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Building? Here’s how long your fire door needs to resist fire

smoke and fire in house with people resize

There is no user manual for all aspects of homeownership, from moving, to taking occupation and to maintaining and understanding common and uncommon defects. Albert van Wyk has more than 38 years’ worth of building experience and has put all he has learned into a concise, easy-to-use reference book entitled, The Proud Home Owner. He has granted HomeTimes exclusive access to republish portions of his book to help homeowners make better decisions around buying and selling, as well as maintaining their properties.

Tilingtiling the floor

This is one of the most important finishes in a house because it is so visible. Poor workmanship, even with high-quality tiles, will spoil the entire house.

  • Discuss the setting out detail of the floor tiles beforehand with the tiler. Some tilers do not take the aesthetic aspect of the whole house into consideration and do the tiling without a specific plan.
  • The best and correct setting out point is the centre of the front door entrance, or the centre line of a staircase.
  • Provision must be made for movement in large floor areas. Create blocks of about 3m x 4m with a flexible joint. Use a silicone product of the same colour instead of grout in the joint.

  • Remember to use waterproof grout on the balcony tiles. A waterproofing agent can be added to the tile adhesive for the balcony tiles, in addition to the waterproofing on the screed.
  • The waterproofing of a shower floor, which is on top of other rooms must get special attention. The floor should first be waterproofed on the concrete and taken up about 150mm on the walls before the screed is done. Add a waterproofing agent (SIKA) to the floor screed mixture as an additional precaution.

  • The tiler must make very sure that the waterproofing and the grout around the outlet trap of the shower on the first floor is well done, because a leak there will show on the ceiling downstairs.
  • Pay special attention to the detail of the tiling on a balcony at the outside doors. Water will either leak to the ceiling below or into the floor of the room if the work is not done correctly.

Fire door

The door between the garage and the house must be a “fire door”. This door must be designed in such a way as to have a fire resistance of 30 minutes. Some local authorities require that the door is self-closing and that the door opens into the garage.

The floor of the garage must be lower than the floor of the house to prevent any flammable product flowing into the house.

Glassbroken glass

National Building Regulations SANS 10137 Clause 5.5.2

  • All safety glazing materials (individual panes) shall be permanently marked. Such markings should be visible after installation.
  • The onus rests on the installer of the safety glazing material to ensure that the permanent mark is applied.
  • The mark consists of the glazier’s name or initials together with the relative glass code.
  • The glass in all doors, including sliding and folding doors, must be safety glass.

  • Toughened safety glass

This glass is permanently marked by the manufacturer. Toughened safety glass is 5 times stronger than ordinary glass, because it shatters into harmless pieces when broken. It is ideal for application when breakage through use is a risk and human safety needs to be ensured. This glass withstands hail superbly.

Laminated safety glass

It is made by joining two plates of glass with a layer of either transparent plastic or artificial resin between them. The safety mark is done by etching, engraving or sand blasting after installation.

IGU (insulated glass units)

This is made up by joining two pieces of glass with a spacer in between and is referred to as double glazing. This is used for sound proof purposes or for energy saving.

LOW-e (low emissivity)

This is glass with special coatings that reflect the infrared portion of light, while letting the visible portion in.

Tempered glass

Tempered glass is safety glass and by law is the only type of glass permitted for bathroom shower installations.

It is called safety glass because tempered glass will never break into pieces with sharp jagged edges. It shatters into small oval bubbles when broken.

There are enough regulations in place to protect you and your family from unsafe glass. The installer or supplier must provide you with a certificate that all glazing, including the shower doors, meets the legal requirements.

Look out for a small mark in the corner of each individual pane of glass. If it is not marked, it is not safety glass.


Next time: Why neighbours both need to consent to replacing a dividing fence with a wall


For more, and to order your copy of The Proud Home Owner, click here, or visit Gauteng Home Inspections if you’re building, buying or doing maintenance

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