Expert Consultancy – Part M Compliance
What is Part M (2010)?
In 2010, the Technical Guidance document Part M ‘Access and Use’ was published. Part M (2010) provides guidance on best building practices for adequate access and use of a building and its environs. Part M (2010) also ensures that buildings are designed to be accessible for people of all ranges of ability.
For a building to be compliant it must meet four key conditions laid out in Part M (M1-4):
- M1 Adequate provision shall be made for people to access and use a building, its facilities and its environs.
- M2 Adequate provision shall be made for people to approach and access an extension to a building.
- M3 If sanitary facilities are provided in a building it must be extended to provide adequate facilities for people with disabilities.
- M4 Part M does not apply to works in connection with extensions and material alterations of existing dwellings, provided that such works do not create a new dwelling.
Part M Compliant Sockets in buildings other than dwellings
Part M Compliant Sockets are an item that the ORS Assigned Certifier team has picked up on frequently. For buildings that are not dwellings, Section 1.5.7 of TGD Part M 2010 outlines the particular compliance requirements for electrical sockets. We have found this item to be a recurring issue on projects involving communal access, where some socket types are not acceptable as they do not adhere to the guidelines laid out in TGD part M 1.5.7.
To achieve compliance in this situation electrical sockets should amongst other things facilitate the following:
- Switched socket-outlets should indicate visually whether they are on or off.
- Switches should be adequately separated to enable the use of one switch at a time – this is to avoid the unintended use of adjacent switches.
- Socket-outlets should be located consistently in relation to doorways and room corners.
- Switches should visually contrast with their backgrounds to facilitate people with vision impairment locating the controls.
- Socket outlets should be located between 400 mm and 1200 mm above the floor, with a preference for the lower end of the range.
It is worth mentioning that the above guidance does not apply to sockets that are deemed to be for permanent use i.e. televisions or fridges. The above guidance indicates that the use of sockets with inboard switches is not always compliant with Part M (2010) and must be appropriate to the building’s use. To comply with Part M outboard switches, visual indicators will need to be incorporated into the makeup of the socket. The figure below shows an example of a Part M compliant socket.
Part M Compliant Socket
This is an important item to pick up at the design stage in order to mitigate programme risk as recording materials to accommodate Part M can be a very time-consuming exercise.
Importance of Part M compliance
Compliance with Part M is particularly important in Ireland due to the shift in demographics toward a larger aging population, therefore access and use must be at the forefront of the design stage on new projects.
The Central Statistics Office (CSO) found there were a total of 643,131 people who stated they had a disability in April 2016, accounting for (13.5%) of the population. This represented an increase of 47,796 persons (8%) on the 2011 figure of 595,335. In 2016, this figure also accounts for people over 64, children under five, and carers which increases the total number of people with some form of disability by approximately twenty percent.
Compliance with Part M of the Building Regulations is essential to ensure that buildings are accessible to people of all abilities. The regulations are laid out to ensure every building provides adequate facilities for all people.