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Will they be worth the stress (and the money)?



Our designed house has 5 rooflights.  3 rectangular, 1 small square one in a bathroom and a large circular one above a two storey entrance hall, making it, I guess, the "feature" of the house.

Our plot is surrounded by trees on two sides so getting light into rooms is an issue, hence the rooflights.  

Here is our rooflight story (part 1)


We got some quotes in from companies and decided on our roof light manufacturer based on price and reasonable service.

MBC agreed to make the upstands as part of our contract.

The rooflight company quoted for the upstands also.

We opted to let MBC do the upstands as they were already paid for effectively.

MBC couldn't make the circular upstand so designed an octagonal one.  We thought that would be OK, and that we would get an octagonal rooflight or make a circular finish inside later.


We didn't mention the octagonal upstand to the roof light company.  Not deliberate.  Just didn't think anything of it.  BIG MISTAKE.


MBC put the frame up.  They did the upstands whilst we were on holiday.

The upstand finish wasn't great.  Our roofers came on site and said that the finish would need to be better, otherwise the roof membrane wouldn't sit well over the upstands.

We decided to sort them out ourselves so didn't approach MBC.  No complaints about MBC on this issue as it was our decision not to ask them.  Hubby had acquired a multi-tool and was keen to use it.


You can see on this image that the edge of the upstand is not vertical as there is a bit of board plus the blue membrane sitting proud of the top edge.




So we ripped the outer board off, cut new bits to size and then planed and sanded for a level smooth finish.   



We then filled all the gaps so the roof membrane could fit nicely.




So far so good.

Then mid August the roof light people come out for the survey (paid for by us, having at this point put down a 50% deposit of the total expected cost on 26 July).  They like to measure the actual upstands in situ to make sure the rooflights will fit.  Makes sense.

Whilst on site, the installation manager notes that the octagonal window will likely be a little more expensive and it will be included on a revised, final quote which adjusts for the as-measured dimensions.

He also informs us that the installation fee does not include lifting the rooflights off the lorry, lifting the roof lights on to the roof and that there needs to be additional health and safety such as a roof man anchor set.


We ask him to get the revised quote to us asap as the roofers are back on site to finish roofing over the upstands.

Two weeks elapse.  We chase the quote.  The roofers finish.  We chase the quote again.

The quote arrives.  The cost of the octagonal rooflight is 100% more than the cost of the circular one.  Mmm, that's a bit more than a "little bit more expensive".

We lose sleep.  We speak to the roof light company and say that is unacceptable and what can they do about it.  They suggest adjusting the upstand.  We inform them that this solution would have been easy had they told us 2 days earlier but now our roofers have roofed it over and are off site  so it can't easily be changed.  If only they hadn't taken more than 2 weeks to update their quote.....

The roof light company decides that they can come up with a design solution so a circular rooflight will fit on an octagonal upstand.

We ask to see it.  Several weeks pass.

I chase them.  The lady on the phone is rude. I explain our situation, again.

They send the drawing.  We approve them.  No choice now.  We are 50% paid up.  Let's hope this works.

We have to pay the remaining 50% for them to even start manufacturing them and get us in the delivery queue.

We do that on 10th October. 2-3 weeks lead time apparently.

All goes quiet.

We chase them.

A delivery date is arranged for next week (13th Nov).

We contact their contract lift suggestion who visits to quote for the crane needed.  We had been hoping to put these in with our other windows (sharing the crane) at the end of September.  The delays have made it impossible to do that.

This comes in at £1350 plus VAT.

We are horrified.  Unforeseen costs.  


Am trying to be pragmatic but I am hating these rooflights more and more and we haven't even got them yet.  

This has been our worst experience so far with a supplier.  Really disappointing.  Couldn't possibly recommend them.

And there is rain forecast all weekend so those bloody holes in our roof are going to let more water into our house (the are covered in plastic but it always finds a way in).


