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Conservatory Questions! Advice and tips sought (long post)...

(40 Posts)
Housemum Mon 17-May-10 13:14:57

Having weighed up the pros and cons of moving to get more space, we are coming round to the idea now of getting a decent conservatory to use as a dining room running lengthwise on the back of our house (accessed from kitchen and living room which both have doors onto the patio) so we can turn our existing dining room into playroom/office and give DD3 her own room.

We are definite on the roof glass - Pilkington Activ (the self cleaning slightly blue-tinted stuff). We know it will be UPVC (budget won't stretch to timber, plus lower maintenance costs). We will have dwarf walls, a sliding/opening wall of windows won't work as not enough room outside conservatory (there will be just a walkway between it and the retaining wall of the garden)

So, my questions (so far) are:

We face south to south-east ish - heat could be a big issue. How do you cope in summer if yours faces this way?

Doors from living room/kitchen - I believe you need to have external doors to the conservatory to meet building regs, or possibly to avoid having to get planning? Anyone got an "open plan" conservatory on the back of their house and were there any planning/build regs issues? (the openings are a standard back door and wide French doors at the moment)

Flooring - tiles, Karndean or what? don't really want wood as want something more durable when mopped frequently.

Heating - conservatory showroom guy suggested an electric panel heater would be sufficient, is he telling the truth? Have heard horror stories of the costs of electric underfloor.

Opening windows - can you have side opening windows as well as top vents, top little windows?

Any more ideas very gratefully received! The proposed room will be (internally) approx 21' by 8'10", running lengthways with doors at one narrow end, solid wall (for sideboard/unit) at the other end and a long dining table to seat 8-10 people in the middle.

Thank you!!!

teta Mon 17-May-10 13:29:28

We are doing the same thing.But instead of a conservatory the planner has suggested a flat roof with a large rooflight across.They are available in different sizes and styles to fit in with old or new houses.I think they are mostly made out of powder coated metal.Apropos do similar styles.We are planning on installing folding n' sliding doors btwn. the kitchen and dining area as this means less restriction on the amount of glazing you can have.I think ours will be slightly wider than yours and a similar length.The approx. cost is arround £15000 but I havn't costed up price of underfloor heating yet[is it really expensive?]shock

Housemum Mon 17-May-10 13:38:00

Someone on an MN thread said their electric bills went up £30 per month with it! We asked Apropos for a brochure but not had it yet.

SuSylvester Mon 17-May-10 13:39:30

we are south facing
heat not an issue
get an auomatic roof opener rain activated
we have slanty opening in windows ( german style)
we have no dors - took it out, didnt get planning , will sell on that basis.
we have a radiator and only on COLDEST mornign have a small column blower too
haev karndean but has discoloured a bit

teta Mon 17-May-10 13:52:33

You can view apropos on the internet.We have a south facing conservatory on the front of the house and have interlined roman blinds in calico to keep heat in/out.I think it would be worthwhile investing in the specially coated glass which is supposed to reflect the heat.Our conservatory gets boiling in the summer!.I like the idea of an automatically opening roof vent.Where is it from su?.For flooring the advice is to continue with the same flooring as the kitchen so the rooms flow together.I am also wondering about insulation as our house is old and very cold!.

Housemum Mon 17-May-10 14:12:58

The tiles on our kitchen floor are pretty tired looking, so was thinking about getting them and the plinth running round the bottom of the kitchen units replaced at the same time (shiny white units so plinths are just plain white anyway, not like they are the same material already)

Was thinking Karndean but how expensive is it? And compared to say grey slate-type tiles?

SuSylvester Mon 17-May-10 15:13:51

is rain and temp activated
our prices are all old now

Housemum Mon 17-May-10 19:15:02

Hmm, have spoken to a conservatory company and the prices for air conditioning units are not too bad - might go that route

teta Mon 17-May-10 20:15:15

But i think the coated windows keep heat in as well!.After the freezing winter i think our heating bills are approaching £3000. The roof on our south facing conservatory has blown so is a very effective heat loser.We have a fan but i never thought of air conditioning [ surprising since I lived in asia for 7 years!].£30 is minimal compared to the rest of our heating bills but i don't know what the cost of installation is!.What is karndean flooring?.Thanks Su!.

SuSylvester Mon 17-May-10 20:16:31

yes htink carefully about wehter one wall woudl be nice
maybe a cut off corner etc

jeanjeannie Mon 17-May-10 20:37:48

We have a conservatory business - mainly timber but the following principles are kind of the same whatever.

1)Have at least one opening roof vent - lets heat out!

2) Solar control glass is excellent. Get it with 'u' vlaue of 1.0 (heat in during winter and heat out in summer - helps stops the UV fading stuff too.

3) If you have the solar controlled glass then chances are you won't need blinds.

4) Insulate under the floor - whatever flooring you chose or else whatever heating you have it'll feel cold.

5) You can have the conservatory open to the house - you don't need doors. You DO though then need building control approval. Main problem is that conservatory foundations are usually half metre deep while building control generally requires 1 metre deep - so that'll build in more cost.

6) If you go open plan you'll have to have an SAP calc done on the house (about £300) This will show that the conservatory, along with any other home improvements in the rest of the property (things like new efficient boiler - upgrade windows etc) is just as carbon dioxide emissions efficient as a regular extension.

7) Underfloor heating is the way to go - IF you can afford it. Wet is least expensive to run but most expensive to install. if you go for this then have it put in a different zone so it can be controlled separately from the rest of the house.

8) you can have side opening windows and top vents.


