WRITTEN BY: Karen Lawrence
Everyone wants to live in a home that is blessed with plenty of sunlight – it’s a sure-fire way to make your home feel bright and inviting. There are practical benefits too; more natural light saves energy and means lower bills, and your mood and wellbeing can be boosted by increased exposure to daylight. Tom Bentley, UK Operations Manager at Refresh Renovations suggests, “Rooflights are a great way to bring light in a room. They can be fixed or opening, and you can have them on pitched roofs or flat roofs”. So, if your home is looking a little gloomy, roof windows, rooflights or skylights could be the answer.
Should you choose a roof window, a rooflight or a skylight?
Although often used interchangeably, technically speaking there are differences. Roof windows are designed for installation at a minimum 15⁰ pitch, come in standardised shapes and sizes and are usually smaller than rooflights. They must comply with a specific standard and be CE marked to demonstrate compliance. Roof windows are most often installed in loft conversions.
The terms rooflight and skylight, however, are used rather more loosely to describe a glazed unit installed on a flat roof or terrace, can be much larger and are often individually designed and made to order. Generally, you should choose according to your roof type: if it’s a pitched roof, you need a roof window; if it’s a flat roof, you need a rooflight. The best advice is not to worry too much about the name, but to think about the benefits of replacing blank ceilings with blue skies and sunlight.
How much does it cost to add a rooflight?
Prices for small, basic roof lights start at around $500, not including installation costs. As the size increases so does the cost, and extra features such as electronic opening systems, or glass that can be walked on, will increase the price further. Special glass and blinds can also add to the costs, but it could be a mistake to omit them. Refresh'sTom Bentley advises homeowners to be aware of the potential heat gain when fitting rooflights. He warns “Today's windows are super-efficient at keeping the heat in so you may want to consider fitting a blind, especially if it is south facing. You can also choose solar reflective glass, but this can dull the quality of the light, so I’d recommend you weigh up the options before making a decision”. The modern, streamlined look of today’s rooflights means they perfectly complement a contemporary extension. Including rooflights in a bigger renovation project will help keep costs and disruption to a minimum.
From $500 - $2000+, excludes installation.
What can you achieve with a basic budget?
An off-the-shelf fixed rooflight will bring in more daylight, create a sense of spaciousness and transform a dark room, even on a basic budget. Consider the positioning carefully to maximise the light and ease of cleaning and maintenance. Tubular skylights are an alternative to traditional fixed-rooflights, and are growing in popularity.
From $500, excludes installation.
What can you achieve with a mid-range budget?
With a little more money, the best bet is to increase the size of the rooflight and add some ventilation. Particularly if placed above a kitchen, it’s important to be able to open the rooflight to prevent overheating and disperse cooking smells. If you are working within a budget, opt for a manually-opened skylight. If you have a bit more to work with, an electric or solar-powered skylight will offer great functionality.
From $1000, excludes installation.
What can you achieve with a high-end budget?
The bigger your budget, the larger the area of glazing can be. An electronic opening system with rain sensors means you need not worry about leaving your rooflight open even when the weather forecast is changeable, and remote-controlled blinds can provide shading on even the most inaccessible rooflights. The framing and internal finish can be upgraded too, to avoid ugly junctions and increase the amount of sky you see above you. A rooflight is unlikely to need planning permission but building regulations do limit the amount of glazing a property is permitted to have, so check with your architect or renovation specialist.
Although they are relatively easy to install, a flat roof lantern or pyramid looks impressive and gives a great view of the sky. Lanterns let in three times more natural daylight than vertical windows. Perhaps the ultimate modern design statement, the walk-on glass rooflight can be used between storeys to bring light into lower levels without any loss of floor space, as well as in a flat roof or terrace.
For optimum functionality, opt for a solar or electrically-powered skylight. Velux offers high-performance double glazed skylight options, with solar-powered and electrically powered models starting from approximately $2,000 (excludes installation).
Solar/electric powered skylights
From approximately $2000, excludes installation.
For further inspiration, see how Refresh improved the space and light within this Auckland bungalow by adding skylights. Alternatively, check out Adlux's wide range of residential skylight options.
If you would like to discuss home renovation options for your next renovation project, please use the enquiry form on this page to provide us with your contact details. We will get in touch with you at a time that suits you to discuss your project. If you would like to provide us with more information about your project, we have a more comprehensive enquiry form on our "Get in touch" page too.
*Costs are rough estimates and are subject to change. For a fixed-quote accurate to your specific project, please consult your local Refresh Renovations specialist. All Refresh Renovations franchises are independently owned and operated.