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Conservatories, Sunrooms - Your questions Answered
Planning / Building regulations (17)

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Please note: Most of the answers we feature here are from 1999 - early 2002. We endeavour to keep all links etc up to date, however if you spot any errors please let our webmaster know at It should also be noted that some replies may change in light of changes to legislation especially with regards to Planning Permission and Building Regulations. To submit a new question or to query an existing question visit http://www.ask-questions.com/yabbse/index.php.

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Ref:17
Question submitted by Rosie


We are having an extension on our property and would like to have large windows and a glass lantern in the kitchen. We have been told by our architect that the current building regulations state that window space can only be 25% of the ceiling space (to minimise heat loss). This means our windows will have to be smaller than we want, is this correct?
 

This question is answered by the Conservatories Online editorial team - Not sure we have heard the regulations relating to 25% of the ceiling space before? We think that what the architect maybe saying, is that it will be more difficult to meet the building regulations in regards to U values and insulation if the glass area is greater than 25% of the wall area. However its not impossible to meet building regulations using a larger glass area. It will however mean using a higher spec for the glazing - typically Low E Glass (often Pilkington K Glass) combined with argon (gas)) filled double glazed sealed units. The building control department at your local council will require you to prove that extension meets the regulations with regards to insulation etc. By improving the levels of insulation in other elements of your extension - such as the floors then it will be easier to meet the OVER ALL U values / insulation values required to meet building regulations.

Ref:16
Question submitted by Wayne

We had a conservatory built in Oldham approx 5m x 3m wide x 3m high. We used Pilkington K Glass and a radiator was moved from the living room into the consevatory using same central heating tappings. We were advised by builder that we did not need planning permission and that they built to the correct regulations. They are a reputable supplier and we had no reason to doubt their word.

We are now tryng to sell and the Buyer's solicitor is demanding proof of planning permission and building regulation. Do we require it ?
 
This question is answered by the Conservatories Online editorial team - You can find more information on these issues at http://www.conservatoriesonline.com/planperm.htm

PLANNING PERMISSION

In England and Wales you will not usually require planning permission, provided you do not exceed the permitted development limit for your property (which is 50-70 cubic metres, depending on where you live). Notable exceptions to the above are listed buildings and conservation areas. Please note that if your property has been extended in the past - you will have used up some or perhaps all of your "permitted development" area and may need permission.

BUILDING REGULATIONS

Generally speaking conservatories/sunrooms on residential property are exempted under Building Regulations. To be considered as a "conservatory" for building regulation purposes the new "extension" / conservatory must be permanently separated from the remainder of the property by means of a door. There are other criteria - check out the above link for more details. If there is not currently a "permanent seperation" it maybe that you will need to install a door - in which case the requirement to meet with building regulation approval would be eliminated.

We believe that in the next few years most conservatories will require building regulation approval - but at present (2002) building regulation approval is the exception rather than the rule.

You should check with your local council if you have any more doubts about what was done.

Ref:15
Question submitted by Lee

We have recently built a conservatory and the people next door have objected to it being to close to there property. They say it should be three feet away, will I have to modify it or take it down. Please help. I am in Middlesbrough,UK.

 

This question is answered by the Conservatories Online editorial team - Basically in England and Wales you will not usually require planning permission, provided you do not exceed the permitted development limit for your property (which is 50-70 cubic metres, depending on where you live). Notable exceptions to the above are listed buildings and conservation areas. Please note that if your property has been extended in the past - you will have used up some or perhaps all of your "permitted development" area and may need permission. Its also worth noting that occasionally "permitted development" rights may be withdrawn from a property and any extension however small needs planning. The conservatory must also be "single storied" although pitched roofs (Victorian are allowed).

