A Guide To Bespoke Conservatories

When a family has outgrown the house, the addition of bespoke conservatories can be a more cost-effective solution than moving. Furthermore, in the inclement climate of the British Isles, conservatories enable us to make the most of the garden whether it's raining or not, so it's easy to understand their popularity.

Nowadays, a growing trend for larger kitchens with a dining table or informal living area has had an impact on the way conservatories and orangeries are linked to the home. If the conservatory is to accommodate a new kitchen or open-plan living area, then access provided by a single door will be inadequate. Opening up the back of the house into the conservatory requires substantial structural alterations, which, although perfectly feasible, will mean planning regulations apply.

Glass technology that was pioneered during the Victorian era continues to develop today; it is now possible to have glass that is self-cleaning, such as Pilkington Active, or one that offers greater thermal insulation, such as low emissivity glass. According to Jeffrey Gold, of Glass Houses, self-cleaning glass is "definitely worth considering as it does not involve much additional cost. We tend to specify it for the roof rather than the elevation walls".

Before starting your project it is worth considering the styles of conservatory on offer. The most effective are those that are sympathetic to the style or period of your home. You should also define a use for the new room and decide how it will be accessed from the house. Above all, you need to find a designer or contractor you feel comfortable with and set a realistic budget.

Conservatory Styles

Traditional

Conservatories in Victorian or Edwardian styles, and lean-to versions, remain popular and obviously suit older properties. Variations include structures with either full-height glass walls or dwarf walls with glass. You could also consider an orangery; these were originally developed for the cultivation of orange trees and have solid walls inset with glazed panels or full-length doors and a glazed roof. Jeremy Uglow explains, "An orangery has heavier joinery than the usual conservatory, and a roof lantern surrounded by a plaster ceiling in order to make a more substantial structure."

Modern

Adding a light, modern space to your home is an increasingly popular option. Contemporary conservatories are generally bespoke, so prices tend to range from the mid to top end of the scale, but there is a wide variety of materials and styles available. Alan West at Trombé points out that, as English Heritage frequently use modern conservatories alongside period buildings, it's fair to say that sympathetically designed structures will work if well planned and executed.

Professional Advice

A conservatory is a major financial investment and the cost will vary depending on the construction materials, whether it is from a standard range or bespoke, and the extent that the building work is managed. Kit or DIY conservatories are initially less expensive but the labour costs of preparing the site and carrying out the installation work should be factored into the equation. Unless you are prepared to oversee the building work, it is sensible to use a specialist conservatory company that will manage all aspects of the project, including dealing with any planning or building regulations. At the top end, companies that offer a bespoke conservatories service will design the conservatory to suit individual requirements and oversee the building work through to completion.