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With the appearance of Approved Document Q, the question of security of rooflights arises. Approved Document Q deals with security i.e. preventing an opportunist from breaking in by having security designed into all potential access points to a building.

This applies to all new dwellings, including those resulting from a change in use of an existing building, such as commercial premises, warehouse and barns undergoing conversions into dwellings. It also applies to premises within Conservation Areas.

What are the main stipulations for Part Q?

Approved Document Q creates security requirements in relation to doors at the entrance to a building, including garage doors where there is a connecting door to the dwelling; ground floor, basement and other easily accessible windows and any easily accessible rooflights. The requirement is that the product must be shown to have been manufactured to a design that has been tested to an acceptable security standard

Ground floor, basement and other easily accessible windows, including easily accessible rooflights, should be secure windows. Frames should be mechanically fixed to the structure of the building in accordance with the manufacturer’s installation instructions. Windows should be made to a design that has been shown by test to meet the security requirements of British Standards publication PAS 24:2012. Windows satisfying other standards that provide similar or better performance are also acceptable.

PAS 24:2012 explained

PAS 24:2012 has been produced by the British Standards Institute (BSI) to provide a method for testing and assessing the enhanced security performance requirements of external door sets and window types intended to resist the levels and methods of attack experienced in the UK and normally associated with the casual or opportunist burglar.

It is believed that these attacks are the result of an opportunity presenting itself with no regard to the likely reward that success may bring. Burglary attempts covered by this document are likely to avoid noise and unnecessary risk. As risk is associated with time, the period spent attempting to gain entry is limited. PAS 24:2012 specifies test methods and acceptance criteria relevant to the enhanced security performance of door sets and windows, intended to resist attack normally, the ability to gain entry by manipulation of a lock cylinder is addressed in PAS 24:2012. Entry by deliberate breaking of the glass, lock picking using tools only available to a locksmith or by attack on the frame fixing methods is not addressed. PAS 24:2012 does include a requirement for the infill medium material, it is not a test of component performance or installation requirements.

Rooflights and their security

The current situation for rooflights is not completely clear. It is clear, that easily accessed rooflights in a new-build situation are covered by Approved Document Q. The requirement is to resist a casual attack for a given time, the thought presumably being that a burglar will take flight if the break-in proves time consuming and the risk of being seen increases.

Easily accessible rooflights constructed of two panes of toughened glass are an easy target. A tap from a sharp tool will break both of the panes in turn, quickly shattering them into small pieces which are easily cleared away to allow access through the roof opening. However, if the inner pane is of laminated glass, breaking through the rooflight becomes more difficult and time consuming. A sharp tap with a tool may crack the glass but it will remain in place still providing a barrier to entering the building. Repeated blows will produce damage but not sufficient to clear the glass. The interlayer of the laminated glass provides a significant delay to anyone trying to create an opening in the glass to gain entry.

Sunsquare Ltd has taken the decision to supply only laminated glass for inner panes for improved safety, however at the same time this provides increased security. Sunsquare rooflights are mechanically fixed to the supplied upstand which becomes an integral part of the roof structure, making Sunsquare rooflights a much tougher prospect for anyone seeking successful unauthorised entry to premises.

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