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Complete conservatory UK styles and types guide 2024

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If you’re planning to get a conservatory built as a visual and functional extension of your house, you’ll have to decide between a variety of types and styles. When choosing a conservatory, it’s imperative that you first understand and consider the stylistic and functional differences between conservatories because there are tons of varieties, and choosing one can be confusing if you don’t know what you’re doing.

For instance, understanding the differences between lean-to, veranda-style and Victorian conservatories can be quite tricky, which may make it harder for you to choose the perfect build. In light of this, we dive into the types of conservatories available in the UK, along with the types of materials and frames you should consider. Let’s get to it.

What is a conservatory?

A conservatory, also known as a solarium, is a room that’s designed to connect your interior with your exterior. The glass structure floods your interior with natural light while keeping you safe from adverse weather. Generally, they are separated from the ‘main’ house via external-grade doors to avoid requirements to comply with building regulations and planning permission. 

Types of conservatories and conservatory ideas

Lean-to conservatory

In terms of simplicity (in both functionality and design), lean-to-conservatories are an excellent option. The simple structure features a mono-pitch roof sloping down from the existing house, ‘leaning’ against the wall. They’re affordable to build and can be a great way to add a little space to your home. 

Pros Cons
Simple and flexible design (easily accommodates different styles and types of homes) Can look strange if footprint is too large
Very minimalistic yet modern design
Helps increase your floor space

Modern conservatory

Modern conservatories tend to be built using aluminium or coloured uPVC so they boast a sleeker and more contemporary design. Modern conservatories have minimalistic features and large glass-panelled frames for more natural light. 

Pros Cons
Suits old and new properties alike Extra glass can cause overheating
Help propel proprty value

Victorian conservatory

Victorian-style conservatories generally feature a bay front (with two sides at an angle), a steep roof design and intricate ridges and detailing. Modern Victorian frames are manufactured with a variety of durable materials, such as aluminium and uPVC.

Pros Cons
Very classy aesthetics (blends a combination of the Victorian-era style with a modern design) Awkward shape of the bay can restrict furniture placement and size
Beautiful views of the outdoors (thanks to a bay front design)

Edwardian conservatory

In terms of structure and design, Edwardian conservatories are similar to Victorian conservatories. The main difference is that an Edwardian style comprises a less ornate design, as it features more subdued lines. One of the best things about this type of conservatory is that it helps increase your floor space, thanks to its rectangular design.

Pros Cons
Great design versatility Very simple design (lacks ornate detailing)
Square/rectangular footprint can suit most furniture layout

Elizabethan conservatory

Elizabethan conservatories are easily identified by their classic rectangular structures and three-sided roofs. The design is likened to that of early Elizabethan architecture. These conservatories have very bold and clean lines, maximising their beauty and elegance.

Pros Cons
Very sleek and classy design The intricate designs can cost more than other styles
Very roomy (you can easily place large furniture pieces, such as corner sofas)

Tiled roof conservatory, also known as sunrooms and garden rooms

Tiled roof conservatories are primarily designed with insulated roofs and can be very energy efficient, potentially helping you reduce your energy bills. Modern sunrooms generally include glazed doors (such as sliding or bifold doors) to create a seamless inside-outside aesthetic. The insulated nature of a sunroom’s roof can mean that this space can be integrated within the layout of the main house, functioning as an extension, rather than an add-on, as a conservatory generally would be.  

Pros Cons
More efficient design Increased costs, compared with conservatory roofs made with polycarbonate
More permanent structure Helps boost your comfort (perfect for all seasons) The structure may require additional components such as rafters
Provides good noise dampening compared to a polycarbonate roof design

Regency/gable end conservatory

Regency conservatories have pitched roofs and a gable end design, creating an L shape protruding from the house. This produces sleeker lines that complement modern home designs. Regency conservatories look best when they include French patio doors to open out to the garden. 

Pros Cons
Provides a high degree of aesthetic elegance Doesn’t offer architectural intricacies of other period designs
Perfect for contemporary house designs

Veranda conservatory

A Veranda conservatory generally includes a roof overhang and bifolding doors, so that when the glass panels are folded back, the user is protected from the elements (come rain or shine) to enjoy the benefits of outdoor living.

