Conservatories remain as one of the most popular types of home improvements undertaken by British property owners. Your conservatory is both a room in your home and a room that’s separate from it – it’s additional living space for you and your family but it’s a different type of living space to the rest of the house.
Knowing which conservatory is right for you, the budget you have to spend, and the installer you trust to do the work are essential must-haves for any homeowner in advance of wanting to add a conservatory to your property. With so many styles, variations, and installers to choose from, how do you decide the right path for you?
In this article, the CompareCompanies team looks at the 4 things you should know when you’re looking for a new conservatory. Follow these tips and save thousands on the cost of your conservatory.
How much do you have to spend?
Conservatories cost anywhere from £4,500 right up to £20,000 depending on the size of your conservatory, the materials its constituent parts are made of, the amount of labour involved, and the added extras you put into to really make your conservatory your own.
How much base work needs to be done before your conservatory is installed?
Just as your home has foundations, so does your conservatory. You’ll hear your installer refer to this as the “base work” that he or she needs to do to prepare the site. Just so you know, the average conservatory installation takes between three to four weeks (longer for larger and more complex installations).
To achieve the best effect, many installers will recommend that you install paving around your new conservatory. They’ll mark out the base of your conservatory and then start their excavations, taking care to make sure that no cabling or pipework in the excavation site is damaged or disturbed. They’ll need to dig around 18 inches down – that’s 45 centimetres. The base of your conservatory will be completed when it’s 6 inches (15 centimetres) above the ground.
The final touches are a sub-base layer on top of which they place sand blinding. They will then lay a membrane to protect against the damp, the floor insulation materials, finishing off with your new conservatory’s concrete floor.
How the style of conservatory affects the price
Most homeowners will then choose a dwarf wall for their conservatory. Dwarf walls are brick walls which surround the flooring of your conservatory and which are then attached to your house walls. While dwarf walls generally increase the cost of a conservatory, installers will advise you that they provide better insulation and make temperature control within your conservatory much more manageable.
The other alternative is to have floor-to-ceiling windows – very stylish and a bit cheaper than the dwarf wall option. However, many homeowners worry that sitting in a fully-glazed room during the warmest summer days will make their conservatory feel like a sauna or a greenhouse – with some justification. You can offset this with special glass however this will add to the overall cost of your installation.
You can see typical quotes you will receive from installers based upon different types of conservatory style complete with a dwarf wall.
The two most popular types of conservatory roofing are glass roofing (using double-glazing panels) and polycarbonate roofing (a lighter, less expensive alternative).
The most popular type of conservatory installed in the UK is the “lean to” conservatory, so-called because it’s a three-sided conservatory on which the roof leans down to the top of the conservatory from a slightly elevated angle. Lean to conservatories are great for homeowners on tighter budgets.
|Lean to conservatory (dwarf wall)|
|Size||Prices between||Prices between|
|3.5m x 2m||Polycarbonate roof||£6,700-£8,300||Glass roof||£7,200-£8,700|
|3.5m x 2.5m||Polycarbonate roof||£7,950-£9,550||Glass roof||£8,700-£10,200|
|4m x 2m||Polycarbonate roof||£7,450-£9,050||Glass roof||£7,700-£9,700|
|4m x 2.5m||Polycarbonate roof||£8,700-£10,300||Glass roof||£9,200-£10,700|
Larger than “lean to” conservatories, Victorian conservatories offer a period elegance and they fit in well with the aesthetics of both traditional and modern properties.
Think of a bay window with three or five panels curved at the front of a house. The same style is employed at the end of a Victorian conservatory often enhanced by ornate and eye-catching detailing. They have dual sloping roof panels positioned on a steep pitch running from the connecting wall on your home to the bay at the end.
If space is at a premium in your back garden, think carefully before choosing a Victorian conservatory. Your home may actually lose value if too much of the outside space is taken up by a larger conservatory.
General guideline budgets for Victorian conservatories with dwarf walls is as follows:
|Victorian conservatory (dwarf wall)|
|Size||Prices between||Prices between|
|3.5m x 3.5m||Polycarbonate roof||£10,950-£12,550||Glass roof||£11,950-£13,550|
|3.5m x 4m||Polycarbonate roof||£11,950-£13,550||Glass roof||£12,950-£14,550|
|4m x 4m||Polycarbonate roof||£12,950-£14,550||Glass roof||£13,700-£15,050|
Think of an Edwardian conservatory as a more restrained, less ornate version of a Victorian conservatory. The emphasis in Edwardian conservatory designs is on a general lack of fussiness, an abundance of light, a refreshing airiness, and the feeling of real extra space to your property. Their apex-pitched roofing lends an unmistakable spatial expanse to the conservatory, in much the same way as we gravitate towards rooms inside a home with very high ceilings.
