Adding a conservatory to your property can be an excellent way of improving your home. It can give you much needed extra space if your family is starting to outgrow your house; it can give the property an extra dimension and a touch of luxury and might even increase the value of your home when the time comes to sell.
However, before you begin to think about the positive benefits a conservatory could bring to your lifestyle, it is vitally important to think through every aspect of the planning stage.
Get the conservatory design and build right, and the finished building will meet your expectations.
If you are planning a conservatory, one of the first questions to ask is what you want to use it for?
Will it be used as an occasional garden room, or do you require the conservatory to act as a second lounge or living space?
Getting an idea of the potential use for the conservatory will help you to get an idea of the size you should aim for.
You also need to consider how the conservatory will ‘fit’ with the rest of your existing house. It should look like a natural progression from the home; too small and it could appear lost next to the main house, too large and it could be too imposing or take up too much garden space.
The different styles of conservatories on the market generally fall into two types traditional style conservatories and more modern style structures. There are a variety of different designs available within both categories and your choice will depend on the type of property you have, the size of your budget and your own personal preference.
Modern conservatories tend to be functional shapes, with clean lines. They can be installed with pitched or flat roofs, with frames constructed of PVC, hardwood or aluminium. Traditional styles draw their design from historical building shapes and tend to be more intricate; but can be a more sympathetic addition to period properties.
The more common traditional styles are Victorian, Georgian and Edwardian. Victorian style conservatories usually have a pitched roof, are particularly ornate and include features such as bay windows and faceted fronts.
Both Georgian and Edwardian are generally more symmetrical structures with pitched roofs and a flat frontage. They can also include very ornate detail, and tend to have larger floor space due to their shape.
The various other types of design include lean-to conservatories, which are simple structures with a single roof pitch; and gable front conservatories, which incorporate a flat frontage and a steeply pitched roof to afford more ceiling space.
The budget for your conservatory is likely to be one of the biggest factors when it comes to deciding on the final design and choice of materials.
It is important to include all of the associated costs, and not just the cost of the building itself.
The heating and cooling of the conservatory is something, which must be considered, particularly if you intend to use the room throughout winter. Underfloor heating is often used to maintain temperatures in the colder months, and is something, which should be installed during the build.
You will almost certainly need to install blinds to help block some of the heat from the sun during the summer and also to add privacy. Make sure you include the cost of roof and window blinds. You may want to have electrics installed in the conservatory and again, this is something, which should be part of your budget.
Building a conservatory yourself
Conservatories can cost several thousands of pounds to install, and one way to get the style and the finish you desire without breaking the budget is to install it yourself. This is not something, which should be taken lightly as the build will usually involve digging the ground for the foundations and laying brickwork, before fitting the frame and windows.
If you are competent with building work, you can buy conservatory kits in almost any style to suit and could save a great deal of money on labour and installation costs.
Conservatory planning permission and building regulations
Conservatory planning does not usually involve planning permission, which is one less thing to worry about. Although an extension to a house does require permission, a conservatory is normally exempt providing it meets certain conditions.
These include regulations stating that a conservatory should not take up more than half the land surrounding the property, and should not be higher than the roof of the property. A full list of the conditions is available from the planning portal website below, and if you are unsure it is advisable to contact the planning office.
Conservatories also tend to be excluded from building regulations, provided that they are at ground level and do not cover an area greater than 30 square metres.
They must be separated from the house by external walls, doors or windows, and should have an independent heating system from the rest of the property. The windows and electrics within a conservatory should comply with the relevant building regulations, as they would in any type of extension.
If you are planning to build a conservatory there are plenty of things to think about before you start to gather quotes and plan the installation. It is important to have a clear idea of your budget so you can develop your design around it.
You should also think about the use of the conservatory when it is finished. Will it need to be heated all year round? Do you need to have electrics and power points installed? If you know what the room will eventually be used for, you can start to develop an idea of the size and shape, which will best suit your needs.
You must also consider the style and design of your conservatory. Do you have a very modern house, which will benefit from a new, contemporary conservatory? Or is yours a period property, which demands a more ornate and traditional style?
Getting a good grip of the planning stage should enable you to make confident decisions about the type of conservatory you want, and will reduce the risk of any surprises when it comes to cost.