Pros Cons
Offers excellent views of the outdoors Doesn’t offer a lot of versatility in terms of design
Great for enjoing open doors, even in wet weather

Conservatory glass types

Self-cleaning glass

Self-cleaning glass is manufactured with a photocatalytic coating that’s thinly spread over the glass. This helps transform the harsh rays of the sun into a cleaning agent, loosening and wilting organic dirt. This process is known as the photocatalytic effect.

Thermally efficient glass

Glass with a low thermal value is designed to trap heat, increasing your internal temperature. This can be perfect for cold weather and will help keep your energy bills down. Low-E glass is made with a special coating that keeps the heat inside your home.

Laminated conservatory glass

Laminated glass is designed to withstand a tremendous amount of force and isn’t easy to break. In addition, laminated glass is manufactured to crack instead of break into small pieces when enough force is applied. This is why windscreens are made with this material. One drawback of laminated glass is that it’s difficult to break in case of emergencies such as a fire, but it’s highly advantageous if security is a big concern for you.

Conservatory vs orangery: What is the difference?

Conservatories and orangeries might seem very similar but, when it comes to planning permission, cost and building regulations, the differences are quite important.

Conservatories are primarily (at least two-thirds) made of glass and polycarbonate. As a result of their inefficiency and lack of structural integrity, conservatories do not require building regulations, as long as they are separated from the house interior by external-grade doors. In addition, unless you live in a Listed building or a Conservation area, conservatories do not need planning permission.

Orangeries, on the other hand, are generally more structurally sound, with foundations, dwarf brick walls and a flat roof featuring a large roof lantern. They require building regulations approval and planning permission, but can be opened up to joining the rest of the interior space, creating a more open plan layout. Orangeries will generally last much longer than conservatories.

When is the best time to buy a conservatory in the UK?

There’s not really a one-size-fits-all answer as to the best time to have a conservatory built. However, you should keep an eye out for special deals with several installers, as many companies will run sales at various points throughout the year that could help bring the cost down. Bear in mind that depending on the availability of materials and labour, it could be weeks or even months from the time you sign a contract to when your conservatory is actually built, so planning ahead is essential. For instance, if you want to have one built in the spring ready to use in the summer, you might want to start gathering quotes and choose an installer before Christmas to account for lead times to construction.

Keep in mind that modern conservatories are designed to be enjoyed in all seasons because you can opt for a variety of durable and thermal-efficient materials. Conservatories are a perfect way to increase floor space in your home and enjoy the serene outdoors without being bothered by the elements. However, there are some important factors that you should consider when planning to get a conservatory, such as:

Always opt for reputable companies

Conservatories can be a fruitful investment not just in terms of expanding your floor plan but also in boosting the value of your property. This is why it’s imperative that you don’t compromise quality over affordability. Remember, a budget-friendly option may not necessarily be a better option. Always go for quality companies that have the resources and specialists required to provide you with the best designs and materials.

Make sure you get a warranty

On average, conservatory specialists offer a minimum warranty of 10 years. Make sure you get a transferable warranty in case you decide to sell your house.

Consider the location

Proper positioning and installation are some of the most important aspects of getting a conservatory. For instance, if you plan on setting up a north-facing conservatory, you’ll have to contend with colder weather. You’ll also need to consider opting for a heating system. On the other hand, if you wish to set up a south-facing conservatory, you’ll have to worry about hotter temperatures. This means you’ll need to consider installing tinted windows, blinds and a ventilation system.

Conservatory roofs: Frames and materials

Glass

Glass roofs can offer a high degree of versatility in terms of styles and shapes. For instance, you can get bigger (atrium-style) frames for the roof or go for a sleek aesthetic. Glass roofs offer very elegant visuals and are perfect for letting in natural light. Moreover, modern conservatories feature aluminium frames, which make the structure more durable and versatile, making it an excellent option for UK weather.

