A fresh appreciation

The pandemic has increased appreciation for fresh air as well as natural light; Tracey Jackson of Howells Patent Glazing explains how rooflights can be the practical answer

The pandemic has changed the way owners feel about their homes. Lockdowns have provided ample time and opportunity to spot weaknesses and areas in need of improvement.

Working from home and home schooling were significant triggers. Data from UK property website Rightmove reveals a demand for bigger houses with spare rooms and extra areas to work from home. Brits are craving space and flexibility from their homes, but this doesn’t have to mean moving house.

Data shared by Google showed the search term “house extension” reached an all-time high in 2020. Natural light is often a major driver, as extensions can bring light deeper into homes.

Yet it isn’t as simple as adding more windows or increasing the expanse of glazing. New build extensions must comply with Part L; Approved Document L1B recommends the total area of windows, roof windows and doors shouldn’t exceed 25% of the floor area of the extension, “plus the total area of any windows or doors which…no longer exist or are no longer exposed.”

While areas of glazing over 25% may be permitted under certain circumstances, the Regulations suggest that where practical, either the U-value of windows should be improved or other compensating measures be applied, e.g. more roof insulation, upgrading the boiler, or replacing windows.

All such measures will improve the energy efficiency of the home and offset the resulting heat loss from the glazed areas in the extension. But this comes with added expense. Studies show that rooflights provide at least twice as much light than a similarly sized vertical window and three times as much as a similarly sized dormer window. This makes them an attractive proposition for those designing and building an extension.

At a time when we are more conscious of our mental and physical wellbeing, there is growing appreciation for the natural world and its benefits. Natural light is a key example; It is important for our immune systems; it boosts our Vitamin D levels and maintains the daily cycle of activity and sleep (our circadian rhythm’). It is hugely beneficial for our physical and psychological well-being, and it helps us to focus and generally lead a happier and healthier life.

It also has financial rewards. A building with high levels of natural light can help keep energy costs down by reducing the demand for expensive artificial light.Rooflights, for example, bring light into the heart of the home, illuminating spaces which might otherwise be gloomy and unwelcoming, without the need for electric lighting. This is particularly important in areas dedicated to tasks such as home offices and kitchens.


A breath of fresh air
Ventilation is another important considerationwhen designing a home or extension. Fresh air is as important as natural light in aiding our well-being, not least during the pandemic. Keeping a home, or indeed any building well aired, is not only good for reducing stress and anxiety levels, but also proven to aid concentration.

Once again, rooflights provide a practical solution. Some manufacturers offer vented options which allow for controlled, natural ventilation. These vents are operated using motors which are often hidden from view, and do not impede the aesthetics.

Controls vary from a simple open/close switch to remote controls and digital control panels. Some offer a built-in external rain sensor and internal thermostat – essential with our unpredictable weather!

Guidance from the British Lung Foundation advises us to open windows or skylights for 5-10 minutes several times a day, especially if you’re cooking or using the shower. To assist in this, vented rooflights offer a functional solution for those wishing to create the ultimate happy and healthy home.

Tracey Jackson is business development manager at Howells Patent Glazing

Reproduced with kind permission of Architect’s Datafile.

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Howells Patent Glazing has welcomed Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street to its Black Country factory as part of national Mental Health Awareness Week.


The company shared some of the measures it has put in place to support the mental health and wellbeing of its employees.

The family-run business takes part in the Thrive at Work initiative – a workplace wellbeing programme established by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) to help businesses, across the West and East Midlands to support their employees. By promoting health and wellbeing, the scheme benefits employees and the business by boosting productivity and demonstrating that the company is a considerate employer.


Howells signed up to the programme in 2018 and put in place action plans to support their employee’s mental health and wellbeing. Despite being based on an industrial estate behind Cradley Heath station, the firm has provided access to their staff to two nature trails, where workers can go and switch off from the stresses of everyday life.

One of the trails runs along Mousesweet Brook, close to Saltwell Nature Reserve, home to a wide variety of wildlife, including green and greater spotted woodpeckers.


The visit was also appropriate given this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week (10th – 16th May) focus on how nature can boost mental and physical health and reduce feelings of isolation.


