What is the value of roof access?
Roof hatches have many uses but how do these uses impact on the buildings valuation? Is it a worthwhile investment? Roof hatches are generally seen as a solution to maintenance and repair problems. They offer a low cost solution for accessing the roof to repair damage, leaks, HVAC systems and more. They are purely utilitarian and industrial in this case but very much a necessity. But what if we looked at it from a different light. What if we decided we wanted to open up the indoor space, outdoors? Take a large block of flats in the heart of a bustling city for example, what are residents supposed to do for outdoor space? Free and private access to the great outdoors comes at a premium in many cities and towns. This is where roof decks, green roofs, roof terraces and roof gardens – are key.
A good one (garden terrace) can add hundreds of thousands to the value of a property, while even a postage-stamp-size terrace will significantly bump up the price of a one-bedroom flat.
Says Darren Arnold, of FPDSavills.
Roof terrace can add up to 25% to the value of a property
Research carried out by London Estate Agents, Marsh & Parsons found that a property featuring a roof terrace or balcony typically adds 12% to the value of a property, rising to as much as 25% in the coveted area of Chelsea. While access to communal garden commands an 11% premium and up to 20% in the sought after neighbourhoods of Little Venice and Holland Park. They also calculated the average price per square foot of outdoor space in London is £897 soaring to £1,925 in sought after locations like South Kensington.
Green roof initiatives are becoming more and more popular in this day and age with the rise of climate changes and expansive concrete jungles.
They can provide additional living space while bringing a multitude of benefits from limiting the impact of climate change to keeping the city cooler while at the same time reducing energy use and carbon dioxide emissions. Living roofs also enhance biodiversity, reduce flood risk (by absorbing heavy rainfall), provide insulation and improve the appearance of a city. This includes roofs and structures that may be accessible by workers or residents, and that may be intensively or extensively vegetated. Living roofs comprise two main types – green roofs and recreational roofs.
- Green roofs range from intensively vegetated (intensive) to extensively vegetated (extensive).
- Recreational living roofs provide amenity benefit.
Not all roofs are equal though, a beautifully landscaped roof deck with furnishing and tables for dining al fresco would fetch considerably more than a bare felt roof with a poor means of access.
Roof hatches vs Rooflights
Roof hatches provide a safe and secure means of accessing a roof, and can be provided with hand railing and further safety measure to ensure a safe means of access. Retractable ceiling ladders can also provide a space saving solution as opposed to a stair case
In an ideal situation we would advise use of a staircase with a handrail and an electrically operated roof hatch which can be opened at the touch of a button. Glazed solution further enhance the appeal by allowing natural daylight to flood through to the floor below, they also look much more luxurious compared with the solid top alternative. That doesn’t mean roof hatches have to carry that stereotypically industrial aesthetic, with options such as internal and external powder coating, satin or polished stainless steel, roof hatches have matured over time to follow architectural demands for a contemporary solution. Married with the latest manufacturing techniques and a modern take on engineering, roof hatches now feature technologies such as thermally broken sections to eliminate condensation, high performance insulation and a choice of well-designed locking options. Roof hatches have really come a long way over the past few years.
For a more cost effective measure, a polycarbonate rooflight can be used in place of an aluminium roof hatch which not only allows daylight to pass through but allows access to the roof. The benefits of using rooflights over solid top roof hatches are the increased natural daylight provided which can transform a gloomy, dark staircase into a beautiful, well-lit architectural element within the building. The drawback for this increased daylight is a reduced energy efficiency, while this can be minimised by utilising quadruple layers or thermally insulated polycarbonate layers it is best to assess what requirements the building has, particularly in line with Building regulations such as Part L or the even stricter Passivhaus standards.
The most important factors for specifying these products are the requirement for it to be thermally broken and where applicable (Glazed units) feature double glazing. Thermal breaks are necessary for ensuring the building in the future is protected from dampness, mould and condensation arising from the outside cold air and inner warmer air. Thinner materials such as polycarbonate should have multiple layers to achieve U-values in line with Part L building regulations. If the residence is near a coastal area then a stainless steel roof hatch may be required to be manufactured from corrosion resistant material.
Where rooflights are installed within a 2m accessible level surface, Part Q compliant products should be specified. Part Q is a new regulation which states a rooflight installed within 2m of an accessible roof or surface must be able to meet security standards set out by the document. Situations like this should specify an upgraded laminated and toughened glass or unit and suitable locking provisions
In summary, the benefits of adding roof access can be quite significant, particularly in inner cities, where outdoor space is at a premium. You can add up to 25% onto the value of your property by investing a small amount into roof access. Consideration must be taken into account for providing a safe means of access particular when on the roof, hand railing must be used where necessary and relevant building regulations such as Part Q and Part L should also be taken into account. It is highly recommended you contact your local planning authority before undergoing any work.