Hybrid solid

Hybrid solid roofs are basically an extension of your home’s roof. They’re designed to retain the look and feel of a modern conservatory by enhancing the flow of natural light through glass panels installed on the roof. One of the biggest advantages of a hybrid solid conservatory roof is that it offers more thermal efficiency, transferring and retaining external heat inside your house. This means it’s perfect for all seasons. 

Polycarbonate

Polycarbonate conservatory roof manufacturing involves embedding multiple layers of polycarbonate plastic, which trap warm air between the layers. One of the benefits of this material is that it doesn’t weigh as much as glass panels do, which means you won’t need to install a structurally reinforced frame. It’s an affordable yet lightweight option. 

How often should you replace your conservatory roof?

How often you replace your conservatory roof depends on the types of materials used and whether you adequately maintain it. For example, roofs built with polycarbonate sheets will last anywhere from 17-20 years. However, after 10 years, a polycarbonate conservatory roof will start giving you problems in terms of thermal efficiency. So, don’t wait 20 years to replace the roof – do it sooner. 

Similarly, glass conservatory roofs with aluminium or uPVC frames offer excellent resilience and durability and can last for 20 years on average. What’s great about glass roofs is that if you maintain them, they may last considerably longer. As for the cost of replacing your conservatory roof, you can expect to shell out anywhere from £6,300 (on the low end) to £22,500 (on the higher end).

Frequently Asked QuestionsFrequently asked questions about conservatories in the UK

When getting a conservatory built, you may not require planning permission. However, if your region does require permission, you can discuss it with the vendor and ask them to sort everything out. It’s very common for reputable companies to liaise with the local government’s department of planning. They’ll deal with all the formalities (including providing the council with the necessary paperwork) on your behalf. However, ultimate responsibility falls with the homeowner, so don’t assume your contractor is doing this – follow up to make sure the proper permissions are in place before work commences, otherwise it will be you who faces the repercussions.

A beautifully constructed and professionally installed conservatory can boost the value of your property by up to 5 per cent. However, keep in mind that this value primarily depends on the quality of the materials used to develop the conservatory, its warranty, the company’s reputation and, more importantly, the size of the conservatory.

Replacing your old conservatory roof with a brand-new one can be an excellent way to modernise the structure. However, replacing the roof in the UK will not come cheap. In fact, getting a new conservatory roof can cost, on average, £6,300 to £22,500. There are several factors that will influence the cost of replacement, such as how big the roof is, the types of materials and the company you hire to replace the roof.

Having a small conservatory installed can be a great way to add more space to your home, elegantly connecting the inside of your home to the outdoors. Like everything, small conservatories have pros and cons, such as:

Pros

  •         Very easy to install
  •         Not that expensive
  •         Helps add much-needed space

Cons

  •         May not necessarily add value to your property

·         Roofing may be an issue

Yes. You can opt for materials designed to be more thermally efficient. For example, you can install double-glazed glass panels or hybrid solid roofs, both of which effectively trap and retain heat inside your home.

Shameel Kazi

Writer

Shameel is a writer renowned for his dual expertise in VPN and online security matters, coupled with a deep understanding of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.

With years of experience as a VPN and security writer, Shameel’s work delves into the world of Virtual Private Networks, guiding readers towards enhanced digital protection.

Beyond cybersecurity, Shameel boasts proficiency in cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. His insights into the decentralised realm offer readers a nuanced perspective on the potential and challenges of this transformative technology. Whether discussing the intricacies of blockchain security or the implications of digital currencies, his writings encapsulate both depth and clarity.

Through articles, guides, and expert analyses, Shameel’s blend of knowledge bridges the gap between digital security and blockchain innovation, making him a go-to source for those seeking an understanding of the digital landscape.

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Amy Reeves

Editor

Amy is a seasoned writer and editor with a special interest in home design, sustainable technology and green building methods.

She has interviewed hundreds of self-builders, extenders and renovators about their journeys towards individual, well-considered homes, as well as architects and industry experts during her five years working as Assistant Editor at Homebuilding & Renovating, part of Future plc.