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Conservatories, Sunrooms, Garden rooms, Solariums - Your Questions answered

Miscellaneous

Please note: Most of the answers we feature here are from 1999 - early 2002. We endeavour to keep all links etc up to date, however if you spot any errors please let our webmaster know at It should also be noted that some replies may change in light of changes to legislation especially with regards to Planning Permission and Building Regulations. To submit a new question or to query an existing question visit http://www.ask-questions.com/yabbse/index.php.

Ref:52
After reviewing your site and after several quotes, I have now decided on the conservatory that I would like. My question is: Would you recommend that I have the conservatory built in the winter months (November, Dec, Jan, Feb) or should I wait for warmer months? It will be a uPVC type.

Opinions vary on this one. Many companies will say that a winter installation (provided actual conservatory build is not done in heavy rain) is fine as there's less risk of the installation "drying out" too quickly resulting in plaster cracking etc. Others will prefer the warmer times - usually because the days are longer and more work can be done in a day and build will be completed in less "man days". Our opinion is that it really doesn't matter that much. For instance in the Autumn a lot of people will be looking to have installations completed for Christmas. What we think matters most is the quality of the product and the company installing it - provided you select them properly you should not have any problems. Our article at http://www.conservatoriesonline.com/selectingsupplier.htm will help you with selecting a supplier.

Ref:51
I have been told that I can use a product called "Flashband" to seal the conservatory roof to the house wall instead of using lead and disc cutting the brickwork. Is this correct.

Its correct - however Lead flashing is in our opinion a much better solution long term. There may be more work involved (and cost) but we feel lead is better in the end. Even better if you use the lead with cavity trays. See: http://www.conservatoriesonline.com/topconstipsextra.htm

Ref:50
Question submitted by Vck

We are in the process of getting quotes and so far we have been impressed by Anglian Conservatories. The advice seemed sound and I could verify a lot of what he told us on your web site. However you do not mention their products. They claim to be the only company with BBA agreement for everything (White Knight windows, roof and doors). You refer a lot to Ultraframe and Quantal who have BBA agreement. Would the quality of Anglian's products be therefore of similar quality? He also mentioned an electronic ventilation system called Ridgeflow. Another supplier told us it was rubbish. Have you heard of this and does it work?

This question is answered by the Conservatories Online editorial team - Anglain are one of the UK's largest suppliers of conservatories and offer an excellent range of products. As we understand it Anglian use the Ultraframe roof system. 

The Ridgeflow product is an Ultraframe option and its been growing in popularity as people become increasingly concerned with ventilation. Our guess is that the supplier who said that the Ridgeflow product was rubbish did not use the Ultraframe product or if they did use Ultraframe products - they did not want to supply this part. We have found that some conservatory companies are reluctant to offer their customers these added benefits - perhaps thinking that the increased cost will result in a lost sale or more likely consider that adding these "extras" only complicates the sale and offers them very little extra revenue. For instance the ridgeflow will require an electrical supply - as hard as it maybe to believe that may the true reason they are reluctant to promote it. (ie they do want to get involved with electrics)

Having the BBA certificate is a good "quality standard" and while we cannot confirm that Anglian are the only company to have BBA certification for all their products - its like they are one of the few. 

Ref:49
Question submitted by Dave

I am considering a conservatory on the back of my property and have had several quotes. One company - who is a member of the Conservatory Association, has told me that there are building regulations coming into force, which would alter the way that conservatories are constructed. He mentioned "k" glass, and u values but no other company has mentioned this. Is he trying to claim exclusivity to the new regulations or is he just bamboozling me?

 

This question answered by the Conservatories Online editorial team - Very few conservatories are currently subject to building regulations in England and Wales. For more info on building regs have a look at http://www.conservatoriesonline.com/planperm.htm.

Conservatories that are subject to building regulation approval are likely to have Pilkington K Glass or low E glass specified in order to conform to the "U" values required by building regulations. We are not aware of any immediate plans to make all conservatories subject to building regulation approval - but there are often rumors.

As most conservatories are not subject to building regulations conservatory suppliers work to varying standards with regards to insulation levels/depth of foundations etc. It sounds to us that the supplier you mention is offering a higher specification and while we would consider that a good thing - only you can decide if the increased benefits of his specification are worth the extra cost that his specification almost certainly attracts.

It may be worth speaking to the other suppliers again and asking if they wished to make any particular recommendations with regards to insulation/winter use etc.

We would also say that consumer expectations vary greatly and while some people may find a conservatory with normal double glazing and say 16 mm polycarbonate in the roof acceptable in the winter months because they only intend to use during the daytime or during sunny periods - others will not find the lower specification acceptable because they intend to use the conservatory in the winter evenings also. For these people, low E glass and 25 mm polycarbonate in the roof will be important.

Ref:48
Question submitted by Davey

We have a large (20'x12) south-facing conservatory and in the summer it's way too hot and in the winter (you guessed it) way too cold. What are the most inexpensive options on insulating the roof without losing too much light? Would it be possible to insert lightweight skylights/vents into the panels, for instance, or would a reflective blind or insert system be the best choice?

