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Roof options etc.


jason.p
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I'm thinking of converting an outbuilding for use as an observatory. It's plenty big enough (9ft X 12ft) but I'm not sure what would be the best way to make the roof opening. I am planning to reslate it anyway so really I can leave as big an opening as is necessary and practical. I don't think a roll off would be practical so some sort of hinged or sliding arrangement would be best? It would obviously have to be weather proof and fairly easy to manage. Has anyone done this sort of conversion? I can't decide how big the opening needs to be to get as much sky as possible (I may have to raise the floor level, which is not really a problem). The building is arranged North-South and my best skies are South and East. West and North are OK but a bit limited.

I'd be very grateful for any advice at this stage. I'm sure it's going to happen, but not quite sure how at the moment :smiley:

Thanks

Jason

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That looks like it could be an interesting project. Not really sure what to suggest - someone recently built an observatory in their attic by doing something with Velux windows and it's documented somewhere in this forum section. What I would suggest is checking early on if there are any planning related hurdles that you might have to get over.

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Jason, that's one hell of a challenge you've set yourself, especially as you wish to retain the heavy slates which IMO won't lend well to being inverted if a hinged roof is used, and if you opt for a sliding section then you may as well look at making the complete roof roll to maximize the viewing potential. The roof would also need to be beefed up to take the weight of the slates. In the traditional design the weight of the roof is channeled through the supporting walls as the whole structure is one. One possibility would be to lighten the roof by using shingle tiles (felt based) that replicate the look of slate without the weight.

Other than that, as James hinted, would be to remove the roof and gable ends, install a flat roof and then fit a large dome. However as it's a permanent structure you may need to consult with the local planning department to see if the changes require planning permission.

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Hmmm... difficult one! You want quite a large area to open to access the sky. Slate roofs are NOT suitable for opening - at least not using standard stone slates. As mentioned above , you might be able to use "imitation slates" made of plastic. I'm guessing you could do that without upsetting the planners (or neighbours). If I had that barn, I'd be looking at taking the top apex shaped part off the end wall and making a new, lighter wooden roof that could roll off. But again as mentioned, you could have planning problems but I wouldn't know. Rubber roofing is slate coloured and nice and light - and very easy to use.

That's my thoughts for what they're worth :D I think I would check out planning regs first and maybe get an informed opinion.

Edited by Gina
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Looks like a potentially great project.

Its hard to see where this outbuilding sits, but I would suggest that you check with your local planning authority on any rules and regulations once you have a plan of attack for the conversion, as this may dictate what you can and cannot do in terms of re-roofing, alternative materials, domes etc.

The most sympathetic approach IMHO would be a re-slated roof, with a large sliding rooflight (depending on your budget). But there will be other options.

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I can't imagine that those timbers and slates weigh much under a tonne. Moving all (or even part) of a slate roof is going to require some seriously Brunellian engineering and some very powerful motors. It's also liable to be noisy and likely to quickly lead to some broken slates. Perhaps have a warm room at one end with the original roof and a slide-over section of lightweight roof covering the scope.

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The pier is going to have to be very high too, I'd have thought.

The pitched roof makes things quite tricky. I'm struggling to think of a way to convert the building into an obsy without making fairly significant changes.

James

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Thanks for replies. The idea I had was to reslate part of the roof (as Gina suggests) and have a section at one end moveable (South facing). This could be hinged downward from the purlin (each side) with some kind of restraining straps. I was considering some kind of framework with polycarbonate sheet for this. I would also take down the top few feet of the gable end and have a drop down flap. This would give a completely open end as the hinged flaps would close on themselves and I could do away with the ridge board. Weather proofing could be one of the biggest problems.

As James says, the scope would have to be raised. I could raise the floor level and stand the pier on a plinth, or have a pier extension. I think this would be the least of my problems :shocked:

I would have no problem with planning. (I have outline planning permission from my wife,, which is all that really matters :smiley: )

As you say, it's a bit of a challenge but the roof has got to come off anyway and it seems like too good an opportunity to miss.

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If you're free to remove part of the roof I'd be quite tempted to put a flat roof on (or a hipped roof with a flat section on top) and put a dome on. I realise that might be a bit ambitious :)

James

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I would have no problem with planning. (I have outline planning permission from my wife,, which is all that really matters :smiley: )

I still feel you should consider the planning / building regulations to make sure whatever option you opt for - this site has some nifty animations which explain things http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/permission/commonprojects/outbuildings/miniguide

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Yes, I agree too. You don't want to put a lot of work and money into a rebuild only to find you have to take it down and resurrect the original. If you check with planning first you'll be covered. Also, they take a dim view of people flaunting building regs and are likely to be tougher if you go ahead regardless.

Edited by Gina
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Flap down roofs are prone to suffer from two problems

1 - Creating a seal. The flap-down design of roof is notoroiusly difficult to make weatherproof, particularly where it meets the roof apex.

2 - Closing the roof. If the flap down section goes passed the horizontal when open, you could have great difficulty closing it. Those who do use these systems often seem to end up with a system of pulleys to close them.

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Thanks again for replies. I appreciate the concern expressed and advice given.

I will be giving this project a great deal of thought and proceed with caution:)

Jason

Sent from my GT-P5110 using Tapatalk HD

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how about a different approach and wheel the telescope out

http://www.scoperoller.com/casters.shtml

As you say, an interesting approach. Unfortunately in my situation it would mean taking out a gable end. My options for this particular building remain some kind of roof modification.

One of my other options is a poly tunnel (just happen to have a spare one!) where some kind of roll out could work. Perhaps some kind of platform on rails. My main worry with this kind of system would be stability in it's final resting position. One of my more whacky ideas was one of those pump up pallet trucks.

Overall I think I'd be much happier with a solidly fixed pier, but at the moment all options are open.

I'm grateful for all suggestions, thanks:)

Jason

Sent from my GT-P5110 using Tapatalk HD

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Pier tech telescopic pier up through a hole in the roof? Ok for imaging, not so good for visual.

And you'd have to play the theme tune to Thunderbirds at the same time.

James

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