Velux and Dormer Windows

Following the subject of loft conversions from last week’s blog post, we thought we’d discuss a particular aspect which clients need to think about when getting a loft conversion, and having a room in the loft space. Should you get a skylight or a dormer window installed?

Velux being built into roof

Skylights

You can buy various types of skylights, or velux windows, in a wide variety of designs. They’re angled towards the sky which means that they allow much more light into a room than you might get with a dormer window because, unlike a dormer window, there are no extra walls or a roof to exclude any light from entering the room (but sometimes a velux can let too much light into the space). Although if you’re putting an extra bedroom in the loft space, you may want to think about the noise of the heavy rain hitting a skylight during the night as well as how much light it will allow. Velux windows are usually cheaper than a dormer, and usually don’t need planning dependant on the size of the window, the external aesthetics and a few other points. If you have young children around then a velux might be safer than a dormer window because it is higher and therefore not as easily accessible to young curious minds.

Dormer window being built.

Dormer

One of the major positives of having dormer windows installed is that they maximise headroom in the loft space. Dependent on the surroundings your property has around it, it may also facilitate a nice view out of the window. As stated earlier, one of the downfalls of the dormer window is the lower amount of light being allowed into the space as you would get by having a skylight. Dormer windows are usually more expensive than skylight windows, and most also require planning permission as they alter the exterior of the house.

Both have their advantages and disadvantages, if you’re currently trying to make this decision and are unsure about which to go for, then why not ask your designer/architect for their opinion?

Written by Jade Turney – Building Tectonics Ltd.

Don’t move, improve: Extending your home.

If you can extend a house to create more usable space then it is probably worth doing in the current market. This is especially true if you can create another bedroom, and even more so if you can create another bedroom whilst simultaneously making more living space to keep the house in balance.

So when our client came to us and asked if we could devise a way of creating a bedroom for the expected baby, we looked at how we could do this. However, we were not about to forget that the downstairs living space should be increased as well.  The obvious way to increase the living space on the ground floor was to convert some, or all of the garage; this is what actually happened. As I have blogged before, in my view garage conversions should be carried out, only if you have an overriding reason to convert. What I mean by this is that if you can create more usable space by extending then it must be better to do than converting a garage. When you lose garage space you probably lose storage space rather than a parking space, so you would need to find alternative storage space, unless of course you can dump the contents, and even if you can what about the next inhabitant. Garages do have a value and this should be considered when looking at the economics or converting the garage.

In the case of this house, extending was not an option because the garden was so small, but they would desperately need extra living area not only to keep the house in balance, but also because babies take up an inordinate amount of living space.  So we created a new kitchen and a utility room, again really useful when you have babies or young children because it becomes the laundry room effectively.

So the scheme was to convert the roof space over the garage and partly convert the garage leaving enough to act as a garden store. The bedroom produced was enhanced by the creation of a dormer window.  Even a small dormer window can make a big difference to a small bedroom as it increases the area that you can stand in, and of course it is a connection with the outside.

The main area of difficulty with projects like this is that we have to be able to make the floor plan work so that you do not have pass through one room to get to another. We were able to achieve this.

The extended house has enabled the family to live there for longer, and will easily recoup the cost of development when it is time to sell.  Of course some of the increased value would have happened anyway, with house price inflation, but they have had the benefit of the additional space in the meantime and they can move when they want instead of being forced into it at quite possibly, an unsuitable time.

When you are buying a small house it is worth asking if the house was designed so that it can be extended. It is government policy to encourage extendable homes and often architects are asked to consider this by developers. But not in the case of this house- but we did it anyway because that’s what we do at Building Tectonics.

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Written by Tony Keller – Building Tectonics Ltd.