How to bring light into your home
The trend for adding expanses of glazing to our homes seems set to stay. Replacing internal walls with glazed partitions or adding features such as oriel windows and glass balustrading can all make your home feel lighter and more spacious. If you are considering a fully glazed extension, not only will you give your home the ‘wow’ factor, but you will gain a wonderful sense of your outside space merging with the inside.
Here we look at some glazing projects that you could consider and when planning and building regulations apply.
Are often favoured by architects and can make a real statement. Not only are they a way to add a 3D effect to an otherwise uninteresting building/wall, they extend the interior space of a room, for example creating seating in a dining area without the need for an extension. An oriel window is also a perfect place to create a reading corner or to frame a great view of your garden.
Contemporary style oriel windows are often frameless and constructed of high specification glass and sealed using structural grade silicon. Like bay windows they project from the main wall of your home, but they don’t reach the ground like bay windows can. They can be self-supporting, however may need additional support from corbels, brackets or cantilever, if for example you want to add an opening section for ventilation. (Though architects often prefer the aesthetics and clean lines of a self-supporting non-opening window!)
You do not usually need planning permission, unless you live in a listed building or conservation area, but we would strongly recommend you confirm this yourself with your local authority planning department.
A building regulations application would need to be made before an oriel window is installed. This is because building control will need to check the thermal performance (U value) and strength of the glazing being used as well as the structural integrity of the window opening itself when we make a site inspection.
Replacing internal dividing walls with glazed partitions
This too is a growing trend we see in building control. Taking down load-bearing walls to create open plan kitchen/dining areas has been popular for many years. However, if you aren’t sure about completely open plan living, a glazed partition can strike a happy balance. The partition allows you to maintain sectioned off spaces, whilst still letting light flood through your home. A sliding glazed partition gives you the additional advantage of being able to reconfigure rooms as you need to.
As this type of work in internal, unless you live in a listed building you are not likely to need planning permission. However, we would always recommend that you check first with your local planning department.
If the wall is load-bearing, a building regulations application would be need to be submitted before work takes place and you can find out more in our previous blog here.
A word of warning, if the wall you intend to take down will mean that your stairs lead directly into an open plan area including your kitchen, this has the effect of compromising your means of escape in the event of a fire. We would ask that you consult us first for further information as this is likely to involve the addition of additional fire safety measures under Approved Document B which can be costly and would need to be factored into your budget.
Adding a new glass balustrade staircase
If your hallway and landing are dark and uninspiring a glass balustrade staircase can open up the space and make it feel lighter. There are many specialist staircase and joinery companies who offer a bespoke staircase design service, or you may choose to use a joiner to create a hand-built staircase for you. However, you will still need to make an application before the work is started, enclosing a copy of the staircase design.
This is because there are strict regulations governing the height of balustrades, handrails, headroom above stairs, tread depth etc. We will review the design before we inspect the work at your home to ensure it meets the building regulations and that it doesn’t compromise means of escape in the event of a fire. If your staircase design includes opening up your landing and taking out an existing load-bearing wall, we would be happy to look at a plan of your proposal before you go ahead as you will need additional structural support and calculations prepared by a structural engineer.
Retrofitting glazing as part of a low carbon pathway for your home
If you are planning low carbon retrofit work, choosing the right glazing is important, as new heating systems such as heat pumps, and ventilation systems for airtight homes manage and interact with heat in a different way to conventional gas boilers.
You should also consider whether the property is well insulated as you’ll definitely want the right U-value glazing. Allowing a certain amount of heat through the glazing can be an advantage or disadvantage depending on your property’s setup. Ideally, you’d want to make sure you home is fully insulated before putting in a lot of new glazing, as if you did it later (which could become compulsory with the climate agenda) then the whole heat dynamic of your property could be compromised.
Fully glazed extensions
Rear extension have always been the most popular home improvement projects we see in building control. However, in the last few years the rise in fully or substantially glazed extensions has been unprecedented. Not only does the glazing bring more natural light into your home, it also allows you to use the space differently during the warmer months, opening up dining and living areas seamlessly with the outside space.
Creating this type of extension, does however require the expert advice of an architect or agent and energy assessor, as Under Part L1B of the building regulations (conservation of fuel and power and energy efficiency) there is a limit to the amount of glazing that can be incorporated into an extension.
It’s quite common though, for extensions to have fully glazed walls and large areas of glazing on roofs, which can often add up to more than the amount prescribed by the building regulations as there are ways to compensate for loss of heat through the expanses of glazing.
How to meet the Building Regulations
There are various ways to meet the requirements for energy efficiency. This can either be by improving the U-Value of the glazed areas as set out in Table 1 of Approved Document L1B, or by other offset measures. (A U-Value is the rate of transfer of heat through a structure (ie a window or door) divided by the difference in temperature across the structure. The better insulated a structure is, the lower the U-Value will be.)
Improving U-Values is not always straightforward and requires careful consideration of the energy performance of windows, roof windows and doors. The calculations would normally be worked out by a trained energy assessor. They use approved software known as SAP (Standard Assessment Procedure) 2012 to ensure that the new extension would be compliant with the building regulations and the calculations are attached to the building regulations application when it is submitted.
We hope our blog has inspired you. You can read more general information about what to consider if you are thinking of building an extension, including whether planning permission may be needed, in our previous blog here or in our Guide to Extending your Home.
If you would like to discuss your own building project with us, please contact us via email at email@example.com or by calling 0330 024 9355.
You can also find more useful information on many different types of home improvement projects on LABC's Front Door website here.