Lantern roofs are a form of roof light which are instantly recognisable by their pitched design. They suit a wide range of building styles and are fitted to the centre of flat roofs or at the pinnacle of pitched roofs. They’re not a new idea, having been around since the 1800s. But modern lantern roofs are likely to be constructed from aluminium and uPVC rather than traditional timber frames.
Lantern roofs are usually installed to brighten dark rooms or spaces under a roof. Because of the possibility of light entering from so many angles, they can bring in up to 40 per cent more light than dormer windows or skylights of similar dimensions. The glazing options available include self-cleaning and solar control glass, making them easy to maintain and ensuring that they won’t turn your room into a greenhouse in the summer.
They are most often fitted in areas where there is limited light to be had from additional side windows. Typically kitchens, bathrooms and hallways benefit the most, as these tend to be either internal rooms or located at the back of the house where the wall of another building often limits light. But we are increasingly seeing lantern roofs in offices and bedrooms, particularly in loft conversions and extensions. Protected building conversions can also benefit from lantern roofs when new window openings are not permitted.
Lantern roofs are designed and manufactured according to the customer’s requirements. Because of the need for precision fitting, installation is best left to the professionals. In new extensions, they are fitted as the roof is installed. In existing roofs, an opening is made in the roof and ceiling as with any other form of roof light.
This is a key advantage; in the majority of cases in England and Wales, lantern roofs do not need planning permission. This is because they are less visible from the outside and can rarely be argued to be overlooking neighbouring properties. However, it is important to check the specific rules in your local area.