Advice please - buying house with open plan conservatory and no building regs approval

(26 Posts)
suebfg Thu 09-May-13 21:36:54

So we are in the process of buying a house that has an open plan conservatory and no building regs approval.

The vendor has offered to re-instate the exterior doors to separate the conservatory from the kitchen and dining room but we liked the open plan feel and are loathe to accept this.

The conservatory has a radiator, a polycarbonate roof and no blinds. I've never had a conservatory before but my concerns are:

- whether it will cost a fortune to heat the open plan kitchen/dining and conservatory space
- whether the conservatory will be unusable in summer in a south facing garden i.e. it will be too hot
- possibly unusable in winter as too cold

For those of you with open plan conservatories, what are your thoughts?

suebfg Thu 09-May-13 21:39:16

Oh, and I was also concerned that when it rains, it would make a loud clattering noise!

MooncupGoddess Thu 09-May-13 21:42:17

I have one of these. You'll need something to separate the conservatory from the kitchen - I have a thick curtain which makes a big difference but the chill still comes through.

The conservatory is usable all year round in daytime, with radiator on if necessary, but is bloody freezing after dark in winter. In the summer I just open the door and windows if it gets too hot.

I love my conservatory but it would be worth thinking quite carefully about how to keep the cold out of the kitchen in winter. You don't want to be eating dinner shivering with a draught round your ankles.

Sushiqueen Thu 09-May-13 21:48:21

We had the same with the house we bought, although our conservatory is off the lounge and we use it as a dining room. The doors were also taken out but there are curtains across.

It can get hot in the summer but soon cools down when we open the doors and windows.

Dh sometimes finds it cold in the winter even with the radiator on so we use an additional electric heater occasionally.

We did think about adding some extra insulation to the roof but we don't use the extra heating enough to justify the cost.

Sushiqueen Thu 09-May-13 21:49:54

As for the rain - it is loud but we love the sound.

poorbuthappy Thu 09-May-13 21:52:32

We've got this set up and because we spent a fortune on insulation and a huge radiator the room is usable all year.
With regards to building regs s we had to do to get it signed off was to increase the loft insulation to compensate.
So we did!

MrsGrowbag Thu 09-May-13 23:47:11

We had a conservatory at the back of our house, but it still had the external doors between it and living room. South facing, so far too hot in summer (over 50c on hot days) and freezing in winter, so basically unusable for 6 months of the year. We looked at upgrading roof, or taking out doors, but in the end knocked it down and built a proper room instead. Best decision we ever made, although possibly bit the cheapest!!!

MrsGrowbag Thu 09-May-13 23:47:56

Sorry, not, rather than bit . Flipping touch screens....

SleepyCatOnTheMat Fri 10-May-13 19:06:29

We bought a house with a "conservatory" like this (technically it is an extension) in November. We are going to have a proper tiled roof put on it so that it meets building regs, having negotiated a lower price with the seller because of it. We had a builder look at it before we bought the house who estimated this'll cost £5,000 (we have yet to get formal quotes). It's got to be done; heat is leaching from the house, resulting in hefty energy bills, and buyers will be put off when eventually we want to sell up and move on if we don't do it. Also yes, it was bloody freezing and unusuable for anything apart from storage in the winter.

suebfg Fri 10-May-13 19:25:10

Hi SleepyCat, did you get the price dropped by £5k too?

SleepyCatOnTheMat Fri 10-May-13 20:40:55

The seller dropped the price by £7,500 smile. We were first time buyers and she was desperate to sell.

suebfg Fri 10-May-13 21:20:40

Good for you! We are thinking about asking for a price reduction either so that we can upgrade the conservatory or as a contribution to replacing it with a garden room in the future

MrsGrowbag Sat 11-May-13 06:12:54

We have friends who put a tiled roof on their conservatory and it made a huge difference. Unfortunately that wasn't an option for us as our conservatory wasn't strong enough to take the weight. I don't know if you'll be able to check that before you buy - the builder has to dig down outside the conservatory to check the foundations before he knows if Walls can take weight of tiled roof. But if the vendors have plans/details of how the conservatory was built then a builder might be able to advise you from there. Our conservatory was huge which didn't help matters as weight of roof would have been enormous. if you're able to check out possibility of upgrading roof that would be a good starting place.

FlatCapAndAWhippet Sat 11-May-13 07:45:47

We have one but it is an extension / conservatory off the kitchen with one solid wall. The solid wall gives insulation and the roof is also the all singing, all dancing type that reflects the heat in the summer and insulates the heat in the winter....or so I'm told smile It does seem to work though. It has two radiators in there, although I was told I only needed one and is packed solid with insulation in the floor and wall. We did exactly as we were told by the building inspectors to get it approved.

It has double french doors that open onto the garden and opening windows in the roof, all the windows running down the side also open very wide, it's important in the summer to get the air flowing through it. Our garden is south westerly facing, so hot in the summer sun.

Ours is around five metres by four so not huge.

