A glass act that must meet building regulations
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.