Things to think about when buying a conservatory

Need more space? How about thinking outside the box’

The cost of moving home can quickly add up. Stamp Duty on the UK ‘average £180,000 home is £1,800. But with house prices still spiralling ‘average’ houses across Southern England are few and far between. On a £500,000 property, you’ll pay £15,000. Add estate agent fees, surveyors bills and of course those 200 word letters from solicitors and the cost of moving could be 10 to 15 per cent of the purchase price.

That’s why so many growing families opt to extend. Even then it’s far from low cost. A single storey extension will cost you anything in the region of £40,000 to £60,000, so a little lateral thought could save you thousands.

Contemporary conservatories, offer homeowners a highly cost effective way of adding space to their properties – but even better, they’ll add value to it.

According to peer-to-peer lending service Zopa, adding a conservatory or orangery to your property delivers the single biggest return on investment of any home improvement, with an ROI of 108 per cent and typical profit of £5,700.

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors makes a similar assessment, suggesting that the addition of a conservatory or orangery will increase the value of your property by around five per cent.

This is because the design of conservatories has shifted dramatically making them far more flexible year round living spaces. “A decade or so ago conservatories didn’t offer particularly flexible space. There has, however, been a shift in product design, this plus technical innovation in glass, particularly in the last couple of years, has created a new generation of far more flexible products”, says Mark Pearce, Managing Director, KJM Group.   

He continues: “These deliver far higher levels of thermal efficiency and performance, while more ‘substantial’ orangery or conservative/orangery hybrid products are suitable for lots of different applications from kitchens, playrooms, to dining and living rooms.”

So what do you need to consider? The Key, according to Mark, is to stop thinking about a conservatory or orangery as a ‘bolt-on’ product but as an integral part of your home. He continues: “Conservatories were traditionally add-on spaces and so they perhaps didn’t get the thought and consideration that they deserved.

“If you want a space to work as a kitchen or living room, you need invest time in developing the design and to do that effectively, to spend time thinking about how you’re going to use it and how it works with the rest of your property.”

There are according to KJM Group, a wide range of factors to consider from the flow between your conservatory extension and the original house, to how it integrates with the outside space and garden. “It seems a very basic question”, continues Mark “but you need to think about whether you have enough space? There’s no point investing in a conservatory if it compromises or is simply too big for your garden.”

Next on the checklist is material type - hard-wood timber, PVC-U or aluminium? “The type of material you select is going to be defined by taste, your lifestyle and budget. Hardwood is the classic framing material and looks stunning but comes at a price and with higher ongoing maintenance costs”, says Mark.

“PVC-U is by comparison, low maintenance, energy efficient, while new foiling technologies and colour options effectively re-create the appearance of timber but will require less looking after. Or is aluminium right – are you looking for those really clean sightlines or do you need the architectural integrity it delivers to span larger spaces?

“Different material types will be right depending on budget and application, for example do you want a classic or contemporary design?”

KJM Windows & Conservatories offers an extensive range of energy efficient hardwood timber, PVC-U and aluminium conservatory and orangery systems. It also offers a number of ‘conservatory/orangery hybrid products.

“Orangeries have incredible appeal. They deliver light and space but brickwork pillars and a part solid roof, give them a sense of more substance than a conservatory bringing them a little closer to a full extension”, says Mark.

“But the price point isn’t right for everyone. Orangery/Conservatory cross-over products deliver a very similar aesthetic but at a much more affordable price-point.”

These ‘hybrid’ use a core glass conservatory structure but by bringing more brickwork into the design and by adapting the conservatory roof, they emulate the appearance of an orangery but at far lower cost. Thermally efficient glass, in common with other conservatories, making the space suitable for year round living. 

Mark explains: “Innovation in glass technology has been absolutely key in making contemporary conservatories suitable for a far broader range of applications. They are far more thermally efficient, keeping warmth in, while intelligent glass systems will also adapt to the glare from the sun, reflecting its heat to reduce summer temperatures. It will even clean itself!”

Top tips for buying a conservatory

  • As always, buy from a reputable business. There are lots of great companies out there but others that are less reputable. Make sure that they are accredited by a UKAS affiliated professional competency scheme.
  • Plan – give it the consideration that it deserves. Is a conservatory right for your property, how do you intend to use it? Are you looking more for the ‘real’ living room feel of an orangery or orangery/conservatory hybrid product, or for a clean open space which connects you with the outdoors?
  • Which material type is right for your project, budget and lifestyle? Do you have the time or money to maintain a hardwood conservatory? Do you need an aluminium roofing system to meet structural requirements?
  • How will your conservatory or orangery work with the rest of your property and outside spaces. Review different options for connecting your home and garden, including, bi-folding, inline sliding patio and French doors.

For more information visit email or call 01264 359355.