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This article was written and distributed by the Federation of Master Builders, the building industry's largest trade organisation, representing over 13,000 small and medium-sized companies throughout the UK. If you'd like to know more about the FMB, or would like to find a reputable builder, try the Find a Builder web site at: http://www.findabuilder.co.uk.

Donít add a conservatory until you read this...
Conservatories not only offer versatile accommodation, they are also the cheapest route to extra living space in your home and can be built far more quickly than a full-blown extension.

Some dos and doníts to get you thinking:
  • Do your research Ė make sure you are buying the best quality structure within your budget
  • Do make sure you ask your builder what is included in his quote Ė is it inclusive of flooring and electrics or will you be left with a bare shell?
  • Do install effective heating and ventilation arrangements so that you can use it in all seasons
  • Do check out whether you need planning permission or building regulations approval if you go ahead without it you may have to take it down
  • Do think about the position of your conservatory Ė if itís south facing it will need good ventilation and shade, if itís north facing it will need efficient heating
  • Donít try and build your own conservatory
  • Donít add a conservatory if it is going to take up too much space in the garden
  • Donít choose a design which is not in keeping with your house

Finding a professional company to build your conservatory neednít be a problem, you can search for builders who specialise in conservatories in your area at the FMBís website, www.findabuilder.co.uk

Planning & Building regulations

There is generally no requirement for conservatories to meet Building Regulations in England and Wales if they are separated from the rest of the house, for example by patio doors, the floor area does not exceed 30 square metres and it is not permanently heated. It is advisable to check with your local authority because other restrictions may apply in your area.

If you live in Scotland conservatories do have to comply with Part J of the Building Standards. Again, check with your local authority for full details.

In England and Wales many conservatories will not need planning permission. For more details check out the Government's planning website at www.planning.odpm.gov.uk/householder. In Scotland, check out www.scotland.gov.uk/about/planning or call 08457 741741.

Structurally speaking Ė howís it made?
Most conservatories will have a concrete foundation and floor slab, cavity brickwork lower walls with glazed upper walls and roof panels set within a framing system. A number of materials can be used for framing, uPVC being the most economical and therefore most commonly used, with aluminium, steel and timber offering alternative options. All will provide a good result, but achieving watertight joints with timber is more dependent on the skill of the installer, and uPVC may not be allowed on listed buildings or in conservation areas.

FMB member Fincrest specialises in conservatory construction across the south east of England, and managing director, Peter Dancy says: ďA well-built conservatory can be used throughout the year, but think carefully before choosing the glazing as the wrong type can make life uncomfortable if the weather is too hot, too cold or too wet.Ē

Glass facts for conservatories:

Safety: For safety, toughened or laminated glass must be used throughout. Laminated glass offers added security benefits against break-ins and cuts out around 90% of the sunís UV rays, which fade furnishings.

Stay cool: To prevent overheating, particularly if your conservatory faces south, use solar control glass such as K2's Celsius Performance Glass or bronze polycarbonate panels for the roof. This can reduce the temperature by several degrees in the summer as well as reducing glare.

Some conservatory roof systems have ridge ventilation and roof lights that open automatically above a given temperature to allow air to circulate. You should also consider the position of windows and doors to allow a cross flow of air when open.

Winter warmer: Fitting low-emissivity glass will add just two or three hundred pounds to the bill but significantly reduces heat loss during winter.

Noise reduction: K2's Celsius Performance Glass offers dramaticaly improved sound reduction compared to 25mm polycarbonate sheets. Polycarbonate roof panels may be less expensive, but they are far noisier than glass when it rains, and can be real conversation stoppers in a downpour. If you want to use your conservatory as a main living room it is worth paying extra for a glass roof.


K2 Building Systems

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  © 2003 Federation of Master Builders. You can find more useful articles like this at: http://www.buildingarticles.co.uk.  
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