Provided you have complied with the above its unlikely you need planning permission from your conservatory. Its also unlikely (unless there are some local restrictions or covenants) that you needed to be at least 3 ft away from your neighbours property. People are often surprised (and their neighbours perhaps even more so) that they can build a conservatory virtually right up to the fence / boundary with neighbour. Its important however that items such as guttering etc does not "trespass" on to your neighbour's property. In practice most people will allow a little space between themselves and their neighbours - so as to facilitate cleaning / maintenance. (12" - 18" is typical).

Even though there may be no "restrictions" in most cases - we do advise people to always discuss their plans with neighbours prior to commencing work. This is especially so in terraced and semi-detached properties where it is more likely you will be very close to the boundary with your new construction. This is not because your neighbour can prevent you doing the work - its because it's the "neighbourly" thing to do. If your neighbour is adamant you are in the wrong - then they will have to provide the relevant documentation to prove this. It may help to consult your local planners for advice also.

Good luck with resolving your "differences".

Ref:14
Question submitted by Kate

We are currently considering adding a conservatory to our home. Our house was built in 1983 (we are the 3rd owners) and I believe that we may need to get the developers permission to put up a conservatory. I have the name of the developers (on a copy of the land registry document) but have no address etc. How would I go about getting this permission. Do I need to do this through the Land Registry or would it be something to do with planning permission from the local council? Please advise!

This question is answered by the Conservatories Online editorial team - Without seeing the original "restrictive covenant" it's impossible to answer this question. You really need to consult your lawyer/solicitor.

We would say however that whilst "restrictive covenants" are fairly common on new properties/developments most have a time limit - for instance its rare for them to exceed 5 years. On most occasions the original developer will give "permission" - usually in return for a fee from you. (Typically under 100). Most covenants are put in place on large developments to discourage new owners from further improving their properties and then subsequently putting them back on the market while the development may still be under construction and therefore "competing" with the developers own properties which they are still trying to sell. Even on these occasions we have found most developers will still give permission in return for the fee. As you can imagine covenants such as this, can on larger developments have a considerable impact on the developers bottom line.

We would not expect the local planners to be concerned with covenants such as this - but you should in any case check with them to make sure you don't need their permission for any other reason.

Ref:13
Question submitted by Mat

Because of where I live, (Green Belt in Surrey) I recently applied for, and was granted, planning permission for a conservatory off my kitchen. Given that I have been granted planning consent, could I now construct the conservatory with a solid roof, and open the kitchen up into it? My planning application drawing gave no details of construction of the 'conservatory' merely the basic shape.

This question is answered by the Conservatories Online editorial team - You would be best to advise the planners of your change of specification. Its likely that this change will be treated as a 'minor amendment' and as such you would not be required to reapply for planning permission approval.

Do note that with the change of specification you are now considering it's very likely you will require building regulation approval. Both planning permission and building regulations are covered in some more detail at.
http://www.conservatoriesonline.com/planperm.htm

Ref:12
Question submitted by Mark

I understand that due to building regulations that I must have a door between my conservatory and the house. If so should this be an external door or can I use internal doors with locks, which would be cheaper.

This question is answered by the Conservatories Online editorial team - Strictly speaking the door should be of an "external quality". By using an external door you are making it "clear" that the conservatory is a completely separate building from the rest of the property. If you fitted an internal door it would be much the same as having a door between a living room and a kitchen - i.e. the rooms are part of the same property and not separate buildings.

The above said its our experience that a lot of people use internal grade doors. We must make it clear however that we are not recommending this.

Ref:11

Question submitted by Pat

We purchased our property about 8 years ago and there were two existing sun rooms - one is 7m x 1.5m x2.5m high, the other is 4m x 2m x 2.5m high. We now wish to replace the second one with a new and extended conservatory. On enquiring with the Planning Department, they say that the original conservatories count against the 70cu.m. Allowed. Is this right, despite the fact that we would be demolishing one conservatory and replacing it with a newer (albeit extended) version?
 
This Question answered by Tina Dunlop - As you are extending on the size of one of the original conservatories it maybe that the new combined volume of the conservatories exceeds 70 cubic metres In this case you would need Planning Permission. Also if there have been any other extensions, then the volume of them also counts towards the 70 cubic metres.

