INSIDER GUIDE FITTING SKYLIGHTS
‘Oh, it can’t be that hard to stick in a few skylights’ – the famous last words of Editor-in- Chief Michelle Ogundehin
I took the ED team to the Sir John Soane museum a few months ago, and we were captivated by its treasures. But what really inspired me were the clever ways in which Soane had sneaked extra light into his home – light wells, skylights, mirrors, and clerestory windows fitted with yellow glass, said to have been chosen to replicate the Mediterranean light Soane loved so much. I went home determined to upgrade the small leaky skylight over my kitchen extension. How hard could it be? Just chop a hole and pop in a bigger window. I might even add a sun tunnel to the hallway, I thought! Only it wasn’t remotely simple. Here’s what I learnt… 1 Installing skylights into a new build is infinitely easier than into anything old. It’s all very well choosing a window that will fit between the joists to minimise chopping, but when those joists are 100 years old and revealed to be extraordinarily wonky, you realise you need to measure the real dimensions, not the theoretically perfect ones as guessed externally. 2 You really need to know what your roof is made of before you start works. Mine turned out to be asphalt on top of screed, over asbestos, over tiles over slate over wattle and daub. I jest not. 3 Check the pitch of your roof. 15 degrees is the minimum for decent rain run-off. Velux has a roof pitch indicator app that you can download for free, so it’s easy to do. That said, you need to check again once the roof is stripped. My top finish was 15 degrees but by the time we got back to the house’s original rafters, it was not. 4 Don’t forget to factor in the cost of ‘making good’ after works are completed. Not all roofers expect to do this for you, so it won’t necessarily be included in their quote, unless you ask. I ended up needing to get the whole inside of the extension re-boarded, re-plastered and re-wired. 5 To cut a long story short, strip and show what you are working with before you buy windows if your property is old with a roof made of anything other than nice straightforward joists and tiles.