SuSylvester Mon 17-May-10 21:20:56

Disagree re binds. Alsoour floornever cold

teta Tue 18-May-10 11:36:18

Thank-you Jean J.Thats really useful informationsmile.

Housemum Tue 18-May-10 11:48:00

Thanks jeanjeannie - I was hoping you'd come on this thread! They are quoting for 2 opening vents, do you know what brands of glass have a U value of 1.0, the pilkington Activ was quoting 1.1?

Do you think that if we got a new boiler at the same time it would balance out in some way the big open space for the energy calculations? (Trying to persuade DH at the moment that while we're doing home improvements we could get a new combi boiler so DD3 could have a wardrobe rather than an airing cupboard in her bedroom!)

I don't know if it will make much difference with the foundation depths, but we are on solid chalk here so I believe that we don't need to go as deep - one conservatory planner said that they liked doing conservatories on this side of town as it didn't have clay soil and nowhere near any water! (Put it this way, if we ever flooded the whole town would be underwater and there's be a bloke in an ark floating by)

jeanjeannie Tue 18-May-10 13:25:53

Housemum...hahah...I can't resist a conservatory/building thread grin

Saint Gerbain do a 1.0 and then there is Reflex glass too. But to be honest the difference between 1.0 and 1.1 in terms of what effect it will have is negliable! Pilkington Activ is nice glass - we've got it as a glass roof on our extension.

If you go for open plan - when you put in for building control you can say that you are having a new boiler as part of the overall scheme - this is then added to the calcs. DP reckons a new boiler is often just the ticket to bring the calcs up to standard for an open-plan conservatory. You won't have to fit the new boiler at the same time - but they won't issue you the certificate until you do; and that's only an issue if you're moving.

I know what you mean about the chalk...snap! Sadly the building control won't care - they'll make you dig down! Mind you - that's only if you're opting for open plan and they get involved. It's also got something to do with the frost (don't ask me what though confused But yep - the conservatory bloke is correct that it's usually only about half a metre.

I have to say we do things by the book and I'm sure we could 'get away' with stuff but we're a very small company and it's not worth us getting into trouble over anything. I'm sure you can cut corners but I really don't know what then happens when (or if) you come to sell!! smile

theyoungvisiter Tue 18-May-10 13:42:10

Ok not an expert but I think the main issue with having the conservatory open to the house is recent legislation (post 2006 I think) stating that the floor of both the conservatory and the room it opens into have to be insulated to modern standards to prevent heatloss.

This can mean you have to dig up and replacing your existing kitchen/dining room floor (it did with my sister).

Whereas if you build the conservatory as an outbuilding add-on, you don't have to insulate to the same standard and the existing rooms are not affected.

There is of course nothing to stop you building an outbuilding but then taking out the doors when the builders have gone. Not totally kosher but that's what other people I know have done.

theyoungvisiter Tue 18-May-10 13:46:51

oh sorry just read Jeanjeannie's post about the SAP energy thingie.

I presume that was the issue with my sis. I know it was a major pain in the arse. Involved their whole kitchen floor being excavated but they wanted total open plan (no walls even) and there was really no way around it.

llareggub Sun 23-May-10 10:58:10

A bit late, I know, but what you describe in your OP is exactly what we've done in our house.

We had brick walls both ends rather than window. We went for double doors into the garden and have just one heater. It does get cold in the winter but on a sunny winter day it does get beautifully warm! Yesterday was very hot but with the doors open all day, it wasn't too hot at all. We have the glass you describe.

We don't regret it at all. We have laminate floor as ran out of money.

MommaDude Sat 29-May-10 09:31:11

We added a conservatory last year. Went with laminate flooring and throw rugs to keep our feet warm, but honestly have never been bothered by the heat, as ours is north facing.
Check this page out for planning info:

simple to read
good luck!

Housemum Sat 29-May-10 15:07:41

Thanks for all the hints and tips - we are down to 2 local companies now, both with recommendations from friends/acquaintances of us (rather than friends of the builders!)

Have decided:

Double hipped sun lounge (aka Mediterranean or lean-to) ie the roof slopes down from house wall to edge, not an uppy-downy twiddly roof, but curved round on the ends.

Pilkington Active Blue glass

Karndean flooring (about £1000 - £1500 dpending on tiles chosen)

Solid wall one narrow end, double doors the other.

Tilt & turn windows for max ventilation in summer, we'll have 3 windows that will open fully back on the adjacent ones.

Possibly an aircon unit (5kW, 18000 Btu as it's a big room)

Will measure about 6.8m x 3.0m

Quotes in region of £16k at the moment to build, plaster, fit electrics and put new retaining wall to a bit of the garden that will have to be dug back.

inthesticks Sat 29-May-10 15:33:08

We have a huge south facing conservatory which is the best thing we ever did. Not much to add as all good advice here.
We found the air con to be a disappointment and in fact rarely bother with it.
Prefer fans , big fans and plenty of them.

Coderooo Sat 29-May-10 15:36:05

we never ariconned
are oyu REALLy goign to be sitting in there on a sunny day?

inthesticks Sat 29-May-10 15:38:53

We use it even on the hottest days. No flys or pollen wink.

Coderooo Sat 29-May-10 15:39:35

we would be outside on hot days

Housemum Sat 29-May-10 19:07:52

We will have hardly any patio left, just enough for a barbecue, so would have to sit in there on a hot day if we wanted to eat at a table - hence big windows that open all the way. (Also so I can shout at the kids more easily!)

I just want to get it ordered now - we are so close but DH is buggering off for 4 days to play golf so can't do much more till he's back (one of the companies is a contact of his through the golf club so better that he deals with them otherwise I'd have it ordered by now!)

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