5 things to think about before you get a conservatory
- Credit: PA
As long as they’re useable in all weathers, conservatories are a good way to increase your living space and bring the outside in.
1. Conservatories can be used as sitting rooms, playrooms, dining rooms or multifunctional spaces, and can be cheaper than building an extension. The problem is that conservatories are often boiling when it’s hot, and freezing when it’s cold, but it is possible to make them suitable for all seasons.
Some conservatories have low brick walls with glazing above, but if you’d prefer a garden room to a conservatory, you can have more brick walls and perhaps a tiled or semi-tiled roof, which makes it easier to insulate.
2. Conservatories are usually located at the back of the house, but if there’s a sunny spot at the side, you may prefer to put yours there. Its position can make a big difference to how usable it is, so consider how the sun moves across the garden during the day.
An east-facing conservatory will only get morning sun, while a west-facing one will be cooler in the morning and hotter in the afternoon and evening. Conservatories that face north may get angled sun first and last thing and so won’t overheat on hot days, but they can be really cold. A south-facing conservatory makes the best sun trap and will get extremely hot when it’s warm.
3. It is, of course, a shame to spend all that money on a conservatory and only be able to use it when the weather allows, so efficient heating and cooling systems are a must. Extending the central heating system into the conservatory may not be cheap, but powerful radiators are a good way to counter all that glass when it’s cold.
Underfloor heating can be an even better solution, as it provides a nice warm floor and an even warmth that radiates upwards. It’s also ideal if there’s little or no space for radiators. Blinds help to insulate a conservatory in winter, as well as keeping it cool in summer. They also provide privacy, reduce glare and should stop soft furnishings fading in the sun. Wall-to-ceiling conservatory blinds tend to be expensive, but can make a big difference to the usability of the room.
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4. Like anything, there are different styles of conservatory, from more ornate period-style ones to plainer, more contemporary ones. UPVC conservatories are typically white or wood effect - they’re relatively affordable and require little maintenance.
Conservatories made of aluminium are really strong, durable and versatile, but expensive. Wooden conservatories are also expensive and require more maintenance than UPVC and aluminium, but they are natural and environmentally friendly (as long as the wood is sustainably sourced). The best conservatory is one that matches the period and style of your home so it doesn’t look out of place.
5. You often don’t require planning permission to put up a conservatory - adding one to a house is usually considered permitted development (PD), providing you comply with the PD rules and regulations. Visit tiny.cc/planningconservatory for what’s allowed.