If the above is not the case I would suggest you ask the council again. It maybe that they misunderstood your original request. Also they prefer everything in writing. It may be an idea to visit your planners at the local council offices in person. Ask to speak to the "Duty" Planning Officer who may if you are lucky give you a "thumbs up" without having to commit to the expense of a formal application. Clearly if they still give you the "thumbs down" you will need to submit an application.

Ref:10
Question submitted by Dave

We are thinking of having an extension to our kitchen and this will join via a door to a conservatory we are also planning to have built. The total will exceed the 70m3 and we realise we will need planning permission. One builder who looked at our plans suggested we may have these rejected because the 45% line from the mid point of the neighbours nearest ground floor window would 'cut across' our conservatory. Is his advice correct?
 
This question answered by Gary Paice BSc ARICS, Crownwood Conservatories, Woking - The question here relates to the issue of "rights of light" which is a complex subject in it's own right. I am not a "rights of light" lawyer but I hope the following is helpful.

There is no strict planning law on this issue, and a neighbour having objections in respect of the loss of light caused by an extension to a neighbouring property has to pursue this under the law of tort (an area of common law). There is a generally accepted "right to light" which cannot be taken away by the actions of a neighbour.

The question of the neighbours window and the 45 degree rule is, I believe, a principle that has been established in case law. It is accepted that daylight enters from a position of 45 degrees from the horizon (the normal "average" position of the sun in the UK). Assessing a line measured at 45 degrees from horizontal, from the window, is a good rule of thumb that courts use to assess whether an extension is likely to cause obstruction, although strictly speaking I think the rule of thumb is the bottom of the glazed opening, not the middle.

This is offset by the type of room the window is serving (is it a principle room?), whether there are other windows serving that same room, and which way it faces. A north facing window to a utility room with another window on another wall is not likely to be an issue. Conversely the main lounge window facing south will be. The planning officer will consider this as one of the factors in assessing a proposal, but only as one of many. A conservatory must be less offensive than a brick wall as it does not cast a shadow in the same way.

My best advice is always to consult the neighbour first for any "thoughts" on your proposals. If they don't object, then a problem is less likely.

Ref:09
Question submitted by Guy

What requirements are necessary for a kitchen/conservatory? Can you decide at a later date to change your conservatory to link with the kitchen and what planning permission would be required?

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This Question answered by Tina Dunlop - A conservatory that you wish to use as a kitchen will require Building Regulation approval. If by means of "linking" you mean opening up the existing kitchen so that it connects directly with the conservatory (no doorway in between) then that will also require building regulation approval in England and Wales. Planning permission may or may not be required depending on whether there are any local restrictions or if you have in the past used up your permitted development rights. For more detailed information visit this link.......

http://www.conservatoriesonline.com/planperm.htm

Also to view an example Kitchen Conservatory Project visit this link.

http://www.almostimpartialguide.co.uk/conservatories/consepjt.htm

If you decide later to "open" up entrance from Kitchen to Conservatory you will still need building regulation approvals. It is best to get Building Regulation approval first as it's not practical or usually possible to get building regulation approval retrospectively.

That said - I do know many people do not always get approval for this "opening up". They "hope" that nobody will ever find out! Its worth remembering that when selling a property its standard practice for buyers solicitors to make "enquiries" on these issues and clearly situations like this could lead to problems. Many customers and indeed Conservatory companies have a "cavalier" attitude to this issue. That is in my opinion unwise.