Welcoming the Mayor’s visit, Tracey Jackson of Howells Patent Glazing commented: “We would like to thank the Mayor for taking the time to visit us and for taking an interest in our work and wellbeing programme.  We are incredibly proud of our status as a Thrive at Work accredited employer (Bronze Level Award).


“We were also one of the first businesses to engage with the Mayor’s Mentor initiative which has certainly been a catalyst for change and progress.  Two of our management team, myself included, have since become professionally trained coaches and mentors.  This has given us the confidence to change perception, job craft and improve the mental health of our staff; invaluable resources for any SME.”


Following his visit, the Mayor said: “It is vital we recognise the importance and benefits of good mental health not only for the individual that may be affected, but also for our wider economic recovery.


“I made mental health a clear priority in my election manifesto, and I intend to continue to deliver on those promises. Positive mental health is good for the individual and good for the economy – no one should be left behind.


“Howells has clearly demonstrated how it puts the interests of its employees front and centre, in turn creating a workforce that I’m sure is more committed, happy and healthy. And what an inspired idea to reach out to nature to provide its team with that space to break away from their everyday pressures.”



As part of a major conservation project to repair the roof of Ickworth, which is cared for by the National Trust, Howells Patent Glazing has supplied and installed a replacement glazed roof with vents for the historic squash court.


Howells was appointed by main contractor, Messenger as one of the skilled specialists selected to see the wider ‘Ickworth Uncovered’ project through to completion.  The biggest conservation works Ickworth has ever seen, the task included mending leaks, re-tiling the iconic Rotunda roof, improvements to the East Wing roof and added lightening protection.


The Black Country based patent glazing specialist designed and manufactured the replacement glazed roof for the squash court of the Italianate Palace using its HG1 type patent glazing system.  The new glazed roof measures 9.5m x 4m on plan and is pitched at 30 degrees.


It was critical that the glass was as close to the thickness of the original for structural and aesthetic purposes, as such Howells utilised 9.5mm laminated glass, single glazed, within 40mm wide aluminium glazing bars in a matt polyester powder coated finish in Cream RAL 9001.

Howells was also tasked with refurbishing the squash court’s manual operating gear for the opening sashes.  The system was adapted to accommodate electric motors to create electrically operated opening ventilators, connected to a remote-control panel situated in a storeroom below.


The new glazed roof with vents meets the requirements of BS 5516-1:2004 and BS 5516-2:2004 (patent glazing and sloping glazing for buildings).


Due to the vulnerability of the building and the collections housed within, speed and accuracy were vital for ‘Ickworth Uncovered’.  The project schedule benefited from Howells’s commitment to assembling each rooflight in its factory prior to dispatch, helping to ensure an accurate fit. The replacement roof was delivered in kit form with pre-drilled holes, making for a quick installation.


‘Ickworth Uncovered’ was completed in 65 weeks, using more than 7,000 Westmorland slate tiles and 270 miles of scaffold. It was funded thanks to the generosity of National Trust members, supporters and donors, together with significant grant funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, The Wolfson Foundation and Arts Council.


Ickworth with its classical Rotunda, East and West Wings forms the centrepiece of the Ickworth Estate.  It is the vision of the 4th Earl of Bristol and was built to impress – an 18th century building showcasing the many treasures and art collected by the Earl Bishop.

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Tracey Jackson, business development manager for Howells Patent Glazing looks at the importance of natural light in combating the ill-effects of the pandemic and how rooflights will be an important architectural tool in designing happy, healthy buildings.


Amidst the uncertainty and chaos of the pandemic, natural light is playing an important role in maintaining our equilibrium, never more so than since British Summer Time ended in October.  It is important for our immune systems; it boosts our Vitamin D levels and maintains our circadian rhythm.  It is hugely beneficial for our physical and psychological well-being, and it helps us to focus and generally lead a happier and healthier life.


With a greater emphasis on occupant and user well-being, natural light is going to be a powerful architectural design tool in the future.


There are many products and technologies available to ‘collect’ light and direct it to key areas of the room, including windows, glazed doors, light tubes, mirrors and other reflective surfaces.  Popular amongst architects rooflights, or skylights, are particularly useful for bringing light to the centre of a buildings and rooms, where natural light from windows cannot ordinarily reach.  They also work as design features to help delineate and highlight certain areas, above a kitchen island for example.