This question answered by the Conservatories Online editorial team - (Our thanks to David Anderson on INSU products for his assistance in answering this question)

Ref: Overheating in summer.

Your options in a south facing conservatory will be entirely dependent on the roof height since the temperature depends on the amount of air available to dilute the heat. Ventilation is also important but the principal factor is volume of air.

Blinds will help reduce heat build up but if your roof height is less than nine feet or 2.8 metres they will not always prove so effective. At INSU we think its best in these circumstances to exclude the heat before it enters the conservatory.

There are five options:

1. External movable opaque blinds

2. External fixed transparent blinds mounted on top of the glazing, which physically become part of the glazing.

3. Staple shaped Transparent Solar insert heat reflectors mounted within the structure polycarbonate at the outer surface

4. Transparent flat or domed shaped Inserts mounted within the centre of the polycarbonate panel

5.Laminates mounted on the inner surface of a GLASS roof panel

The most effective solutions are 1, 2 and 3 since these exclude the heat before it enters the roof. When ceiling heights are below eight feet or 2.4 metres , and especially if the conservatory is a lean too type, solutions 4 and 5 become ineffective.

You mention roof lights. Conservatory companies are generally reluctant to fit these in new polycarbonate roof conservatories because the inherent flexibility of the roof can lead to leak problems. If you decide to fit them then it is important to have a good high upstand for the hinged portion to sit into. I would not suggest this as a first step since if you select the right shading solution then roof lights should be unnecessary.

Ref: Cold in Winter

The factor which will determine whether you use the conservatory in winter will be whether you can economically heat it to above 66 Farenheit or 17 Centigrade.

This will depend on the U or insulating value of the roof and on the heating system used.

If your roof is twin wall polycarbonate then the only solution is to replace the roof with a quad wall polycarbonate.

If you currently have a triple wall polycarbonate roof then you can fit a high insulation grade of Transparent staple shaped Solar insert heat reflectors ( SEE TYPE 3 above). These have a flat heat reflecting surface facing downward to reflect heat, which would otherwise, escape back into the conservatory.

External blinds, dome shaped inserts, and internally fitted laminates will provide some marginal improvement in winter insulation but this is unlikely to make much difference to usage of the conservatory.

You may also find this link of assistance http://www.insu.co.uk

Ref:47
Question submitted by Jon

I was wondering if you provide free-standing "greenhouse" style garden buildings, such as the Victorian ones I have seen elsewhere on the web (There's a firm in Surrey but I can't remember their name). The building would be used as a conservatory but it would be positioned in the garden, as opposed to attached to our house. This is due to two reasons - 1) we are in a conservation area and it is very difficult and time-consuming getting planning permission for a conservatory. (I imagine that I wouldn't need permission for a greenhouse, even though I was to use it as a conservatory!) 2) The sun disappears behind our house after midday leaving a conservatory in shade for the whole afternoon. In the garden, it would remain in the sun for much longer.

This question answered by the Conservatories Online editorial team - One company you could try is: HARTLEY BOTANIC
Their address is
Greenfield, Oldham,
Lancashire OL3 7AG,
England
Telephone: +44 (0) 1457 873244 Facsimile: +44 (0) 1457 870151
E-mail: info@hartleybotanic.co.uk

Web Address: http://www.hartleybotanic.co.uk

RE: Planning Permission - we suggest you speak to your council. We think it fairly like that permission will be required.

Ref:46
Question submitted by Jonathan

Approximately how much does a well-built conservatory add to the value of your home?

This question answered by the Conservatories Online editorial team - We note that you say "a well built conservatory". This is certainly the key to getting any return. A poorly built/shoddy conservatory that's only suitable for occasional use will add very little if anything to the value of your home.

It would off course be best to ask an estate agent this question. A reply depends on so many things - with location being of most importance. As a "rough guide" we would say that the larger and more grand a conservatory is - the more likely you are to recoup most or all of your costs. In London (were space is often a premium) its been reported that a well built conservatory/breakfast room/dinning room will actually add more in value than it costs. Elsewhere we would be suggesting you would be more likely to recoup 50% - 60% of cost. Certainly you should not consider that a conservatories cost would be recouped on sale. More likely it will help make a sale and you will off course be enjoying a very pleasant additional living space in the meantime.

Ref:45
Question submitted by Somerset resident

What does IPWFI stand for and what guarantees does it provide? What warranties should one look for when signing a contract with one of the Associates from your web site?

This question answered by the Conservatories Online editorial team - IPWFI stands for Incorporation of Plastic Window Fabricator and Installers. Even though their name refers to "plastic windows" they have many members who also install hardwood windows and conservatories. Their web site can be found at http://www.IPWFI.co.uk.

The IPWFI has a membership of around 700 companies nation-wide. The main benefit to consumers is the fact that IPWFI members can issue insurance backed guarantees. More information on this is available at their web site. The IPWFI claims that all their members are thoroughly vetted before membership is granted. This includes extensive references from financial institutions, suppliers and customers.

