Holiday home? Or holiday let? It’s a question we always ask new clients when we start working with them on the interior design of their second home. The reply is often quite vague, along the lines of “well we might let it, but we don’t really want to….” There’s a feeling of let’s see how we go, that tempting carrot of generating extra income might be handy, especially if you’re about to embark on a major renovation, and we completely understand that.
But new fire regulations coming into force this autumn, now make a very clear distinction between holiday lets and permanent homes. Planning on your second home being used by you and you alone, now brings with it a whole lot less bureaucracy than properties providing self-catered accommodation for others.
In the devastating aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, awareness in fire safety has risen to the top of the agenda, and rightly so. Now new requirements that come into force on 1st October 2023 will apply to all types of short-term holiday lets. From various annual checks to a cull on candles, the new rules might feel like a minefield, but they do make sense. Nobody on a mini break will be as familiar with your property as you are, and typically being packed with adults, kids and potentially pets, as the homeowner you need to be ticking all the fire regulation boxes to keep everyone safe and sound.
So what are the main changes? Which are the rules that jump out from the page? Full details can be found in this lengthy read but the most important three details are those that impact the fabric of the building, such as:
- Better smoke detectors – linked, hard-wired smoke detectors need to be in all bedrooms and living areas. If your holiday let is a sizeable one, you might also need a more sophisticated detection system.
- Protected escape routes – wherever your ‘emergency exit’ is, such as a staircase, must be bookended with doors that guarantee 30 minutes of fire protection.
- Emergency escape lighting – it might not look pretty, but it’s a necessity in bedrooms and along your escape route. This doesn’t have to be strip-lighting; plug-in torches are deemed acceptable options.
If you’re about to embark upon a holiday home interior design project, and there’s a chance that you might want to let it out in the future, it would be far easier and neater to attend to regulations now while you’re in the throes of other building works. Retro-fitting hard-wired smoke detectors means exposed, trailing wires or a whole lot of mess concealing them, so it’s best to get jobs like those out of the way early on.
Even if you have no intention whatsoever to turn your second home into a holiday let, making these adjustments will give you peace of mind and greater safety for your own family, plus the perk of being ‘holiday let ready’ should you decide to sell later down the line.
Ultimately, while changes in regulations bring with them hassle, they have keeping-you-from-harm at heart. Escape lighting may well not have been part of your ambient lighting design scheme, but rest assured, it will help you sleep more soundly at night knowing everyone under your roof is safely protected from fire risks.