Open plan kitchen diner – what you need to know

General, Interiors, Kitchens

The kitchen is now the heart of the home. We cook, eat and congregate in this one room. Its the place where kids do their homework, where people watch TV and where we have some of the most important family events. The kitchen is a special place and for those of us with a separate small kitchen, the urge to combine it with another room to create a larger space is great. The so-called kitchen diner is now commonplace, and if you are looking to knock down a wall in your home to achieve this, there are a few things you need to know.Open plan kitchen diner - what you need to know

The kitchen diner layout

The design of your new open plan space may be restricted by buildings regulations – especially when it comes to fire safety. A kitchen is regarded as a special location in the house and other rooms should be protected from it in case of fire. In particular, you should be able to exit the home without having to walk through the kitchen.

When you are thinking about your layout, you should contact building control to see what restrictions you might encounter. Most situations can be approved with some requiring additional fire safety measures such as sprinkler systems or connected fire alarms. Making sure there is a means of escape from an upper floor may also make your open plan layout possible. The main thing to worry about is if your open plan layout is going to expose your staircase to the kitchen. Seek advice before you start knocking down any walls!

Internal walls and building regulations

Turning two rooms into one will almost always require you to knock down a wall or even two and before you start, you need to make sure you know what you are doing. Building control officers will be more than happy to advise on your plans as they will eventually have to sign off the project.Open plan kitchen diner - what you need to know

There are two types of internal wall: load bearing and non-load bearing.

The former is required to hold up a structural part of your home such as the roof, ceiling joists or the upper floors. In some cases, it might be supporting a staircase. These walls must be replaced with a beam to do the work that the wall was doing. The beam can be wooden, concrete or steel, but needs to meet fire safety regulations to ensure it offers 30 minutes of protection. Removing a load bearing wall will need a sign off by building regulations officers.

A non-load bearing wall can be removed without permission, but getting the advice of a control officer might be worthwhile, just to make sure. A builder will also be able to identify the type of wall for you.

If you are thinking about replacing a wall or part of a wall in a different location, you will need to ensure it meets fire safety requirements, thermal separation and soundproofing needs. These are covered by buildings regulations and therefore you’ll need that part of the project signed off too. Any new doors should be self-closing and fireproof.

As you can see, opening up any space in our home can be more complicated than you might think. But with the right advise, you can easily get that family kitchen space you are dreaming of – watching our videos may help…

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