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Buying a house with a conservatory - What do I need to know?

(33 Posts)
flow4 Sun 26-May-13 18:14:37

I'm considering a house that has an open plan conservatory extension - ie there are no doors between it and the house. I know there are things I need to know and questions I need to ask - probably about building regs - but I'm not sure exactly what these things are! Can anyone tell me, please?

FYI - it's smallish, 3m square, and fully glazed apart from a couple of feet of wall at the bottom on 3 walls. It has French doors out on one side. Its roof is that special plastic instead of glass. Its foundations are unusual, because the garden slopes away from the house, so there's more underground at the back than the front, iyswim...

flow4 Sun 26-May-13 21:24:05

Is this a silly question, then?! blush grin

ggirl Sun 26-May-13 21:32:52

no idea about buiding regs etc but I would be asking about heating costs
the possibilty of putting a proper roof on as that's the first thing I would do .
I hate conservatories , we ripped ours down.
Noisy when it rains and too hot or too cold.

LastButOneSplash Sun 26-May-13 21:34:23

Brrr sounds cold!

I know nothing about conservatories though grin

EeyoreIsh Sun 26-May-13 21:38:57

Our conservatory has those horrible roof panels and it gets freezing in winter. we've looked into having them replaced with glass, but the whole structure needs to be reinforced.

We have doors (useless wooden ones) between the conservatory and the kitchen and still the ground floor is freezing in winter.

CrazyOldCatLady Sun 26-May-13 21:47:31

There's no way I'd have a conservatory without good solid doors between it and the rest of the house. Ours is roasting in the summer and freezing in winter. I'm seriously considering demolishing it.

deepfriedsage Sun 26-May-13 21:54:16

You need doors between the house and conservatory. I don't like conservatory's that much, I inherited one. I find them noisy when it rains, nosey neighbours can hear conversations, cold and unusable half the year, they darken the room they are attached to and reduce fresh air in the attached room. They are great in the summer as a garden extinction, and for drying clothes when its wet.

PoppyWearer Sun 26-May-13 21:54:17

Is it in direct sun in the summer? If so you may need ceiling blinds.

Turnipinatutu Sun 26-May-13 22:05:23

We have one, I love it. It's always bright, even on a dull day, it's noisy when it rains, but I like that too. We have doors between it and the kitchen, but only close them if its really cold. Doesn't get too hot in the summer as we have double doors at the front, a side door and a roof vent.

Our old one was crap, but this ones fab and I'll miss it when we move.

flow4 Sun 26-May-13 22:29:15

Thanks everyone. smile

Design-wise, I liked it: it adds space (obviously), gives a good 'flow' through the kitchen-diner and out to the garden, and seemed to make the room lighter than it would otherwise have been. I don't think temp will be a problem, because of its size, and because there are French doors to open in the summer and a stove for winter. smile But heat-loss worries me, and so does its construction - tho it looks sound - basically they turned a window into an archway when they added it.

Would someone have had to inspect it to make sure it complied with building regs? If so, how would I find out if this actually happened? And what are the implications if it didn't?

Sushiqueen Sun 26-May-13 23:06:04

For building regs purposes it depends on when the conservatory was added.
We bought a house last year which has a conservatory straight onto the lounge with no doors between them. Under current regs there should be doors.
We took out indemnity insurance to be on the safe side but were advised that as the conservatory was added in 2007, we wouldn't have had any issues with the local council anyway.

flow4 Mon 27-May-13 04:21:47

Thanks sushi smile

So is there a sort of 'statute of limitations' on building regs? This one is about 6-7 years old.

