How to Bring More Natural Light into your Home

Rooflights and Bifold doors work together to add light to this kitchen

During the Summer months our homes are flooded with natural light which is beneficial to not only our homes; but also has a positive effect on our overall health and well-being. However, come the winter months when it turns dark and dreary; unfortunately, our homes (and often our moods) can go the same way.  Here are some different options for increasing the natural light into your home.

Roof Lanterns
Roof lanterns not only fill a space with natural daylight, but also add a focal point and height to the interior of a room. They work particularly well in new kitchens, sun rooms and garden rooms. Building Tectonics were asked by a client to design a very airy space to connect their house with their garden and the end result was this stunning garden room. Although it has plenty of glass it still has the feel of a solid structure, unlike a conservatory.

Garden Room with Roof Lantern

Rooflights
A popular choice for loft conversions – rooflights (or skylights as they are also called) can make a significant difference to the overall light in your home. They can be placed above a staircase, in a bedroom or bathroom or in a living or dining space (maybe over a kitchen island). They will bring in twice the amount of light of the average window and are also perfect for rooms where side glazing is not possible or you want to maintain maximum wall space.  

Rooflights come in a wide choice of designs and sizes with the main manufacturer being ‘Velux’ and are angled towards the sky allowing considerable light into a room. They work well in open-plan kitchen/living areas as they let so much light in alongside French doors or bifold doors. Many ‘Velux’ windows now offer built-in blinds and remote-controlled opening and some even allow the glazing to slide right back for a real ‘open air’ feel.

If you’re undertaking a loft conversion and are 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 (which we will cover next), and normally don’t need planning permission.

Rooflights really let the light into this kitchen extension

Dormer Windows
Another option for loft spaces are Dormer windows which give you the benefit of maximising the headroom and then depending on your surroundings – enjoying a great view. Some home-owners choose to go for the balcony option so therefore, have big glass doors fitted opening out with a railing across to enjoy the morning sunshine.  Often homeowners go for both a Dormer window and rooflights to increase both headroom and the light coming in. Dormer windows are usually more expensive than skylights and most also require planning permission as they alter the exterior of the house.

Clerestory Windows
If you need to bring more natural light into your home without losing valuable wall-space and want to keep a degree of privacy, Clerestory windows could be the answer to your prayers.  Although mainly seen in the commercial sector or in contemporary/smart houses and apartments, these little gems are windows at high level (above your eye line) which can solve issues, such as overlooking in new extensions (which helps with planning permission) or hiding an ugly feature next door.

Clerestory windows can bring natural light in without losing wall space

Bi-fold Doors
With the continued trend for open-plan living; bi-fold doors are still very popular. They allow you to open up part of a wall or the whole of the back wall of a house; thereby joining your home with your garden space. If you have a smaller space you could consider French doors; but you will need to have the room for them to open out or inwards onto a wall.

Bifold doors not only increase the amount of light entering the home but also give great views outside and can be incorporated into both period renovations and modern extensions; due to the number of different sizes and styles available.  If you have a house that has dark and pokey areas; adding bifold doors when renovating or extending it is definitely worth considering; as they can make smaller spaces feel bigger.

Bifold doors really open up and connect your internal space to your garden

Glazed Internal Bifold Doors
With homeowners loving the trend of open-plan living; another way to increase natural lights is through adding internal bifold doors as they offer flexibility to your home. You can simple fold away the partition when guests are visiting or keep an eye on the kids while cooking dinner, and then shut them when you need privacy or to feel snug. By also choosing a glazed panel option it means the natural light can still flood the spaces, while keeping the practical functionality of internal doors.

You don’t generally need planning permission for bifold doors, but if your house is listed or in a conservation area, it is best to first check with your Local Planning Authority.

The Open Tread Staircase
Staircases are now becoming a real feature of many houses; from traditional bannisters and treads through to having no rails or glass rails. They can play a big role in the way light moves between the floor levels and opting for an open tread will give a greater sense of space and allow the light to trickle down. Adding a glass balustrade will then give a real contemporary look to your home.

