Building standards technical handbook 2020: non-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 March 2021 and to building work which does not require a warrant commenced from that date.

Definitions and explanation of terms used in this document.

The following is a list of terms used in the Technical Handbooks that have a specific meaning. The defined terms which are used in the Building (Scotland) Act 2003 and the building regulations are in inverted commas. All the terms in bold text below are in italics throughout the Technical Handbook.

Access deck means a structure having a surface in the open air suitable for ingress and egress of persons to a building.

Access point means a physical point, located inside or outside the building, accessible to undertakings providing or authorised to provide public communications networks, where connection to the high-speed ready in-building physical infrastructure is made available.

"the Act" means the Building (Scotland) Act 2003.

Agriculture the same meaning as in the Agriculture (Scotland) Act 1948 and “agricultural” shall be construed accordingly.

Alternative exit means an exit from a dwelling which is through a door other than its main entrance door and is available for use at all times.

Apartment means a rooms in a dwelling not used solely as a kitchen, store or utility room.

Appliance compartment means a space constructed or adapted specifically for the housing of a combustion appliance.

Assembly building means any place of assembly, other than an entertainment building, including swimming pool buildings, churches and other places of worship, crematoria, dancing schools, educational establishments, gymnasia, law courts, libraries open to the public, day centres, clinics, health centres and surgeries, passenger stations and termini for air, rail road, or sea travel, public toilets, riding schools, ice rinks, sports pavilions, sports stadia, zoos and menageries, museums and art galleries.

Average flush means the calculated average volume of water discharge by a dual flush cistern based on a ratio of 3 reduced flushes to 1 full flush.

Basement storey means a storey which is below the level of the ground storey.

Boundary means a boundary between land on which the building is situated and land in different occupation, so however that:

  1. in relation to any road , whether public or private, public access way or public right of way, river, stream, canal, loch, pond, common land or a public open space it should be taken to mean the centre line thereof; and

  2. the sea and its foreshore should not be regarded as land in different occupation.

Building means any structure or erection, whether temporary or permanent, other than a structure or erection consisting of, or ancillary to:

  1. any public road (including any bridge on which the road is carried),

  2. any private road,

  3. any sewer or water main which is, or is to be, vested in Scottish Water,

  4. any aerodrome runway,

  5. any railway line,

  6. any large raised reservoir within the meaning of the Reservoirs Act 1975 (c23),

  7. any wires and cables, their supports above ground and other apparatus used for telephonic or telegraphic communication.

Any references to a building include references to a prospective building. Any references to a building, structure or erection include references to a part of the building, structure or erection. In relation to the extension, alteration or conversion of a building, references to a building are to so much of the building as is comprised in the extension or the subject of the alteration or conversion.

Building site means any area of land on which work is, or is to be, carried out.

Building unit in Standard 4.14, means a part of a building which is designed or altered to be used separately.

Carport means a roofed building for vehicle storage which is open on at least two sides except for roof supports.

Cavity barrier means any construction provided to seal a cavity against the penetration of fire and smoke, or to restrict its movement within the cavity.

Chimney means a structure enclosing 1 or more flues, but not a flue pipe, and including any openings for the accommodation of a combustion appliance, but does not include a chimney terminal.

Chimney-stack means that part of a chimney which rises above the roof of the building of which it forms part and includes any cope but not a chimney-can.

Compartment means a part of a building (which may contain one or more rooms, spaces or storey and includes, where relevant, the space above the top storey of the compartment) constructed so as to prevent the spread of fire to or from another part of the same building; and compartmented and compartmentation should be construed accordingly.

Compartment floor means a floor with the fire resistance required to ensure compartmentation.

Compartment wall means a wall with the fire resistance required to ensure compartmentation.

Conservatory means a building attached to a dwelling with a door and any other building elements dividing it thermally from that dwelling and having translucent glazing (including frames) forming not less than either:

  1. 75% of its roof area and 50% of its external wall area or

  2. 95% of its roof area and 35% of its external wall area.

Note – the definition of ‘conservatory’ was amended on 1 May 2007.

Construct includes alter, erect and extend, and “construction” and related expressions are to be construed accordingly.

Construction Products Regulation means the instruction of the European Commission to Member States, numbered 305/2011, to regulate so as to remove technical barriers to trade in construction products within the European Economic Area.

Convert in relation to a building , means to make such change in the occupation or use of the building as specified in schedule 2 to regulation 4, and “conversion” and related expressions are to be construed accordingly.

