Date posted: 02nd July 2019

Replacement conservatory roofs

Older conservatories were sold as ‘year-round living spaces’. Now I’m not one to put the boot into my own industry but that was never the case. Older conservatories were there to provide a connection between your home and garden, a place to sit out with a cup of tea in spring and autumn, when the sunshine was weaker but still enjoy the great outdoors.

They were never designed to be used throughout the year.

Today’s conservatories and glazed extensions are. They feature energy efficient, solar reflective and even self-cleaning glass, creating a year-round ambient temperature. They’re the product of multi-million-pound investment in glass coating technologies.

10mm polycarbonate sheeting used commonly in older installs is by comparison a Stone Age technology! Your conservatory is always going to be too hot in the summer, too cold in the winter and too loud to hear yourself think when it rains.  

Even older glass roofs fall massively short of today’s solar control and thermal technologies. It’s simply that the technologies cutting-edge innovation in conservatory glass and roof design, weren’t there 10 years ago.

This has left tens of thousands of homeowners nationwide ruing the day they ever bought a conservatory! We should still always remember though that if a glass roofed conservatory is South facing and bathed in sunshine all day when the outside air temperature is high, you cant really expect the conservatory to be cool, unless you condider a solid roof option...more later.

Can I replace my conservatory roof?

Replacing your conservatory roof with energy efficient and solar control glass may be an option but it requires careful consideration and a healthy dose of common sense.

You need to consider the following:

  • Structural integrity of eaves and existing glazing – are they strong enough to do the job?  This can be a problem when replacing polycarbonate roofing with glass as the latter is far heavier and so will put joists and eaves under far greater stresses
  • The type of roof which works best for how you want to use the space. This could for example be a glass-for-glass replacement or a solid roof/glass-hybrid, for example LivinRoof by Ultraframe
  • And perhaps most importantly the requirement to go through building control.

Are replacement conservatory roofs covered by building regulations?

The very simple answer to this is ‘yes’.

If you’re a homeowner and want to change an existing polycarbonate roof for a new glass one or solid roof, or glass for solid roof option, you need to go through building control. If you’re replacing an older glass roof with new energy efficient and solar control units, a ‘like-for-like’ upgrade, you may be exempt. There may also be the need for planning permission, depending upon your local authorities view. This does differ depending upon where you live, surprisingly.

Polycarbonate and glass to replacement solid roofs

In replacing a polycarbonate or glass conservatory roof with a solid roof, you’re materially changing its construction. This has ramifications for the structural integrity of not only the roof but its whole structure and you need building regulatory approvals.

To get there this may also include a requirement to adapt the wider structure of the building, for example replacing the pre-existing windows with reinforced ones to carry extra loadings and weight in the roof or introduce new ventilation.

If your conservatory was built after going through an official planning process you’ll also need to apply for a change of use approval.

This is because in replacing a glazed conservatory roof with a solid or hybrid one, you are in effect re-designating it as ‘an extension’. This is because a conservatory is defined in planning law as a building where a minimum of 75% of the roof and at least half of the walls are glazed.

Avoid mistakes when buying a replacement conservatory roof

In our experience these details that are most likely to trip you up at the point at which you come to sell your home, when your buyers’ solicitor carries out planning and building regs searches.

If you haven’t gone through the proper process your conservatory and replacement roof may be of less value than had you simply left the old polycarbonate roof in place.

If you are worried you may be in breach of planning law and building regulations you can apply for retrospective approvals. We wouldn’t recommend this, however, because there’s no guarantee that they’ll be accepted – it’s much more of a last resort if things have already gone wrong. 

Watch out for cowboys

There are lots of people in the same boat. They have an older conservatory that they can’t use for much of the year and a potential solution can sound very appealing.

This creates a market for not only reputable businesses but far less scrupulous operators. The window and door industry trade press is full of stories about prosecutions of cowboy outfitters who have ignored all of the requirements from building and planning control - and more fundamentally, the safety of their customers - and fitted cheap, poorly designed replacement roofs.

