The importance of choosing the right materials on your new build or renovation project
Updated: Jan 15
Whether you are building your own home from scratch or tackling a renovation project, the early planning stages will prove crucial.
From the outset you will need to make bold decisions that will define the look and feel of your new home. It is important that you commit and adhere to your original plans throughout the duration of the build, as any deviation will have an impact on the end result.
You may, for example, decide that your home needs to be as environmentally friendly as possible, or that it is important to use only the highest quality materials throughout the build.
If budget were no object then these choices would be made much easier. The unfortunate reality is that practically every new build or renovation project is subject to tight budgetary constraints. This only makes the initial stages even more vital, as careful planning upfront, (particularly when it comes to choosing the right materials), can lead to cost savings in the long run.
One of the most important considerations at the early design stage of any project should be the amount of natural light entering the building. When considering light sources, the obvious place to start is with the windows, and people often go to great lengths to ensure that the correct type, number and style are chosen for their property. This is perfectly justifiable as windows can often form anywhere between 20%-50% of the overall surface area of your property and have a huge impact on both the internal and external aesthetics of the property.
However, windows are not the only source of natural light into a building, and it is important to consider the benefits provided by other options such as rooflights.
The location of your property will have a huge influence on your decision making process. The direction that your property faces and its proximity to other buildings, trees, or other obstacles, may impede sunlight coming in through low level windows and diminish the amount of natural light your house will be exposed to. In any case, a rooflight placed up high effectively delivers an even distribution of light to low-level structures and reaches areas that windows simply cant reach. Ultimately, a rooflight can offer much more natural light than a similar sized window, simply because of their location.
The advantages of natural light are many, and range from energy and cost efficiencies through to health benefits. The most modern rooflights benefit from the highest energy efficiency ratings and can reduce energy consumption in a building by up to 20%, leading to significant savings each year on lighting and heating bills.
It is worth checking with the manufacturer to determine exactly how each product performs under test conditions, as there are many variables within the test that will differentiate between an average performing rooflight and an excellent one.
The environmental performance of a rooflight is also an important consideration, and there are of course strict legislative criteria that windows and rooflights must adhere to. However, there are some products that perform well above the minimum recommended environmental standards that could bring about even greater benefits in terms of thermal performance. So deciding on the right materials, of which the choice is plentiful, will be key. For example, Stella Rooflights can achieve U-Values as low as 1.1 W/m²K, which is about as good as it gets from a modern steel rooflight.
Steel is the obvious choice for period properties and barn conversions, but they are now also being more frequently used in sleek new contemporary houses. Timber is a long-time favourite on homes of any style, but getting onto the roof to maintain the timber can be an awkward task. PVCu is also an option, but it will not provide the slim frames that metal is capable of, nor the natural look of wood. It is, also however the least environmentally friendly product to use despite an increase in post consumer recycling.
Whatever your choice of material it is important that your rooflights closely compliment that of your windows and the overall style of the building. It is also important that you take control of these decisions and work with your builder or architect to choose the best materials for your home.
What you need to remember, at every stage of the project, is that this is your home, and the reason why you have taken it upon yourself to tackle a self build or renovation project is because it gives you the opportunity to create a home that is perfect for you. This may mean insisting on the products and materials that will contribute to the overall look and feel that you are trying to create.