Covered area means a roofed building which is open on at least two sides except for roof supports.

Curtilage means land area within the same occupation.

Decorative fuel-effect gas appliance means an open-flued appliance designed to simulate a solid fuel open fire primarily for decorative purposes and intended to be installed so that the products of combustion pass unrestricted from the fire bed to the flue.

Different occupation in relation to two adjoining buildings or parts of one building, means occupation of those buildings by different persons.

Disabled people means persons with a physical, hearing or sight impairment which affects their mobility or their use of buildings.

Domestic building means a dwelling or dwellings and any common areas associated with the dwelling.

Duct means the structure, trunking, or casing, with any apertures, enclosing a passage, other than a flue, used solely for conveying air, gases, or refuse.

Dwelling means a unit of residential accommodation occupied (whether or not as a sole or main residence):

  1. by an individual or by individuals living together as a family; or

  2. by not more than six individuals living together as a single household (including a household where care is provided for residents)

and includes any surgeries, consulting rooms, offices or other accommodation, of a floor area not exceeding in the aggregate 50 square metres, forming part of a dwelling and used by an occupant of the dwelling in a professional or business capacity.

Element of structure means a part of a building which is part of the structural frame (beams and columns), loadbearing (other than a part which is only self-loadbearing), a floor, or supports a floor.

Emergency door means a door which may be a fire door and which is intended to be used only during an emergency.

Entertainment building means a place of entertainment or recreation other than sports stadia, including bingo halls, broadcasting, recording and film studios open to the public, casinos, dance halls, entertainment, conference, exhibition and leisure centres (except where consisting predominately of a swimming pool), funfairs and amusement arcades, licensed betting offices, clubs, public houses, restaurants, cafes, snack bars, theatres, cinemas and concert halls.

Escape route means a route by which a person may reach a place of safety, and in relation to:

  1. a storey, a space or an access deck, means a route from an exit from that storey, space or access deck

  2. a room, means a route from an exit of that rooms

  3. an inner room, other than an inner room in a dwelling, means a route from an exit of the room which provides access to the inner room

  4. a flat or maisonette, means a route from the main entrance door of that flat or maisonette

  5. a gallery, catwalk or openwork floor, means a route from any doorway of, or from the head of any unenclosed escape stair from, that gallery, catwalk or openwork floor

  6. a place of special fire risk, means a route from an exit of that room or from an exit of the protected lobby serving that room, or from an exit of the room or lobby separating the place of special fire risk from any other accommodation, as the case may be.

Escape stair means a stair or ramp forming part of an escape route.

Exit means a point of egress from a room, storey, protected zone, space, gallery, catwalk or openwork floor which forms part of, or gives access to, an escape route or place of safety.

External wall includes a part of a roof pitched at an angle of 70º or more to the horizontal.

Factory (Class 1) is any factory involved in manufacturing, processing, repairing, cleaning, washing, breaking up or otherwise treating any substance comprising or used in association with: adhesives, asphalt and bituminous products, chemical and allied industries, cleaners and solvents, clothing and footwear (excluding laundering), coal and petroleum products, cork products, dry cleaning, dye-stuffs and pigments, fertilisers, grains and cereals, inks, insulated wires and cables, leather, sheepskin and fur, linoleum, magnetic tape, oils and greases, paints, paper, printing and publishing (excluding paper manufacturing), pharmaceutical products, photographic materials and products, plastics, polishes, rubber and synthetic rubber, soaps and detergents, spirit distilling, surgical bandages and plasters, synthetic resins, textiles, timber, joinery, furniture, brushes and brooms, toilet preparations, upholstery, weedkillers and pesticides.

Factory (Class 2) is any factory other than a factory (Class 1), including buildings used for generating or supplying power or slaughtering livestock.

Fire door means a door which, together with its frame and furniture as installed in a building, is intended, when closed, to resist the passage of fire and, where prescribed, smoke and is capable of meeting specified performance criteria in section 2.

Fire-stop means a seal provided to close an imperfection of fit or design tolerance between elements, components or construction so as to restrict the passage of fire and smoke through that imperfection. Fire-stopping and fire-stopped should be construed accordingly.

Flat means a dwelling on one storey, forming part of a building from some other part of which it is divided horizontally, and includes a dwelling of which the main entrance door and associated hall are on a different storey from the remainder of the dwelling.

Flat roof means a roof the slope of which does not exceed 10º from the horizontal.

