UK homeowners have spent a collective £295bn renovating their homes over the past five years, with the remodelling of kitchens offering one of the biggest investment returns according to a recent survey by Post Office Money*.
With the continued rise in the associated costs of buying a new home, it’s unsurprising that the ‘improve, rather than move’ trend is continuing to go from strength-to-strength throughout the UK. Of those Post Office Money surveyed, 59% of homeowners said they were renovating their property to simply improve its appearance, subsequently providing a long-term family home.
As part of these upgrades, many individuals are looking to increase the amount of natural light that enters their property, predominantly in living areas, such as kitchens and dining spaces. Glazing elements such as bifold doors and rooflights are being increasingly specified by fabricators on behalf of clients as part of renovation projects, with roof lanterns and pitched rooflights two of the most popular choices, particularly for single storey extensions.
For rear single-storey extensions housing kitchens and living areas, roof lanterns or modular rooflights that create a ‘glass ceiling’ effect are two of the most popular choices selected by homeowners. Traditionally, to achieve a ‘glass ceiling effect’, you would have to fit the same size rooflight in succession of one another across the ceiling, with space between each timber frame. This would not only limit the amount of natural light that enters the room but significantly reduce the amount of glazing in the actual ceiling.
However, innovations within the sector, such as modular systems, enable the joining of multiple glass panels together in a line onto minimal steel support, which strengthens the structure without compromising the flow of light. For a real stand out effect, a system can be created up to 10m long and 2m wide, and as there is no ceiling between each glass panel, homeowners can create impressive vista of light throughout the home, providing a contemporary solution that works in perfect harmony with bifold or sliding doors.
Roof lanterns are also a popular choice, with the latest industry developments providing homeowners with solutions that feature sleek, aluminium glazing bars, which again provide homeowners with a contemporary product that maximises on all available natural light. This can be combined with opening options to provide additional ventilation, particularly useful for interior spaces such as kitchens, where cooking smells can often linger.
For homeowners that may be concerned about the sun bleaching furniture or the build up of hot or cold spots throughout the room, triple glazing should be specified as standard. Individuals should specify roof lanterns with impressive thermal efficiency, such as those products that offer a Ug-Value of 0.8w/m2K.
Whilst triple glazing has traditionally had a reputation for being difficult to install due to its additional weight, many products now offer the ability to order flat packed, providing the ability to easily take individual parts up onto the roof to build at location, rather than require a crane to transport a fully bonded product. This supports self builders in keeping the build budget and time scales to a minimum, as the installation of the rooflight is tailored to each individual property and its location.
Side returns are also continuing to increase in popularity for homeowners renovating their property, with many individuals living in urban areas looking to increase all available living space. Here wall abutments are an efficient and aesthetically pleasing choice of rooflight, enabling professionals to again create a ‘glass ceiling effect’ that maximises all natural light within a typically tight space.
Designed to enable natural light to flow into the inner areas of a house, that can become dark when an extension is added, some wall abutment rooflights can be installed seamlessly against walls at a pitch of 5° to 15° – eliminating the requirement for a gap between the wall and rooflight. This provides a product that delivers on all aspects of aesthetics, functionality and efficiency as the abundance of natural light entering the existing and new space ensures it is utilised by the homeowners to its full potential.
For self builders working on a residential project within one of the 10,000 Conservation Areas throughout England, the specification of rooflights may initially present a difficult challenge as all relevant requirements outlined by the local council must be adhered to.
In order to enhance and preserve the history of the area, the renovation project should help to improve the existing building and overall impression of the area, whilst also helping to preserve the structure that is already there. Whilst many homeowners will have to specify rooflights that feature the iconic black metal bar, which replicates the visual appeal of the original Victorian cast iron roof windows of traditional properties, there are a range of contemporary innovations also available.
For example, by fitting a conservation skylight that is triple glazed, the overall thermal efficiency of the property can be improved, with some rooflights offering Ug-value as low as 0.6w/m²k as standard. This combination of traditional style with contemporary benefits reflects the very purpose of Conservation Areas, which aim to improve and enhance, rather than replace.
Whilst replicating the original Victorian cast iron skylight, some conservation models now featuring a slim shaped split bar that is constructed of high-quality aluminium for better weathering and aesthetics. Unlike existing conservation skylights where the bar is sandwiched between the glass panes, the split bar is structurally bonded to the glass to eliminate the presence of a cold bridge, significantly minimising the risk of condensation forming and retaining the best possible thermal performance.
Latest product developments also combine the traditional style of glazing bar with modern technologies, such as remote control opening, which improves the functionality of the rooflight, supporting easy ventilation throughout the home.