Office to residential conversions can be a commercially viable way to meet housing demand by reconfiguring existing buildings as dwellings.
The process may be quite straightforward, especially in modern office buildings with stud walls, which are designed to be removed easily when required.
Changes to planning laws also mean that it's easier than ever to convert formerly commercial premises into residential units, subject to certain limitations.
Base Fire Sprinklers offer a full-service consultancy on fire sprinklers for office to residential conversions, to help you make sure you meet the regulations that apply to residential property.
Our Office To Residential Conversion Projects
I would like to compliment the engineers that we have met on site who have completed the servicing and repair works on the systems....I cannot find one area where I would be unhappy with the service we have received.
Jack Newell, Weaver Vale Housing Trust
Converting Offices to Residential
There are several main elements of office blocks that will need to be adapted or adjusted to make suitable residential premises:
Stud walls can be removed to leave an empty shell to fit out as desired
Electricity and lighting will often need very little change to suit the new use
HVAC and fire safety systems should be fully assessed to meet regulations
It's important to make sure that all utilities and fire safety systems offer sufficient capacity for residential use, especially where office blocks are converted into multiple apartments or other dwellings.
For taller tower blocks, sprinkler systems must be fitted in buildings over 11m tall, while buildings over 18m in height should meet the most stringent Category 4 specifications.
We can help you to determine which category applies to your office to residential conversion, and how many sprinklers you will need to meet the necessary level of protection.
Why Install Fire Sprinklers?
Fire sprinkler systems are one of the most effective ways to protect people and property from fire damage, injury and death.
In the event of a fire, the increase in heat will cause the cover to pop off of concealed sprinkler heads, which will then dispense a water mist over the affected area.
Because each sprinkler head activates independently, the water is dispensed only in the area where it is needed, allowing the system to provide higher pressure to each sprinkler.
This also contains any fire and water damage within the affected area, making repair work faster and less costly in most cases.
Fire sprinklers work as designed in 94% of incidents, with a 99% reliability rate when controlling fires - making them one of the most dependable options for any residential property.
Designing Fire Sprinkler Systems
When converting office premises into residential units, it's important to design fire sprinkler systems that meet the minimum legal requirements and give good coverage to all areas of the dwellings.
Base Fire Sprinklers use cutting-edge CAD software to do this, simulating water flow rates and sprinkler head positions to optimise coverage in your property.
Concealed sprinkler heads offer several benefits for residential developments:
Minimalist design is more aesthetically pleasing for residents
Reduce risk of tampering or accidental damage to sprinkler head
Include printed warning not to paint over or obstruct sprinkler
Once we have determined the number and position of sprinkler heads, we can calculate the pipework needed to supply the water, as well as the ideal water storage tank size.
With our Online Water Tank Size Calculator you can get a fast and free estimate of the tank size you will need for your residential sprinkler system, to give you an upfront idea of your water tank capacity.
Do I Need Planning Permission?
You should always check whether planning permission is needed for your office to residential conversion; however, in many cases you may find that your refurbishment is covered by Permitted Development Rights.
These were introduced in 2013 and, since 2021, the new Class MA allows Class E commercial and business properties to be converted into Class C3 residential premises without planning permission.
Some of the criteria that apply to this include:
No more than 1,500 square metres of floor space converted
Premises in use as Class E property for at least two years
Premises vacant for at least three months
In some cases, although formal planning permission is not needed, it may be necessary to obtain prior approval from the local authority depending on flood risk, local transport links, and considerations of the commercial and residential makeup of the surrounding area.
Choose Base Fire Sprinklers for your Office to Residential Conversion project
If you are planning a commercial to residential conversion and want to know more about the inclusion of fire sprinkler systems in your newly developed homes, contact Base Fire Sprinklers today.
We are happy to offer an initial consultation, and can arrange a full audit of your premises and development plans, to recommend the right number and position of sprinkler heads under the current legislation.