build a conservatory

How to build a conservatory that will be used 

Thursday 29th Feb 2024 |

Many homes already have a conservatory extension. With wide views to the outside, they should be one of the most-loved rooms in the house. But design, layout and temperature problems mean conservatories often end up little more a dumping ground.  

That doesn’t mean a conservatory is a bad idea. In fact, with conservatory costs ranging between £7,500 and £15,000, it’s a cost-effective way to add much-needed space. So, here’s some tips to ensure you build a conservatory that will be used. 

Put it in the right position  

It sounds obvious but a conservatory is largely made up of glazing. So, the first thing you should think about is what position will make the most of this feature? Ideally, you want your conservatory where it makes the most of natural light and outside views.  

A large estate home, Tudor style, in the UK

This might not be in the most conventional spot. For starters, not everyone has a home with a rear garden. Your greenest or least overlooked space may be at the side or front of your home. Perhaps the front garden has great views out to fields or the sea while the rear garden is north facing and lacking in sunlight. Alternatively, you might already have patio doors to the rear but no connection to the outside space at the side – so, you might decide a conservatory works better here.  

Create a proper connection  

But it’s not just positioning in terms of the garden that’s important. You need to work out where the conservatory works best in terms of your inside space. For example, if you’re thinking of using the conservatory as a dining space, it needs to be positioned next to the kitchen. Otherwise, it won’t be practical and it probably won’t get used.  

Tacking a conservatory onto your home without proper thought can leave it cut off from your other rooms, especially if it’s a lean-to type. So, once you’ve thought about where to put your conservatory, you need to think about maximising the access.  

If you already have a large opening for patio doors, then you could install a lean-to style conservatory. It won’t involve much structural work yet it’ll still have reasonably good access. This would work well if it’s an occasional space for reading or hobbies. But if you’re looking to extend your family living space, opening up the exterior wall – to create one big room with no separation between existing lounge and conservatory – would work better. This involves more building work, including supporting beams, but it should ensure the conservatory meets your needs.  

Give your conservatory a function 

A conservatory that is being used as a dining room, laundry and playroom isn’t going to be a pleasant space. It will quickly become cluttered and unloved. Imagine trying to clear some table space while navigating around airers and toys. So, when you’re planning your new conservatory, give it one function and stick to it. Have a think about what your house would benefit from and what your family’s greatest need is.  

Conservatories can be used as dining rooms, playrooms, quiet spaces, home offices or snugs. There’s no need to stick to convention by simply putting in some seating. If your child needs a space to practice their music or you need somewhere for your teens to hang out without hogging your TV, then that’s fine.  

Defining the use also helps to determine the size of conservatory you need and whether you want to open the space out or keep the conservatory separate from the main house. If your conservatory is to be a dining space, make sure it’s the right shape and size for seating everyone around a table. And don’t be tempted to squeeze in other items such as a TV, as it will leave you with a cluttered space that doesn’t lend itself to sociable family mealtimes.  

Install temperature controls 

There are some important design elements that you need to think about to make your conservatory comfortable to use all year round.  

Conservatories can be too hot in summer and too cold in winter. But implementing temperature controls will prevent this. It’s important to think about having the right amount of ventilation. Openable windows and doors create a better connection to the garden but can also help to keep your conservatory cool.  

However, windows alone aren’t usually sufficient. You’re wise to combine this with vents lower down, to draw cool air in. And having a correctly-angled ceiling fan can aid the circulation of air. In addition, installing a system of blinds or going for solar control glazing will limit the effects of the sun when it’s directly overhead.  

Of course, you also need a way to keep your conservatory warm in cooler weather. There are two main ways to do this – through heating and insulation. You might decide to go for a tiled roof rather than glazing or polycarbonate, so you can add a good layer of insulation underneath. Or you might choose energy-efficient insulating glass. If you’re unsure of what works best, compare each of the U-values. The lower the number, the better it performs.  

You will also need some form of heating. An electric panel may work fine in a small conservatory. But for a larger space you’re better off extending your current central heating system or installing underfloor heating to achieve a comfortable warmth.  

Live the super yacht life at an affordable price