Buying Advice ♦ Conservatories

10 Tips for Choosing the Right Conservatory.

A conservatory is an important purchase that can have consequences if you make the wrong choice.

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The conservatory is a fantastic addition to any home. It can be a place to escape the heat of summer or an enjoyable space in which to spend time with friends and family during the winter months and still have the feeling of being connected to nature.

Table of Contents.

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1. Think about How Your Conservatory Will Be Used.

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2. Choose the Right Conservatory Designer.

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3. Plan the Complete Conservatory Before Placing an Order.

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4. Heating and Insulation for Conservatories.

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5. Know Your Budget.

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6. What Size Conservatory?

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7. Have Your Home Valued.

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8. Make Sure the Conservatory Fits With the House.

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9. Get Several Designs.

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8. Take Your Time.

Buying a Conservatory.

Unfortunately, buying a conservatory isn’t as simple as walking into your nearest garden centre and picking up the first one you see! There are so many different designs on offer that it can quickly become hard work just deciding what type you want, let alone trying to find out about all the other features they might have – like insulation, heating systems, and glass types.

A conservatory can add value to your home and could help you sell it for more money in the future. If you don’t get it right, it can end up being wasted space that doesn’t add any value at all and could even repel buyers.

In this blog post, we will help make things easier by giving you 10 tips for buying a conservatory that should enable you to make an informed decision and avoid some of the pitfalls.

1.  Think about How Your Conservatory Will Be Used.

A conservatory can be a great addition to your home, but it’s important to think about how you’re going to use it before you start planning.

You might love the idea of having an extra room in your house that is all yours, but if you don’t plan ahead then there’s a good chance that space will become unused and neglected. Most conservatories become a dumping ground in the winter.

Consider use when buying a conservatory

Traditionally, conservatories were used as extra living space – a quiet place to sit with a view of the garden. They were a luxury item most often bought by retirees who found themselves with time to read and relax. In the last ten years, they have become more popular as vital extra living space as we demand more from our homes. Since COVID, these unused and neglected rooms have found new life as a quiet place to work away from the family. Most conservatories are used as extra living space, but if you want to use one as an office long term, you will need to think about the construction to ensure that you are able to see the computer screen and give some thought to heat and insulation. A conservatory that is too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter will not make a good working environment.

If you plan to use your conservatory as an office, will you need to consider extra security if expensive equipment is on view?

Whatever you use it for, you will want to make sure it’s suitable for that purpose. If it truly is extra space that you will only use in the summer then a traditional glass roof may suffice but if you want to use it all year round, it may be worth considering a solid tiled roof.

2.  Choose the Right Conservatory Designer.

A good conservatory designer should be able to give you expert advice. They should also be able to design a conservatory that suits your needs and is aesthetically pleasing and advise you on everything from design and layout to furniture and decorating ideas. If you look for a reputable supplier, they should have the experience to know what works for most people when it comes to using their conservatories.

Bigger conservatory suppliers use CAD systems to design your conservatory. This can be seductive as the complete solution is presented to you and may even be transposed on to the back of your house so that you can see exactly what it looks like. This is expensive software that smaller businesses cannot justify but this doesn’t mean that they are any less capable. Separate these things in your mind when deciding on your supplier.

You are under no obligation to buy from the designer, no matter how long they spend with you. If you are interested in the company but not impressed by the representative, ask for another one. Turnover is high in the big companies ao you will often see a new recruit.

3.  Plan the complete conservatory before placing an order.

You should take great care in planning your conservatory. What it will be used for and how you want to use it are all things that need to go into the design of this vital part of your home. You might not realise until later down the line, but having some experience before placing an order is really important for long term satisfaction when picking what features you want to be included. Knowing your furniture position will help you choose the layout. One of the biggest mistakes that the inexperienced buyer makes is creating a corridor from the house doors to the conservatory doors. This can limit where furniture can sit.

Plan the complete conservatory before placing an order

Once you’ve decided where your furniture will be placed, you will be able to see the natural paths from the house to the garden. Your experience of buying furniture and accessories for the conservatory could lead to different decisions. For example, a client of mine was planning to use the conservatory as a dining area. Having purchased the table, she decided she didn’t want to risk sun damage so the playroom became the dining room and the conservatory was planned for the family room. This led to changing the positioning of the doors in the conservatory.