Ref:08
Question submitted by Natalie

We have just bought a conservatory which covers all our existing patio area. The conservatory is 4680 width by 2376 depth). We have a fence to the side of the right side of the house (we are a semi) and the side of the conservatory comes up very close to this fence. Also, we have a 7ft back wall beyond the patio area with steps leading up to our garden (to the far left). We have left a foot or so space between the wall and conservatory so that you can walk down it for maintenance etc. We have been advised that we do not need to seek planning permission but I am now slightly concerned as we did not contact the Council in the first instance to check this out. I have now contacted the council and they have asked me to submit a letter with a sketch of the conservatory to check out. We have no extensions/sheds etc... Do you think we may have any problems?
 

This Question answered by Tina Dunlop - From what you describe it would appear unlikely to me that you need planning permission. However without knowing all of the planning/ building history involved in your property its very difficult for me to be sure. The real "crunch" is - has your property has been extended in the past? (using up some of the permitted development area). It would appear from what you say that this is not the case. - In that case you have nothing to worry about. The lesson for everybody in this situation is to always enquire of your council before starting work.

Ref:07
Question submitted by Olly

We have two polycarbonate roofed conservatories and a flat roof bedroom extension over the garage. The flat roof extension was built in 1972 and had full planning and buildings regs. Does this extension as it has been up for 28 years form part of the 70m cube rule adding the three together the total cube is 98m/3.

This Question answered by Tina Dunlop - The brief answer is that the initial flat roof extension does count towards your "permitted development" area. From what you say - you will have exceeded your permitted development area. Note that the 50-70 cubic metres depending on where you live) permitted development rule does not mean that you can't extend in excess of these areas/volume. It simply means that you must obtain planning permission.

In my experience its very rare for planning permission not to be granted.

Ref:06
Question submitted by Glenys


I have building permission for an extension to the back of my property and a conservatory (approx 20ft x 20ft) off the back of that. This is to house a small swimming pool.

I have two questions:-

1. Can I change the look of the conservatory, i.e. put a non glass roof on it (I've decided it might just get too hot)

2. I would like to use solar heating. Where could I get some information about this/suppliers etc?

This Question answered by Tina Dunlop - Its quite probable that you could obtain permission to change the roofing material on your conservatory. I suggest you speak to the planning officer concerned with your application. You may find that all you need to do is submit revised plans under the "minor revisions" scheme. You may also like to take advise on Building Regulation approvals.

Ref:05
Question submitted by Richard

I want to put a Sunroom on a South-East facing wall and I am considering a tiled roof rather than glass/polycarbonate to minimise heat gain in Summer and keep it warmer in Winter. Are there any considerations other than reduced natural light and increased weight?

This Question answered by Tina Dunlop - They other main consideration is that you will require building regulation approval (and perhaps planning permission) for a design like this. You could also consider using anti-sun (tinted) glass in roof along with Pilkington K Glass (for better insulation). Blinds will also help if you feel there will be a problem with heat gain.

Ref:04
Question submitted by S Slattery

My home is a leasehold property will I need any kind of permission from the land owner for a Conservatory?

This Question answered by Tina Dunlop - In my experience it is quite likely you will need permission from the land owner. They should not object without very good reason. They may however require a "small" administration charge for permission! As always - best to check.

Ref:03
Question submitted by S Slattery

I intend to build a sunlounge app size 3m x 2.5m to the rear of my house. As our house is built on a slope there are steps leading down to my rear garden, and therefore a raised base will have to be built to bring the sunlounge up to my house floor level, app 1m high. Will I need planning permission?

This Question answered by Tina Dunlop - Having a raised base in it self should not effect the planning permission issue. When the base is raised you will still be at ground level. What will effect the situation is if your property has been extended in the past.

In England and Wales you will not usually require planning permission, provided you do not exceed the permitted development limit for your property (which is 50-70 cubic metres, depending on where you live). Notable exceptions to the above are listed buildings and conservation areas. Please note that if your property has been extended in the past - you will have used up some or perhaps all of your "permitted development" area and may need permission. Its also worth noting that occasionally "permitted development" rights may be withdrawn from a property and any extension however small needs planning. If in doubt check.