Sushiqueen Mon 27-May-13 07:13:13

I think it is a case that if it is less than 12 months since the work was done, then the council can insist on you correcting the issue so that it all complies with the regs.
If it is more than a year ago then they would have to go to court to get an injunction for the work to be done. The court is less likely to insist on you reinstating the doors as it is s minor building job. But you can never be certain.
You basically take a chance on whether the council will ever get to know about the work. If you plan to live in the house for years it may not be a problem but if you want to sell again in a few years then you may have queries again from the buyers.

poocatcherchampion Mon 27-May-13 08:31:38

I think that if there are no doors between the rooms it is technically an extension not a conservatory and therefore will require proper ceiling and insulation to meet building regs.

I'm not an expert however

flow4 Mon 27-May-13 10:19:30

Thanks both. There is another complicating issue that I don't think I can explain here without outing myself... I don't know whether it'll help or hinder... I think I need to ask my solicitor about it in the morning... Sorry to be cryptic! I'll explain if I ever get to the point of exchanging on this house, or if I pull out!

As far as environmental impact goes - the house has an EPC giving EIR and EERs at the top of D - ie average... And presumably if the conservatory was leeching heat from the house, it would have got lowers ratings...?

LastButOneSplash Mon 27-May-13 10:32:30

They keep a dragon in it?

flow4 Mon 27-May-13 10:37:08

Haha, I'd like that! But I think I might have noticed! grin I didn't actually examine the glass, but they could have used really good triple-glazed/insulated stuff I guess...

wonkylegs Mon 27-May-13 21:25:01

The EPC isn't sophisticated enough to cover your scenario and it is unlikely to be a realistic projection of the house. I would guess that it has received a more favourable outcome as the assessor hasn't known how to deal with it and has added it as if it is a conservatory with proper separation.
It would not currently get building regs with that construction and without separating doors. It may however not have been covered by building regs - you need to find out when it was built.
To meet current regulations it would require either better construction or at least external doors between it and the house.
My concern would be that it sounds like it would leech heat, it's too flimsy to do anything else, and it could become costly to heat your home.

flow4 Mon 27-May-13 21:44:57

Thanks wonky. The vendors say it was built 6-7 years ago. So 2006-7? Do you know how I find out what building regs were then?

Scuttlebug Mon 27-May-13 22:00:10

We have the same, bought two years ago. We had an idemnity agreement drawn up as no doors between kitchen and cons. In the winter, I put a curtain up which helps and in the summer, our south facing cons practically heats the whole house. We bloody love it and I'm sitting in it right now, looking at the night sky and the garden and its awesome! Plus I've had some everything is cool right now :-)

flow4 Mon 27-May-13 22:36:09

I have found a couple of sources of info that might be useful and I am just listing them here for reference... smile

flow4 Tue 28-May-13 09:41:09

scuttlebug, I didn't see your post last night... Thanks... Sitting watching the night sky is one of the things I dream about smile

hardbeingme Tue 28-May-13 10:02:09

ours is almost exactly like that, 3m by 3m, french doors and originally had a plastic roof we replaced it a few years ago, new windows and doors and a glass roof.

It has a radiator in it so is centrally heated with the rest of the house and i've never thought of it as cold, infact since any sunshine even on a cold day makes it feel warmer its probably saved money on the heating.

Pros; the space is larger, brighter and much more pleasant than the houses in the row with solid extentions, can get my vitamin D on even days without braving the outside

cons; the leaks! ours was much older than yours though, hence replacing it with glass and PVC but even that has to be maintained, condensation if i've been cooking

i wouldn't be without mine but am still wary about leaving stuff in spots where water could potentially come in.

Mockingcurl Tue 28-May-13 10:02:17

I would put doors between the lounge and conservatory, or you will freeze to death. We had one put onto our old house, regretted it straightaway. Too hot or cold, noisy and made the sitting room dark.

wonkylegs Tue 28-May-13 10:09:37

I'm not certain but I'm pretty sure 6-7yrs ago it would require building regs approval for that work. I would be asking for the documents for it. If it was 15-20yrs ago that would be different.
I would also be concerned that if the ground slopes away from the house that there was some proof that adequate foundations were put in a checked by somebody suitably qualified. If it's got a BR certificate then foundations would be covered.

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