Installing a conservatory onto your home provides a useful and versatile extra room. Although the total installation cost of a conservatory won’t be less than a few thousand pounds, you will find that the extra space available will be worth every penny. A conservatory is a room made using a framework infilled with translucent panels and fixed to the outside of the house. Furthermore, they are designed to allow you to enjoy the sun’s warmth on a gloomy, dull day or enjoy the garden when it is raining. This article will discuss how much things cost and some of the other information you will need to consider.
How much does a conservatory cost?
Many factors, to be determined later, will determine the variation of conservatory prices. For now, let’s choose a basic 3.5m x 3.5m structure fully fitted with a concrete base and compare different styles and materials.
Conservatory Cost Factors
There are many factors governing the price variations and you must understand these so you can compare like-for-like when trying to choose.
The most obvious factor is the size of the structure. This includes height as well as floor area. The next most important factors are construction materials and style. We have already mentioned uPVC and wood, but there are other materials such as aluminium, hardwood or softwood. We also include whether the roof is made from cheaper polycarbonate panels or expensive double glazed glass units.
Are you buying an easily installed, factory-made kit or is it a conservatory made from scratch by a carpenter? A factory-made kit will often look better because all the difficult angles and mouldings are machine made in a factory or workshop rather than by hand. Hence, all that is required is to assemble them on site. However, you will have to take the standardised sizes and make do with those. Conversely, although a hand-made structure will be simpler, it will fit your existing situation. Useful if your house has awkward angled walls or changes in elevation and slopes.
If you live in London, then labour will be charged at a premium. Does the installation need scaffolding? This is unlikely unless you have chosen a tall structure. But, you will need to provide access for installing the roof so an access tower and ladders will be useful.
Remember, when the conservatory is in position, it’ll be difficult to access the house roof or the house walls above the structure. Make sure that you have done all the maintenance jobs such as replacing roof tiles, cleaning gutters and painting the walls before the conservatory installers arrive.
Conservatory Cost Calculator
If you intend hiring a professional to install the conservatory, it is important to calculate a rough ballpark figure for your costs. You can do this by looking at a few different catalogues from various manufacturers and calculating the average price per square metre.
It is always better to request a quotation to do the entire job from three separate professionals. To save you the work, try using the tool on this website and contact some competent conservatory installers.
Generally, conservatories come in two distinctive styles: traditional and orangeries. Whichever one you choose will depend on your budget and on its proposed use. For the purposes of this article, we will only be talking about conservatories.
A traditional conservatory comes in so many different styles, you would need a catalogue to decide on your choice and that is exactly what manufacturers do. Therefore, the first thing is to look online at some websites and see what is actually available.
The most popular types are based on a simple lean-to structure. These are fitted to an external wall of the house and slope away from the wall, shedding rainfall into gutters. Small conservatories are obviously cheaper than larger ones and an average all-in price for a lean-to will be about £9,000 to £12,000. There are almost as many conservatory types available as there are architectural styles, with Victorian and Edwardian gaining in popularity in recent years. The design is more complex for these and so you will be paying more for the installation. They have a roof similar in shape to your house roof and will have slight differences in window design. Although the design is more complicated, mass production has prevented the price from rising too much above the lean-to cost. A basic conservatory of this type won’t cost you more than about £14,000 to £16,000.
Whether you choose wood or uPVC as a framework will depend on many factors, not least being the construction materials of your house doors and windows. It looks better if they match so choose wisely.
To save money you can buy cheap, self build, DIY conservatory kits or pay the full price and have the work done by a professional.
uPVC or wooden framed conservatories are the commonest frame materials and once again the difference is echoed in the price.
This is more like an extension to your home constructed mainly from glass. As such, it will need to comply with Building Regulations and you may need Planning Permission too. Because of the need for proper foundations, heating, better quality materials and suchlike, the cost for an Orangery will be at least twice the cost of a conservatory. The average cost of an orangery will be about £20,000, but you may find some as low as about £15,000. But, considering that what you are getting for your money is more like an extension to your home, which can cost anything from £30,000 to £50,000, it is a small price to pay.
So, when deciding which one you want to have, the first choice is whether you want a conservatory or extension and you must go from there. If you decide on an extension (an orangery) you must then start looking at designs and finding a general builder to do the work. If you decide on a cheaper conservatory, it is possible to do the work as a DIY project if you have the skills or find a conservatory installation company who can do the work for you.
Foundations are essential. Their size depends on the weight of the structure, and the type of ground conditions you have. A typical conservatory will need at least 150mm deep and 200mm wide concrete strip foundations to support the weight above. On top of this, cement in place a course of 100mm concrete blocks on which to build the conservatory.
