that are creating in formation of the shapes, so in effect go soft. What happens is that the whole structure twiists and if people are working on it, they have no chance of getting out, and this softening can happen really quickly.

Getting back to the main question, well how do you know? Most people will not. Fore example you be provided a test certificate on a ceiling tile, which may say it has been tested for 60 minutes, and you may get another test report for a different grid also showing 60 minutes, but unless they have been tested together, and in the situation needed, so under a steel mezzanine. then the certification is useless.

Suspended Ceilings - are they important?

On a new mezzanine floor the supplier should provide a test report for the tile and grid, tested to 60 minutes if office are required above, under a steel mezzanine floor. To our knowledge so far there are only a couple of combinations that comply. Just looking at the grid and tile to see is pretty hard if there is no identification on it, however various website are available online to look at the profiles and sections of ceiling grid in order to determine this. The same with the tile, you can look online, and then if you do not have the certification you can contact the support desks from the major suppliers of components.

Unfortunately the distributors of tile and grid still get it wrong, only this week we contacted a supplier, and they gave us the wrong information. Only the manufactures can supply the correct details.

As well as the suspended ceiling, there are other aspects to look at as well. The floor loading, edge protections, escape routes and protection of office / warehouse all have rules. Other things that need to be considered include heating and ventilation, all legal requirements with Building Regulations.

Other links and articles about Mezzanine Floors

Other articles or blog posts can be seen here, as well looking at the projects that we have carried out on the main project page.

  1. Mezzanine floor protection.
  2. Why do I need Building Regulations
  3. Can I alter my existing Mezzanine Floor?
  4. How do I create more office space?

If you would like to have a look at some of our projects, please click the link to take you to the mezzanine floor page on this website. Below the main text will be some filtered projects with photographs of building.

Need to know more? Please contact us on 01380 7388 44 or email us at [email protected]

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News

Mezzanine Floor Fire Protection

Mezzanine floor fire protection is the most important task to determine correctly when considering a mezzanine floor, old or new. When a new mezzanine floor is installed by us we always liaise with Building Control to ensure that the correct level of fire protection is carried out on the steel structure. You may think that steel is pretty strong which it is, but in a fire the steel will tend to twist and deform at not very high temperatures and there are several reasons for this.

The effects of fire on a steel mezzanine floor structure

The steel sections that are used in the construction are in themselves very strong but will have been formed from flat sheet steel and either rolled or welded to form the sizes required. Heat on steel anneals or softens the steel which wants to convert to its pre-stressed state. The effect of this is that the whole floor structure twists and due to the weight of the floor, what is on the floor and the steel the whole lot can come crashing down quickly.

All of our steel structures are calculated, and often have triangulation steels in the corners of the floor to prevent twisting in just loading conditions, so the design needs to be calculated properly.

Mezzanine floor fire protection – Suspended Ceilings

Contrary to popular belief and pure incompetence by many of our competitors there are actually very few suspended ceiling types that are fully tested with a specific suspended ceiling tile to give the 1 hour fire protection required by Building Regulations. Some mezzanine floors which are small in proportion to a building and maybe are just used for occasional light storage may not actually require any protection as there is actually no perceived danger to employees and staff. 99% of floors will need mezzanine floor fire protection.

There are a few advantages of using a suspended ceiling over a plasterboard one, the main one is you can hide the services inside it. It is also a finished product without the need for skimming or painting. It can also provide sound performance preventing noise from the ground floor going through the floor. It is also quick to install.

We visit many installations carried out by others where the cheapest ceiling tile has been used, and the cheapest grid, and there is absolutely no way that the suspended ceiling is fire rated and we have to advise the customer of this fact.

Mezzanine floor fire protection other items.

There are many other things that need to be considered but that is perhaps for another article, if you are in any doubt please give us a call and we can check.

What else needs to be done to a Mezzanine Floor once built?

Cre8tive Interiors can carry out all of the work required so that the client can just use the space straight away. This will include the following:

  1. Initial design and layouts for the new space along with costs
  2. Building Regulation Approval
  3. Planning for the work to be done, understanding what needs to be carried out prior to the install date.
  4. Supply and Installation of the mezzanine floor, including relevant fire protection
  5. Electrical work
  6. Partitioning and suspended ceiling work
  7. All lighting, emergency lighting, air conditioning and ventilation
  8. Construction of any toilet areas, canteen or warehouse areas
  9. All types of flooring and decoration.
  10. Office furniture if the extension is for offices.

What Mezzanine floor projects has Cre8tive carried out?

  1. Mezzanine floor in Devizes (light storage)
  2. Fire rating of a Mezzanine Floor in Warminster for Offices
  3. Fire rating of a Mezzanine Floor in Milton Keynes for Offices
  4. Converting / Fire rating an existing storage mezzanine in Corsham for use into Offices
  5. Installation of a new mezzanine floor into an existing warehouse to create offices in Gloucester
  6. Installation of a new mezzanine floor to extend existing offices at first floor level and below in Salisbury
  7. Construction of Fire rated partitions on top of an existing mezzanine floor to meet Building Regulation in Corsham
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News

Why have Building Regulations for my offices?

