Building work for a conservatory  

It's not often as straightforward as you think. Base works will vary from property to property and there is no set requirement when building a base for conservatories because they do not come under building regulations except in special circumstances.

This is why it is crucially important for you to choose a reputable company, who are not looking to take the easy route and make shortcuts when preparing your base.

Strong, properly constructed foundations may cost more initially, but they are going to save you all manner of future headaches. Glazed extensions (except those with solid roofs) are not usually subject to planning control, so you are going to be totally reliant on the ethics of the company undertaken your building work.

Building work diagram for a traditional base conservatory

Our illustration here shows a type of conservatory structure and how it could be made. Ensure your quotation details how each element of your glazed extension will be built - including how any existing and new drains will be dealt with. As the build progresses, inspect the site regularly to ensure you see what you expect. If you are unsure about anything at any time, ask to speak to the person in charge of your project.

A. Roof structure Ultraframe Classic Roof structural aluminium construction providing superior strength and thermal efficiency in conjunction with PVC-U internal finish. External powder coated colour finish options are available to match internal PVC-U colour cladding finish. Structurally checked against your Postcode to comply with locational wind and snow loadings. British Board of Agrément passed with a minimum of a 25-year life expectancy

B. Roof glazing Light weight Polycarbonate, Double-glazed glass sealed units, with reflective glass options - Solid Roof

C. Glazed side frames Comprising double-glazed sealed units for thermal efficiency with either fixed or opening windows. Decorative glass designs for opening windows and fanlights. option of full-length side frames - if preferred

D. Dwarf wall option Double skinned with cavity insulation

E. External cills Mounted on external wall to support glazed side frames

F. Range of external wall finishings Recommend good building practice to conform to building regulations where applicable

G. Trench fill Optional for wall base

H. Floor insulation 100mm polystyrene sheets.

I. Recommend good building practice to conform to building regulations where applicable

J. Damp proof membrane Recommend good building practice to conform to building regulations where applicable

K. Cresting & final Six Authentic period Victorian or Edwardian designs available

L. Roof Ventilation Ultraframe patented in-built Eaves flow side frame and ridge flow ventilation Optional roof manual and electric roof vents

M. Guttering Attractive Marley clip to ring beam system with down-pipe. Four decorative aluminium Cornice guttering coloured options available

N. French doors, patio doors or single doors High security as standard complying with the recognised Police standard Secured by Design. Double glazed sealed units fitted with toughened safety glass.

O. Internal cill Traditional timber tilted or alternative modern materials to bridge the cavity and provide a clean finish over the top of the internal wall Concrete floor 100mm minimum float or screed finish suitable for tiling or carpeting. Recommend good building practice to conform to building regulations where applicable

P. Concrete blockwork Below ground level. Optional above ground for render finish

Q. Concrete footings Excavated to a depth appropriate to your soil conditions. Recommend good building practice to conform to building regulations where applicable

R. Compacted aggregate

Know your glassWhat is the best glass for my conservatory roof?

Not only is the structure important, but an understanding of the glass that’s going to be used is equally so.

Safety Zone British Standards clearly states the ‘critical locations’ where safety glass must be used in our homes. Apart from the roof of your glass extension, these areas are glazed doors, glazed side panels to doors and windows within 800mm of the internal floor level. There are three types of safety glass that can be used in these vulnerable areas.

Security Zone As well as protecting those who are meant to be in your home, the use of laminated glass can also help to protect your home from unwanted visitors. Experienced companies will be able to advise you on the best arrangement for your home. This type of advice is invaluable and is one of the reasons why buying on price alone is rarely a good idea.

Laminated glass which is two pieces of glass bonded together with a plastic layer between the two. This type of glass cracks on heavy impact but the pieces of glass stay in position and reduce the risk of injury. Toughened glass which is much stronger than ordinary glass and falls into small granular pieces that are unlikely to cause serious harm when broken. Wired safety glass has a wire mesh embedded within, meaning that it behaves like laminated glass should it be broken.

Finishing touches Obscure glass can be used if you wish to retain more privacy from your neighbours. There are many differing options available if you would like to add decorative lead, stained glass, or bevelled glass. Speak to your designer who will be able to advise you further. back to contents

The roof debate, what conservatory roof is best?

You’ve chosen you design, but the details are just as important. One of the major issues to consider on a conservatory is the roof type. There has been a great deal of industry debate over the best material for a conservatory - either glass, or polycarbonate. For homeowners, the issue centres on the role the roof plays in ensuring the glass extension stays cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Polycarbonate roofs are not as strong as solid or glass roofs so far more care needs to be taken if you are ever working above them in the future. Don’t ever be tempted to stand on the panels as they are simply not designed to take this sort of weight. People such as window cleaners working around your home need to be made aware of this! Cleaning can be done using roof cleaning equipment or by appointing a specialist cleaning company. Polycarbonate roofs are noisy due to the nature of their structure. This amplifies the noise into the room and can be irritating to some people.

