Upwardly mobile

Director Patrick Brightman talks to The Daily Telegraph, to discuss how the rooftop space in your block can create additional housing and release a multitude of financial benefits.

By Laura Latham, The Telegraph

“There are only a few niche developers involved in maximising the use of roof space, with most aiming to build luxury penthouses.

Roofs need to be flat, and have space for an access point to be built in, such as an exterior staircase. The end result tends to be light and airy, often higher up than surrounding structures, and with terraces and views.

The value of the space above a property, be it residential or commercial, will depend on location, size and suitability for development. This includes whether the structure is strong enough for further construction and how many units it can reasonably take. For private developers not every roof works; this kind of construction is so far mainly taking place in central London, where values are high, and so a profit can be made.

Award-winning Swedish firm, First Penthouse (firstpenthouse.com), has developed airspace properties on the flat roofs of historic buildings in Chelsea, Knightsbridge and St John’s Wood. Managing director Patrick Brightman says rooftop development can only really work in locations with high density and high returns. “Building into airspace is more expensive than building at ground level, so the costs can escalate,” he explains.

How do you make a mint from your newly discovered ability to sell your airspace? Costs vary widely, and some developers don’t buy the airspace but cover all the costs of development, from gaining planning consent to final installation of the rooftop properties. In return, they offer the freehold owners a share of profits on the sale of the new apartments. Other firms prefer to buy the airspace outright, then undertake the construction but retain any profit from unit sales.

To minimise disruption to residents and the local community, several developers use pre-made, modular structures that are built off-site and installed almost fully formed. This reduces the need for on-site labour to a few weeks, and has been heavily backed by the Government in last week’s white paper as a way to speed up construction.

Building into airspace needs planning permission, extensive surveys and the consent not just of the freeholder but of the leaseholders in an apartment block.”

Read the full article with The Daily Telegraph here