Add value to your property and bring more light into your home: a conservatory has many benefits. This section features a guide to the types of conservatory available as well as information on costs and a handy Buying Guide.
Do you need planning permission for a conservatory?
When it comes to adding to your property and making more of your home, one area that can slow down the process and add to the overall expense is planning permission. These regulations are important because they help to make sure that the appearance of a building, and the extent to which it fits in with its surroundings, is not harmed by any additional features.
However, the process of obtaining planning permission can be time-consuming and expensive, and for many people it is a barrier to extending their property. The good news for anyone in the process of planning conservatory designs is that this type of extension is considered a permitted development. This means that in most cases it is not necessary to obtain planning permission before beginning work. Naturally, there are exceptions, and in the following circumstances it may be necessary for you to get planning permission for conservatories (the following rules apply to the period between May 2103 and May 2016).
You may need planning permission if:
This list is not exhaustive. Please check the government’s Planning Permission website for full details.
These rules apply to all types of design and build, including a simple lean to conservatory and also self build conservatories. It is also irrespective of materials that will be used, so the same regulations apply to uPVC conservatories as hardwood conservatories. If you think your conservatory may fall within one of these restrictions, contact your local council for details on applying for planning permission. Find your local council website here
Conservatory building regulations
While planning permission concerns the appearance of any proposed addition to a property, Building regulations exist to make sure that the new building work will be safe and energy efficient. Fortunately, conservatories are exempt from building regulations as long as they are built on ground level, and the floor space is no more than 30 metres squared. Also, building regulations don’t usually apply as long as your conservatory is technically a conservatory, i.e. separated from the main house by external walls etc and with its own heating system, and not a sunroom or orangery (see Conservatory extensions below). You will also need to make sure that the proposed glazing and electricity also comply with conservatory building regulations. Again, the Planning Portal website is a good resource for more detailed information.
A typical conservatory is one that can be closed off from the rest of the house, and is therefore separated from the main building by an external wall, door or windows. This means that it will not be a drain on your home’s energy supply when it is not in use. A conservatory that is not separated in this way can result in excessive amounts of energy wasted in the colder months and at night.
The best way to keep a conservatory warm and the overall conservatory cost down is to make sure that it has its own heating system – this way it will not take up energy from the rest of the house. An orangery, or sunroom, differs from a conservatory in this respect, as it is in fact a type of house extension that need not be separated by an external wall, but is a continuation of the main property itself. For this reason, orangeries tend to use more brickwork in their construction, and employ less glazing overall than a conservatory. If you are adding an orangery or sunroom to your property, then planning permission and building regulations are more likely to apply, although not necessarily. Consult your local council for more details.
The Benefits of a Conservatory
There are many reasons why conservatories have become so popular with UK homeowners. Having a conservatory means that you increase the available space in your home. You can make it a dining area, recreational room or play room, and it provides an excellent means of access to your garden – a kind of halfway house between the indoors and the outdoors. Thanks to their predominantly glass walls and roofs, they can bring a huge amount of extra light into your home. Plus, crucially, a conservatory can add to the value of your home – with buyers keen to find a property which includes all of the advantages a conservatory can provide.
Knowing which conservatory is right for you is not always straightforward – there can be a lot of options to choose from. For information on the different styles of design and build, take a look at Conservatory Types.
To get a rough idea of the kind of price you can expect to pay, read How much does a conservatory cost?, which, as well as discussing costs, emphasises the importance of getting more than one quote for the work.
Helping you find out exactly how to get a conservatory added to your home is our Conservatories Buying Guide. With information on how to go about both planning and building your conservatory, the guide is a useful resource for anyone ready to take the plunge and add a fantastic new sunroom to their home.
What is a Conservatory?
Today, the legal definition of a conservatory in the UK is a construction which has walls that are at least 50% glazed and a roof which is at least 75% glazed. It is unheated (or heated by its own heating system) and is separated from the main building by external doors. (An orangery is different, see Conservatory Types for more details.)
Many people use their conservatory as a recreational space, or an extra dining area, although the origins of this architectural feature are actually a little more grand. The first conservatories were the 17th century glasshouses which were added to grand houses to grow tropical plants which would not stand the rigours of the northern European climate. They began to be used as stopping off points on walks, and gradually moved closer to the house as an additional room. As materials have improved over the years, allowing for better insulation, they have become more and more popular. For many, there is something special about a conservatory: the feeling of the outdoors inside.