Regulations for mezzanine floors
Mezzanine floors are an economical way to increase space within an existing structure. A mezzanine creates a new floor between an existing floor and the roof, according to Nick Hardy in his Ezine article on mezzanine floors.
Traditionally, a mezzanine floor is between the ground floor and the first floor, as in the first "balcony" in a theatre, but this is not always the case. Stadiums use the term mezzanine to refer to "club" level seating.
When building a mezzanine floor, it needs to comply with building regulations for proper headroom for both the mezzanine and the space below. According to Nick Hardy, mezzanine floor regulations, and the General Guide to Mezzanine Floors, the minimum height requirement for a mezzanine floor is 14.7 feet between the ground floor and the ceiling. This distance ensures that both the space between the ground and the ceiling created by the mezzanine, and the mezzanine floor and the ceiling above offer adequate headroom.
Not all mezzanines are, or need to be, created the same. Some are only for storage, while others increase office space. Varying uses demand different weight load considerations. Nick Hardy and the General Guide both suggest that the average mezzanine needs to support 500kg/m2. Mezzanines intended for lighter duty, such as those without dividing walls between rooms, can offer a lighter load capacity. Your architect and engineer will assess your weight load needs when drawing your plans.
When building your mezzanine, you need to comply with fire regulations. The most basic thing to consider is the distance between your mezzanine floor space and safety, according to the General Guide. The local fire authority must approve any plans for a mezzanine before construction. Safety precautions include fire-retardant tiles in the ceiling created by the mezzanine floor. Generally, fire protection authorities suggest one-hour-fire-rated tiles, and 12-hour tiles between any dividers on the mezzanine level itself. Your local fire safety authority will give you specific requirements.
Another safety regulation to consider when constructing a mezzanine floor is railing construction. The General Guide suggests that a handrail, a mid-height knee rail, and a kick board are generally minimum requirements.