We love it, its used every day summer or winter; our big kitchen table is in there along with DD's old school desk and a couple of comfy chairs. Its as warm as the rest of the house in the winter but we've spent the money on doing it right. Our biggest fear was that it would end up a freezer in the winter and oven in the summer, totally unused as with a lot of conservatories.

SleepyCatOnTheMat Mon 13-May-13 22:41:21

We are going to have our foundations underpinned if we have to, MrsGrowbag.

puffylovett Mon 13-May-13 23:24:58

We have this arrangement. It's freezing in winter, and made oyR kitchen and living room freezing too sad last year we had the hearing on all the time. This year we had a wood burner installed in the living room, moved our big table to the front reception and hung curtains over the gap, which made a HUGE difference, we have been lovely and toasty. I love the space and we use the conservatory 9 out of 12 months, but ideally we would replace it with a proper extension.
My aunt put a wood burner in her conservatory too, I would love to do that!

lottiegarbanzo Mon 13-May-13 23:34:42

You're not concerned about the lack of building regs, as your title suggested? It's very unlikely but the council could order it to be pulled down. The standard approach is that the vendor pays for insurance against that possibility.

It would be worth talking to the building control dept to see if they have any real concerns and, to see if you could apply for a certificate.

If you go ahead, draw your surveyor's attention to the issue and ask close attention to be paid to the extension.

Was it done by a building firm, or the owner themselves? If the former the work may still be guaranteed, the latter it won't be and you'd need to quiz them carefully about their building skills. Why were regs not applied for?

ArabellaBeaumaris Tue 14-May-13 13:22:17

I would be careful about buying anything without building regs. Have it checked out very, very closely.

SleepyCatOnTheMat Tue 14-May-13 19:12:04

Yes, our vendor paid for that insurance you refer to, lottie. But don't ring the council OP! Then you will be putting them 'on notice' and that invalidates the insurance. It is a reputable builder you need to speak to.

lottiegarbanzo Tue 14-May-13 19:26:02

You can talk to the Council without naimg the house - just 'a building of this type, with extension of that type'.

morethanpotatoprints Tue 14-May-13 19:32:42

You need to check with the council about building regs. But also I would be worried about the house being structurally safe if anything had been done to alter the brick work, especially as they didn't seek approval. Who did the work? Were they a reputable company (probably not if work not regulated) If there is a brick bottom to the room, even just 2 courses you have to have planning permission by law.

ILikeBirds Tue 14-May-13 19:51:02

A conservatory that is separated from the house by external quality doors is exempt from building regulations. An open plan conservatory is technically an extension and therefore requires building regulations but a standard conservatory, e.g. dwarf wall and polycarbonate roof is highly unlikely to ever meet the thermal standards required for an extension.

Thus people build a conservatory and remove the patio doors that previously separated and spend a fortune on heating because they don't want to do the job properly.

We rented a house that had this setup, as soon as the first winter came we refitted the doors that had been left in the garage. We had underfloor heating and two full height walls so the conservatory was useable in winter but the cost to heat meant we rarely did.

UniS Tue 14-May-13 20:00:23

We have the dividing doors still- the west facing conservatory is nice to use in summer but cold and VERY expensive to heat in winter so We don't.

BiL moved in to a house like yours, spent one winter with a freezing cold living space or sky high fuel bills then reinstated the internal doors and window and thick curtains.

Friends have a south facing open plan conservatory with supper dupper thermo glass, blinds, a HUGE aga type range constantly on in the kitchen part and their conservatory is useable all year round. Their fuel consumption is rather high tho.

margaretcormack Wed 02-Nov-16 09:56:06

I have a 17 year old conservatory with a polycarb roof and thought of having the roof insulated. Everything about my conservatory is above board. plans and building warrant intact etc. All passed by Planning 17 years ago. Recently I had three quotes from companies who specialise in this type of work. I then called in two independent co's one of the co's was a national conservatory co and the other a long standing Edinburgh Roofing Co. Both respectable and long standing businesses. Only to be told by the two of them that due to the age and build of my conservatory (wooden with polycarb roof) that it was not suitable for conversion. As building regulations have changed so much over that period. They both said the best option would be to take the existing conservatory down and start again. Notwithstanding my conservatory has not caused me any problems over the years. So I have decided to leave well alone. I would still like to know if there is another option for insulating the polycarb roof.

Cabbagesandcustard Wed 02-Nov-16 19:39:03

My south facing conservatory is (thankfully!) separated from the house with a door:
Yes to costing a fortune to heat (we don't bother anymore)
Yes to freezing in the winter (I use it as an extra fridge for veg, fruit & drinks at Christmas)
Yes to boiling in the summer (foot burningly hot!) - and it has a radiator effect to the rest of the house whenever you have to close the back door when you go out.
Yes to very noisy in the rain

One poster has said that they use theirs to storage - as do we. But I don't leave anything I value in there - plastic and fabrics rot, fade and perish and wood shrinks and warps in the extreme heat and light - and in the cold and damp of winter, anything made of textile is very prone to mould.
As soon as we can afford it, we're going to replace ours with a proper insulated room that can be part of the house.
I would get those doors reinstalled if I were you, not just because the lack of insulation but also the planning anomaly.

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