A glass act that must meet build­ing reg­u­la­tions

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY - Jonathon Wing­field

WE re­cently bought a mod­ern town house, in Tin­g­ley, on the edge of Wake­field. The rooms are not par­tic­u­larly large, and with a young fam­ily we are keen to make the most of the house.

Our plan is to have an open­plan lounge on the first floor by tak­ing down a wall, thereby util­is­ing the cor­ri­dor as liv­ing space.

We would also like to open up the ground-floor kitchen into a new con­ser­va­tory. Do we re­quire plan­ning per­mis­sion or any other ap­provals? IT is un­likely you will re­quire plan­ning per­mis­sion but this re­ally de­pends on the size of the con­ser­va­tory, gar­den and prox­im­ity to ad­ja­cent win­dows etc.

If in any doubt, I sug­gest you con­tact the lo­cal plan­ning au­thor­ity. How­ever, you will have to ap­ply for Build­ing Reg­u­la­tions ap­proval.

The two rel­e­vant sec­tions are Part B, con­cern­ing means of es­cape, and Part L, which is de­signed to im­prove en­ergy ef­fi­ciency.

With re­gard to the open-plan first floor, I suspect you may run into prob­lems. If you have bed­rooms on the floor above, they will rely on a safe es­cape route that does not in­volve peo­ple go­ing through a hab­it­able room.

A lounge is con­sid­ered a high­risk area and if the only way to get out in a fire is to go through this room, then it is un­likely to be ac­cept­able.

I can ap­pre­ci­ate why you want to ex­tend the ground floor. Hav­ing a large bright kitchen/din­ing room would be a great as­set. Un­for­tu­nately, con­ser­va­to­ries are in­her­ently ex­pen­sive to heat.

Once again, it will be a strug­gle to con­vince Build­ing Con­trol that what will ef­fec­tively be a sin­gle room, can be con­sid­ered en­ergy efficient. Al­most cer­tainly, they will in­sist that you have doors sep­a­rat­ing the two spaces.

One so­lu­tion maybe to have large floor-to-ceil­ing glazed doors that fold back fully. This may pro­vide a way of over­com­ing the reg­u­la­tions, al­low­ing you to have a sin­gle space when the weather per­mits with­out run­ning up huge heat­ing bills.

An­other op­tion is to look at the de­sign of the con­ser­va­tory in more de­tail. Re­duc­ing the amount of glass in favour of highly in­su­lated walls/roofs will help. For ex­am­ple, some of the poly­car­bon­ate ma­te­ri­als on the mar­ket are more efficient than a tra­di­tional glass roof but less at­trac­tive.

How­ever, good news is on the way as lead­ing glass man­u­fac­tur­ers are de­vel­op­ing highly-in­su­lated glaz­ing sys­tems that should reach the mar­ket soon.

This will pro­vide greater de­sign flex­i­bil­ity and re­duce the re­stric­tions cur­rently in place un­der the Build­ing Reg­u­la­tions.

ROOM TO IM­PROVE: A con­ser­va­tory can add a lot to a house.

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