Conservatory Buyer Guide
Building a conservatory is one of the most cost effective solutions to adding versatile living space to your home. Over 4 million homes now have a conservatory, and each year hundreds of thousands are being built, adding value to homes and providing that all-important extra space that so many of us need.
The Crown Conservatory Buyer Guide will help you to think carefully about what you want from your new conservatory, helping to ensure that the conservatory you choose is perfect for you, your family and your home, in every possible way. You can also download a copy of the guide here >>
1. Identify your needs
What will the conservatory be used for?
Traditionally, conservatories were built for relaxation, providing a room with an abundance of natural light where one can sit and enjoy views of the garden. However more recently, there has been a growing trend for conservatories to become more functional – a dining room or an extension of the kitchen, creating a larger, more social and spacious environment for the heart of the home. Conservatories also make wonderful playrooms that can be opened up to provide direct access to the garden.
Where is the conservatory going to be positioned?
Conservatories tend to be positioned on the back of properties leading out to the garden, generally because there is often more space at the rear, however, it is possible to build a conservatory on the side of a property as long as it is more than 1 metre away from the boundary and complies with planning permission conditions.
The position or aspect of your conservatory is a central factor in its design and specification. A conservatory that is south-facing will catch more sun, so it is advisable to give careful consideration to glass specification, ventilation and blinds. A north-facing aspect could be much colder in the winter, so it will be important to think carefully about the heating requirements.
What size conservatory do you need?
Mark out area to give you a visual idea of the projection and position. Are you retaining enough garden for your needs? Are there any visible hazards that may cause problems such as tree roots or pipework? If you are happy with the proposed position and size, also draw an internal sketch with furniture, doors and windows so you can be sure you have enough space for your needs.
What shape are you looking for?
Ultimately the shape should complement the existing property and be suitable for its intended use. The shape will also determine which roof style you need. For example a Victorian conservatory with a pitched roof will have a high central ridge with roof panels sloping down towards the eaves. Larger properties lend themselves well to lantern roof conservatories, P-Shape and T-Shape also work well.
What is your budget?
Many different variables will affect the cost of your conservatory, so having an idea of the intended size and position is a good starting point for getting basic quotes.
The style, material used and glazing options will impact on your budget. uPVC is one of the most cost effective materials and is certainly one of the lowest maintenance options, but if you prefer the more modern style of an orangery or LivinRoom, then this will increase the price. Additional extras that you will also need to allow for include plumbing, electrics, lighting, decoration, soft furnishings, blinds, flooring, heating and landscaping around the conservatory.
Another consideration is whether to opt for a glass or polycarbonate roof. Polycarbonate is a lightweight and inexpensive alternative to glass, however the high technology glass for conservatory roofs that is now on the market is an attractive option, as although more expensive, it reduces cleaning and maintenance costs.
2. Choose a style that will complement your property
Whichever conservatory style you choose, it is important that it complements your existing property and doesn’t just look like a bolt-on room. The shape, the height and style of the roof, the positioning of the doors, ridge details and colour will all play a part in creating the perfect look and feel for your new conservatory.
Traditional Conservatory Styles:
Victorian – The Victorian conservatory has retained its popularity over many years due to its versatility, making it suitable for many different house styles. With its classical multi-faceted curved bay front, steeply pitched roof and ornate ridge details, the Victorian Conservatory is particularly well-suited to period properties but its clean lines make it a winner for any type of home. Find out more about Crown Victorian Conservatories >>
Georgian – The square shape of a Georgian conservatory makes excellent use of floor space and the more contemporary styled roof which slopes back to the centre is a popular feature which works well with most types of property. Find out more about Crown Georgian Conservatories >>
Gable – The elegance and style of a gable conservatory adds a sense of grandeur to any home with its stylish front elevation and windows which extend right to the apex. The front panel of the roof of a Gable conservatory is upright as opposed to the sloping front panel of a Georgian conservatory, creating a feeling a great height within the conservatory. Find out more about Crown Gable Conservatories >>
Lantern – the Lantern Conservatory is majestic, timeless and elegant. The two-tiered effect adds to the feeling of light and space and is ideal where extra ventilation is required. This conservatory is ideal for swimming pool enclosures, as a large commercial extension such as for restaurant dining, or for large period properties. Find out more about Crown Lantern Conservatories >>
Lean To – Lean To Conservatories are a practical and versatile option for properties. If your property has little room under the eaves, such as with a bungalow, this style would be ideal. Alternatively, it can be created with a steeper pitch to match the roof of a terraced or detached house whilst making the best possible use of your available floor space without compromising on style. Find out more about Crown Lean To Conservatories >>
P-Shape – The P Shape conservatory is ideal for larger properties and combines the opulence of a Victorian or Georgian conservatory with a traditional Lean-To style. It takes its name from the plan view of the design, which can consist of two different styles of conservatory to create one large room and one smaller room. Find out more about Crown P-Shape Conservatories >>
T-Shape – Also ideal for larger properties due to the proportions needed, the T-Shape Conservatory is perfect if you are wanting to create two rooms for different purposes. The central projection can create a very sophisticated porch effect and the main section is either Victorian, Gable or Georgian in design. Find out more about Crown T-Shape Conservatories >>
Contemporary Conservatory Styles:
Orangery – A stunning, elegant orangery can really enhance a property. Orangeries can be used as all-round living space due to the brick wall construction as it retained heat more effectively than a conservatory, whilst creating a light and airy space by the use of large windows and a glazed lantern roof. Find out more about Crown Orangeries >>
LivinRoom – A LivinRoom combines the light and style of a conservatory with the ceiling of an orangery. The internal pelmet added to the roof allows for placement of downlights, the room ambience is further enhanced with customised styling and furnishing options. This creates a multi-functional, light and airy extension to your home. Find out more about Crown LivinRooms >>
Skyroom – The Skyroom is the latest product in the Crown Conservatory range. Its ultra-sleek frame allows for a greater abundance of light, resulting in a view of more sky and less roof. If you are looking for a contemporary conservatory with a luxurious interior and the light of a conservatory, a Skyroom is sure to tick all the boxes. Find out more about Crown Skyrooms >>
3. Planning Permission or Permitted Development?
Conservatories, Skyrooms, Loggias and LivinRooms will generally not require full planning permission as they are considered to be permitted development, however this is subject to limits and conditions, which includes compliance with the Neighbour Consultation Scheme if the conservatory is likely to extend beyond 3m of the existing property. We have provided further details on this process below.
