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How to Build a Conservatory

A conservatory could cost anything from £500 per square metre to over £1000 per square metre, depending on the size, the style, and the choice of materials.

Even the most basic of conservatories could cost several thousand pounds, so if you are able to build one yourself you could save a great deal of money.

A self build may be the only way to make your preferred choice of conservatory affordable.

A self build may be the only way to make your preferred choice of conservatory affordable.

If you desire a particular style of conservatory, or a certain type of material to suit your house, undertaking a self-build may be the only way to make it affordable.

As with any type of extension, it is important to plan carefully. It is your responsibility to ensure that any regulations pertaining to the build are met fully.

It’s also your responsibility to make sure the finished building is of a high enough standard, to be fit for use and to add value to your property.

Do not be tempted to attempt to build a conservatory if you don’t have the necessary skills; it may save you money, but a poorly built conservatory

will not add value to your house, nor will it be enjoyable to use.


Planning the DIY conservatory

It is essential when planning a DIY conservatory to think about the final use of the new room. Will you use the room permanently, and will it need to be fully heated?

Will it be used as a playroom, a garden room, a dining room, or perhaps for growing plants? If you have a good idea of what its use will eventually be, you can design a conservatory around those requirements.

Other factors, which will affect your choice of design include the style of conservatory you want, the type of material you choose for the frames, and the type of glazing you choose for the windows.

Modern conservatories constructed of PVC are generally cheaper, and their uniform shape means they are often easier to install. More traditional styles of hardwood frames are more expensive and may be more complex to build, but might suit the style and character of your house much better.


Planning permission and building regulations

Planning permission and building regulations are not usually applied to conservatories, provided they meet certain conditions. If you are building a conservatory yourself, you are responsible for making sure that it meets the requirements; if not, you may have to apply for planning permission.

It can take up to eight weeks to get a decision from the planners, so make sure you check all the regulations well in advance to avoid any delays to the building work. More information can be found on the planning portal website:



Building a conservatory

The construction of each individual conservatory will of course vary, but a general guide to the process is detailed below.

Initial preparations include checking that there are no obstructions to the build, such as boiler flues, extraction outlets or drainpipes. If the site is clear, the shape of the conservatory can be marked out and a trench is dug to at least 600mm ready for the foundations. The ground level within the perimeter is also lowered to a minimum of 300mm below the level of the damp-proof course of the house.

The next stage is to drive stakes into the ground to a depth of 450mm below the damp proof course, and 300mm lower than the outer ground level; before pouring the concrete foundations to a level of 150mm.

The inner leaf of the cavity wall can be built up to ground level,once the foundations are competed.

Building the inner leaf of the cavity wall up to ground level.

Once the foundations are in place, the inner leaf of the cavity wall can be built up to ground level.

The floor slab is laid in several stages; first hardcore is poured to a minimum depth of 150mm and compacted. A 50mm screed of sand covers the hardcore to prevent any sharp edges tearing the damp-proof layer, which is laid next.

At this stage floor insulation can be laid over the top of the damp-proofing if required. Finally a further 100mm of concrete is laid to bring the base up to the correct floor level; it is finished to leave a smooth surface ready for flooring to be laid. If underfloor heating is to be used, it will be installed at this stage.

Next the outer leaf of the wall can be built and the inner leaf completed up to the desired height ready for the frames. If the brickwork will be visible inside the conservatory it is a good idea to use matching materials for both leaves of the wall at this stage.

The fitting of the frame and roof will vary considerably depending on the style of conservatory and the materials. Generally, the external sills and the frames are fitted to the wall next, before the aluminium eaves structure is fitted to secure the frames and act as a support for the roof.

Glazing bars are fitted as required on the roof, ready for either double glazed units or polycarbonate panels to be fitted in-between. The side glazing units and any doors are fitted last to complete the external structure, while internally, cladding and fascias are fitted to hide the appearance of the framework and beams.

After the external structure of the conservatory is complete, there is still much to do inside. Tiles or flooring will need to be laid, and any electrical work not carried out during installation will need to be completed.



A conservatory can be a wonderful addition to a house, creating extra space and adding value at the same time. Unfortunately they can also be very expensive, and installing one yourself could be the answer to getting the conservatory you want at a price you can afford.

If you are serious about building your own, make sure you plan every part of the process very carefully. Check local planning regulations and building regulations to make sure you are exempt before you start building, and make sure the materials and kit you buy is from a reputable self build conservatory supplier.

Allow yourself plenty of time to complete the build, and make sure your work is of the highest quality; after all, it is your home that will reap the benefits.

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