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Inside of an orangery

Understanding an Orangery: A Classic Addition to UK Homes

An orangery represents a timeless and elegant home extension, combining the light and airy feel of a conservatory with the solidity and warmth of a traditional brick extension. Originating in the 17th century to protect orange and other fruit trees during the cold winter months, orangeries in the UK have evolved into luxurious spaces that blend seamlessly with modern and traditional homes alike.

The Structure and Design of Orangeries

Orangeries are characterised by their substantial brickwork, which typically forms the base and corners of the structure, providing a robust and insulated foundation. The roof is often a lantern-style, allowing natural light to flood the space, while the large windows and sometimes glass doors offer a seamless connection to the garden.

Inside of an orangery

Inside, orangeries provide a versatile living space that can serve as a kitchen, dining area, living room, or even a home office. Their design is often bespoke, tailored to complement the existing architecture of the home and meet the specific needs of the homeowner.

Planning Permission for Orangeries in the UK

When considering adding an orangery to your home in the UK, it’s important to understand the planning requirements. As of my last update in April 2023, here are the general guidelines:

Permitted Development Rights

In many cases, orangeries can be constructed under permitted development rights, meaning they do not require planning permission, provided they meet certain criteria. These criteria include limits on the size and height of the extension and its proximity to boundary lines.

Size Limitations

Typically, an orangery should not cover more than half the area of land around the original house. It should not extend beyond the rear wall of the original house by more than three meters for an attached house or by four meters for a detached house. The maximum height is usually restricted to four meters.

Design Considerations

The design of the orangery should be in keeping with the existing house. Materials used should be similar in appearance, and the roof pitch should match the style of the house, where possible.

Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas

If your home is a listed building or located in a conservation area, you will likely need to apply for planning permission. The same applies to areas of outstanding natural beauty and national parks.

Building Regulations

Regardless of whether planning permission is required, your orangery must comply with building regulations. These regulations cover structural integrity, thermal efficiency, fire safety, and other aspects to ensure the safety and performance of the structure.

Adding an orangery to your home can be a transformative project, offering a beautiful, light-filled space that bridges the gap between home and garden. While many orangeries fall within permitted development rights in the UK, it’s crucial to check your local planning authority’s specific requirements and obtain the necessary approvals before proceeding. With careful planning and design, an orangery can enhance your living space and potentially increase the value of your property, all while respecting the character and style of your home.

heritage build in Yorkshire

Purchasing a Heritage Build House or Period Property in West Yorkshire

A Guide to Embracing History with Confidence

Yorkshire, with its rolling dales, rugged moors, and historic towns, offers a unique opportunity for homeowners to invest in a piece of Britain’s architectural legacy. Heritage houses and period properties in this region are more than just living spaces; they embody centuries of history and architectural innovation. However, buying one of these timeless treasures is not without its challenges. No matter if you are extending your property or looking to build from scratch, there are many things to look out for.

Here’s what you need to look out for when purchasing a heritage build house or period property in Yorkshire.

Understanding Yorkshire’s Architectural Tapestry

Yorkshire’s heritage properties span a wide range of periods, each with its distinctive style and construction techniques. From the sturdy medieval stone of a classic Yorkshire longhouse to the elegant Georgian townhouses of York, the architecture is as varied as the county’s landscapes. The Tudor and Victorian eras also left their mark, with half-timbering and ornate Gothic Revival details that still capture the imagination.

heritage build in Yorkshire

Key Period Features to Look For:

Medieval and Tudor: Look for traditional timber frames, wattle and daub infill, and steeply pitched roofs.

Georgian: Symmetrical facades, sash windows, and stonework are hallmarks of this era.

Victorian: High ceilings, bay windows, and detailed brickwork typify Victorian craftsmanship.

The Allure and Challenges of Period Properties

Owning a piece of history comes with a sense of pride and a unique set of challenges:


Character and Charm

Period properties are replete with features that new builds often lack, such as original fireplaces, wood beams, and handcrafted details.

Investment Potential

Heritage properties in good condition can be a solid investment, often appreciating more than their modern counterparts.


Maintenance and Repair

Older construction methods and materials can mean more upkeep. It’s crucial to assess the condition of the roof, timbers, and foundations, as these can be costly to repair.

Regulatory Restrictions

Many period properties are listed buildings, which can limit the changes you can make to the property and require specialized restoration techniques.

Modern Comforts vs. Historic Authenticity

New builds in Yorkshire may offer modern amenities and energy efficiency, but they often lack the unique character of a period property. When viewing heritage homes, consider the following:

Insulation and Heating

Historic homes were not built with modern insulation standards in mind. Retrofitting these properties for energy efficiency can be challenging, but necessary for comfort.

Plumbing and Wiring

Check the state of the plumbing and electrical systems. These often need updating to meet current standards and usage demands.