It is advisable to check that the size and aspect of conservatory you are considering is going to fall under permitted development. Here are some of the conditions, but please check the Permitted Development for Householders Technical Guidance Doc by the Department for Communities and Local Government for the full list of criteria.
- No more than 50% of the land around the ‘original house’ will be covered.
- Not higher than the highest part of the roof.
- Not extending forward of the principal elevation or side elevation fronting a highway.
- Must not extend beyond 3m of the existing house if a semi-detached house, or by 4m if a detached house. (additional conditions apply to Sites of Special Specific Interest).
- Max height 4m.
- Max eaves height within 2 m of boundary of 3m.
- Conservatory on the side of the house – width no greater than half that of original house.
- (Unless next to a public highway).
- Roof pitch higher than one storey to match existing house.
Any new structural opening between the conservatory and existing house will require building regulations approval, even if the conservatory itself is an exempt structure.
Neighbour Consultation Scheme
If your conservatory is likely to extend beyond 3 metres of the existing property, then you will need to comply with the conditions of the Neighbour Consultation Scheme.
For a period of six years between 30th May 2013 and 30 May 2019, householders will be able to build larger conservatories under permitted development as long as the Neighbour Consultation process is followed. The size limits will double from 4 to 8 metres for detached houses and from 3 to 6 metres for all other houses.
You will be required to notify the local planning authority and provide a written description of the proposed build with measurements, a plan of the site, addresses of adjoining properties, including at the rear, and a contact address for the developer. There is no charge for this process.
The local authority will serve a notice on the adjoining owners or occupiers and this will give the address of the proposed development and describe the proposed building works. Neighbours will be given the opportunity to make any objections within a 21 day period.
If a neighbour raises an objections, the local authority will take this into account before making a decision on whether the development can proceed. If the local authority doesn’t notify the developer of its decision within the 42 determination period, the development may go ahead.
If approval is refused, the developer may appeal. To benefit from these permitted development rights, the build must be completed before 30 May 2019.
For further details, please see Neighbour Consultation Scheme Guidance document.
4. What are the Building Regulations for a Conservatory?
Building Regulations deal with how the conservatory should be constructed. Conservatories are normally exempt from Building Regulations as long as:
- Less than 30sqm floor area and built at ground level.
- Not built within 1m of a boundary.
- Conservatory separated from house by external quality walls, doors or windows.
- Independent heating system with separate temperature on/off controls.
- Glazing and fixed electrical installations comply with applicable building regulations requirements.
5. Additional Extras
Heating & Ventilation
There are a wide range of heating options for conservatories but you will need to satisfy the Building Regulations and have a separate control system to the rest of the house. To ensure your conservatory remains usable and a comfortable temperature all year round, you may want to consider underfloor heating, extending your home’s central heating system with radiators fitted against low walls.
Energy efficient glass will help to minimise heat loss and will also help combat condensation. Window and roof blinds have help to keep the conservatory cool in the summer months, whilst also creating a bit of privacy and protection to soft furnishings from direct sunlight.
South facing conservatories may require additional ventilation as they may get a little warm in the summer months. You could consider tilt & turn windows or window and roof blinds to help reduce heat build-up. The BBA (British Board of Agrement) recommends that the minimum area of opening windows and doors to provide ventilation in a conservatory should be 15% of the floor area.
What is the intended use for your conservatory? Be practical about what floor you choose and think about your intended use. Ceramic tiles, natural stone, slate and vinyl are popular practical choices, however the introduction of high performance glass which greatly reduces condensation is making carpets and soft floor coverings a popular choice for many.
What ambience do you want to create? If you select an Orangery or LivinRoom, you could opt for downlighters as they can be inset into the around the perimeter of the roof, alternatively if you opt for a full glass roof conservatory you may feel floor lamps will be more amenable to your needs or spotlights can be installed into the ridge.
6. Site Survey & Groundwork Preparation
Once you have considered all the above and have a clear idea on what you want, it is time to book your site consultation and agree costs with your conservatory provider. A full technical survey will take place, plans of the base as well as detailed technical drawings of the framework and roof for the order at the factory will be prepared. Particular attention will be given to drainage to ensure the existing drainage systems, boiler vents or water foul pipes are allowed for, moved or altered as necessary, and allowances for plumbing, electrics, access for materials and appropriate lead flashing requirements will be noted.
Although the survey will uncover obvious potential hazards, until excavation starts, it isn’t always possible to identify all hazards, such as tree stumps and roots, drainage, soak-aways, gas or water pipes, power cables, old foundations and wells.
When you are ready to proceed, a installation manager will plan the groundworks, waste removal and construction of the base including drainage, along with scheduling required tradesmen to the site and ordering and delivery of materials.
At Crown Conservatories & Windows, we manage every step of the process to ensure that your conservatory is built with minimal disruption to your home life, is built to your customised specification and is completed within the expected timescale.
If you would like to view our Conservatory range, please pop along to our Fleet or Arborfield Showroom and we will be delighted to go through the options available and provide further advice on how to choose the right conservatory for your needs.