Flight means part of a stair or ramp uninterrupted by a landing.

Flue means passage for conveying the products of combustion to the outside atmosphere.

Flue-block means factory-made chimney components with 1 or more flues.

Flue-pipe (correctly termed ‘connecting flue-pipe’) means a pipe that connects a combustion appliance to a flue in a chimney.

Foundation means that part of the structure in direct contact with, and transmitting loads to, the ground.

Gallery means a raised floor or platform, including a raised storage floor, which is open to the room or space into which it projects and which:

  1. has every part of its upper surface not less than 1.8 metres above the surface of the main floor of the said room or space and

  2. occupies (or, in the case of there being more than one gallery, together occupy), not more than one-half of the floor area of the said room or space.

Glazing means any permanently secured sheet of glass or plastics, and glazed should be construed accordingly.

Greenhouse except in the expression agricultural greenhouse, means a building ancillary to a dwelling used mainly for growing plants which is either:

  1. detached from the dwelling or

  2. attached to, but not entered from, the dwelling.

Greywater means wastewater not containing faecal matter or urine.

Ground storey means the storey of a building in which there is situated an entrance to the building from the level of the adjoining ground or, if there is more than one such storey, the lower or lowest of these.

High rise domestic buildings means a domestic building with any storey at a height of more than 18 metres above the ground.

High-speed electronic communications network means an electronic communications network which is capable of delivering broadband access services at speeds of at least 30 Mbps.

High-speed ready in-building physical infrastructure means in-building physical infrastructure intended to host elements or enable delivery of high-speed electronic communications networks.

Hospital means a building, other than a dwelling, for the treatment of persons suffering from an illness or mental or physical disability or handicap.

Hospital street means a protected zone in a hospital provided to assist in facilitating circulation and horizontal evacuation, and to provide a fire-fighting bridgehead.

House means a dwelling on one or more storeys, either detached or forming part of a building from all other parts of which it is divided only vertically.

Imposed load means the load assumed to be produced by the intended occupancy or use, including the weight of moveable partitions; distributed, concentrated, impact, inertia and snow loads, but excluding wind loads.

In-building physical infrastructure means physical infrastructure or installations at the end-user's location, including elements under joint ownership, intended to host wired or wireless access networks, where such access networks are capable of delivering electronic communications services and connecting the building access point with the network termination point.

Inner room means a room, other than a kitchen in a dwelling, which does not have a direct access to an exit, or direct access to an enclosed circulation area having an exit.

Insulation envelope means the building elements which encapsulate the building or parts of the building which use fuel or power for heating or cooling the internal environment and will comprise all or some of the following:

  1. elements exposed directly to the outside air

  2. elements directly in contact with the ground

  3. floors directly in contact with a solum space

  4. elements that are buffered by an enclosed area

  5. separating elements where the thermal transmittance should be ignored.

Note – the definition of ‘insulation envelope’ was amended on 1 May 2007.

Kitchen means any room or part of a room used primarily for the preparation or cooking of food.

Land in different occupation in relation to a building, means land occupied, or to be occupied, by a person other than the occupier of the land on which the building is, or is to be, situated.

Limited life building means a building intended to have a life of the period specified in regulation 6.

Maisonette means a dwelling on more than one storey, forming part of a building from some other part of which it is divided horizontally.

Major renovation works means works at the end user's location encompassing structural modifications of the entire in-building physical infrastructure, or of a significant part of it.

Net input rating of an appliance means the total energy input rate determined when the water produced by the combustion of the fuel is assumed to remain as a vapour.

Network termination point means a physical point located inside or outside the building at which an occupier is provided with access to high speed electronic communications networks.

Non-combustible means that a material does not ignite or burn when subjected to fire or heat.

Notified body means a body (organisation), whose name is notified by individual countries or Member States, to the European Commission, that are designated to carry out conformity assessment  (on harmonised technical specifications) according to a directive or regulation. The notification of a Notified Body and their withdrawal is the responsibility of the notifying Member State.

Occupier in relation to a dwelling, means a person inhabiting the dwelling.

Office means a building or premises used for office, administrative or clerical purposes (including writing, book-keeping, sorting papers, filing, typing, duplicating, machine calculating, police and fire service work, drawing and editorial preparation of work for publication), financial transactions (including banking and building society work) and communications (including postal, telegraph and radio, television, film, audio or video recording or performance (not open to the public), communication or control).