Ref:02
Question submitted by Inez

We want to extend the kitchen. (north facing) A conservatory seemed like a good way of creating an all year room and giving more light. The area available is quite small and difficult to work in. It joins onto the flat roofed garage. We also want to convert some of the garage area into another room. Is this a really stupid idea and does this require building regs + planning?

This Question answered by Tina Dunlop - What you propose is certainly feasible and definitely not stupid! However a project like this requires a specialist conservatory/building contractor and from what you describe will almost certainly require building regulations approval.

To help you understand I detail below some of the "conditions" attached to planning permission and building regs. (These apply to England/Wales only)

PLANNING PERMISSION
In England and Wales you will not usually require planning permission, provided you do not exceed the permitted development limit for your property (which is 50-70 cubic metres, depending on where you live). Notable exceptions to the above are listed buildings and conservation areas. Please note that if your property has been extended in the past - you will have used up some or perhaps all of your "permitted development" area and may need permission.

BUILDING REGULATIONS
Generally speaking conservatories/sunrooms are exempted under the 1985 Building Regulations.

Below are some of the Exemption Criteria - under the Building Regulations 1991 (as amended). These criteria must be met for a conservatory extension to be classified as exempt:

a) The extension has a completely transparent or translucent roof.
b) The extension walls are substantially glazed. (Should not have more than 25 % of its wall area as brick work)
c) The extension has a floor area not exceeding 30m squared.
d) The extension is sited at ground level.
e) The extension is permanently separated from the remainder of the property by means of a door.
f) Any radiator within the conservatory is controllable. (If fixed heating installations are proposed, they should have their own separate temperature and on/off controls).
g) The glazing satisfies the requirements of part N, Schedule 1 (toughened/safety glass)
h) The extension does not contain any drainage facilities. (i.e. sink, WC, or washing machine)

As you can see a Kitchen/Conservatory will almost certainly require building regulation approval. I suggest you contact your local council - explain your intentions - they will be able to give you more specific advise.

One word of "warning" - a fair number of people will have constructed conservatories with drainage inside, more than 25 % brick wall area and permanent heating. In a lot of instances they will not have got the approvals required - either because they where unaware or badly advised. I believe building control officers are taking these situations more seriously - leading to structures be taken down in the most severe instances.

As a guide conservatories that require building regulation approval will need glazing of the highest insulation quality. By this I mean Pilkington K Glass (low E) with argon filled units.

Ref:01
Question submitted by Confused in the North East

We had a conservatory built last summer and we're very happy with it. However, we're very confused about what we can do/should do about a 'barrier' between the original building and the conservatory. We changed a window to a door opening, but we haven't a door yet. Should we have one, planning permission wise? Secondly are there any specific requirement for such a door, e.g. does it have to be an 'outside' door or will a single glass, softwood door do? Any advice would be really welcome!

This Question answered by Tina Dunlop - If you do not have an external grade door between your main home and the conservatory then your conservatory should be subject to Building Regulations approval if you live in England or Wales. Building regulation approvals are quite different from planning permission approval. With building regs., the conservatory construction is inspected at various times during build by a building control officer from your local council. They inspect for such things as depth of foundations and have specifications for the minimum levels of insulation in your conservatory. Frankly it is quite difficult to meet building regulation standards in most conservatories - especially on the insulation standards. Usually you need to specify Pilkington "K" double-glazing with argon filled units in order to get near the standards for insulation. (Do however note that Domestic Conservatories which do not exceed 30 square metres in area and which are separated from the main property by a door do not require building regulation approval in England or Wales).

Getting Building Regulation retrospectively is not easy so my advice would be to install an external grade door between your main home and the conservatory. I know a lot of people are quite "cavalier" on this issue and don't bother. My only word of warning on this, is that when you one day wish to sell your home - then this may become an issue and you will find yourself "forced" to fit doors. (Following inspection by the purchasers surveyor).

If you have any further doubts, contact your local Building Control Dept. They usually have quite useful information on this issue available in leaflets.

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