Building Regulations are a legal requirement enforceable by Law. The building regulations are designed so that occupants of a building are safe in the event of a problem or issue. The chances of anything happening are of course pretty remote but they do happen, and when problems happen people can get hurt. The Regulations have not been designed as a set of rules that prevent people from doing what they want do and to be as obstructive as possible, there are very good reasons for them.

They are designed to protect staff within buildings from unscrupulous owners of buildings or directors who do not care, or do not know that they need to comply with the law. We focus on offices, and there are many Building Regulations that relate to all kinds of properties, but offices is our speciality. Building Regulations for offices are not too onerous, and the main thrust of them covers fire protection and access routes for staff to get out of a burning building as safely and as quickly as possible. Associated with this is that it is a mandatory requirements that all commercial premises must have a fire risk assessment carried out every five years, we can organise this if the customer does not have one in place.

Non Compliance to Building Regulations

We come across many offices that have not had any consideration to the Law, offices have been built in the wrong place with no fire rating when they should be and this may be for a number of reasons, it could be that the Interiors company installing the partitioning did not understand the regulations and the customer has instructed the company to install the partitions in on price. Unfortunately it will be the directors of the company who will be in trouble if people can’t get out quickly enough or can’t get out of a building because they employed a fit out contractor that did not give them the right advice, people die and Directors go to jail. Ignorance is no defence in the eyes of the law and it is incumbent on the directors to understand their legal obligations to their staff.

Mezzanine Floors

We have covered Mezzanine Floors in a few places, but this is one of the improvements that people do in offices that is fraught with risk if it is not built properly. If you take on a new space with the floor in place, it may not comply depending on what you are using the floor for. Although you can plead ignorance if you have not determine the proper levels of fire protection, and in the very unlikely event something happens then the Directors are in trouble.

General Advice

We offer a service where we can provide a report which highlights areas that need to be looked at. It will not go into formal detail such as quoting for any work, or actually producing plans and drawings to get Building Regulation approval, it is designed to be before this stage is initiated as it may not be required. The report is designed for Directors to at least highlight areas that should be looked at prior to any work being commissioned as many Directors and owners of buildings do not know that things need to be considered in the first place.

Please give us a call on 01380 73 88 44 to see how we can help

Fire damaged office

Fire damaged office

Categories
Mezzanine Floors News

Can I Alter my Existing Mezzanine Floor?

The short answer is yes, but you will need to take some specialist advice from someone like Cre8tive Interiors. The above photo shows a problem mezzanine that is none compliant with Building Regulations. Hence the question Can I alter my Existing Mezzanine Floor?

Just give us a call or email. The main question that we will ask is what is the purpose of extending, for example offices or storage. We will need to assess the existing structure to ensure that anything we do to it in terms of changing it will comply with current Building Regulations.

My existing Structure was built a few years ago, will it still comply?

The regulations have not really changed over the years as the main aim of the Building Regulations for Mezzanine Floors is to ensure that the floor is adequately fire protected for people that may be under them or on top of the floor. If the existing structure has no fire protection and the upstairs is used as offices, the fact that it was built a few years ago does not mean that people will be safe in a fire, so our advice is for us to examine the overall layout of any alteration, including the existing structure, to ensure that people can exit the building safely.

We will look at exit routes as well as look at fire protection for the overall situation with the extension.

We regularly see structures which have been built by general builders and there are no design calculations to determine what weight can be put on the floor and no evidence that the floor has been submitted for Building Regulation Approval. I am sure in some cases that the structure will be strong enough but often there is no approval to say it is ok. The problem with this is that the owner of the building probably has never been aware that the structure is not safe, and of course to fire protect it will cost money. If nothing is done, there is a high chance that there will never be a problem, but there is a very slim chance that if there is a fire in the building and the owner has not taken adequate steps to look after the safety of the tenant or staff then the owner of the building is in big trouble.

My existing Structure was built by a Builder and is not a designed Structure. What can I do?

Always pretty difficult, and the easiest answer is if you are not sure, strip it out and Cre8tive Interiors can put in a properly designed and calculated structural mezzanine floor that will meet Building Regulation approval. Often it will be cheaper. The above photo shows a problematic structure. The main cross beam as well as not being fire rated just sits on the pillar that supports the outside frame of the building. The building is a portal frame construction and so will have been designed to be a free standing structure without having a massive great steel sitting on one of the pillars taking lots of weight.

We can get around this problem though. If you are unsure about your existing mezzanine floor structure please give us a call.

What else needs to be done to a Mezzanine Floor once built?

