Glazing 162 views Jan 02, 2018
Simple 3-Step approach to rooflight specification

The perception and benefit of rooflights, and more importantly daylight, has evolved to such extent it has become a fundamental element of contemporary architecture. ‘Daylight’ might be a simple word, but for many years it was given little thought or high consideration during the design or construction process.  With architects, clients and consumers all searching and wanting the latest offering, what steps can specifiers take to find the best rooflight product which offers the most benefits at an affordable price, whilst being aesthetically pleasing to the eye? 

Naturally, with this evolution of opinions and desire comes product development.   Manufacturers work hard to launch new products regularly, with a solution available for whatever the requirement may be. This has resulted in an infinite variety of rooflight shapes, sizes, colours and glazing options to suit flat, pitched and curved roof applications. Irrespective of the number or extent of rooflights required for residential, commercial, industrial or agricultural structures, if the basics are followed the process can be as easy as 1-2-3:  design and specification, a market leading manufacturer and finally installation.

Design and specification

The choice of daylighting holds the key.  With so many options available, the early involvement of a rooflight manufacturer or daylight consultant at the design and specification stage of a project is critical as they can provide good advice and influence the right rooflight decision.  This could be in terms of the rooflight area required, benefits on energy saving or ventilation options as well as ensuring the most appropriate type of product is chosen for the individual requirements of a particular project. Working together during this time will ensure all requirements and benefits are achieved. 

While a part of this requirement is meeting current legislation, it is also about meeting budgets whilst at the same time choosing the best product for the application that is quick and easy to install. This is not always an easy task when regulations need to be adhered to.  Smoke extraction, airtightness, u-values, solar gain, wind-loadings, watertightness are just some of the many considerations and requirements. It is therefore important to work with a rooflight manufacturer that can demonstrate, support and back-up their product’s performance and technical claims.

Compliance with the differing national regulatory frameworks must be considered, with rooflights subjected to mandatory legislation and standards covering key performance factors including fire, thermal insulation, safety, and in certain applications, security. Care should be taken to ensure that any specification and installation meets the relevant standards, with a hierarchical approach often best practice. Meeting the relevant fire standards is paramount, insulation standards are important to meet energy efficiency standards, while safety requirements must also be satisfied.

In particular, in the UK and Ireland, much assistance in meeting regulatory requirements is provided in extensive industry guidance, for example NFRC, MCRMA, NARM, ACR.

Manufacturers at the top of their game

Using a manufacturer which has a wide range of products will ensure the most reliable and cost effective option can be selected for any roof type or project requirement as they can offer unbiased advice on differing product types and applications to ensure that the project’s requirements of performance, aesthetics and budget is most appropriately met. A company with a more limited range of products could be more likely to recommend only the product that they supply rather than what is best for your project. A project can often benefit from using different rooflight products on the same roof, where specific performance, budgetary and aesthetic requirements can be matched to individual areas of the roof to ensure the most cost-effective overall budget.

The perfect fit

In a world where health and safety is paramount and with site labour, welfare and plant potentially so expensive, choosing the right manufacturer or product for your daylighting is crucial.  For contractors wishing to reduce site time on a roof and enhance safety, factory assembled rooflights are manufactured to tight tolerances, ensuring an accurate and reliable fit on site leading to time saved on installation, and reduced fitting costs. They say time is money, and costs can spiral out of control if the wrong choices are made. 

With margins low and budgets tight, it’s important to recognise the value of UK quality standards for rooflights and check the origins and evaluate objectively the credentials of rooflight products.  Selecting an apparently lower cost rooflight might well compromise performance requirements and lead to higher costs in the long term. 

Choosing the right rooflight manufacturer will ultimately give you peace of mind.  They can offer great quality, long lasting and compliant products that are quick and easy to install and backed up and supported by superb technical support. Through the synergy between rooflight manufacturers and specifiers working together and by taking a simple three step approach, it is possible to design, produce and achieve some of the most beautiful ‘daylight enhancements’ ever dreamt of on a building.