Conservatories Buyers Guide
Many homeowners choose to add a conservatory or sunroom to their property to add an extra room, create more space, and close the gap between the indoor and outdoor areas of their home. They are designed to let in as much light as possible. When making this decision, however, there are many factors that need to be considered, and our conservatory buyers guide should help to cover most of these.
What is a conservatory?
Before going into detail, it is useful to define what a conservatory is. According to FENSA (Fenestration Self-Assessment Scheme), a conservatory consists of the following features:
- Not less than 75% of the roof area is made from translucent material
- Not less than 50% of the wall area is made from translucent material
- It must be either unheated, or heated by a system with its own and separate heating controls
- It must be separated from the main residence by ‘external’ doors
A sunroom is slightly different. Sunrooms are usually classed as single-storey extensions as the roof will have no glass and therefore will not meet the criteria above. Some homeowners prefer sunrooms to conservatories because they are more in keeping with the style of rest of the property.
The decision you make as to whether you choose a conservatory or sunroom will affect the project’s overall cost and may also affect whether you need planning permission and what building regulations apply. There are several other factors to consider when choosing a conservatory.
How To Choose A Conservatory Company
It’s crucial to ensure that your conservatory supplier is a member of FENSA and ideally the Conservatory Association or is a Guild Approved Ultra Frame Installer. A good conservatory company will have a code of practice that they adhere to, which also includes a third-party procedure for complaints through arbitration to reach financial settlements.
Choosing A Conservatory
1.) Decide on the type of conservatory.
For example, do you want a Gable conservatory (with a steep pitched roof which gives lots of light and height) or perhaps a Lantern conservatory (a period style of conservatory that has two tiers and additional ceiling height in the shape of a lantern)? There are many different types of conservatory so browse styles online or in brochures to make sure you’re aware of all of the options before making a decision.
2.) Decide on the shape and size of the conservatory.
In addition to the traditional square or rectangular shape, conservatories are also available in a ‘T’ or ‘P’ shape, which can add a different element to your home. In terms of size, you will need to decide what you will be using the room for. If the conservatory is to be used as a dining room, for example, there will need to be seating for around six to eight people. In this case you will require a room that measures at least 4m x 3m. The size of the conservatory is also dependent on the amount of available space you have.
3.) Choose a type of frame
Depending on which conservatory supplier you choose, there are a range of frames available. Some companies may even offer a combination of frame types, such as wood on the inside and aluminium on the outside, to give you an attractive looking interior frame, yet an exterior frame that requires less maintenance. There are advantages and disadvantages to each type of conservatory frame.
4.) Pick a roof material
There are two main conservatory roof types; glass or plastic. Any glass used must be toughened , and ideally should reduce the amount of heat entering and leaving the conservatory. The most common type of plastic roofing is polycarbonate sheeting. Whichever type of roof you choose, make sure there is a 25 degree slope to ensure it stays cleaner compared to a shallower pitched roof.
5.) Choose conservatory lighting and blinds
If the conservatory is to be used during the evenings you will need to investigate different lighting options, such as soft lighting, table lamps or spotlights. You may also wish to install blinds in the conservatory. This will help to create much needed shading in the summer.
How To Choose Conservatory Windows
The main element to any conservatory is the glass windows. The use of glass means that plenty of light is allowed into the room, enabling you to use the room throughout the year, and it will also save money on heating and cooling costs. The type of glass you use, however, needs to have certain features:
Conservatory glass should always be double glazed to ensure efficiency, and using specialist safety glass should keep the heat in the room without overheating it. To improve security, the glass should be laminated, and this will also reduce the strength of the sun’s rays, helping to protect you and your family. Security should be a high priority when choosing windows, so make sure that they have good quality locks and that the glass panes can’t be removed from their frame.
Buying a Conservatory Check List
If you’re considering adding a conservatory to your home follow our handy check list to ensure that you cover all of the most important parts of the project. Maximise the use of space in the conservatory by ensuring that external doors open outwards into your garden rather than inwards.
- Check to see if you need to apply for planning permission and if there are any building regulations
- Clear the site of the conservatory to make room for the base
- If there are any obstacles, such as pipes or boiler flues, make sure these are relocated elsewhere
- Your installer will create the conservatory base, build up inspection chambers, fit external doorframes and install the roof frame and complete all initial construction work necessary
- Add electrics, plumbing and heating as needed
- Add glazing to the roof and fit the window glass
- Hang external doors and create an entrance
- Add gutters, down pipes and connect to existing gullies or new soakaways
- Decorate the room, add furniture and add finishing touches