My certificate has arrived!!!

Almost two years ago to the day, we moved into Narcoleptic Dave’s place on a temporary basis, having instructed the Methodical Builder to construct an extension to the cottage.

The whole project went extremely smoothly (apart from the stairs collapsing under the LTLP, her getting electrocuted by the sink, the window being forgotten by the bricklayer, CORGI wishing to prosecute the gas installer etc.) and only took a little bit longer than promised, so I can have no complaints. And finally, it has arrived in the post: my building regulations certificate!!!

The two final things that I was ordered to do in order to comply were as follows:

  • Change the hinges on the upstairs windows. The hinges did not open wide enough. It is important that your upstairs windows open very very wide, so that if there is a fire you can flee via the medium of leap;
  • Put bars across the upstairs windows. Because the windows are very low due to short people in the eighteenth century, it is important that you put bars across your upstairs windows in order to prevent people from falling out.

Being quite safety-conscious I was happy to go along with this. I would hate to fall out of a window and/or be burnt to death (or even a bit). Obviously there are a couple of practicalities that I am mulling over, however. I cannot work out whether it would be better to leave the bars there but position a screwdriver on each windowsill, so that as the toxic smoke starts creeping under the door one can frantically start unscrewing the relevant bar, hopefully achieving this before death occurs.

Or would it be better to remove the bars, but keep them handy, so that if I trip up and find myself sailing towards an open window I am able to grab one with a spare hand and very very very quickly screw it into place to prevent defenestration?

It is an impossible dilemma. I might have to email RoSPA for some guidelines. Meanwhile the Toddler uses the bars to swing herself up onto the windowsill.

43 Comments

  1. first!!!!!!!!!!1can’t comment-haven’t read it yet-too exited

  2. besides,i’m at work so it would be dishonest

  3. Is Short Tony from the 18th century?

  4. ooo ooo, I know, put the bars on hinges too, to open inwards in the case of urgent leaping being required.

  5. JonnyB needs to change his root time on the blog methinks! Or perhaps he could get the Corgi to do it. Or the window-forgetting bricklayer…

  6. Hmmm. You are right. It is wrong by an hour.

    The hinged bar thing is an excellent idea. I might try it. Or little portcullises.

  7. I think having the bars there is an excellent idea. Not only will it save you a walk, but you’ll have a choice of places to drink.

    What?

  8. I’m not sure that keeping the screwdriver on the windowsill is a good idea as it may go missing at a vital moment. I know this as we need a screwdriver jammed in the on-off switch to make our washing machine work. It is never where it is meant to be, so we often have to use a teaspoon instead. You don’t want to be looking for a teaspoon when your pyjamas are on fire.

    So what you need next to the window is a little wall-mounted case with a glass front. Put the screwdriver in here (check it is the right type – it would be annoying to burn to death because you needed a Phillips instead of a normal one), and put a sign next to it that reads “In case of emergency, break glass”.

    Then all you need to do is find somewhere to keep the hammer.

  9. Ooh, that reminds me. Thank you.

    Glad to hear you’ve been certified.

  10. the baby is now a toddler – how long have i been sat here reading this screen??

    just bar half of it up – everybody’s happy

    chin chin

  11. Seeing as you’re in a period style cottage surely your means of escape should reflect this?

    They use a small file in black and white films..

    ..Or a rope attached to a galloping horse..

  12. defenestration … love it!

  13. Shouldn’t worry, Jonny. It’s not like you have to rely entirely on your own feeble resources. In case of emergency, I’m sure the LTLP will take immediate practical steps to ensure the safety of those she cares about.

    Once she’s safely outside with Servalan and the cat and the shoebox full of title deeds and birth certificates and the pot plant from the kitchen, she’ll shout helpful advice up at you from the garden below. Like, “Stop wasting time on your own worthless hide and start feeding the duvet between the bars. It was a present from my mother.”

  14. Why not build some flying buttresses next to the window area as well? Then, once you have managed to find the key to unlock the hinged bars and then open the stubborn windows, which the hinges of are hopelessly welded with the rust of Norfolk’s damp breezes, you can at least hope to look fairly smart and forward-thinking as you gently clamber down the buttress and alight onto the poorly laid sod and break your ankle stepping over the fire hoses.

  15. i too have a phobia of being burned alive!

    The tactic i follow to avoid being burned is to try hard not set my flat on fire. That is a much better way to prevent burning rather than putting bars on the window.

  16. As no-one else has said it, and never being one to avoid the obvious, may I just say: it’s Health and Safety gone mad.

  17. Further to my previous comment, I am now wondering how best to fix the little glass-fronted case to the wall when the screwdriver would already be inside it.

  18. NAGA - Life Coach To The Stars

    Fix bars to all household members.

    That ought to do it.

  19. I would have thought installation of an automatic sprinkler system would satisfy the authorities – be extra careful when cooking sausages etc though, it would be unfortunate to soak the duvet unnecessarily if it’s a present from your mother in law.

  20. This is something my work has dealt with recently. We managed to get building control to agree that floor level windows could be normally locked (so not needing bars) with the keys kept in a known place (should rapid egress be required). We had rooflights as well though for ventilation. And it was a Scottish Council we were dealing with. So it may not work for your windows…

  21. Egress?!? Isn’t that some sort of small bird of prey…?!?

  22. It’s a female Egret, Jonny. Hardly a bird of prey, but they are pretty rapid all the same. I think you’re getting them mixed up with the rare and endangered Japanese Eagle, which is of course a bird of quite another feather…

  23. You see, the window-forgetting bricklayer was just trying to keep you safe. He had your best interests at heart all along.