Part 2 (next week, after they are fitted) - are they worth it?  (gosh I hope so)


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Painful experience__ and very frustrating for you. It’s so upsetting when multiple little bad decisions all decide to join up to make a big appearance, I think it’s called

“accumulative error “  each one on there own seems trivial but......... I am sure it will be worth it in the long run. Extra natural light will be a big bonus in a shaded aspect. Good luck and thanks for sharing the good the bad and the ugly. 

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That sounds pretty typical TBH albeit a horrible experience. You’ve paid for something so you are committed and from that point every change be it large or small costs a fortune. It seems ridiculous that a supply and fit quote wouldn’t include lifting the damn things! Surely that should have been something the company made you explicitly aware of at the quote stage! Hoping that the installation event goes smoothly. 



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Are they really that heavy they need a crane?  How about stepped scaffold and a group of mates to lift them up a step at a time?  ALL my house windows went in this way and I am sure they are heavier and larger than these roof lights.


This was my "scaffold stairs" used for the job, in my case inside but could equally be done outside.





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The heavy one is 260kg and 2.2m diameter so that is the problem one.  The others are around 90-135kg so not light either. With time now also being against us we are where we are. As has been said here, a series of trivial decisions (mistakes) accumulating into one big issue. Quite correct and interesting how it compounds. Will post again after installation. In the meantime off to work to keep the money coming in (not faster than we spend it at the mo!!)

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How about lift them up onto the roof with a telehandler?  Is there a tame farmer nearby who would do it for a bit of beer money?

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A lorry mounted hiab would also do this.  In the meantime just cover the holes with some osb or whatever to stop the rain.  Don't cut it to size.

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We used a telehandler to get our 5 PK10 veluxs onto the scaffolding and then man handed these into place, but these were relatively light at 60kgs each compared to the weight of your roof windows.


I think you should just bite the bullet and go for a crane rather than a telehandler @Weebles, as personally I think once you have roof structure built and parts become less accessible this is where the use of a telehandler becomes less effective. 


That company sounds like a nightmare to deal with. One point that might make your situation slightly better, you mentioned VAT in the hire of the crane. As this will be provided with an operator can you not ask the crane hire company to zero rate their invoice? As you ain't going to be able to reclaim the £270 on the DIY scheme or go back to them afterwards. I would suggest you speak to them about this ASAP.


Here is VAT guidance for your reference.


Plant and machinery may be hired with or without an operator.

The hire of plant and machinery without an operator is standard-rated.

However, the liability of hiring plant and machinery with an operator will follow the liability of the work that the plant or machinery is used for (such as demolition, site clearance, ground works, and so on). This supply can be zero-rated when supplied in the course of the construction of a zero rated building.




I hired a telehandler myself for our non VAT registered joiner to use, so unfortunately I had to accept £100 VAT would not be recoverable, but had two weeks use which I maximised as much as possible (offload the trusses, fit them, put in steel beam. put in timber beam , lift veluxs. And I would have put pallets of slates onto the scaffolding but these were delayed.)


One final point, have you got any materials such a slates, tiles or any think else heavy that you can utilise that crane on site for? Put on scaffold etc, perhaps save on labour costs later?




Edited by Thedreamer

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4 hours ago, Thedreamer said:

. As this will be provided with an operator can you not ask the crane hire company to zero rated their invoice? As you ain't going to be able to reclaim the £270 on the DIY scheme or go back to them afterwards. I would suggest you speak to them about this ASAP.


One final point, have you got any materials such a slates, tiles or any think else heavy that you can utilise that crane on site for? Put on scaffold etc, prehaps save on labour costs later?





Thanks for the VAT tip. Am on it.


And we do have some spare MBC roof trusses on the top scaffolding that we could lift down rather than having to saw in half and throw off. So at least we can save a bit of time there.  Thanks 

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I had a telehandler to lift many of my windows but only as far as the first floor and I wouldn't have wanted to take them any higher with it. Our driver was really careful but it was still a heart in mouth thing until they were done.

I sympathise on the water - it's so distressing and so difficult to solve. Plenty getting into my place at the moment.

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