You will need a conservatory base strong enough to support the weight of the structure as well as one which won’t lose any heat or allow draughts to enter. Therefore, the best floor will be made from concrete with a damp proof membrane, insulated with polystyrene slabs. Pour the concrete within the concrete block surround. A useful extra to keep everyone warm in the winter is underfloor heating.
If you have a full glass wall, build the wall framework directly from the concrete blocks. If the wall is half glass then build a dwarf wall up to the correct height.
The conservatory consists of a wall frame constructed from wood, aluminium or uPVC, infilled with double glazed panels. Structural beams or rafters, constructed from the same material as the walls make up the roof. Between the rafters, there are either glass panels or polycarbonate roofing sheets depending on how much you want to spend. Usually, only expensive conservatories have a glass roof, but they need a much more robust support structure because of its weight.
Fit the structure to the house where there is either an external single door or patio doors. Don’t forget that the join between conservatory and house will need to be waterproofed with lead flashing or other suitable water barriers.
Using glass roof panels rather than polycarbonate will probably add about £1,000 onto the price of standard conservatory roof.
Planning Permission, Building Regulations and Covenants
You will need to apply for planning permission for your new conservatory if your home is a listed building or you live in a conservation area. This doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be granted permission but you will at the very least have to comply with certain stipulations laid down by the local authority. If your house doesn’t fall into this category, then you will still need planning permission if the conservatory is taller than 4 metres or if it extends more than 3 metres from the back wall (if yours is a detached house then the limit is 4 metres).
Be aware that if your conservatory is larger than 30 square metres in area, is not at ground level, has certain glazing requirements, and shares heating with the rest of the house, the local authority will class it as an extension rather than a conservatory. It will, therefore, need to comply with Building Regulations. If you are in doubt, contact the Building Control Officer and ask what the requirements are.
If you choose a conservatory installer who is registered with FENSA, he will issue a certificate to prove that your glass installation complies with the Building Regulations. This may not seem such a big deal now, but the certificate will be necessary if you ever decide to move house.
Health, Safety and Environmental Considerations
The following are for your information only. If you are hiring a competent professional they will already be aware of the safety considerations and should adhere to the advice.
Excavating the ground to install foundations and floor will require some way to dispose of unwanted soil. Hire a skip from a registered waste handler to ensure everything is disposed of according to the law.
Handling cement dust, mortar and concrete will damage exposed skin. Wear suitable protective clothing such as gloves, goggles and dust mask.
If working at height ensure you use suitable access ladders and platforms.
Do not use electrical tools in wet weather.
How to choose a competent professional
While it is true that almost anyone with some DIY skills can build a conservatory, it may not turn out looking very professional. Only use skilled tradesmen to carry out this work, especially when dealing with foundations, glass and waterproofing. After all, you have spent a lot of money on it and you deserve to have it installed properly. When you choose your installer, ensure he or she is a member of some of the following organisations.: The Glass and Glazing Federation (GGF), The Certification and Self Assessment Scheme (CERTASS), The Fenestration Self Assessment Scheme (FENSA), Trustmark, and Fairtrades.
If you are having lighting or electrical sockets installed in your conservatory, use a qualified and registered electrician. This is because you will be extending the circuits and require compliance with Part P of the Building Regulations.
It can be very difficult to choose your own professional so always make full use of online tools to request quotations. One of these is available to use on this website.
Conservatory Cost FAQs
Q. Why buy a conservatory?
Conservatories are great for those of you who would like to extend your living area in your home but cannot afford the full price of an extension. If you like gardens and want somewhere to sit and view, or maybe you want somewhere to entertain guests, then a conservatory is great. One of the most popular reasons for having one installed is when you live in a remote and windy area. A conservatory will allow you to appreciate the sun’s warmth without having to put up with the chill wind.
Q. What are the benefits of a conservatory?
They add extra space at a fraction of the cost of a proper extension. The glass brings lots of natural light into the house. They are versatile and can be used for many purposes. You can ‘bring your garden indoors’.
Q. What are the disadvantages of a conservatory?
It is very difficult to maintain a constant temperature because of the lack of insulation. In fact, it can be cold at night and in the winter, but blistering hot in the summer. The noise of rain on the roof can be almost overpowering if it is a heavy storm. Although polycarbonate roof sheeting is difficult to cut properly, it is very brittle and easy to smash, making it very difficult to keep a conservatory secure.
Q. Where can I buy a conservatory?
There are many places to buy a conservatory. You can buy direct from the manufacturer or from selected retail outlets. Most manufacturers have their own teams of qualified technicians who will install and supply an installation warranty.
Q. What questions should I ask a potential installer?
Find out if they are a member of the Glass and Glazing Federation. Use one of the online tradesmen finding tools or use the quotation request tools on this website.
Has the installer any insurance for damage to your property and for an accident to you and your family? Ask to see the policy and check it will be active during the installation.
Find out if they offer a warranty or guarantee on materials and labour and for how long.