Budgets you should expect for an Edwardian conservatory is as follows:
|Edwardian conservatory (dwarf wall)|
|Size||Prices between||Prices between|
|3.5m x 3.5m||Polycarbonate roof||£9,950-£11,550||Glass roof||£9,550-£11,050|
|3.5m x 4m||Polycarbonate roof||£11,200-£12,550||Glass roof||£12,050-£13,550|
|4m x 4m||Polycarbonate roof||£13,450-£15,050||Glass roof||£14,550-£16,050|
In design terms, a gable conservatory is a direct descendent of Edwardian conservatories, the main difference between the two being the pitching of the roof (one side is upright, the other side is sloped). Gable conservatories tend to be squarer or rectangle in shape with minimal and elegant detailing across its smaller footprint.
Guideline prices for gable conservatories is as follows:
|Gable conservatory (dwarf wall)|
|Size||Prices between||Prices between|
|3.5m x 3.5m||Polycarbonate roof||£11,550-£13,050||Glass roof||£12,450-£14,050|
|3.5m x 4m||Polycarbonate roof||£12,800-£14,550||Glass roof||£13,450-£15,050|
|4m x 4m||Polycarbonate roof||£13,700-£15,550||Glass roof||£14,450-£16,050|
Very popular on larger detached properties, P-shaped conservatories seamlessly blend the very best of Victorian conservatory complexity with lean to conservatory simplicity. They tend to be separated into two or more living areas, extending in different directions against the rear façade of your property.
If you are considering a P-shaped conservatory for your property, you should look to budget the following:
|P-shaped conservatory (dwarf wall)|
|Size||Prices between||Prices between|
|3.5m x 3.5m||Polycarbonate roof||£12,550-£14,050||Glass roof||£13,300-£15,050|
|3.5m x 4m||Polycarbonate roof||£13,550-£15,050||Glass roof||£14,050-£16,050|
|4m x 4m||Polycarbonate roof||£14,300-£16,050||Glass roof||£15,300-£17,050|
How the framing you choose influences the price
All of the quotes above we’ve included for you assume that the framing of the conservatory will be made from uPVC. uPVC is the most popular conservatory framing material in the UK – they’re very low maintenance, they look good, they offer great security and insulation safeguards, and, for those of us who are environmentally conscious, most British-made uPVC is fully recyclable.
There are two types of wooden frame – hardwood and softwood. Wooden frames look amazing offering a real authenticity in both touch and aesthetics. If you have wooden window frames in your home, you’ll probably prefer wooden framing for your conservatory so that there is shared visual language in design across your property.
Hardwood framing is slightly more expensive than softwood framing, the main difference between the two being that hardwood requires less maintenance. They will generally last as long as each other as long as they are properly looked after.
The most popular type of framing in the sense of that they’re likely to be seen in home styling magazines is aluminium or metal framing. They are very “now” in design terms, incredibly hard-wearing, and offer the widest scope of views because the framing itself is significantly thinner than either wooden or uPVC frames.
Wooden frame is more expensive than uPVC framing, aluminium significantly so.
Conservatory flooring and heating
By law, conservatories must not take heat from the same system as the rest of your home otherwise they’ll need to comply with Building Regulations – I know, that comes as a surprise to most people.
To heat your conservatory, you may wish to consider underfloor heating however this will need to be married with the right type of floor – ask your installer for advice. The most popular types of flooring for a conservatory are carpet flooring, vinyl flooring, laminate flooring, wooden flooring, and floor tiles. Each have different cleaning and maintenance requirements so please make sure you think about this carefully before you make a decision – for example, if the kids are running in and out of an autumnal muddy garden, carpet flooring may not be suitable.
Even though modern conservatories have superb heat insulation properties, the management of temperature in your conservatory will be more difficult than other rooms in your home because the space itself is mainly glass-walled. Make sure that you close all the conservatory vents and windows before you go to bed and be sure to invest in some conservatory blinds, especially for the roof if you’re installing is a glass or polycarbonate roof.
Should I choose a solid conservatory roof?
So far, in this article, we’ve looked at double-glazed and polycarbonate roofs. There is another option – a solid roof.
A solid conservatory roof does push the price up because of the additional materials and labour costs. Solid conservatory roofs are much heavier than either double-glazed or polycarbonate roofs meaning that you may incur extra charges to have the structure of your new conservatory strengthened so that it can support the added weight.