Open-flued appliance means one that draws its air for combustion from the room or internal space within which it is installed and uses a flue system to discharge its products of combustion to the outside air.

Open sided car park means open sided car parks and parking garages, designed to admit or accommodate only passenger or light goods vehicles not exceeding 2500 kilograms gross mass. For the purposes of this description “open-sided” means naturally ventilated to provide an adequate supply of air in accordance with section 3.

Permanent ventilator means a ventilator which provides continuous ventilation.

Place of safety means either:

  1. an unenclosed space in the open air at ground level or

  2. an enclosed space in the open air at ground level leading to an unenclosed space, via an access not narrower than the total width of the exits leading from the building to that enclosed space.

Place of special fire risk means any place within, or attached to, or on the roof of, a building in which there are installed one or more:

  1. solid fuel appliances, with a total installed output rating more than 50 kW, other than kitchen appliances or

  2. oil or gas fired appliances, with a total installed net input rating more than 70 kW, other than kitchen appliances and forced air convection or radiant heaters in buildings which are neither residential nor domestic or

  3. fixed internal combustion engines, including gas turbine engines, with a total output rating more than 45 kW or

  4. oil-immersed electricity transformers or switch gear apparatus with an oil capacity more than 250 litres and operating at a supply voltage more than 1000 volts or

  5. fuel oil storage tanks having a capacity of more than 90 litres or

  6. paint spray booths or rooms where cellulose or other flammable liquid spray is used.

Porch means a building attached to and providing a covered entrance to a dwelling.

Private road means a road not maintainable by the Scottish Ministers or a local roads authority (whether or not comprising a public right of way).

Private stair or ramp means a stair or ramp wholly within a dwelling.

Protected door means a fire door giving access to:

  1. a protected zone, including a protected lobby or

  2. a fire-fighting shaft or

  3. another compartment or

  4. a place of safety or

  5. an unenclosed external escape stair or

  6. an open access balcony or

  7. an escape route across a flat roof or access deck.

Protected enclosure in a dwelling means a circulation area constructed to resist fire in adjoining accommodation. It includes a hall, landing or private stair or ramp but not a room.

Protected lobby means a lobby within a protected zone but separated from the remainder of the protected zone so as to resist the movement of smoke from the adjoining accommodation to the remainder of the protected zone.

Protected zone means that part of an escape route which is within a building, but not within a room, and to which access is only by way of a protected door and from which there is an exit directly to a place of safety.

Public open space includes land used as a public park or for public recreation or as a burial ground.

Public road means a road maintainable by the Scottish Ministers or a local roads authority.

Reasonably practicable in relation to the carrying out of any work, means reasonably practicable having regard to all the circumstances including the expense involved in carrying out the work.

Residential building means a building, other than a domestic building, having sleeping accommodation.

Residential care building means a building used, or to be used, for the provision of:

  1. a care home service or

  2. a school care accommodation service

and for these purposes the expressions mentioned in sub-paragraphs a) and b) above have the same meaning as in the Regulation of Care (Scotland) Act 2001.

Road has the same meaning as in the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984 (c54) except that it also includes any drain or ditch at the side of a road.

Roof space means any space in a building between a part of the roof and the ceiling below.

Room means any enclosed part of a storey intended for human occupation or, where no part of any such storey is so enclosed, the whole of that storey, but excepting in either case any part used solely as a bathroom, shower room, washroom, toilet, stair or circulation area.

Room-sealed appliance means a combustion appliance which, when in operation, has its combustion chamber, air inlet and its flue outlet ways isolated from the room or space in which it is installed.

Sanitary accommodation includes bathrooms, shower rooms, washrooms and toilets.

Sanitary facility includes washbasin, sink, bath, shower, urinal, or watercloset, and in dwellings only, includes a waterless closet.

Self-closing fire door means a fire door, fitted to close automatically from any angle of swing.

Separating floor and separating wall mean respectively a floor or wall constructed to prevent the spread of fire between buildings or parts of a building in accordance with section 2.

Service opening means any opening to accommodate a duct, pipe, conduit or cable (including fibre optics or similar tubing).

Shared multi-occupancy residential building means a residential building occupied as a sole or main residence by more than six individuals where those occupying the building, or part of the building, share the use of sanitary facilities or facilities for the preparation of cooked food with other persons occupying the building, or part of the building.

Shared residential accommodation means a unit of residential accommodation, other than a dwelling, having an occupancy capacity not exceeding 10, entered from the open air at ground level and having no storey at a height exceeding 7.5m.

