Often considered the height of social mobility, conservatories have become a lot more popular in recent years with a wide range of people. They offer a cheaper alternative to a full-blown extension and have numerous benefits including providing a space which has a lot of natural light and captures the heat to stay warm in the winter.
A conservatory is a room that has a glass roof and walls, built onto a house. As with many building projects, if you are want to install a conservatory then you need to do your homework and make sure you are getting the design and value for money you require. More than most installations, a conservatory takes a good deal of planning and thought before you actually commit.
History of Conservatories
The first conservatories were used for storing food and did not have windows. It was not until later that they became glazed and even then were largely used for protecting plants during cold spells – something like a greenhouse attached to the side of the building.
Large conservatories were built as far back as the 17th Century but they had little in common with the structures we know today – constructed with architectural aplomb including stone pillars and ornate ironwork. These were the province of the rich and well-to-do who were far removed from the average person of the day.
With the reduction in tax on glass in the 19th century and cheaper cast iron, conservatories became more popular culminating in perhaps the greatest architectural achievement of the age, the Crystal Palace. In the early twentieth century they fell out of favour to a certain extent but with new technologies and developments over the last thirty to forty years they have seen a resurgence particularly for homeowners who want to add a touch of class to their property.
Find out more about the history of conservatories.
How a Conservatory Works
Conservatories should provide a cool environment in the summer and a retain the heat in the winter. They are generally made from glass roof and wall panels and can have doors that open into a garden space during summer. Conservatories have progressed quite a lot since the days when they were simply used to grow plants and are now designed for a variety of social and practical purposes depending on individual requirements. Many also have solar controlled glass nowadays which means, even if you are in direct line of the sun, you don’t get so much of a greenhouse effect and the living conditions are far more comfortable.
Explore how conservatories work.
The Benefits of a Conservatory
- It’s a relatively inexpensive way to add living space to your home and can be used as a dining room, music room, study, office, in fact, practically anything you like.
- A conservatory can be a great place to keep plants during the winter and provide a green space whilst the cold rages outside.
- You get access to a lot of natural light which you can enjoy throughout the year.
- It adds value to your property as an extra living space that can be utilised by everyone.
Find out more about the benefits of a conservatory.
Types of Conservatory
There are range of different types of conservatory and picking one that fits in with the style and build of your home is important. The most popular type of conservatory is a lean-to which looks as though it is ‘leaning’ against the property. This is usually rectangular and a good option for small gardens where room is limited.
There are many more choices available, however. You might want to opt for a P shaped conservatory or go for a building with several facets such as a Victorian design. Another popular choice is the Edwardian/Georgian design which is a box shape but has a pitched roof on either side.
Discover more about types of conservatory.
The cost of Conservatories
The cost of conservatories vary widely depending on the design, size and type of materials you use. If you want a premade conservatory then the cost will between £3,000 and £5,000 which doesn’t include the installation. A bespoke solution to your conservatory where it is specially designed for you could set you back anything up to £20,000.
Find out about the cost of conservatories.
Depending on how you are going to use your conservatory you will need to consider the type of flooring that is going to be installed. For example, if you are having it as part of your kitchen, as many people do, then the flooring will have to be spill resistant and fairly hardy. Options to consider are cork, laminate flooring, stone and hardwood.
Discover more about conservatory flooring.
Do You Need Planning Permission?
A conservatory is usually considered permitted development so, under normal circumstances, you probably won’t have to apply for planning permission. There are some restrictions including how much of your garden the conservatory takes up and the maximum height allowed, all of which you need to check out before beginning building work.
Find out more about planning permission for conservatories.
Planning, Designing and Installing your Conservatory
If you’ve decided that a conservatory is for you, then you are going to have to undertake some hard planning before you rush ahead and get out your cheque book. You should decide what you want to use the new room for and what kind of design is best suited to your requirements.
Following our guide to planning and designing your conservatory here.
Manufacturers and Suppliers of Conservatories
As with double glazing, there are plenty of manufacturers and suppliers of conservatories and you need to shop around to find the right one for your needs. You can search for installers on our dedicated data base and find out what kind of service they offer. Cost is largely going to depend on whether you want to opt for a prefabricated design or a more bespoke option that requires the input of architects and designers.
Discover more here.
Installers of Conservatories
Of course, as with other installations such as doors and windows, there are plenty of national and local companies that install conservatories. Our advice is not to rush headlong with the first one that offers you a great price and make sure you know exactly what you are getting.
Follow our quick guide to conservatory installers here.