Reflective glass coatings act to reflect internal heat back into the building to reduce energy consumption and are particularly useful in north facing areas of the country or where less solar heat is likely to be available.

Anti-solar tinted and solar shielding work the other way round by reducing the impact of the sun on the structure. You might consider tinting if you intend to use the glass extension as an office, for example. These roofing options will always work best when combined with correctly specified ventilation. Whatever your location, there will be a glazing solution to help ensure you remain comfortable in your conservatory all year round - whatever the external conditions.

Trying to economise on this part of any glass extension will always be a false economy in the long run.

In the know on glazing...

Polycarbonate conservatory Roof

A light material that is cheaper than glass and so in the past was popular as a conservatory roof glazing material. It is available in a range of thickness' and can be coloured to offer anti-glare and sun-shielding properties.

Glass Conservatory Roof

Double-glazed glass units for roofs should be made up of two sheets of toughened or laminated glass. They can offer insulation of varying degrees depending on the exact make-up of the sealed units. Opt for the highest thermal efficiency your budget allows. A range of tints and coatings can be added to conserve heat or deflect it as well as clean the roof. Although glass is a more expensive option and is trickier to handle and install, many people prefer it over polycarbonate - and it is much, much quieter!

The History of Conservatories

From ‘Hot Houses’ to grow your plants to a must have extension for the modern home and family. Measure out the size of the space you require on the inside of the house not the outside, this will give you a true feel for the size of the room. Remember that the inside floor area will differ from the outside floor area if you are building using any type of walling. Mark out the new room using bamboo and string lines in your garden. Originally, conservatories were used as ‘hot houses’ for people to grow their plants. Over time they became a place to sit and enjoy the feeling of being outside whilst inside. In the 1980s, conservatories were single-glazed glass rooms attached to the house. They were limited to use due to being dependent on weather conditions; when the sun shone, they became unbearably hot and on cold days, they were freezing. They also suffered with condensation.

The 1990s saw the single-glazed aluminium conservatory being phased out with the emergence of PVCu double glazed models which were warmer and allowed for better usage. New roofing systems had to be developed to allow for the additional weight of double-glazing sealed units in the roof. Around the same time, very lightweight Polycarbonate products started to appear.

Modern conservatories are a long way away from their 1980s and 90s predecessors. They may look alike but that’s where the similarities end. In this section we are going to show you how you can start off with some basics and gradually work up to more technical considerations.

Double glazed conservatories are the most popular choice of glazed extension, given that in most cases they can be designed and built without the need of Building Regulation Approval or Planning Permission.

Unfortunately, too many conservatory buyers are poorly informed and focus on basic size and design style rather than the eventually usage of the room. Do not make this mistake! back to contents

Conservatory fundamentals

Space, ventilation, and heating

Have individual room thermostats - otherwise the cooler glazed area that needs more heat than the rest of your home will disrupt the heating in the rest of the house.

Ventilation As hot air rises, it is sensible to cross ventilate, by having windows that open on every side of your conservatory. Casement windows traditionally open from the top or the side. Tilt and Turn windows tilt into the room from the top or can open up into the room, the same as a door.

Ultraframe’s trickle ventilation system in the roof ridge allows air to escape, minimising the possibility of condensation forming. Eavesflow ventilation is another option with an internal on/off slider to control air flow via the side frame on the roof structure.

Roof vents can be designed to open manually or electrically. Manual options include a hook and pole or a winding handle mounted on a nearby wall, whilst electric vents can be controlled by a wall switch or a hand-held remote control.

A reverse action ceiling fan can be a huge help in re-directing cool air in the summer and warm air trapped in the roof area in the winter.

You can of course opt for an air conditioning system for your conservatory, but they can be costly to run, potentially noisy and will require far more maintenance than simpler mechanical systems.

Heating your conservatory

The most popular way to heat the new room is to install wall mounted radiators that connect with your existing central (this may require Building Regulatory approval). Alternative heating systems available include electric underfloor heating (though expensive to run), and wall mounted Gel filled electric heaters, which are becoming increasingly popular as you can choose to heat the room as and when you require.

Properly heating your conservatory is essential if you want to be able to use it in the colder months. Working with a competent, experienced company will usually ensure you get the right advice. T

he correct combination of insulation, opening vents, heating and solar reflective glass will ensure your conservatory can be used throughout the year without compromise.

Building regulations classify conservatories as non-habitual rooms, meaning they are not designed for winter use. To have a conservatory built on your property under permitted development rights, you must have an external door which provides a thermal barrier between the internal house and the external conservatory.

Should you take out the door you need to have building regulations approval; your conservatory will be evaluated against your property’s Energy Efficiency Certificate (EPC) and as long as the conservatory is not making the EPC lower, then it will pass building regulation standard.