Building standards technical handbook 2019: domestic

The building standards technical handbooks provide guidance on achieving the standards set in the Building (Scotland) Regulations 2004. This handbook applies to a building warrant submitted on or after 1 October 2019 and to building work which does not require a warrant commenced from that date.

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4.6 Electrical fixtures

Mandatory Standard

Standard 4.6

Every building must be designed and constructed in such a way that electric lighting points and socket outlets are provided to ensure the health, safety and convenience of occupants and visitors.


This standard applies only to domestic buildings where a supply of electricity is available.

4.6.0 Introduction

Visual perception increases with the level of light falling on the surface of an object. It is important to avoid hazardous situations that may be created by the nature of the lighting itself including insufficient light sources, glare, gloom and shadows.

During daylight, lighting levels within a building are generally much less than those outdoors. In lobby areas, transitional lighting will assist the eye in adjusting quickly between exterior and interior lighting conditions. Careful design of lighting can also play an important part in emergency situations, to ensure the safe and effective evacuation of people in an emergency.

Section 2 (Fire) includes guidance on escape route lighting and emergency lighting, whilst Section 6 (Energy) covers energy efficient design of lighting.

Aside from the specific issues noted above and in guidance to this standard, general guidance on lighting in buildings remains outwith the scope of the Technical Handbook. There are, however numerous publications offering guidance on use of lighting in buildings for safety and amenity, including those listed below:

  • Code for Lighting – CIBSE (2002)

  • Building Sight - Royal National Institute for the Blind (1995).

The provision of an entryphone system to a communal entrance will enhance both the amenity and the security of occupants within a building.

Today, with ever more electrical appliances being used in homes, an adequate provision of power points reduces the possibility of both overloading of individual sockets, risking fire, and the creation of trip hazards from use of extension cabling.

Conversions - in the case of conversions, as specified in regulation 4, the building as converted shall meet the requirement of this standard (regulation 12, schedule 6).

4.6.1 Lighting

A dwelling should have an electric lighting system providing at least one lighting point to every circulation space, kitchen, bathroom, toilet and other space having a floor area of 2m2 or more.

Any lighting point serving a stair should have controlling switches at, or in the immediate vicinity of, the stair landing on each storey.

4.6.2 Lighting in common areas of domestic buildings

In communal areas and particularly on stairs and ramps within a building, the possibility of slips, trips and falls and of collision with obstacles should be minimised. Lighting conditions play an important part in this.

Common areas should have artificial lighting capable of providing a uniform lighting level, at floor level, of not less than 100 lux on stair flights and landings and 50 lux elsewhere within circulation areas. Lighting should not present sources of glare and should avoid creation of areas of strong shadow that may cause confusion or miss-step. A means of automatic control should be provided to ensure that lighting is operable during the hours of darkness.

4.6.3 Door entry systems

Entry to buildings containing flats or maisonettes is controlled to maintain the security of a private space and to prevent vandalism. Similarly, the principal entrance to a sheltered housing complex may have an access control system for the general security and safety of residents.

A common entrance door, intended as a principal means of access to a building, should have a door entry system installed. This should comprise of a remote door release and intercom at the point of entry and a call unit within each dwelling served by that entrance.

Any unit at a common entrance should be positioned between 900mm and 1.2m above floor level. It should include an inductive coupler compatible with the ‘T’ setting on a personal hearing aid, together with a visual indicator that a call made has been received. Controls should contrast visually with surrounding surfaces and any numeric keypad should follow the 12-button telephone convention, with an embossed locater to the central ‘5’ digit.

4.6.4 Socket outlets

Current lifestyle places a greater demand on electrical installations, with the increase in use of electrical appliances. Connection of multiple appliances into a socket outlet through an adapter can lead to overheating and the risk of fire. Similarly, use of extension leads can create a trip hazard.

To reduce these risks, a dwelling should be provided with at least the following number of 13A socket outlets:

  • 4 within each apartment, and

  • 6 within the kitchen, at least 3 of which should be situated above worktop level in addition to any outlets provided for floor-standing white goods or built-in appliances, and

  • an additional 4 anywhere in the dwelling, including at least 1 within each circulation area on a level or storey.

Sockets may be installed as single or double outlets, to give the recommended number of outlets in each space.

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