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Conservatories Domestic Conservatories

There has been a dramatic increase in the number of conservatories built over the past few years. This is in part because such buildings are usually exempt from Building Regulations (see the section on exempt buildings), and because this type of building is heavily promoted by the manufacturers & in the house design magazines.

Often the clients, who may not be aware that the exemption criteria may run counter to their aspirations, intend these buildings as "semi-habitable" at the least.
To be exempt a conservatory has to meet the following:

a) have a floor area of less than 30 square metres,

b) be single storied & situated at ground floor level,

c) at least 75% of the roof covering should be translucent,

d) at least 50% of the new wall area should be glazed,

e) it should be separated from the rest of the dwelling by a door or screen that meets the standard for external construction,

f) it should be unheated,( but may have a single, stand-alone heater or a radiator that is capable of being run independently of the central heating system),&

g) it should contain nothing that indicates that it is to be used for other purposes. E.g. a conservatory that contains kitchen units will be considered to be a kitchen with a translucent roof.

It is clear that the exemption criteria are leading towards conservatories as being thought of as rooms that are suitable for occasional use, but ones that do not add to the heating requirements of the house. This is aimed at trying to meet the needs of reducing CO2 emissions, and help to meet the needs of reducing global warming.

Conservatories often have certain disadvantages for the householder, largely as a result of their large area of glazing:

a) they often overheat, especially if they face predominantly south,

b) they are subject to high heat loss, so rapidly cool down, &

c) can be noisy when it is raining or hailing.

In addition conservatories are often built to lower standards, and may have:

a) poor weathering at roof & wall abutments &

b) have relatively flimsy foundations & floors.

Many conservatories are clearly intended by the householders as being more permanent & potentially fully habitable. If this is the case it may be better to construct an extension that meets the Building Regulations standards, but with the maximum allowable area of glazing. It is suggested that it would be worthwhile discussing your needs with the Building Control section if you are thinking of having a conservatory or similar extension built.

Updated: 14 Nov 2014
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