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Howells Patent Glazing has extended its training portfolio with the development of a new workshop for its popular low-pitch, non-intrusive aluminium rooflight, Ultraline, available as a GQA approved familiarisation workshop and an e-learning experience.


Participants will be trained to perform quality and compliant installations for the standard Ultraline rooflight alongside the vented, steel rafter and glass rafter options.

GQA approved Ultraline Familiarisation Workshop

Open to all, the GQA approved Ultraline familiarisation workshop provides practical, hands-on tuition for installation techniques associated with the slimline rooflight, including fitting a kerb adaptor and vent.

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As part of a £3 million remodelling and upgrading of Bridlington Town Hall for East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Howells Patent Glazing has supplied and installed two of its patent glazing systems and two pyramid rooflights.  Specified by main contractor, Houlton of Hull, Howells completed three areas of glazing in the Grade 2 listed building.


The Birmingham-based business designed and manufactured its HG2 and HG3 self-supporting patent glazing systems, with 28mm double glazed units for installation in two areas – office space in the north west corner of the building and more significantly, at the rear of the front entrance above the main staircase.  Each glazed area spans around two and half metres.  The glazing bar was supplied in a matt polyester powder coated finish in Basalt Grey RAL 7012.

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The ‘new norm’ means that small businesses can carry on and nothing stops, so does it this mean that no impact has been felt?   The short answer is no, and it’s true to say that every business has coped differently, depending on their sector and their liabilities. COVID-19 has had an impact on all businesses, but some small businesses have endured substantial hardships, having to close completely for months and even those that have remained trading have restrictions imposed.  That said, many larger companies have felt the pressure too and many that are no longer around to tell the tale, as well as some industries, such as basic amenities, that have flourished.

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Tracey Jackson, business development manager for Howells Patent Glazing explains why aluminium rooflights will be a feature in post-pandemic home design.


Over the past six months, most of our homes have changed beyond all recognition, becoming offices, gyms and classrooms.  Unfortunately, some were left wanting, exposed as impractical spaces for this new way of living.


In our haste to build more houses, often rooms sizes have decreased, and daylight, ventilation and air quality are frequently compromised, while open plan living has tested the patience of many home-workers and their families.


The pandemic may spark a demand for improved work space at home but we will ultimately need better spatial organisation.  This isn’t just about open plan versus traditional layouts, this is about natural light, ventilation and connectivity – homes that connect with nature and the wider world.


Importance of Natural Light

Windows, and more generally, glazed products will play a critical role in meeting this demand for better quality homes.  With this in mind, it would be reasonable to assume that an increase in glazing would be an easy way to boost occupant well-being.  However, installation companies must be mindful of some common misconceptions – just because a room has a window, it doesn’t mean it is the best solution for the space.

Letting in around twice as much light than vertical glazing, and up to three times as much as dormer windows, rooflights are a popular alternative, offering flexibility.


Rooflights are particularly beneficial when designing a new build extension where the vertical windows have been removed.  The National Association of Rooflight Manufacturers (NARM) states that ‘…the glazing is pointing directly at the light source with very little diffused or reflected light.  Consequently, rooflights and roof windows can supply a great deal more daylight into the heart of the home thereby illuminating areas that might otherwise be quite dark.’


Making a room feel bright and airy, rooflights can help cut the cost of energy bills by reducing the demand for electric lighting.  And of course, the greater the rooflight area, the greater the potential savings.


Product Development

With more than 40 years of experience, we are relishing the opportunity that the pandemic presents for the rooflight industry.  Our most recent development, Ultraline answers the appeal for more natural light and ventilation, with ease.  The non-intrusive, low pitch aluminium rooflight has been enhanced to include a vented option and a minimalist steel rafter alternative for smaller roofs.  Ultraline provides homeowners and specifiers with the ability to maximise daylight with large expanses of glass, without compromise.


Insulated Steel Rafter

An option for roofs typically measuring up to 1500mm, a steel bar divider is used rather than Ultraline’s standard glass rafter.  The insulated steel rafter is part of the frame and matches the width of the standard glass rafter (40mm) but unlike the glass option, it need only be 40mm deep to meet load requirements across any span.  The steel rafter offers architects and designers an enhanced minimal look.