Even with a solid roof, your conservatory will still be bathed in light and you can choose just how much light with as many roof windows as you please. You should seriously consider a tiled roof if you want to be much more in control of the regulation of the temperate within your conservatory over the whole year – hot months and cold months.
A conservatory may add value to your home but be careful
Towergate Insurance research showed that a conservatory could add up to 5% to the value of your home. In other words, you could make money when you come to sell your home through the installation of a conservatory if the price of that installation is less than 5% of the value of your market home.
How will you use your conservatory and how much space will that require?
You may want a conservatory for a variety of different reasons – everything for a mancave to a kids’ play area to a place to chill to a place to work to a dining area. We all have our own reasons for wanting to make the investment in a conservatory but, once you’re sure what that is, it’s time to do a little bit more planning prior to getting quotes from different trusted installers.
How will you furnish your conservatory?
In order to be able to use your conservatory in the way you want, how much furniture will you need? How much spare space will you need to create so people can walk from one end of the conservatory to another easily and comfortably?
In your mind, plan out where each desk, chair, or other piece of furniture will go and how you want yourself and your family to move around the conservatory. The furniture you buy for your conservatory will have to be added to your overall conservatory budget so create extra room in that budget by getting multiple quotes from different installers to get your installation cost down – more on that below.
Do you need planning permission?
Generally permissible conservatories without the need for planning permission
Assuming you don’t own a listed building or live in a conservation or Directive 4 area, you won’t need planning permission if your conservatory:
- does not take up more than half the land around the original property
- does not exceed four metres in height
- does not stretch further than 3 metres beyond the rear wall of your property
Ask your installer for their advice based upon the dimensions and blueprints they draw up for your conservatory.
The times when you’ll always need planning permission
If your conservatory exceeds more than 30m2 in size, the use of glazing in “critical areas” is in line with Part N of the building regulations, and there’s not what’s known as “thermal separation” from the rest of your property, it will likely be classed as an extension and you will need to speak with your Local Planning department for guidance.
Who should install your conservatory?
What pitfalls should I look out for?
While there’s nothing wrong or illegal with conservatory installers knocking door to door looking for sales leads, someone has to pay for the door canvassing representatives and their managers – and it’s often you through higher prices. The chances are that any quote you receive from a conservatory installer who has approached you first by phone or at your door will be fine and good value for money – but, as we cover in just a minute, you should get a variety of quotes anyway.
Always invite more than one installer in to give you a quote but how do you know that the person you’re calling in is reputable?
Should my installer be a member of any trade bodies?
We would recommend that any installer you choose be a member of at least one of the following trade associations or certification schemes –
- Glass & Glazing Federation (GGF),
- the Certification and Self-Assessment (CERTASS) scheme
- the Fenestration Self-Assessment Scheme (FENSA), or
- accreditation from TrustMark or FairTrades
Should I try to haggle down the price?
Yes – but there’s any easy way to do this. Conservatory installers are a competitive bunch and they would much rather install your conservatory for less than they’d ideally like to install it for than have one of their competitors do it instead.
If the people who are quoting you know that they have to fight to win your business, they’ll lower price without necessarily sacrificing any quality whatsoever in parts, skills, or after-care. Particularly for locally-owned and -operated businesses, they live and die by their reputation in their home communities and it’s never ever in their interest to cut corners.
Most homeowners buy their conservatories using finance offered by their installer. Make sure you ask for the lowest possible interest rate – better still, try to get a payment-free period with no interest through the term of the loan.
If you don’t ask, you don’t get and, if you’re worried about bringing it up or offending an installer, don’t be – they expect to be asked and they’re often surprised if they’re not.
What sort of guarantees should I expect on an installation?
Even the best businesses go through the roughest times and some of them don’t make it through to the other side, despite the best intentions and efforts of their owners and staff.
If your installer can offer you an “insurance-backed” guarantee, this means that your conservatory will be fixed or maintained for you by another professional if something goes wrong and they cease trading as a result.
Get quotes on a new conservatory with CompareCompanies
At CompareCompanies, we help British homeowners get the best deals for their conservatories by arranging three or four quotes with installers with offices based close to where they live. Our service is free, your quotes are all free, and there’s no obligation on you to go ahead with any installer we put you in touch with.
We’ve done the due diligence on these installers so that you don’t have to – they’re established, reputable traders who are members of one or more of the trusted schemes we mentioned earlier in this article.
To get your free quotes, please click here.