Understanding the various building regulations related to means of escape from a newly constructed residential home is crucial for both homeowners and builders.

In the UK, there are four recognised methods of escape according to building regulations, namely:

Exit Door

It’s mandatory for each home to feature at least one exit door that leads to a secure location, like a garden, street, or shared space.

External Escape Route

Each habitable room on the ground or first floor should have an external escape route. This could be a corridor, passageway, or an external stairway.

Protected Stairway

For multi-storey residences, there must be a protected stairway, isolated from the rest of the house by fire-resistant construction, including fire doors and walls.

Vertical Escape

Sometimes, when a protected stairway isn’t possible, a vertical escape route becomes essential. This could be an external balcony or escape chute.

Please note that exact requirements for escape routes may differ based on the house’s size and design, along with local building regulations. It is recommended to consult a certified architect or building professional to ensure all safety prerequisites are met.

NHBC Standards for New Build Escape Routes

The National House Building Council (NHBC), the leading warranty provider for new homes in the UK, has its own standards regarding escape routes in residential properties. These standards aim to maximise safety and fulfill legal requirements. Here are some key aspects of the NHBC standards:

Escape Routes

All habitable rooms, apart from those on the ground level, must have at least two escape routes. The shortest route to an exit from any spot within a home should not exceed 18 metres.


Staircases should be strategically designed to ensure a safe escape during a fire. They should be encapsulated in fire-resistant construction and fitted with fire doors on all levels.

Fire Doors

Fire doors are vital for protecting escape routes and preventing fire spread. They must be self-closing and equipped with intumescent strips.

Smoke Control

Provisions should be in place to ensure escape routes are free of smoke during a fire. This may require smoke vents or a mechanical smoke control system.

Emergency Lighting

Sufficient emergency lighting must be in place to ensure well-lit escape routes in the event of a power failure or fire.

Builders registered with NHBC must comply with these standards as part of their registration obligations.

Building Regulations for Escape from New Homes

Building Regulations in the UK provide comprehensive guidelines on escape routes from new homes. These regulations are binding on all new residential properties and specific alterations and extensions to existing homes. Key requirements include:

Exit Doors

Every home must have at least one exit door leading to a safe place.

External Escape Routes

An external escape route is required for every habitable room on the ground or first floor.

Protected Stairways

In multi-storey homes, a protected stairway separated from the home by fire-resistant construction is mandatory.

Vertical Escape

If a protected stairway isn’t feasible, a vertical escape route becomes necessary.

Fire Resistance

All escape routes and protected stairways must be made of fire-resistant materials. Fire doors and walls should be installed as needed to protect escape routes and inhibit fire spread.

Smoke Control

Measures should be in place to keep escape routes smoke-free in case of fire. This may require smoke vents or a mechanical smoke control system.

Emergency Lighting

Escape routes should have emergency lighting to ensure adequate visibility during power failure or fire.

It’s vital to note that Building Regulations are subject to change. Staying informed about these changes is crucial to maintaining safety and compliance.