Solid conservatory roofs are suddenly getting popular. Or at least, that’s the impression you might get from the newspaper ads, billboards, and installers’ vans you see around your community. Would a solid roof conservatory fit your specific needs? And if it does, how would you pick out the best installer.
To help you consider the matter wisely, we’ve put together a list of what we believe to be the six most important points to consider when it comes to solid conservatory roofs and their installers.
1) New-Build versus Refurbishment
Although they have ‘solid’ right there in the name, solid conservatory roof systems are designed to be very lightweight. This makes it easy to incorporate them into the refurbishment of an older conservatory as well as an all-new design. Professional builders often refer to this as a ‘retrofit’ solid roof. Many homeowners find this to be an attractive option, as it helps a great deal with temperature regulation in an older conservatory. Instead of struggling with the typical ‘too hot in the summer, too cold in the winter’ problem, homeowners who invest in a solid roof enjoy a comfortable space all year round.
If you are building a new solid roof conservatory from the ground up, it becomes a necessity to hire an installer with a wide range of skills. You’ll want someone who can handle base-building and wall framing as well as the roof installation.
2) Building Regulations and Planning Permission for Conservatories
The good news is, most new-build conservatories are considered ‘permitted developments’ and therefore do not need planning permission. This holds true regardless of the roof structure involved, solid, glazed, or tiled. Your conservatory does need to meet certain size and placement conditions to avoid the need for planning permission. Consult the Government’s Planning Portal for all the details.
When it comes to Building Regulations, the situation is slightly more complex. An attached conservatory is considered an extension of your home, and therefore Building Regulations apply. A conservatory that is fully separated from the main house does not fall under the Regulations. There are still certain minimum standards that apply, particularly to the external envelope of the conservatory – the walls, windows, and doors. Another crucial deciding factor is the heating system: to be considered a conservatory rather than an extension, it must have an independent heating system with its own temperature controls and on/off switch.
Other specific Building Regulations will apply to a separated conservatory. The glazing and any electrical work included in the job must comply with Regulations.
3) Are You Using a Certified Installer?
So many of the installers, builders, and contractors who advertise their services stress their certifications that you may be surprised to learn that certification is not always a legal requirement. Builders working on a small scale – like building and renovating conservatories – can ‘slide’ by without certification.
While working with an uncertified builder may come with the promise of a lower price, that promise may not be fulfilled. Uncertified installers may deliver shoddy workmanship and a host of quality issues that more than make up for any potential savings. To minimise your hassles and maximise the standard of workmanship on your conservatory, employ installers who are registered with a government-approved, UKAS accredited certification scheme.
4) Energy Efficiency Concerns
Energy efficiency – and the insulation required to achieve it – should be a key concern when you start talking to your installer. Most homeowners who are looking to refurbish a conservatory want to do so mainly to rectify the existing structure’s energy inefficiency.
Conservatory roofs do not have a straightforward thermal rating system as windows and doors do. Your installer – and the manufacturers of the materials he uses – will likely talk about U-Value instead.
U-Values are an attempt to quantify insulation effectiveness in an easy-to-compare form. A material’s insulation performance can be accurately gauged by measuring the amount of heat that is lost through the material. The U-Value measures this heat loss. Note that U-Values are measuring a negative quantity: the higher the U-Value, the more heat loss. For better thermal performance, select materials with lower U-Values.
5) Can A New Roof Be Attached To Your Existing Conservatory Frames?
In the overwhelming majority of cases, yes, you can have a new solid roof installed without reworking your frames. Let your installer survey your existing structure and he will let you know about any difficulties.
6) What about Windows and Doors?
While a solid roof does a great deal to make your conservatory more energy-efficient, it’s only one part of your structural system. To make the whole structure as efficient as possible, you may also want to replace older windows and doors that have poor thermal performance. You could consider installing new wooden windows.