    I think the best way to prevent any of your household from falling out of the windows is to make sure they are larger than the available aperture. For yourself and the LTLP a simple diet of curry and pies will suffice, but you might have to bolt some large items to Servalan, the cat, the mice etc.

  24. I am rather disappointed to see that nobody has gone for the rather obvious “I always knew you were certifiable, JonnyB”

    So I won’t either.

  25. The easy way round it of course is to lower the upstairs floors. Yes, that should do it.

  26. But then the sill may be too high to get a leg over…

  27. How about bars that work like a gate? Oh, I think someone suggested that…bars with hinges. Of course, when the toddler discovers what fun it is to open / close…but then, you can always put a bolt on the outside that the toddler can’t reach.

    By the way, what happened to the fancy ladder you bought some time ago?

  28. Get the bars, forget the hinges and make yourself a proper fire excape with a door and those open-plan outdoor steps that you can use to swing from while chasing the burgler, maffia, or other local hoods …… just like they do in the movies.

  29. I am laughing more than ever before, at the way this preposterous situation has inspired you and your commentators in ever-increasing wit!

    For connoisseurs of ridiculous building stories, see the writings of Joanne Black here…

    http://www.listener.co.nz/issue/3504/columnists/9183/sods_law.html

    http://www.listener.co.nz/issue/3505/columnists/9233/consents_and_sensibility.html

    There are more updates to this saga on this website for those who can bear to look.

  30. Ooh Jonny your life is full of dilemmas.
    Another one to ponder over just as you had decided to give up drinking!
    Life just isn’t fair!!

  31. Can you put a big hinge on your roof then you can just lift it up and jump out in the event of a heat based incident at Chez Jonny

  32. I am surprised that you have not been required to position a child’s trampoline beneath each of the barred windows in order to provide a soft landing if the firemen haven’t turned up with their trampoline thingy.

  33. Hullo Sewmouse and Gingerbollox and welcome.

    There are some ingenious suggestions here. Has this journal suddenly become popular with architects?!? Perhaps somebody has linked from the Architects Journal website. Anyway, there are enough good ideas to, I suggest, change the whole approach to house building in the future.

  34. How about raising the whole of the outside ground level up to the window, thus making your ground floor a basement. Not sure of regs for basements though….

  35. NAGA - Life Coach To The Stars

    I am now in full possession of the patent for my ‘bars’ idea.

    Could you recommend a good local welder, trained in plastic surgery?

  36. I had 3 days off work.(Note the past tense there)…
    Three precious days in which I planned to do things. To get stuff done.
    I searched the web for some information (I can’t even remember what it was now), but it was supposed to assist with my ‘doing stuff’.
    In my search I stumbled, I know not how, upon your site Mr B, and began reading.

    I read, and read and read some more…
    Now three days later, having survived on 32 cups of tea, a packet of fruit shortcake, 2 currant buns,3 Ripples and a carrot, I am fully up to date. I am indeed the Archive Queen!!
    My joy knows no bounds, though my bins are not empty, my cupboards are bare and I have not ‘done stuff’…..I have laughed, and laughed, and jolly well GUFFAWED at times.

    I thankyou, and all your contributing chums. *smiles genially*

  37. As for the bar problem.

    May I suggest fitting sturdy black rubber bars ?

    Most fitting for both disaster scenarios I feel….

    Fire- Prize apart and squeeze yourself, and all that is dearest to you, through the gap. Rather like a rebirthing, or doing a poo poo ( as you might say).

    Unexpected trips and falls.- You’d just bounce! …Without injury or need for an A/E visit.
    Bonus-Could become a new bedroom sport…
    ‘Come on LTLP let’s bounce!’ he cries excitedly.
    LTLP, impressed by his forthright demands, seductively drapes herself across the duvet.
    Her eyes widen as he throws himself full force at the window. ‘You could have just said if you thought my bum had gotten big’ she mutters…..!!
    He ‘BOINGGGGGGGS’ back, landing squarely on unsuspecting,and slightly dejected LTLP.

    Hmmmm….okay, there is the teeny weeny possibility of an A/E visit.

  38. Hullo Wan2BukleMaShu and welcome, and thank you for your kind words, and congratulations on winning the ‘most ludicrous moniker of the month’ award against stiff competition.

    Watch out though – those carrots can be bad for you.

  39. Of course these are standard building regs and your arechitect and builder should have picked this up.

    You need the windown to be sucured to a height of 900mm (don’t quote me) over that you need escape windows that open to 90 deg.

    Simply fit the bars (verticle only so the baby can’t climb out) to 900mm and they you’re done.

    Of course what you do after the regs are signed off is up to you…

  40. Are we nearly there?

  41. Raise the ground up outside your house. When it snowed you could sledge from your bedroom to the garden.

    Your lounge would be quite dark though.

  42. I would advise you to respond very carefully to this test. I’m fairly certain that’s what it is: a test. They probably want to see how good you are with logistics. Something like that. Once you’ve figured out the answer, you’ll slap yourself across the head and wonder how come you hadn’t thought of it sooner. I’m fairly certain the correct answer can only be arrived at after the consumption of many many, many pints of beer.

    On the other hand, it’s very possible that whoever sent you this letter is a bloody moron. But I wouldn’t take chances if I were you. Think. It. Through. Carefully.

  43. Hullo Inky Thinker and welcome. Sorry – one of your comments got stuck in spam and then it got duplicated and…

    You’ve sorted it out. Good.

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