 4.  Heating and Insulation for Conservatories.

The heating and insulation of a conservatory is really important if you want to use your conservatory all year round.

Will you want to extend your radiator system from the house? If that’s the case, then you need to make sure that the system has the capacity.

Underfloor heating works very well for conservatories but then you need to consider the best type of flooring.

5.  Know your budget.

It seems that all building work ends up costing far more than anticipated. Be clear about what is involved when buying a conservatory. First, there is the cost of the conservatory itself. Don’t assume the supplier includes items that you expect. Ask and make sure it is itemised.

Here is a list of additional costs you need to consider.

The conservatory construction.

What is included in the foundations? The difference in price between foundations that meet building regulations and those that don’t can be considerable.

Know your budget before buyinga conservatory

How will the floor be left? Will it be screeded ready for your chosen flooring or will that be an additional cost.

Are there dwarf walls? Are they to be left as brick or to be plastered? What about the house wall that the conservatory attaches to? Will that be plastered? If so, make sure that this is not something you will want to change.

If you choose a solid tiled roof, will the ceiling be plastered?

Opening windows and vents. Airflow is essential in a conservatory so please do not cut costs by reducing openers.

Electricity. You will most certainly want sockets in the conservatory and good lighting if you plan to use the conservatory in the evening. Is your consumer unit up to the task? If it hasn’t been updated in a long while, it may need to be changed before an electrician is able to work on it.

In addition to that, you will also need furniture, flooring, heating, lighting, blinds. Roof blinds cost thousands of pounds so when you add up this cost, you may find it is more cost-effective to have a solid roof instead. Some of them like the Equinox range have really good glazed panels so that you can benefit from light and shade.

6.  What Size Conservatory?

Take a good look at your house in the place where the conservatory is to be placed. Most people assume that the conservatory needs to be the same width as the room, or rooms that it sits with but that isn’t the case. You can often go past the width of the living room where there is blank wall. You should always try to get as much space as your budget allows.

Bear in mind that the walls are approximately 30cm thick so a small 3m x 2m conservatory actually ends up as 2.4m x 1.7m.

It is well worth buying a bunch of bamboo sticks from the garden centre and laying them out in the garden. First, lay them out in the outside measurement and then move them to the inside. You can then use furniture to get a feel of the space and how you will move through the conservatory.

7.  Have your home valued.

You are probably not planning a conservatory as an investment but knowing what your house is worth and if the conservatory adds value is worth knowing. Your estate agent should have valuable knowledge about what types of conservatory add value in your area. It is always more appealing if the conservatory acts as a proper room rather than an unusable carbuncle stuck to the back of the house.

Roof materials will make a difference. Polycarbonate roofs are certainly less desirable than glass, as are lean-to shapes if it looks like a cheap option. Some houses lend themselves to the lean-to style and if they are designed well should not be considered as negative.

Have your house valued before buyinga conservatory

8.  Make sure the conservatory fits with your house.

Some conservatories are just an eyesore. It is helpful if your designer has software that can show you how various designs will look. If not, take a picture of your house and cut out pictures of conservatories and try them out. If you’re clever with image software, you can do this on the computer or just have fun with some scissors and paper.

9. Get Several Designs.

The advice is always to get 3 quotes but this doesn’t really work as buyers tend to pick the first 3 on Google without considering whether they are companies that you would actually want to do business with. You really want designers that will come up with ideas that you may not have thought of. Much better to think along the lines, not of ‘get 3 quotes’, but get 3 designs. Once you have decided on the perfect design for your conservatory, then get 3 quotes that are like for like.

10. Take Your Time.

Whatever a salesperson says to you, do not be in a rush to sign the order. Deals that are only available on the day are not real. This is a big decision and you will live with the consequences for a long time.

Conservatories can be a difficult purchase to make. The most important thing is really knowing what it is that you want from a conservatory so take time to consider all the options and have some fun with it. This is one of the most important purchases that you will make.