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Spotlight On: Dormer Windows

Adding instant kerb appeal and a traditional cottage-style feel to the property exterior, dormer windows are a prime example of an architectural feature that has stood the test of time.

Dormer windows in their current form can be traced back to the 16th century, when they were used in residential architecture to bring natural light and air into pokey attics to turn them into sleeping quarters. In fact their name derives from French for 'sleeper' and can be identified in the French verb ‘dormir’ (to sleep). This usage of dormer windows has not changed over the years and they remain a popular addition to bring light and air into attics, loft conversions and any other room with a vaulted ceiling.

Dormer windows are easy to spot as they protrude from the main roof section on which they sit. Conveying a certain charm, the dormer window is covered by a little roof of its own, provoking a traditionally quaint, cottage-style feel.

Aside from allowing natural light to enter and ensuring improved ventilation and airflow, dormers give access to a view from the window and, inside the room, they normally ensure a little more usable floor space. They can also offer an escape route on to the roof in the case of fire. Being both practical and aesthetically appealing, it’s little wonder they are a perennial favourite in residential architecture.

Depending on their size and positioning, the addition of dormer windows can often fall under Permitted Development. Certainly when they are added to the rear of a property, it is often the case that they will not need planning approval.

Dormer windows come in a range of styles, each suited to and somewhat determined by the type of main roof on which they are situated. One of the most popular styles is the Gable Dormer, which is constructed with an A-frame roof pitched over its window.

Below are some illustrations of the most popular dormer window styles.

So, there are clear aesthetic and practical advantages in installing dormer windows into your loft conversion, home extension or redesign but how about any disadvantages?

Well, it is worth bearing in mind the potential significant impacts on time and budget. Dormers are almost always more costly to install than roof windows since they require more material outlay. They are also more complicated and time consuming to install and require the services of a structural engineer. If included within a build project, their addition is relatively straightforward. Adding dormer windows retrospectively however can be a more complex project as it will involve making modifications to the existing roof structure.

In essence, the recommended approach would be to talk to an architectural designer and structural engineer beforehand to fully understand the cost and time implications of including dormer windows in your home improvement or build project. You can then weigh up the benefits of installing dormers vs. roof windows and make an informed decision as to whether dormers will increase the aesthetic value and add the much coveted ‘kerb appeal’ to your home.

If you’d like to learn more about dormer windows, contact the team at BetterLivingSpace for an informal chat.



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