How to Organise and Install A Skylight Like A Pro

Installing or replacing a skylight with a crane can be a tricky and costly business, especially if you live in a busy city. Kia Designs recently replaced a dated and worn skylight for clients in London’s Regent’s Park, with a new walk-on glass that was central to the interior stairwell. It looks spectacular, but getting it into place was a nerve wracking process steeped in bureaucracy and logistical co-ordination.

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Adding a light well to your home is a fantastic way to introduce natural light to dark spaces. It improves the atmosphere of nearly every dwelling. They are a particularly fantastic addition to many period properties which have elegant and impressive stairwells, often spanning 5 or more floors, flooding light all the way down to the basement. They add a lot of value and once in place are fairly low maintenance. A good quality contraction shouldn’t need replacing within 30-50 years and most carry excellent warranties. New argon filling, triple glazing and self cleaning glass eliminate a lot of the problems associated with them in the past.

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Before

If you are thinking of having a skylight installed, we recommend hiring a project manager or getting a professional to co-ordinate the process. If you do decide to go it alone, here are some of the licenses and costs you will acquire.

  1. Parking dispensation. The crane will need to park directly, or very close to the building. You will need to reserve parking bays to guarantee it a safe and secure spot. Cranes take between 2-3 spaces, depending on size required. You will also probably need to reserve, for a shorter period of time, space for the lorry with the glass, either in front, or behind the crane so that the crane can load the glass (most glass panels are too heavy for people to move without mechanical aid).  So you might well end up having to suspend up to 5 bays. You pay for the whole day but get an allotted time, so if you go over it the vehicles will be fined. It’s worth noting that cranes will need more than one person to operate, but only carry one, so you will need to provide parking for another vehicle (although this can be a standard permit further away). Parking dispensations are given by the local council. The rates vary depending on area and congestion. There is also a penalty for making a booking later than 15 days. It goes up steeply, so best to book as soon as you know when your glass will be ready. Average cost £400
  2. Crane Hire. The best way to get an accurate quote is to come and have the companies come and inspect the property. They will need to assess the height/weight/stretch required, obstacles such as trees or chimney breasts and road/pavement space available for the struts (extra support legs for the crane). The costs of cranes vary depending on the sort of cab you need, the equipment to go on it (in this case it is usually a glass sucker, but sometimes masonry suckers are better. In some cases straps are all you need). Then there are the hiring options full or half day (most skylight installations require only 1/2 a day’s craning). You can hire just the crane, the crane with a driver, the crane with a driver and a surveyor/guide (required on every lift – but some builders are qualified) and sometimes you will require the crane, driver, surveyor/guide and 2 traffic controllers. The levels of insurance differ as well. The crane can be uninsured, insured for their drivers, insured for or not for the object being lifted, insured for all people and objects in it’s path or full coverage. Naturally costs stack up. Average cost £1800
  3. Traffic management plan: The council will require one. You will have to send a detailed drawing outlining how much of the road the crane will take up. If it is around 1/2 then you will need to pay for traffic controllers or a set of traffic lights. If it is more than half you will need to pay to close the entire road and divert traffic (a very expensive option). You will also have to provide details as to how busy the road is and the type of traffic (school run etc). You might be denied permission if the road provides access to a fire station or hospital. You can draw this yourself, but bear in mind the council want a professional and accurate assessment. Average cost £100
  4. Bus Stop closure: If you are doing work near a bus stop, the council tends to want you to suspend service from that particular stop, to save buses pulling over and further disrupting traffic/creating a bottleneck. To suspend a bus stop for 4 hours can be arranged through TFL and requires 10 days notice. Average cost £100
  5. Crane Licence. You will require one of these to part a crane on the road. They will assess the road situation and grant a timescale accordingly. They require 15 days notice. You will need the parking dispensation and any other suspensions inlace when applying as they will appear on the licence. Licences are issued by the highways department of your local council. They will nominally look at your requested dates, but may well approve you for another date, so always make sure you check back with the parking suspension, bus suspension, crane hire and glass delivery teams to make sure everything is co-ordinated. Average cost £380

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