Planning a construction, especially one that is within close proximity of other buildings, is a complex process. A variety of considerations have to be taken into account, not the least of which is rights to light compliance.
Around the globe, a number of countries have developed laws that protect tenants of existing buildings from an infringement of the natural light they receive. Any new construction in these countries has to comply with the relevant laws, and planning early is absolute key to success.
Put simply, rights to light compliance is not a consideration that can be saved for the finishing touches of construction planning and execution. It has to be a part of your planning and engineering process from the beginning, ensuring legal compliance and protecting the tenants around you from any claim of violation.
Fortunately, 3D models can help you ensure that compliance from the start. Fitting into a greater Building Information Modeling (BIM) Framework, they calculate and project the way your building will influence the natural light received by existing structures around you.
The Basics of Rights to Light Laws Around the Globe
Whether you have to comply with rights to light laws depends on the country in which you plan your construction. In the United States, for example, no such law exists, and the ruling of a 1959 law suit stated that buildings and their tenants do not have a “legal right to air and sunshine.”
The same legal freedom, of course, does not hold true in other countries. In the United Kingdom, the Prescription Act of 1832 states that a right to natural light applies to any building that has received natural light for more than 20 years. The time frame, in other words, automatically protects older buildings from being infringed upon by new construction.
In Denmark, a law determines exactly how much direct sunlight an apartment must receive. In fact, this law has even changed the way many windows are designed in the construction phase. it’s even changed the way that many windows are designed. In Germany, meanwhile, every office by law must have a window with a view of the sky.
The nuances of these four examples alone show just how much rights to light law differs across the globe. As a result, planning ahead is absolute key. By the time you design the individual features of your buildings, and before the first day of construction, you need to make absolutely sure that no local rights to light laws are violated.
Even in countries that don’t currently enforce rights to light laws, it makes sense to build a relevant model. The 1959 ruling in the United States, for instance, has been challenged in court multiple times. Even if taking light away from surrounding buildings is technically legal in the location for the prospective building, ensuring at least some natural light in the course of your construction is still advisable to protect against any potential legal challenges.
How 3D Models Can Ensure Rights to Light Compliance
Any 3D model that seeks to calculate the impact of natural light on surrounding buildings by necessity has to include these buildings in its calculations. As a result, the model typically shows at least the proposed new building, in addition to the entirety of the surrounding area that could be affected by potential shadow of the new construction.
Generally speaking, rights to light 3D models differ based on the level of detail they tend to provide:
- Basic models only showcase the broad outlines of each building, and are ideal for an initial evaluation of whether the new construction is even possible to build without violating any laws.
- Models with medium detail add windows, doors, and potential balconies for a more specific calculation of the natural air flow. Because these building features can be adopted, a medium detail-level model makes more sense in the later planning phases of the building.
- High-detail models, as the name suggests, show every part of the building to be constructed as well as its surroundings. Often, they are created on an ad-hoc basis, once the suspicion of potential violations occurs.
Each of these models take into account a number of internal and external factors. The goal is to re-create a model that is as closely connected to the real-world environment as possible, which can be done through a basis of aerial photography in addition to laser scanning techniques.
Violation of rights to light law becomes important once an affected party can claim actionable injury. The goal of building 3D models is to prevent that scenario from even being possible, before the construction begins. But of course, the problem cannot always be addressed proactively.
As a result, a rights to light 3D model can also be valuable during and even after the construction. Here, it can show tangible evidence of whether and how much a claimant is actually affected by the new building. This type of reactive modeling does not showcase the same range of benefits as its proactive counterpart, but can also be immensely valuable.
Fitting a Rights to Light 3D Model into a Greater BIM Framework
Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a complex process that requires careful planning, in-depth data gathering, and accurate execution to create a model that takes into account all variables that could affect the construction of a building. In that regard, rights to right 3D model can fit perfectly into a greater BIM framework.
A variety of internal and external variable will determine the way natural light flows around and through new construction to reach surrounding buildings. A model that determines the exact way in which this light will actually travels after the construction is complete has to account for all of these variables, both in terms of the building size and material itself and the way natural light hits it to begin with.
The exact location of the new building can divert or block sunlight, which might be solved by a minute rotation of its foundation. Meanwhile, the placement of a balcony can be the potential reason for non-compliance in some countries.
All of these minor changes are easily solved, when detected early in the planning and design phase. But if they are not, they could invite significant legal trouble down the road. As new construction goes through a BIM modeling process, keeping rights to light laws and implications in mind is absolutely vital to ensure a successful and compliant building process.
That, in turn, requires a two-step process: understanding the laws that apply to the construction, and finding a partner able to build an accurate rights to light 3D model that matches your needs and specifications. For the first, it makes sense to engage legal experts who can understand the nuances of local regulations on your behalf. The second, on the other hand, requires the specialized expertise of a BIM firm with in-depth experience in rights to light modeling.
Experience in the country and local region of construction is key. The model will have to account for nuances that might not be immediately obvious, though laser scanning and aerial photography can begin to approximate it. Ultimately, taking into account all necessary variables can accomplish a rights to light 3D model that will ensure compliance and move your building design and construction project forward.