Length of warranty varies from company to company. As a minimum we would expect Associates we introduce to provide at least a 10 year guarantee on the frame material (PVCU/Timber) and a 5 year guarantee on the double glazed sealed unit. (You will find most companies offer a 10 year guarantee on sealed units) Most associates also offer insurance backed guarantees. We feel this is very important - especially with the smaller companies. You will find that many of the larger/national type companies do not offer an insurance backed guarantee - pointing instead to their considerable financial resources (PLC etc) and the fact that they have been in business for 20/30 years. We feel this is a fair point for them to make.

You should note that most insurance backed guarantees are not a specific product guarantee (i.e. not an extended warranty - such as you may buy with a fridge or cooker) The guarantee is a fall back guarantee that only comes into effect when your supplier has gone into liquidation or bankruptcy.

You can also find out more about our associates program at http://www.conservatoriesonline.com/assoc.htm

Ref:44
Question submitted by Terry

I have had 3 quotes for a conservatory on a house of less than 2 years old. Although having since found your web site I may start again. None of these companies mentioned the possibility of a problem - but it has now been pointed out to me that I have "cavity tray outlets" on the wall where the conservatory is to be built, i.e. plastic inserts in the mortar between some of the bricks above the door lintel. Is it possible that these outlets will be a source of damp into the conservatory? If so is there any action I can take or tests I can make?

This question answered by the Conservatories Online editorial team - Cavity trays that "exit" into a conservatory can cause a problem with damp. We would recommend that new cavity trays are inserted just above the level of your conservatory roof. The exit points would then be above the conservatory roof level. This is especially important if you are considering plastering the house wall that will now be inside the conservatory. Even the smallest amount of damp will show up on plastered walls. The following links will explain the situation better.

http://www.conservatoriesonline.com/topconstipsextra.htm

and

http://www.conservatoriesonline.com/construct3.htm

Ref:43
Question submitted by Karen

Is it suitable for 3 air vents from a through room (6.4 x 3.5) to vent into a conservatory (7.5 x 2.6) with trickle vents along the wall plate and the 7.5 side? The ground outside the room is 60 cm below the damp course so the conservatory floor will have to be built up. I'd quite like a step down, as it would allow for sofas to be below the window line of the through room. Apparently the roof can be raised higher to allow for this step down. I would be very grateful for your advice as different firms have different opinions about this. Thank you very much for your help.

 

This question answered by the Conservatories Online editorial team - Provided the "air vents" required in your through room are not for ventilation of a gas boiler or some other statutory requirement then there is no reason why they cannot "vent" into your conservatory. You don't say if these "air vents" (which we assume are trickle type vents - i.e. not small opening windows?) are the only vents in the through room. If that was the case then having very little ventilation in the conservatory may make the attached room quite "stuffy".

With regards to the "levels" - this is very much a matter of personal "taste". We certainly understand that you may wish to do this with regards to the "view".

We also assume that the reason that you are going for trickle vents in your conservatory frames is that you don't want the transoms from opening windows blocking your view? Without knowing what direction your conservatory faces its difficult to say for sure - but we feel that you may not be allowing sufficient ventilation. Perhaps you should consider some opening roof vents is you don't wish to interrupt you view with opening windows. Another alternative could be to specify large "tilt & turn" opening windows in your conservatory frames - this style of window (which tilts or turns inwards when opened) would not require a transom and as such would not obstruct your view in the way that a more traditional design would.

If you do not go with tilt and turn windows, we would suggest you give serious consideration to a couple of roof vents - just to be on the "safe side". We are also assuming that there will be doors in the conservatory!

Ref:42
Question submitted by Andy

I have just purchased a conservatory from Anglian. I have been informed that White Knight, Dual Knight and Golden Oak are the same quality but different colours. Is this true?

 

This question answered by the Conservatories Online editorial team - We have checked with Anglian and yes all three are made with the same high specifications - it is simply the finishes which are different.

Anglian also have a conservatory product called the the Crusader range. This has a different specification to that in your question.

Ref:41
Question submitted by Karen

Oh how I wish I had found you before we had the conservatory built!!! The usual problem I'm afraid. Too cold to use after September even though we have a rad in there linked to the house central heating. I have toyed with the idea of roof blinds to help conserve heat loss but the cost is prohibitive to say the least. Recently I discovered a company who provide "solar inserts" and I have spoken to a user of these who says they help keep heat and glare to a minimum in Summer but I fear this system will not help us with insulation. The cost will still be over 1,000 Can you advise if you know of this product. Is it possible to have the present polycarbonate roof replaced with a thicker one or even a double glazed glass one Help we are desperate to use our conservatory as we love it!!!!!

 

This question answered by Tina Dunlop - There are several companies who offer solar inserts. One company we know of is INSU. They have a web site at http://www.insu.co.uk They claim to be the suppliers of the "original" solar inserts.

We should say that we have no experience ourselves of using this product - but do know the INSU company quite well. They seem very sincere and genuine to us. They claim that INSU products (which consists of products in addition to the solar inserts) will exclude up to 80% of summer heat and cut glare while reducing winter heat loss by up to 70%. That sounds remarkable to us. The only criticism we can think of is that these products will quite likely also reduce the amount of light that enters your conservatory. This is not we think controllable in the same way that you can control blinds.



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