Some years ago we had a 'loft conversion' to add extra bedrooms in the roof of the house.
It emerged that these bedrooms were each required, by building regulations, to have access windows, like so:
That is, windows hinged at the top, so that IF there was a fire, and IF you were trapped in that particular room, and IF there was a fire engine with the right kind of ladder, THEN you could escape through this top-hinged window MORE EASILY than through the normal mid-hinged window.
This escape window was therefore a SAFETY feature.
Supposedly intended to SAVE LIVES (ta daa!)
So far so hugely-implausible but acceptable-ish.
THEN it emerged that in order for the escape window to be near to the eaves/ edge of the roof, and accessible to the hypothetical fire engine with a ladder of hypothetical length - the windows would need to be at FLOOR LEVEL.
THEN it emerged that the windows must (presumably because of the constant need for escaping blazes) be ALWAYS KEPT UNLOCKED.
Pause a moment and reflect.
1. Easy opening windows that give easy access to the sloping house roof, about 25-30 ft above the hard ground.
2. At floor level.
What we are talking about is, in effect, a human sized hole in the wall of the top story of the house.
Add in young children...
Low glass door over hole in sloping roof, easy to open, left unlocked, small child in room...
(do the math)
Recall that these windows are compulsory.
And that these are SAFETY windows...
What are the differential odds of a combination of fire related events in which this type of low access window in this particular place make the difference between life and death compared with a higher window in a normal place?
Compare the odds that if you have an easy-opening and never-locked window at floor-level designed for people to get-out from, pretty soon (like, err, the next couple of hours) a little kid will open it and get out from it onto the sloping roof and - duh - fall off the roof?
Now, of course these windows are kept locked (we are not insane - we don't want our children to die) but the locks could not be added until after the building was inspected and we are stuck with these crumby almost useless floor level windows that can't be left open.
But this single minor incident is enough to tell you what you need to know about the modern world, its psychotic irrationality, our captivity to regulations and interest groups propounding'good causes' ("What? You wanna see people burned to death?"), its un-reform-ability; its exclusion of personal responsibility, individual judgment and common sense - pretty much the whole thing is in there.
Odd, isn't it? Were your house industrial plant, an engineer would have done the sums and concluded that the idea was mad. (Or more likely he'd just have looked at the proposition and said "not bloody likely" but might have followed that up with some sums to put on file).
I had a chum who was teaching an undergraduate class how to do such sums, and reached the point in an example where he attributed a probabliity to lightning striking a storage tank. A muslim student objected on the grounds that Allah decided whether and when lightning would strike the tank.
I recommend you set your escape window on fire. And then... not really sure what to do after that.
But I think if you set your escape window on fire, neither would they.
I'm still working on this one...
Is this a house HOUSE? Like you own it? And the land? Or are you renting it?
And the government can make you put windows? What happens if you don't? Do they take you to prison? Are there escape windows that must remain unlocked in prison? Can you really be arrested for not placing an escape window and penalized by being locked in a room barred off from any windows or unlocked exits? What if there is a fire? Are you really only given two options: get robbed or get burned to death?
Can you put something else instead? Like a door, or a window with a cage that can swung outside from the inside, or spikes blocking the window (does the bureaucracy have rules against spikes?). Perhaps you can release your stress by taking some time to decorate- with cactus plants and poison ivy and possibly a German Shepherd or two.
Or why don't you just say "OK" then not put any window at all? I've been reading Peter Hitchen's blog lately, and learning wonderful things. Apparently they don't arrest criminals in Great Britain.
I assume that's why Harry Potter had to be zapped by Voldemort, instead of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named just going to jail. Or getting shot by military forces. Why didn't they just call fighter jets out after You-Know-Who? He'd never get a spell out. How could he? All the weapons fire faster than the speed of sound. You don't hear them until they've hit you, in which case you still wouldn't hear them. And if you're riding on a broomstick, you don't see the planes until they've passed you either...
Ok- going to far, completely wrong topic, sorry!
I can't believe that though! Your own house! Demanding that it's unlocked! Do they check? How?? Like "Knock Knock! Surprise break-in! This is just a test. In normal break-in conditions you in the dress would have had a 73.4 percent chance of being raped and you with the jacket may be eaten by cannibals. Your TV will be gone, however, that we are certain of. Our recommendation upon completion of this testing period is for you to leave your front door unlocked in case you must use it for an emergency escape exit to get away from the criminals coming in through your emergency escape window."
Please be safe!
How typically modern to focus on one case scenario and to ignore all others, including daily use.
We are motivated by our fears, not by a positive direction, in these times.
I bet somewhere an installer is getting rich by coming around after the official installation and offering to put on some locks.
I forgot, Mr. Charlton, to ask if you have you heard of The British Orthodox Church (now a "branch" of the Coptic Orthodox Church)? I thought about bringing it up a couple times before, but always decided not to; I thought you were either set on your church or you had already explored your choices. In which case you would have found it, I am sure.
I myself didn't know this group and Church existed until about 2 years ago or so. I wish I'd known of it when I'd visited London, I would have liked to visit. Father Peter Farrington is a very active priest on a couple of the Orthodox boards I visit sometimes. He serves in a town (or city/county/zone/etc, sorry, I don't know how England is split up) called Kent. Not sure if that's near or far from you. You can find more specific info in the link I've provided below.
Also, a quick note: my father was once involved in a contract with an apartment complex which he wished to remove himself from. They were being stingy over every dollar... so he filed a complaint. His complaint? The windows were not childproof. They allowed far too easy access to a fatal drop four floors below. He demanded they place bars or locks on them. Since they would've had to place bars or locks on all the apartments then (otherwise anyone else could complain and sue "why them and not me?") he knew they would refuse.
Well they never formerly refused. They just never contacted him again.
I had thought the main problem was concerning a break-in, but now as I re-read your post I realize that the problem concerns a small child and a dangerous fall. How is it possible that you cannot fight this legally?? Isn't this a SAFETY hazard? Aren't "fixing" SAFETY hazards the thing liberals are all about? Why can't you just say "I need some windows that are higher up or lock properly" and when they ask "Why?" just say "SAFETY!" Ta daa!
Not sure if it will work, but how can they ignore it? Wouldn't other liberals take notice (desiring so much to be the ones to add the "ta daa!" and all...)?
JP - said: Loft conversions must be a British thing, because I rarely ever see them in the USA. The tendency here is to add rooms horizontally if the house is expanded at all. No doubt this is a function of generally having larger houses on larger plots of land...
@FHL "to ask if you have you heard of The British Orthodox Church"
Yes - I have heard of it. But what is relevant to me is what is accessible - because my priority is to attend Eucharist (Holy Communion) at least once and preferably twice a week.
At present this is possible and very satisfying because there are two city centre churches in Newcastle which use traditional language services - and both are also beautiful medieval buildings (St John the Baptist and St Andrews).
I am quite happy with this state of affairs - just so long as I ignore some of the intercessionary prayers, am careful not to think about the Anglican hierarchy, and don't pay any heed to the probable future.
I should clarify that these building regulations apply only to the job as completed by the builder, and after the building has passed inspection things can be modified by the owner - so on the day that the building passed inspection we had locks fitted to the access windows and the windows have been kept locked pretty much for the past 8 years.
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