On most occasions, the Ultraline rooflight with insulated steel rafter can be delivered assembled as a completed frame.  This is a benefit for both installers and the end-user as it reduces labour and costs.


Vent Option

To enable controlled, natural ventilation, Ultraline can now be supplied with an opening vent.  Synchronised motors lift the glass, with multiple motors required for large expanses.  All of the motors are hidden from view.  Multiple vents are dependent on the capacity of the motors.


The vent is controlled using an open/close switch, as standard.  Customers can upgrade to remote controls or a digital control panel with built-in external rain sensor and internal thermostat.


A Flexible Solution

Natural light and fresh air have ranked high in the what-really-matters list throughout the crisis, unsurprising given their influence on our mental and physical health and wellbeing.  So, as we strive to find a new way of living, it’s vital that our experiences of the past six months influence our future design decisions.


Aluminium rooflights provide flexibility; whether it’s a domestic or commercial new build, extension or refurb, they offer the solution, boosting natural light and ventilation – critical factors in post pandemic building design.


If you’re looking for a stable supplier of high-quality rooflights and bespoke glazed products, please contact Tracey on 01384 820060.




(739 words)




Howells Patent Glazing


E: info@howellsglazing.co.uk

T: 01384 820060


For editorial enquiries please contact:

Holly Rogers

Department of Marketing


01242 500558


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Following the success of its GQA approved Rooflight Familiarisation Workshop launched earlier this year, Howells Patent Glazing is pleased to introduce a new basic version, online.

Workshop in action

Divided into three sections the online workshop examines elements of the complete practical workshop and contains useful assembly and installation information for the company’s slimline double-pitched rooflight – from flatpack to handover ready.


The e-learning experience is open to all but will most likely appeal to glaziers, rooflight installers and sales representatives, or those seeking an introduction to the fenestration industry.


Providing a valuable insight into the construction of aluminium rooflights, and designed to improve technical and practical understanding, the online workshop comprises three videos and a short online assessment via email link.  Those who achieve 70% or above will receive a Howells certificate of completion.


Successful participants will be able to explain the assembly process and limitations of a Howells flatpack rooflight; follow instructions using the installation guide; describe how to handle materials onsite and understand the benefits of using the Howells Patent Glazing system.


Training is provided by ASPIRE.  Places are chargeable and the course must be completed within two months, from the date of purchase.


The online training videos are presented in English.  It is the responsibility of the person booking the course to ensure that the participant/s can fulfil the written elements.


GQA approved Rooflight Familirisation Workshop

Alongside the online version, Howells continues to offer the UK’s first GQA approved Rooflight Familirisation Workshop from its premises in Cradley Heath, Birmingham.  The six-hour workshop is provided by GQA accredited trainers, ASPIRE and sessions are held in accordance with the current government guidelines on coronavirus.


Trainees will learn about the components, assembly and installation of the company’s slimline rooflight, with hands-on experience. Successful completion of the GQA approved Rooflight Familiarisation Workshop will result in a Howells certificate of attendance and unlike the online workshop, the opportunity to gain a GQA certificate and skills card.


Places are chargeable once again and limited to six per training session, with one session per month.  The charge for the practical workshop can be claimed back against the purchase of a Howells hipped rooflight.


Coming Soon

A new workshop for the company’s popular low-pitch, non-intrusive aluminium rooflight, Ultraline is due to launch this autumn.  The workshop will include the standard Ultraline rooflight alongside the vented, steel rafter and glass rafter options.


To book a place on the Rooflight Familiarisation Workshop, participate in the online course, or express interest in the Ultraline workshop, please call 01384 820 060 or visit www.aspirerooflights.co.uk/training.


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As construction sites across the UK reopen and contractors return to work, we are presented with an extraordinary opportunity for change.  Beyond flexible working, employee health and wellbeing, and green business practices, lies a chance for self-improvement – advances that can lead to higher profit margins and business efficiency.


By developing your rooflight installation technique and broadening your product knowledge, you can look to step away from ‘off-the-shelf’ rooflights and vents and explore bespoke products with a higher value.

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Tackling Technique

A professional installation makes good business sense.  Fitted poorly, and even the very best rooflight can end up costing valuable time and money.  Call-backs are a financial drain, and at the very least, a waste of everyone’s time.

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