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The Complete Guide to Getting a Conservatory

Author: Samuel Beckingham
Updated: Nov 21, 2022
6 minutes read
  • Why should you consider getting a conservatory?
  • What do they cost?
  • Top things to consider with conservatories

A conservatory is the perfect way to add space to your home without opting for an extension. Nowadays, conservatories have come a long way and aren’t subject to the same issues prevalent 30 or 40 years ago, thanks to modern building standards.

Conservatories are a lot of work, more so than your standard DIY job. Unless you’re a competent builder, it’s probably not worth considering if you can build one yourself. Competent, accredited companies will take all of the hard work off your hands and give you a result that will provide joy for many years to come.

image of conservatory extending into garden

What Is a Conservatory?

A conservatory is usually a room at the back or side of a house with glass walls and a roof. They come in many different styles and are available in plenty of materials, such as uPVC, aluminium and timber. You may have seen a style that you like already, but it pays to see what else is out there as you may find that you change your mind during the planning process.

Different materials are available, but they each affect the temperature of your conservatory, how much light it will receive and how much maintenance is needed. Make sure you consider each of these points before you make a decision.

What Are Conservatories Used For?

A conservatory creates more living space and gives you more room to breathe in your home. It works as an additional room for dining, lounging or hosting and can offer wonderful views of the garden and external areas. From an office to a playroom, you can use the extra space however you wish.

The Benefits of Conservatories

In addition to giving you extra space in your home, a conservatory is much less expensive than getting an extension on your home. This is because they aren’t bound by building regulations, so long as they’re under a certain size. If an extension is outside of your budget, getting a conservatory instead is a great alternative.

If you live in the countryside, you can make use of the views from your home with a conservatory. Likewise, a luscious garden can be enjoyed more than from a window pane. While views add value to your life, conservatories add value to your home. By as much as 5-10%, conservatories increase a home’s value, which can come in useful if you ever decide to sell your home.

Do You Need Planning Permission for a Conservatory?

Planning permission is not normally required for conservatories. This is because they’re usually smaller than building regulations require. For planning permission to be needed, the conservatory will have to be bigger than 30m². If the plans are smaller than this, you should be good to go.

Having said that, there are a few caveats that come with conservatories. If the following apply, you will need to receive planning permission for your conservatory:

  • You live in a conservation area

  • The conservatory is not being built at ground level

  • You live in a terraced house

  • Your home has already been extended

  • The conservatory will increase the volume of your home by more than 15% or 70 cubic metres (whichever is larger)

If you do need planning permission, you will need to consult your local council. Some conservatory companies will even perform the planning permission application for you, which takes a lot of the hassle out of your hands.

How Much Does a Conservatory Cost?

This is the critical question when it comes to choosing whether to buy a conservatory. All jobs are bespoke and it depends on how large you’re going to build it, what materials it’s made from, the style you’ve chosen and any extras on top.

You can expect a lean-to uPVC conservatory to be around £5,000, which is one of the cheapest options available. A standard conservatory can be from £10,000-£15,000, while one made of hardwood or oak can set you back £30,000-£40,000.

It’s important to understand that these are general figures that should be used as estimates. Your conservatory will depend on how large your home is, what style will suit it and also what roof you decide to go for.

Getting a conservatory can add value to your home if you're thinking of selling.

What Roof Should I Choose for My Conservatory?

This depends on what you’re looking for in a conservatory and what would suit the style of your house. A tiled or solid roof can complement your house by keeping the same style. Tiles offer much better thermal performance than any other roof and keep the heat in much more effectively. The counter argument to this is that they don’t allow light through.

A glass roof, on the other hand, optimises the amount of natural light available and can increase the thermal gain, keeping the room warm. To prevent overheating and heat loss, blinds can be fitted to the roof, Low-E glass can be installed, or tinted windows with film-coated glass. This way, you can be sure that you will always have a comfortable temperature inside your conservatory whatever time of year it is.

How Long Do Conservatories Last?

Fitted professionally and well looked after, a conservatory will last you for decades to come. The important thing to consider is any minor maintenance that may be needed. This will depend largely on the materials that your conservatory is made from. uPVC is easier to clean, while wood may need oiling or waxing from time to time.

After a while, you may find that your roof is leaking or has been damaged in some way. Rather than replacing the whole conservatory, a roof replacement or upgrade is probably more beneficial. Not only will this save you money, but it may even improve the look and feel of your conservatory too.

How Long Does Building a Conservatory Take?

While many factors affect the timescales, you can expect a typical conservatory to be completed within three to four weeks. If it’s a larger project, this can be up to six weeks. It all depends on the size and particular type of conservatory you’ve opted for. A lean-to won’t take nearly as long as a large-scale project.

Typically, the foundations are dug out first before any building takes place. The surface needs to be level and prepared, then left to settle over a few days. Once ready, the frames and glazing will go up, followed by any additional work that may be needed, such as plastering and electrical wiring. The flooring is added last and any furniture or decoration is up to you once it’s finished.

Top Things to Consider

  • Where your conservatory will be positioned on your house

  • What material and style you want to complement your home

  • Whether heating is required (this will incur further costs)

  • What size of conservatory you’ll require and whether this will need planning permission

  • What your budget is

  • If your new conservatory affects your insurance policy

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