Definition of "Basement"

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I would be grateful for an official or legal definition of "basement", because I understand that special fire safety rules apply for basements of residential buildings, including the need for ceilings that provide a 30 minute fire barrier.

The issue is that I am being told that I need to fit a second skin of plasterboard to the ceiling of a flat, but that would be expensive working around the tenant in situ, would seriously disrupt the tenant, and cause lots of agro with potential dust and damage to his furniture etc.

The property in question is the lower-ground floor flat in a block of four 1-bed flats, one flat per floor, converted by the vendor from eight bedsits, some months before I bought the block (early 2004).

Many thanks!
This flat is accessed via its own sole-use external stairs at front and rear of the building (only 3-4 steps down from street level at the front, 5-6 down from the garden at the rear). It has large, full-height windows to the front (big bay window) and rear, like any ground floor flat - not tiny casement windows like a true basement.

By comparison, the shared front door for the other three flats is up 13-14 steps from street level, and it is about 10 steps down to the garden from the rear door shared by those three flats.

The site does gently slope down from one side to the other, and from the rear to the front, but the flat above this one is well above ground level and must be described as either upper-ground floor, or 1st floor.

26/04/2008 00:00

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