What factors should you consider before building a conservatory?
There is no doubt that a building a conservatory is a big decision. You will need to weigh up financial considerations carefully to ensure it makes long-term sense. Questions around construction and planning requirements should be factored into your thinking, as well. This may leave you with a set of worries that make you nervous about continuing. Rest assured, you can get your dream conservatory and we’re going to give you a list of the wonderful benefits you can expect once it’s built.
What are the financial considerations when planning a conservatory?
While having a beautiful, light, and airy new space may sound like the prime consideration, you need to think longer-term, too. Most homeowners have a few home improvements on their mind. Should you be building a new bathroom, instead? The answer here is that a conservatory tops the list of value-busting home improvements. A conservatory can deliver a 108% return on the cost of construction; double that of a bathroom.
Even at this early stage, you can approach experts to help you ascertain what type of conservatory would be best for you. Estate agents, architects or conservatory firms will offer you assessments of your requirements and then give you more advice.
Once you have an understanding of what types of conservatories to consider and what construction options are open to you, you can begin to plan a budget in detail. The sheer number of options in roof panel systems, glass options, frame material, and other choices such as if you will have a dwarf wall or not are likely to take some serious planning.
On the subject of planning, don’t forget to factor in professional fees and application costs if you need to go through the planning process.
Some conservatory systems allow an element of DIY and in this way you can reduce the cost by doing some of the work that would otherwise have to be done by a builder.
Conservatory construction options – a handy guide to conservatory styles
Conservatories have been popular in the UK since the 16th century, so it’s no wonder that there are hundreds of options when it comes to construction. The main elements of a conservatory are the roof, panels and foundation. You should also select a style: Victorian, Elizabethan, Edwardian Orangery, Extension or lean-to. If your head is spinning, don’t worry: we’re going to break these options down for you.
Lean-to – This type of conservatory uses the wall of your home with a single flat sloping roof. It’s flexible and easier to construct, so it normally has a lower cost.
Elizabethan – Offering a wide panoramic view, this unfussy style gives a distinctive rectangular shape and fits well with most properties. The three-side pitched roof is the biggest link to the Elizabethan period.
Edwardian – Elegant and classic. Similar to a Victorian but with a flat front and rectangular shape, which gives it a greater floor space.
Victorian – A pretty popular style with classic looks. The front is a bay, giving a pleasing rounded shape, and the roof is pitched. An ornate roof ridge completes the look.
P-Shape – Normally a mixture of a lean-to and Edwardian (or Victorian) to create a larger space that can provide a flexible living area.
T-Shape – A central area that is normally nearly the same width as the house, with a single smaller bay in the middle. Popular for detached homes with a larger garden.
Orangeries – A more substantial build that is part-way between an extension and a conservatory. They sometimes have supporting pillars in the corners and may be more fully integrated with the rest of the house.
Each of the above options has elements that will make it more, or less, suitable for your particular requirements. Our gallery contains some great examples of each type.
In addition to choosing the type of conservatory, you’ll need to think about the construction elements, such as roofing, frames, windows and floor. Each of these has many options and selecting the correct configuration will ensure your conservatory is exactly as you’d dreamed.
Roofing – Your primary choice here is solid, tiled, glass or polycarbonate roofing. A solid roof allows vaulting and internal plastering which can give a very pleasing look. A tiled roof can fit in well with the roof of a tiled house. Glass roofing allows plenty of light (and potentially heat) and polycarbonate is a lightweight and lower cost option but with low thermal insulation.
Frames – The frames of the conservatory have a large effect on the overall feel and look of the building. Options here are uPVC, metal (normally steel or aluminium) or wood. The type of conservatory style will have a large say in your choice of frame.
Windows – Available in single, double or triple glazing. Your selection of windows should reflect your needs to manage heat, light and sound.
Floor – The style of the conservatory will have a corresponding physical requirement for foundations. Some, like a lean-to, have very small weight-bearing factors to consider. Larger conservatories, especially Orangeries, may need something more substantial to sit on. You may have the option of a dwarf wall or be able to choose floor to ceiling glass.
It’s natural to worry about problems with your conservatory
There are plenty of horror stories about conservatories that leak, are too hot or cold, or have terrible condensation issues. The concerns you have about your new conservatory are reasonable and it’s important you embark on your new project with your eyes open.
Don’t be led to a particular design choice by a salesman. Have a clear idea of what you want and be guided by the best available data and up-to-date facts. Be clear about exact temperatures, thermal and acoustic properties, and water ingress issues from the start. Make sure that the work is guaranteed and you’re dealing with a company that really cares about your experience and long-term satisfaction with your conservatory.
Our new conservatories come with long 10-year (or more) guarantees, but if you have an existing conservatory that has problems, rest assured they can be solved. Be aware that blinds and curtains aren’t always the solution to condensation issues and can make problems worse. Likewise, if your current roof is letting you down, you can have roof inserts or other thermal solutions that will stop the problems in their tracks. While it’s better to build a conservatory that is free of issues, it’s good to know that aftermarket solutions exist.
We’ve been supplying conservatories and roof systems for over 10 years and we’ve overseen the construction of hundreds of successful and much-loved conservatories. We’ve also helped those who had problems with an existing conservatory to turn the space back into a cosy and well-used space. Contact us to talk about your personal situation: we’d be delighted to hear from you.