Constantly we are being bombarded with newer, updated models of just about everything. Phones, computers, cars, and yes, even building tools. The world is constantly changing and it seems like we see new technologically advanced products replacing older, outdated models each and every year. Newer products, improved techniques, better tools – there are people out there who devote countless hours of their lives to innovations designed to make our lives easier, and believe me, their efforts are greatly appreciated. Whether we are talking about purpose built tools crafted specifically for tradesmen or more widely used technological advancements, such as the mobile phone or computer, there is no doubt that these advancements have made my life easier, both personally and professionally, and I’m sure the same could be said for you.
However, with that being said, it is also important that we recognise the brilliance of previous generations, as many of the ‘new’ techniques and tools we use are simply updated versions of older ideas. We can go out and purchase an innovative 2017 tyre for our vehicle…but that doesn’t erase the fact that the wheel itself was discovered ages ago. This holds true in construction, and is particularly evident here in Stafford, with our abundance of older homes.
One of my personal favourite innovations of bygone centuries is the dormer. In practice and appearance, the dormer is quite simple, but simple or not, these structures still present a massively effective way to extract the most value from your home. Dormers can be used to increase usable space in an attic or loft, and also to create windows in a sloped roof. Widely used throughout Britain since the 16th century, dormers continue to be used to this day, and are one of the primary tools in attic conversions.
Speaking of attic conversions…
Recently, I worked on an Acton Trussall conversion project that, in my opinion, really speaks to the understated brilliance of the dormer roof. This job, seen in the accompanying photographs, was undertaken for a family had come to realise that they needed more space for their two growing children.
The property, as it turned out, already had the space, in the form of an unfinished storage attic – we just had to find a way to maximise it’s potential.
That’s where the dormer roof comes in.
We designed four new dormer roofs to match the existing property, and just like that, we were able to expand the available space (and increase the natural light in the attic too). With this new-found space to work with, we added two new bedrooms, an en suite bathroom and an office. Not too bad for a place previously used mainly for storage, if you ask me.
When doing this type of work converting attics or lofts, it is always important to place close attention to the layout and hire a good architect.
Over the years, I’ve seen some terrible designs – once, I saw a toilet placed on the opposite side of the drainage. This meant that the pipe work had to be boxed and hidden. In addition to looking quite the mess, this had the opposite effect of the dormer roof – it actually decreased available space! It is also important to note that it is better to strip off the roof tiles and replace all the old felt to breather membrane, as this will help the roof breath and stop the roof from sweating and saving some parts of roof decaying.