Essential Surveys and Legal Considerations

Before purchasing, invest in a thorough survey by a specialist who understands historic buildings. This should include:

Structural Survey:

dentifies any major repairs needed.

Heritage Impact Assessment

Required for listed properties to determine the impact of any proposed changes.

Embracing Community and Conservation

Period properties often lie within conservation areas, which aim to preserve the character of historic neighborhoods. Engaging with local heritage groups and conservation officers can provide invaluable insights into maintaining the property’s historical integrity while making it a home.

Purchasing a heritage property in Yorkshire is not merely a financial transaction; it’s a commitment to preserving a piece of history. The key to a successful purchase lies in balancing the desire for a home with character with the practicalities of modern living. With careful consideration and expert advice, you can ensure that your period property is a source of pride and joy for years to come.

Whether you’re drawn to the grandeur of a Georgian townhouse or the rustic charm of a Yorkshire longhouse, understanding the unique aspects of heritage properties will help you make an informed and satisfying purchase. Remember, when you buy a period property, you’re not just buying a home; you’re becoming a custodian of history.

Here at OD Contractors we live and breathe heritage builds built in Yorkshire stone and other stones and have years of experience in understanding of how to build the traditional way as well as repairing heritage builds for domestic and commercial sectors. As a local building contractor speak to us today regarding your next build project.

loft conversion

The Different Types of Loft Conversions: Planning, Benefits, and More

Converting a loft or attic into a usable living space is an increasingly popular home improvement in the UK. Not only does it make effective use of otherwise wasted space, but it also adds significant value to a property. If you’re contemplating such a renovation, it’s essential to understand the various types of loft conversions available and whether planning permission is required. In this blog, we’ll delve deep into these topics and also discuss the myriad benefits of a loft conversion.

Types of Loft Conversions

There are several loft conversion types, each suitable for different property styles and requirements. The four most common are:

Dormer Loft ConversionDescription: This is the most popular type of conversion. It involves extending the existing roof to create a box shape. This adds headroom and floor space.

Best for – Properties with limited space. Works well for terraced homes.

Hip to Gable Loft Conversion:

Description – This conversion changes the sloping (hipped) side of the roof to a flat (gable) end. This increases the internal loft space.

Best for – Semi-detached or end of terrace homes with hipped roofs.

Mansard Loft Conversion:

Description – Named after the 17th-century French architect François Mansart, this involves raising the party wall (the wall shared with neighbours). The roof remains flat, while one outer wall slopes gently inwards.

Best for – Terraced homes, but can be adapted for other property types.

Roof Light (or Velux) Loft Conversion:

Description – The least invasive type of conversion. It involves adding skylight windows and reinforcing the floor but doesn’t alter the existing shape of the roof.

Best for – Properties where there’s ample headroom. It’s also the most cost-effective option.

Planning Permission in the UK

In many cases, loft conversions fall under “permitted development,” which means you don’t require explicit planning permission. However, there are exceptions and nuances:

Permitted Development – If your loft conversion does not exceed specified volume allowances (40 cubic meters for terraced houses and 50 cubic meters for detached and semi-detached homes) and meets certain other conditions, you may not need planning permission.

Conservation Areas – If you live in a conservation area, obtaining permission can be more challenging.

Beyond Permitted Development – If your planned conversion exceeds the limits of permitted development, or if there are other complicating factors, you’ll need planning permission. This can involve detailed drawings and potentially, a fee.

Building Regulations – Regardless of planning permission, all loft conversions in the UK must meet building regulations. These ensure that the conversion is structurally sound, safe, and accessible.

Always consult your local authority or a planning expert when considering a loft conversion.

Benefits of Converting Your Loft

Increased Property Value – According to various property experts, a well-executed loft conversion can increase your home’s value by up to 20%.

Additional Living Space – Whether you desire an extra bedroom, home office, playroom, or a personal sanctuary, a loft conversion delivers the extra space without the hassle of moving.

Cost-effective Expansion – Compared to other forms of property extensions, loft conversions often offer a more affordable way to increase living space.

Energy Efficiency – Modern loft conversions can improve your home’s insulation, leading to potential savings on heating bills.

Natural Light – With the inclusion of skylights or larger windows, lofts can harness a wealth of natural light, creating an uplifting and productive environment.

Avoid the Move – If you love your current neighbourhood but need more room, a loft conversion lets you stay put while adapting your home to your evolving needs.

A loft conversion is more than just an architectural transformation. It’s an investment in your home’s value, an enhancement of your living space, and a testament to adaptable, efficient urban living. Whether you opt for a Dormer, Mansard, Hip to Gable, or Roof Light conversion, the key is to plan well, be aware of regulatory requirements, and envisage how this new space can best serve your current and future needs.

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