Guide to Buying a Conservatory
Adding a conservatory to your home
can increase its value and means that the family can enjoy
the garden all the year round.
An easy way to extend your home
Originally intended as a home for rare and tender plants,
the conservatory has been a favourite addition to homes in
Britain since Victorian times. The modern day conservatory
is more likely to be used as a second sitting room, a dining
room for those balmy, summer nights, or a playroom rather
than a nursery for exotic greenery. Over recent years it has
become one of the UK's most popular ways to improve the home.
Adding a conservatory to your home is a fairly simple and
cost effective way to gain more space but there are a few
things to think about first.
How much of the garden will you lose?
Mark out the area the proposed conservatory will occupy with
garden canes so that you can see how much of an impact it
will have on the garden.
Will the conservatory have an attractive outlook?
A south facing conservatory will get the sun all year round
and so will be useful in winter but can overheat in the summer.
West facing conservatories get the sunshine in the afternoon
and evening. East facing conservatories get the morning sunshine
and north facing conservatories will not get much direct sunshine.
Think about how the conservatory will be used. If you want
to put a large table in it, go for width rather than projection
and position the door at the side. If you plan to raise plants
and seedlings, deep window sills are a must. Above all, try
to match the style, colour and shape of the conservatory to
the rest of the house.
It is a popular myth that a conservatory does not need planning
permission. In reality, about 60% of the conservatories added
to UK homes last year did need permission. The rules are fairly
straightforward but it is worth checking with the planning
office at your local town hall before work starts. Remember
that if you build your conservatory without permission when
you need it, you can be made to pull the building down. Under
present planning rules, you may not need permission if your
structure meets with the following conditions:
Detached and semidetached properties.
You are allowed to develop up to 70m or 115% of the volume
of the dwelling- whichever is greater- but existing extensions
have to be taken into consideration. For example, if you have
a kitchen extension of 40m3 and want a conservatory of 41m3
this would total 81m3 and planning permission would have to
Only 50m3 is allowed to be developed.
Flats and Maisonettes
Planning permission is always needed.
Features that affect planning permission.
There are some other considerations that mean that planning
permission will be needed:
If you build within two metres of the boundary line and the
highest point is 4 metres or more.
If your conservatory covers more than 4 metres or more of the
If your planning development rights have been removed. Check
with the planning department at your local town hall
If you live in a listed building..
If the conservatory is 20 metres or less from a public road
Normally the planning office will look at how far the will
protrude into the garden. If the proposed conservatory extends
more than three metres from the house, the planning officer
might ask for a reduction in size. If planning permission
is not needed, it is a good idea to get a letter of lawful
development from the council which will reassure potential
buyers should you wish to sell your home.
Wood, Metal or UPVC.
The type of conservatory you choose really depends on your
budget. But as a general rule, go for the very best you can
The frame of your conservatory can be made from softwood,
hardwood, aluminium or UPVC. The thickness of the frame affects
the strength of the finished conservatory and it is important
to bear this in mind when comparing prices. Softwood is the
lowest priced material but it has a major drawback- it will
need regular painting to protect the woodwork from rotting
due to exposure to the elements. Hardwood is more expensive
and is treated to resist rot but still needs some maintenance.
Aluminium is almost maintenance free but is offered by only
a small number of suppliers. UPVC is also maintenance free
but white frames can yellow with age. If you want an authentic
Victorian or Edwardian design, UPVC is not a good choice as
frames can appear chunky and heavy.
Windows and doors
Security, ventilation and insulation are important. Safety
glass is a must. Double glazing will add extra security and
will help to keep your conservatory warm in winter and cool
in summer. Window and door locks are essential. Most UPVC
kits give the option of internally or externally beaded windows.
Internally beaded windows (where the glass is held in from
the inside) are considered more secure and burglar resistant.
Your questions answered.
Can we build the conservatory ourselves?
There are of course many specialist conservatory companies
in the UK who will handle everything form planning permission
to building and furnishing your new conservatory. But this
isn't the only option by any means. Building a conservatory
yourself from a DIY kit can cut costs dramatically. Kits are
available in a wide range of shapes and sizes and in a variety
of different materials. They all come with comprehensive instructions
and all the suppliers of them are happy to advise. Kits can
be bought from as little as £800 The price will depend on
size, shape and material but does not include the base, so
this should be added on when working out the total cost. Remember
that under new regulations recently introduced, electrical
work can be carried out only by fully qualified personnel.
Putting in the base sounds like really hard labour. Can we
put in a ready made one?
Yes made steel bases have many plus points.
- Custom made to suit your specification and design
- Reduce site disruption and mess to an absolute minimum
- Quick and easy to install
- No need for site excavation and soil removal
- No requirement to wheelbarrow tonnes of aggregate onto
the site for back filling
- No large scale cement mixing and building work
- Ideal for use where access to the site is difficult
- No need to move manholes and drains, etc.
- Uneven and sloping sites easily catered for
- Can be installed all year round overcoming hold ups for
- No need to move the patio
- Delivered direct to site, complete with insulated floor
and all fixtures and fittings
- Insulated floor suitable for tiles, carpets, etc.
- Ideal for use with under floor heating systems.
- Conforms to building regulations
- Designed for BSI standards.
Will it be expensive to extend heating from the house? How
will we keep our conservatory warm in the winter?
Heating is essential if you want to use the conservatory all
year round. Extending the main central heating system from the
house may be possible but a radiator will use up floor space.
However, the latest under floor heating system is very simple
to install and costs just 27pence per day to run. It can be
laid under vinyl, stone or ceramic tiles, laminates and woodstrip
How do we prevent the conservatory becoming unbearably hot
on summer days?
Ventilation is absolutely vital. Just opening the side window
will not be enough. You will need a roof vent. Most DIY kits
include this. The type that opens automatically is best. Air
conditioning is another possibility but can be expensive. You
could also buy a central ceiling fan but this won't cut the
glare. Blinds are essential for shading the inside from strong
summer sun. Specialist conservatory blind suppliers can offer
a choice of styles in different materials. Automatic blinds
close when the sun is strong but they are expensive to buy and
What about lighting the conservatory as a central light
Go for a combination of wall mounted and free standing lights.
If you have big, leafy plants, a floor standing uplighter can
be positioned to beam up through the leaves. Standard lamps
can be positioned to create pools of light around chairs. Candles
in large storm lanterns can really add to the atmosphere.
I have heard that self cleaning glass is now available.
Can we have this fitted to our conservatory?
The glass is called Pilkington Aktiv. When rain falls on the
glass, the water runs off, taking dirt with it. The glass can
be fitted if your conservatory supplier stocks it but it is
more expensive than standard safety glass.
How should I care for a wood framed conservatory?
Check once per year for rot and flaking paint. Rot can be cut
our and a new piece of wood inserted in its place. Flaking paint
should be rubbed down before the area is repainted. Modern wooden
framed conservatories are made from pretreated timber which
is resistant to moisture.
Who sells Conservatories?
All of the major window suppliers (Anglian Home Improvements,
Portland, Bac, B&Q, Homebase Do It All) sell conservatories
but if you want something special try one of the following:
- ww.Balticpine.co.uk 0800 269044
- Bartholomew Conservatories 01428 658771
- Charterhouse Conservatories 023 9250 4006
- www.glass-house.com 0207 6076071
- www.lloydchristies.com 0207 3512108
- www.valegardenhouses.com 0147 6564433
- www.willoughby-cons.co.uk 01865 487151
- www.conservatoryblinds.co.uk 0800 071 8888
- www.thomas-sanderson.co.uk 0800220603