The Glass Floor (or Ceiling)
If you have several levels to your home another way of gaining light from above is by installing either glass flooring or a panel of glass to the floor. This contemporary design not only lets additional light pass through to the rooms below, but makes a real talking point in your home. It isn’t just for new builds though, as it can be added to any age house within reason.

Sun Pipe
Some houses can have challenging internal layouts where extensions have been added over the years; therefore, leaving a room in the centre of the house with no windows and no natural light. Or you may have a house with a basement and would love to have some natural light entering the space? This is where sun or light tunnels or sun pipes as they are called are an ideal solution for introducing natural light into those awkward spaces. They allow light to reach this space and stop it feeling dark and claustrophobic.

We hope these suggestions have given you ideas for how to bring more natural light into your home and to better connect your house to your outside space. Whether it’s Summer or Winter; the more natural light you can achieve in your home the better.  

If you would like more information on which option would be the best choice for your current home or proposed self-build home, please do contact Building Tectonics 0n 01908 366000 as we will be only too pleased to advise you.

Connect Your Home to Your Outside Space with a Garden Room

Garden Rooms are often thought of as being a separate cabin style building down the end of your garden; which you would typically use as an office, craft room, a spare bedroom or as a separate summer only additional living space.

However, did you know that a Garden Room can also refer to a fixed structure that is part of your house? This can be from designing a new structure to extend your existing living space, or by altering a conservatory into a more usable room that connects your living space to your garden as a conservatory does; but with the benefit of being able to use it all year around not just in the warmer months.

Whilst conservatories have their uses and in the summer are great spaces to relax in and make the most of the sunshine streaming in; they can become too hot at the height of summer as the heat becomes trapped inside and they are difficult to cool down. At the other end of the temperature scale; come the winter, they then become too cold so people end up shutting them off from the rest of the house and using them as storage; as they are simply too cold to even open the door to let alone use the space. This is a shame as it is often a good-sized space that is not being fully utilised and thereby restricts your overall living space during the winter months.

However, there are a number of options available to make this space more useable. These range from swapping the glass/polycarbonate roof to an insulated tiled roof to help maintain a consistent temperature; through to swapping the structure for a more permanent structure that can be put to full use throughout the year.

Additionally; many clients are now asking for a garden room to be added to their house when they have no existing structure there in the first place. They love the idea of having a room that they can relax in and enjoy the garden views from whatever the time of year; making the most of the summer or winter sunshine but with it still being part of their house rather than separate.

Whichever route you are considering, replacing a conservatory with a permanent structure that can be used all year round will not only add value to your home but will make it more attractive to sellers should you decide to move later down the line.

Here are some examples of Garden Rooms we have worked on for previous clients:

Garden Room – Milton Keynes
Our client wanted a garden room which could be used all year round without costing a fortune in heating bills. Therefore, we produced a light airy room that connected with the garden and the rest of the house. We also advised on the reshaping of the garden and rebuilding of a garden wall to create an adjacent outdoor sunspace. They were very happy with the finished outcome and said “The project was delivered on time to a high spec. Building Tectonics engaged with us throughout the process ensuring that any changes were managed and we would highly recommend them”.

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Conservatory Conversion – Milton Keynes
When Tony, our company director, brought his house it included a conservatory so one of the main upgrades he made was to put a ‘proper’ roof on it.  This required getting builders to form a foundation outside the conservatory, construct the necessary steel-work, remove the old plastic roof and replace it with a new traditional roof. The glass sides and floor were left as they were but it had a super insulated roof installed. Although the conservatory was already there; Planning and Building Regulation approvals will often still be necessary for this type of work.

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House Remodel – Bedfordshire
Our client had bought a very tired 1960’s house which they thought needed remodelling. The house had a very un-inspiring appearance, an outdated internal arrangement, very poor insulation and lacked connection with the garden. An architect had produced some plans but the client thought these were unsuitable. Therefore, we were asked to perform our magic and remodel the house and make it a home fit for the future. We are pleased to say that everyone has been delighted with the results.

