Building a conservatory offers several benefits and is a great addition to any home. Having a conservatory installed will increase the value of your property, and will give you and your family plenty of extra living space.
Cheaper and easier to build than a normal extension, a conservatory can fulfil a variety of uses from a playroom for children, to an extra living room, or a relaxing garden room.
The lean-to conservatory, sometimes referred to as a Mediterranean conservatory is one of the most popular styles in use in the UK today. The versatility of the lean-to conservatory and the ease of installation make it one of the cheaper options, particularly for the DIY builder.
What is a lean-to conservatory?
Lean-to conservatories were built on south-facing walls to prolong the growing season for plants and vegetables.
They are often called sunrooms or Mediterranean conservatories, as they were thought of as a way of bringing the Mediterranean style of living to the UK.
Generally of a simple square or rectangular structure, the lean-to is so called because it uses one wall of the house as the back wall of the conservatory. Built along only one side of the house, these types of conservatory have a single pitched roof.
Although in the past lean-to conservatories have been very simple structures, it is now possible to build them in a variety of different styles, with a variety of different materials. Rather than just a basic garden room or storage area, the lean-to can now be considered alongside other types of conservatory as an extra living space for any use.
There is no limit to the length of a lean-to conservatory other than the length of the wall onto which it is to be installed. The standard pitch for the roof is just five degrees, although this is variable, and the pitch can be anything up to 30 degrees if desired.
The general low pitch means that a lean-to can be installed in areas where another conservatory may not fit; a bungalow, for example, with a low eaves height may not be able to accommodate a different style of conservatory due to the roof pitch.
The standard projection for a lean-to conservatory is usually no more than four metres from the wall of the house, and the roof height at the wall of the house is approximately 400mm higher than the roof height at the front of the conservatory.
Hipped lean-to conservatories are a variation on the typical lean-to design, which provide a more aesthetically pleasing look to the conservatory. The roof is divided into a main front section and further side sections; the pitch of the side sections should not differ from that of the front section by more than ten degrees.
The width of the front section of the roof where it joins to the wall of the house is variable and the side pitches fall away; this can be useful if objects on the wall such as flues or extractor fans need to be avoided.
A lean-to garden room or conservatory can now be built in a variety of different materials and styles, giving you the chance to install something which suits the style of your property and meets with your requirements for space.
The base of lean-to conservatory is generally of one of three types; they can be constructed with a dwarf wall as the base, which is the more traditional method and gives the lean-to a feeling of solidity and permanence.
They can also be built with full length glazing, which may be a little cheaper than using a dwarf wall; while the third option is a base made up of uPVC panelling, with windows above. Less glass and the lack of brickwork involved make this the most cost-effective type of base.
The roof can be constructed either of glass or polycarbonate panels. A glazed roof allows more light into the conservatory, and is often installed with blinds which can be used to control the amount of light and heat that comes into the room.
A polycarbonate roof is generally cheaper than the glass option, and different shades are available which offer a variation on the amount of heat and light which penetrates the roof.
The frames of the conservatory are one of the key design decisions, as they affect the overall look of the building once it is finished. Older houses, or those which are on designated land such as conservation areas, may require a hardwood structure to suit the style of the property.
If your house already has uPVC windows, then a conservatory with uPVC frames will suit the property better, and is often the cheaper of the two.
Ventilation should also be considered when designing a lean-to conservatory, to avoid the build up of too much heat and moisture during the summer months. Manual roof vents are the cheapest form of ventilation and allow you to open and close the vents as necessary during hot weather.
A more expensive choice is electric roof vents, which serve the same purpose, but are controlled via a remote control or a switch on the wall of the conservatory.
Lean to conservatory prices
The cost of a lean-to conservatory can vary dramatically depending on the size and style of room you decide to build. The cheapest kit you will probably find online will range from £1000 – £1500, for a very small basic lean-to conservatory.
Larger conservatories could cost in excess of £10,000 to buy, without even factoring in the cost of installation. The cost will be affected by the size, the type of glazing used, the type of material used for the roof and the frames, and the type of base.
The lean-to conservatory is one of the most common types purchased in the UK, as the design offers versatility, and is very cost-effective compared to other styles of conservatory. As they use one side wall of the house as the back wall of the conservatory and have just a single roof pitch, they are also one of the easiest types to install.
If you are planning to build your own conservatory, a lean-to should be given serious consideration.