Sheltered housing complex means:

  1. two or more dwellings in the same building or

  2. two or more dwellings on adjacent sites

where those dwellings are, in each case, designed and constructed for the purpose of providing residential accommodation for people who receive, or who are to receive, a support service; and, for these purposes, “support service” has the same meaning as in the Regulation of Care (Scotland) Act 2001.

Shop means a building or premises used for retail or wholesale trade or business, including sales by auction, self-selection and over the counter wholesale trading, hairdressing and beauty or body care and premises to which members of the public are invited to resort for the purposes of delivering or uplifting goods in connection with cleaning, repair, hire or other treatment or (except in the case of the repair of motor vehicles) of themselves carrying out such cleaning, repair or other treatment.

Site in relation to a building, means the area of ground covered or to be covered by the building, including its foundations.

Smoke alarm means a device powered by mains electricity, with a secondary power source, containing within one housing all the components necessary for detecting fire and thereupon giving an audible alarm.

Social housing dwelling means a dwelling occupied by virtue of a Scottish secure tenancy within the meaning of section 11 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001.

Stand-alone building means a building, other than a dwelling, but includes an ancillary building or a part of a building, that is either:

  1. detached or

  2. thermally divided from the remainder of the main building and incorporates shut-down control of any heating or cooling system which is linked to any main system, and includes a conservatory.

Note – the definition of 'stand-alone building' was added on 1 May 2007.

Storage building (Class 1) is any storage building containing hazardous goods or materials, and any storage of vehicles containing hazardous goods or materials, including: any compressed, liquefied or dissolved gas, any substance which becomes dangerous by interaction with either air or water, any liquid substance with a flash point below 65º Celsius including whisky or other spirituous liquor, any corrosive substance, any substance capable of emitting poisonous fumes, any oxidising agent, any substance liable to spontaneous combustion, any substance that changes or decomposes readily giving out heat when doing so, any combustible solid substance with a flash point less than 120º Celsius, any substance likely to spread fire by flowing from one part of a building to another.

Storage building (Class 2) is any storage building other than a storage building (Class 1), including car parks, parking garages designed to admit or accommodate only passenger or other light goods vehicles not more than 2500 kilograms gross mass, other than open sided car parks.

Storey means that part of a building which is situated between the top of any floor being the lowest floor level within the storey and the top of the floor next above it being the highest floor level within the storey or, if there is no floor above it, between the top of the floor and the ceiling above it or, if there is no ceiling above it, the internal surface of the roof; and for this purpose a gallery or catwalk, or an openwork floor or storage racking, shall be considered to be part of the storey in which it is situated.

Sub-compartment means a part of a building (which may contain one or more rooms, and includes, where relevant, the space above the top storey of the sub-compartment) constructed so as to aid horizontal evacuation.

Sub-compartment wall means a wall with the fire resistance required to create a sub-compartment.

Surface water means the run-off of rainwater from roofs and any paved ground surface within the curtilage of a building.

System chimney (factory-made chimney) means a chimney that is installed using a combination of compatible chimney components, obtained or specified from one manufacturing source with product responsibility for the whole chimney.

Toilet means an enclosed part of a storey which contains a watercloset, a waterless closet or a urinal, which are properly installed for use.

Traditional building means a building or part of a building of a type constructed before or around 1919:

  1. using construction techniques that were commonly in use before 1919 and

  2. with permeable components, in a way that promotes the dissipation of moisture from the building fabric.

Trickle ventilator means a closeable small ventilator which can provide minimum ventilation.

Unprotected zone means that part of an escape route, which is separated by walls, glazed screens or any other permanent form of demarcation from any space intended for human occupation, including a protected zone.

Upper storey means any storey which is above the level of the ground storey.

U-value (or thermal transmittance co-efficient) is a measure of how much heat will pass through one square metre of a structure when the temperatures on either side of the structure differ by 1 degree Celsius (expressed in W/m2K).

Ventilator means a window, rooflight, grille or similar building component (and in the case of a dwelling includes a door) capable of being opened to provide ventilation.

Wastewater means water that is contaminated by use and normally discharged from a watercloset, shower, bath, bidet, washbasin, sink, washing machine, floor gully and similar facility and also includes rainwater when discharging in a wastewater drainage system.

Wind load means the load due to the effects of wind pressure or suction.

Work in relation to a building includes work carried out in relation to the enclosure and preparation of the site of the building.

Back to top