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What roof windows max the light? (extension & conversion)

Although we are seeing lots more glazed extensions on Instagram and Pinterest recently, the reality is that the more glazing you have the more expensive the build. So, most of us aren’t able to build glass boxes onto our homes, even if we wanted to. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be clever with glazing to maximise the light coming into your home.

Whether you’re thinking about a single storey extension to the back or side of your home, or a loft conversion to create more bedroom space. Making sure you enable as much light as possible to make it into your space is of paramount importance. And roof windows are a great way of doing this. They enable six times more light in than a vertical window (one of our favourite stats here at Fresh Start Living HQ!). And they don’t need to take up precious wall space, which is especially useful in a terrace or semi-detached home where adding more side windows can’t be done. Or in a loft conversion where you can’t build a dormer on the front.

So, when you’re thinking about adding those roof windows what do you need to be thinking about? Here are our top tips.

Have fewer but ones that are bigger in size

We drive past so many homes that have clearly converted their lofts and have now got a number of roof windows placed into the front part of their roof. But we often ask ourselves, why did they need 4 of them when they could have had 2 larger ones instead? There may be a good reason for this, but more often than not people don’t really know why they’ve got the number that they do. It’s usually an architect or builder who’s decided for them but without having the interior layout and plan in mind when doing so.

We’d always recommend having fewer in number but bigger in size. Not only will it be cheaper, it’ll mean a more cohesive space that’s been carefully thought through. Think about it like your vertical windows. Would you place 2-3 small windows on one wall in a room or just have one larger window? You’d normally go for one larger one, so think about roof lights in the same way.

But that doesn’t mean you should just make it the largest option that will fit. Think about the proportions of the room and the position vs. the sun. You don’t want to end up with a room that ends up being too warm in summer or that you need to keep drawing the blinds to keep the sun out.

Placement is key

The decisions on roof windows are usually made very early in the process of a build, well before people have decided on their final kitchen design or position of the bed in a new loft bedroom. But to make sure that you have your roof windows in the right position you need to know where those things are going to be placed.

These days, having statement lights above a kitchen island is a given. But if you’ve got a roof window placed directly above the island then that won’t be possible. The same goes in a loft conversion. Do you really want to have a roof window directly above the bed or directly in front of the shower in the en-suite?

And don’t think you should just put the roof windows as high as possible in a loft conversion either. Depending on how many other houses are overlooking you and have their own loft converted, think about them as you would do traditional vertical windows. Place them at a level where you can actually see out of them, rather than making them feel like they’re placed in the ceiling.

Think about the functionality

Last but not least, think about how they need to function. Do you think you’ll be opening them on a regular basis? If so, think about how high they are and whether you’ll be able to open them standing on the floor. Do you need the opening mechanism to be at the top or bottom of the window? This will affect whether you can a roof window that is top hung or centre pivot and how open the space feels.

If you’re not able to open the window whilst standing on the floor then maybe buying ones that you can electronically control might be a good idea.

In the same vein, you will need to think about whether you will need a blind or shutters for the windows, and whether you will be able to open and close those easily. You can buy telescopic control rods that help you to open and close blinds when they’re difficult to reach, but you can also buy those that you can control electronically.

You will definitely need a blind in a bedroom space, but you won’t necessarily need it in a kitchen/dining space. In fact, we’ve got two large roof windows in the kitchen and living space within our rear extension. But because we have a snug that we retreat to of an evening we don’t need any blinds on the windows and have left them as they are.

So, if you’re thinking of incorporating roof windows into your next building project, have a good think about how many you need and where they’re placed before you finalise your plans. And once you know the answers to those questions you can then think about whether you need electronically controlled versions and whether you need to budget for blinds.

If you are thinking about making changes in your home and need some help or interior design inspiration, do get in touch with us here. And don't forget to follow us via Instagram, Facebook and our upcoming blogs.

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