Cre8tive Interiors can carry out all of the work required so that the client can just use the space straight away. This will include the following:

  1. Initial design and layouts for the new space along with costs
  2. Building Regulation Approval
  3. Planning for the work to be done, understanding what needs to be carried out prior to the install date.
  4. Supply and Installation of the mezzanine floor, including relevant fire protection
  5. Electrical work
  6. Partitioning and suspended ceiling work
  7. All lighting, emergency lighting, air conditioning and ventilation
  8. Construction of any toilet areas, canteen or warehouse areas
  9. All types of flooring and decoration.
  10. Office furniture if the extension is for offices.

Can I alter my existing mezzanine floor?

What Mezzanine floor projects has Cre8tive carried out?

Categories
All Project Categories Mezzanine Floors

Mezzanine Floor installation

Client: Henrich Hardware
Value: £6k

A lightweight steel mezzanine floor installation is often the cheapest way to provide additional storage space in a warehouse where you can use the height of the building to create the additional space. The customer in this case had an existing mezzanine floor installation which covered half the industrial unit. This design is not uncommon, and usually the existing mezzanine floor has been built as part of the integral structure of the framework of the unit. You cannot simply bolt on to the existing structure without effecting the loadings and stress designed into the original building so the easiest way to do this is to build an independent structure which is fully designed properly that can slot in the hole that needs to be filled. This is the type of floor we fit, in effect you could pick it up and build it in a carpark and it would be fully stressed and supported.

Building Regulations

There are also other important factors that must be considered when designing a floor and we bring this expertise in our advice of what can and cannot be done. The floor must be submitted for Building Regulation Approval which we do, and this is a legal requirement by law. Steel behaves in strange ways when it gets hot, before melting the steel can twist and as the floor is a fully stressed structure it can collapse and so there are all kinds of rules relating to travel distances and fire protection that must be adhered to.

There is more information about Building Regulations here.

Existing open space.

The primary requirement was to increase the stock storage space. The central staircase would remain, and the new independent floor would sit the other side of the staircase. Access onto the floor would be from the top of the existing staircase. If you look at the photographs the customer had the height of the unit, but not the floor space. So adding a mezzanine floor allows you to increase the floor space and maximize the height of the unit. We had a few issues to sort out as the existing light fittings had to be shortened. We also had to fit some new lights underneath the floor for obvious reasons.

Consideration also had to be taken to make sure there was enough space for the security grills at the front of the building did not interfere with the new floor.

Building the Mezzanine Floor.

As you can see from the photographs below, it is essential a fork lift is used. It allows the main beams to be lifted to the height required fully supported whilst the upright support posts are installed. We also use the forklift to lift up the 38mm thick particle board onto the floor which saves time. Each board panel is then cut to fit and is secured from the underneath of the floor.

Find out more about Mezzanine Floors on our news page.

We have written several articles about Mezzanine Floors, if you click the news / blog tab on the main menu of the website.  Mezzanine Floor installations are also governed by Building Regulations and so approval is needed which we obtained for the client in this project, but every project needs Building Regulation Approval. Sometimes if the floor is small, then fire protection is not required, particularly if the floor is used for storage only. In this project fire protection was not required. However if the customer wants to expand their office space upstairs in the future then the Building Regulation approval would not apply, and the floor would need to be protected as you have people working on the floor and different rules apply. There are also complications with the fire exit as at the moment it empties out into the warehouse. This may have to be enclosed and have direct access outside, so not quite straightforward. If you have any questions about this then please give us a call.

Do you want extra storage space?

Please give us a call and we can help with any aspect of interior office fit out, along with space planning and design work.

01380 73 88 44

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All Project Categories Mezzanine Floors Office Refurbishments Partitioning Suspended Ceilings

Office Expansion in Corsham for Coombe Castle

Client: Coombe Castle
Value: £48k

Office Expansion in Corsham

This project consisted of converting a storage unit in to office space in order to provide some much needed office expansion. The project would involve fire protecting a mezzanine floor as this is required by Building Regulations if you have offices above, steel work and a suspended ceiling.  Ventilation had to be put round a chiller and fire sensors had to be installed within the chiller as it could not be moved to fit the fire protected board. Office windows had to be installed to match the rest of the building.

Upstairs needed a complete office fitting, so a suspended ceiling, dry lining the outer walls, decoration of the outer walls,  some fire rated partitioning to create a fire barrier between the offices and warehouse, as well as demountable partitioning within. Full electrical work including CAT2 lighting, 3 compartment perimeter trunking, flooring and new windows were also required. As always we follow our process, so the first step is to understand what the client wants, and then to assess what they have by taking photographs, and drawing everything.

Existing Space Photographs

It is a bit difficult to see from the photos, but essentially we had several areas to deal with. Underneath the mezzanine and on top of it was the main area, but included absolutely everything we do.

Building Regulations

It is crucial to consider Building Regulations when looking at layouts for offices. In particular fire ratings and Building Regulations which is a legal requirement. This particular project needed offices to be fitted on top of a mezzanine floor and so this is why it had to comply to the law.

If you need more information about Building Regulations, we have written a few things here.

Construction and finished photographs.

Office Expansion?

If you have a problem with your existing office space and need it altering as you are running out of space then Cre8tive can help. Please give us a call on 01380 738844.