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Do you have an existing conservatory or outbuilding that you would like to make better use of and to connect it with the garden for all-round year use? Or would you simply like some ideas for how a new garden room structure could be added to the back of your house? Please do get in touch to see how Building Tectonics can help you.

Garden Room in Bletchley.

Our clients wanted to replace a conservatory with a room that they could use all year round. The old timber conservatory was in need of replacement as it was rotten in places, but rather than opt for a newer plastic conservatory (which would still have a limited life expectancy) they wanted to invest their money wisely by extending their house and create what we would call a ‘garden room’. They believe, as we do, that this would be a longer lasting asset. They also wanted to create a more integrated layout so that the ‘garden room’ became a space to be used in conjunction with the kitchen, and also formed the ‘hub’ of the house, connecting with the lounge and the garden.

The exterior was intended to be simple, unostentatious and blend in with the existing building.

The clients are delighted with the results as it gives them everything they required.

A ‘hot’ topic

Traditional Conservatories are cruel!

DSCF6585

We have completely transformed the conservatory into what we call a garden room. To us this means a room looking out on the garden that can be used all the year round. It involves putting a proper roof over the glazed area. We can often retain the glass perimeter and floor too, although sometimes some changes to these elements are needed. Our technique does not involve any light weight insulation layer as sold by some companies who have, like us, realized that there is a general dissatisfaction with conservatory owners. We advocate an independent structural system and a traditional roof. If done correctly, it shades the space in the summer, keeps the heat in during winter and gets rid on the nasty, dirty looking, creaking, badly insulated security risk that is the polycarbonate roof.

Ok, you would have been well advised to do it properly first time around, but nonetheless we may be able to help so that this space can truly be regarded as part of the house and yet create that all year around connection with the garden.

It may be too late to save all your conservatory plants but stop this cruelty now! Put them out in the garden and promise yourself that you will get the situation resolved before the poor little things have to suffer the biting cold of the mid winter conservatory freeze.

Written by Tony Keller – Building Tectonics Ltd.

Enjoy your garden.

This particular project was completed without any drama (which is the best way in our opinion), and so we have another satisfied client.

VID rear before VID

Our client wanted a garden room that could be enjoyed all year round without it costing a fortune in bills when winter shows up (which in the UK could happen at any given time, regardless of the time of the year). The challenge, as always, was to produce a light and airy room that connect with the garden and the rest of the house, without disturbing the aesthetics of the overall look of the property.

VID side best enhanced VID best inside

 

We also advised reshaping the garden a little to accommodate this room, and rebuilding of a garden wall to create an adjacent outdoor sun space, creating something with the feel of another room.

Written by Tony Keller – Building Tectonics Ltd.

 

I’d like a roof on my conservatory please.

If you have seen the Building Tectonics blogs or the Facebook page, you may know that Tony is not exactly a massive fan of conservatories, so when he brought his house a few years ago (which happened to include a conservatory!) he decided that this would have to go.

The previous owners had probably spent a fair amount of money on this, and had tried to make it a more appealing area by removing the windows and doors between the kitchen and conservatory. This made the first two winters at his home horribly cold, so as soon as he had the funding for it, the project to change this space was underway.

One of the main differences he made to this area was the fact that he put a ‘proper’ roof on it. The team of builders Tony brought in formed a foundation outside the conservatory, constructed the necessary steel-work  and when the right moment presented itself (a dry day), the old plastic roof came off and a new traditional roof went on. Making this weather tight took mere hours, and the interior of it was finished within a few days. The outside of this conservatory could be worked on at a more leisurely rate. The glass sides and the floor were left as they were, but now that he has a super insulated roof installed, there are no more worries about cold winters. Planning and Building Regulation approvals will often be necessary for this type of work and so you need to know what you are doing but it is worth the effort.

A conservatory roof being changed to a proper roof.

Written by Jade Turney – Building Tectonics Ltd.