If you are planning to build a conservatory on your house, there are a number of things to think about during the planning stage. You will be inclined to think about what style and size of conservatory you want to install and how you will eventually use it.
You may be thinking about what sort of budget you can extend to for the conservatory, and whether you can install it yourself, or you need to enlist the help of a professional builder.
During this process it is also important to think about what legislation may apply to the conservatory and how it will affect the design and the build process. Under certain circumstances conservatories can be subject to planning permission and may also be subject to building regulations.
Conservatory building regulations
In general, conservatories are excluded from building regulations if they meet certain criteria, although there are still parts of a conservatory, such as the windows and electrics, which are covered by separate parts of the regulations.
To be considered exempt from building regulations a conservatory should be constructed at ground level, and the total floor area covered should not exceed thirty square metres.
The legislation also states that at least fifty percent of the wall area of the conservatory should be glazed, and the roof must be constructed of at least seventy-five percent glazing or polycarbonate.
A conservatory is a potential cause of heat loss and it must be completely separated from the house. This can be by an external door, by a patio door, or by using French doors. The glazing on the conservatory and any electrics which are fitted must comply with separate building regulations before the conservatory can be considered exempt.
If you are going to use heating in the conservatory it cannot be part of the existing system within the house; any heating installed into a conservatory should have a separate thermostatic control to the rest of the property.
The conservatory should not include any drainage facilities; and the new building should not be closer than 2 metres to the boundary of the property. For a terraced house, the conservatory must not increase the overall volume of the property by more than 10%; for a semi-detached house the total volume should not be increased by more than 15%.
If the installation of the conservatory requires a new external opening to the property, then building regulations apply regardless of whether the conservatory meets the above conditions. It is also not recommended for conservatories to be constructed where they could prevent access to windows by ladder, or where they might block a potential escape route in an emergency.
Glazing building regulations
The glazing will take up a large part of your conservatory and it should be compliant with part N of the building regulations. These regulations cover the protection against impact, the safe opening and closing of windows, and safe access for the cleaning of windows.
If you are using a professional installer to carry out the building of the conservatory, they should be well aware of the regulations surrounding glazed windows, and should only use products which are of the required standard.
If you are building a conservatory by yourself and you intend to buy a kit for home installation, make sure that the windows will meet building regulations; ultimately you will be responsible for ensuring the finished conservatory meets the requirements.
Electric building regulations
Electrical safety in dwellings is covered by part P of the building regulations, and this would extend to a conservatory if you are installing lighting and power.
Any electrics installed into the conservatory must comply with these regulations which are primarily to protect the safety of persons in the house.
Electrical installations should also comply with general building regulations relating to fire safety, site preparation and resistance to moisture, ventilation; the resistance to the passage of sound, structure, access to and from the property, and the conservation of power and fuel.
Building a conservatory is only a little way short of building an entire extension, and it should be planned as meticulously as one. The style of conservatory you choose will have a big effect on the appearance of your property, and the available space and the available budget will also play a big part in the process.
While you are planning and designing your new room, it is important to think about planning permission and building regulations.
In most instances conservatories will be excluded from the requirement for planning permission or the need to comply with building regulations, but there are still some cases in which both will apply.
If you are developing an older house, particularly if it is listed, or you own property on designated land, you may find that you are obliged to meet building regulations and apply for planning permission.
There are several conditions for a conservatory to meet for it to be considered exempt from building regulations; and if your planned design meets these requirements then it is likely that you will not need to worry about the regulations.
It is important to remember, however, that both the glazing and the electrics in a conservatory are subject to different parts of the building regulations; part N and part P cover the two parts of the installation respectively.
If you are installing the conservatory by yourself, it is essential to make sure you use approved products and that the finished building meets both regulations.
If you are using a professional builder to complete the installation, they should ensure that all parts of the conservatory adhere to the regulations, and should be used to doing so.
Fortunately, the majority of conservatories are not subject to building regulations, nor do they require planning permission. If you are currently thinking about having a conservatory installed, it is worth investigating whether you need to consider any legislation early on in the process. If you discover that your proposal is exempt, you can quickly move on to the next stages of design.