Windows are a very important element of any building work.  The decision needs to be considered very carefully.  The decision making process should begin with considering the existing house and whether the new building should match or set itself apart from the existing.  It is often much easier and more impressive to set any new building work apart from the existing building.  This is because it can be very difficult to match the existing external walls whether it is brickwork, mortar colour or render.  When this decision has been made the decision about what windows to choose is much easier.  There are a few different choices of window material (shown below) however there are also the choices related to the thermal efficiency of the window and also whether it should be openable; swing open, top hung, side hung or sliding.  The size and position of the window is also fundamental.

  • UPVC
  • Timber
  • Aluminium
  • Composite
  • Steel

The two keys parameters which will guide the positioning and size of the window will be to what extent you want to harness the view that the window will frame and how much natural daylight you want to allow into the room.

Too much natural daylight is as bad as too little daylight so this decision should be considered carefully.  It should also be noted that if the total area of all new glazing exceeds 10% of the new floor area a Sap calculation will be needed to show to the Building control body that the building as a whole meets the thermal efficiency as stipulate din Part L of the Building regulations.

If the view is important then the window frame should be minimised so that the view is not interrupted by unnecessary fenestration.

However fenestration can be a beautiful feature.  Crittall windows (steel) do some lovely windows and doors which can be used as internal and external doors and windows.

Beyond this there are other detailed design considerations such as the position of the window within the wall.  The window can project beyond the wall to allow a window seat within the wall depth.  This type of window is called an Oriol window.  The window could also be set inside to line up with the inside of the external wall which would then create an external window seat or planter.  The depth of the external wall also plays an important role here.

There are further options related to the glazing itself.  Do you want it to be opaque, translucent or transparent?  Do you want the glass to have a pattern?

Whatever your decisions are they should be considered carefully and with a thorough understanding of the choices available.


Soakaways are underground crate tanks which collect surface water from you rainwater gutters rather than send that water to the sewer.  They take the burden off the sewers.  They have to be at least 6m away from any building and at least 2.5m from any boundary.

They are a good choice where the garden is large and connecting to the existing sewer is onerous.

Before a soakaway can be specified a percolation test should be done.  This test check that the existing ground where the soakaway is to be installed is suitable so that flooding will be avoided.  The Building Research Establishment BRE have published guidance on carrying out the test properly in their Digest 365.  This publications also helps to choose the correct size soakaway.

The test is usually carried out by the builder or a specialist drainage company such as SUDs solutions

The specification of drainage has to be prepared for a Full plans Building control application and if a Thames Water Build Over agreement application is required it should be done then.  Building control authorities require a Build over agreement to be in place prior to submitting the Full plans application.


On a recent break to Provence in the South of France I was amazed to find such beautiful traditional buildings.  Everywhere I looked were beautifully constructed buildings and spaces.  This care is complimented with the care shown in the food and wine of the region.  It is clear that the people who live here value things very much.

The traditional stone masonry construction is used in almost every building and is complimented by shallowed pitched roofs with double roman clay tiles.  The windows are mostly without fenestration to avoid obstructing the beautiful views.  The use of traditional materials which are from the region and put together in an effortless yet robust way is instructive for designers.

I highly recommend staying at this hotel for a relaxing and peaceful break, Les Bories & Spa hotel –