At best, this can lead to a breach of regulations, leaking and condensation – at worst they pose a risk to safety, with a number of report incidents where the roof has been too weak to carry the new loadings placed upon it and collapsed.

We particularly urge homeowners to look out for very cheap over-tiling systems, which are being sold as a very low-cost solution but which come with massive risks attached.

Replacement conservatory roofs from KJM Group

If you’re looking for a replacement conservatory roof in Hampshire, Wiltshire, Berkshire, Dorset or Surrey, we’d be delighted to offer you a no obligation quote. We have a showroom in Andover, with examples of what can be done to your existing roof.

The Ultraframe LivinRoof solid replacement conservatory roof

LivinRoof

We supply a range of solutions including the highly popular LivinRoof from Ultraframe. Finished in an urban grey, its highly flexible design allows you to choose either a solid roof or combine it with glazed sections.

Internally-plastered the vaulted ceiling creates a sense of openness, while glazed sections bring light into your room. Externally finished in a contemporary urban grey and cornice, the LivinRoof adds stylish and almost limitlessly adaptable space to your property.

Weighing only 25kg/m2  its ultra-lightweight design means that the Ultraframe LivinRoof is also an ideal solid conservatory replacement roof if your conservatory is currently using polycarbonate sheeting.

The other major advantage of the LivinRoof is that its quick and clean to install minimising disruption, with our experienced team able to transform the appearance of your pre-existing conservatory in as little as a day.

The Ultraframe UltraRoof380 solid replacement conservatory roof

Another option is the UltraRoof 380. It’s a modular solid-roof system which emulates the appearance of a traditional batton and tile roofing system but is far more thermally efficient and quicker to install.

Able to accommodate roof pitches of 12.5° to 41°, it means that the UltraRoof can again be fitted and water tight in as little as a day, so you don’t have to live with builders for weeks on end.

Inside, the addition of plasterboard forms an airy vaulted ceiling, with internal soffit, for housing down-lights and internal cabling. Depending on your roof, it can also be designed to accommodate Velux-type roof lights or lower cost fixed window lights.

It means for a comparatively low cost you can add a solid-wall and a solid roof, completely transforming the appearance of your existing conservatory, so it really feels more like a home extension inside.

Installing a replacement conservatory roof correctly

And as an approved Ultraframe Installer, you have the peace of mind that your new energy efficient replacement conservatory roof from KJM Group will be installed in line with Ultraframe’s own exacting standards. 

Our experienced surveyors and designers will work with you on not only how you want your new solid roof extension to look but also make sure that it has the relevant planning and regulatory approvals, including calculations for potential snow and wind loadings and adequate ventilation.   

How to replace conservatory glass with new solar control glass?

If you’re replacing conservatory glass units for other glass units, the controls for solid roof installations don’t apply. In planning terms it’s a like-for-like replacement. In terms of performance it couldn’t be more different.

Combining solar control technologies originally developed for glass office buildings, new energy efficient and solar reflective technologies can transform the way your conservatory feels for minimal outlay.

Solar control glass controls how much heat is gained from the sun by controlling three factors These are: reflectance – how much radiation from the sun the surface of the glass reflects back into the atmosphere; direct transmittance – or how much of the suns radiation is transmitted directly through the glass; absorptance – how much heat is absorbed by the glass and indirectly radiates inside the building.

Combined with the insulative U-values offered by energy efficient glass,  your conservatory or glazed extension becomes an infinitely more comfortable place to be, providing flexible year round living space at a significantly more affordable price point than a traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ extension. 

Closing thoughts

We’ve focussed here on replacement conservatory roofs but it’s worth mentioning that the roofing systems we’ve highlighted can also be supplied by us into new  glazed extensions, as a highly cost effective way of adding space to your property!

If you’re looking for help in planning your next home improvement, or simply want to talk about any of the points raised in this discussion, please don’t hesitate to contact me or a member of the team for more by calling 01264 359355 or emailing email sales@kjmgroup.co.uk