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YOUR CONSERVATORY TIPS


Welcome to YOUR CONSERVATORY TIPS.

This section is still in early development - but as the month's pass we hope to have feed back and Tips from many of our visitors worldwide. To do this we will need your help - so please if you have a Conservatory or Sunroom Living Tip to share please fill in our form by clicking here.

Tip 1 Attach 20mm pvc-trunking to the head of the PVCu frame (between the roof and window sections). This gives the appearance that it's actually part of the window frame, and provides great flexibility in adding additional lights, speaker wires, alarm detectors, computer cables etc . (Submitted by Paul in Teddington).

Tip2 Don't be tempted into burying central heating pipes in to the concrete flooring - building regulations won't approve, and any leaks could be disastrous. Get the builders to lay 2" x 2" (50 mm x 50 mm) timber sections in the wet concrete, which will leave a gap in the concrete flooring. You can lay your insulated pipes in this gap. (Submitted by Paul in Teddington).

Tip 3 When building the base of a Victorian style conservatory, specially manufactured "Squint" bricks are usually used to provide corners which are attractive. However these bricks are extremely difficult to source as most manufacturers and builders merchants don't stock all the angles. Cradley Special Brick company keep them in stock and can deliver UK wide within 3 days. Tel: 01384 635824. (Submitted by Eleanor Taylor in West Midlands, England).

Tip 4 Not sure if your council will grant planning permission for your conservatory?
If your neighbours have a conservatory and their property is similar to yours, then you should be able to get permission for yours. Also, use their conservatory as a guide to how yours will look. (Submitted by Roger in Hertsfordshire).

Tip 5 Even if the conservatory company says you don't need planning permission (you usually don't in my area), check with your local authority. You may find you do need permission (I did!). Many other residents in my area have built their conservatories without planning permission, I fear, and may have problems when they want to sell there home. (Submitted by Cheryl in Cleveland)

TIP 6 The more money you spend on roof, window and insulation upgrades at specification time, the less money will be spent on accessories to keep the place cool in summer and warm in winter once you start to think of furnishing. It will also mean you can spend more of the year in comfort.

TIP 7 Circulate heat from your sunroom into your home by using fans near the ceiling. Make an opening in the wall to install the fan or fans in. It can help regulate the temperature in the sunroom and provide some heat to the house. Supplied by Joanne, Washington State, U.S.A.

Tip 8 Don't assume that the conservatory company / installer / builder has your best interests at heart. Get clued up on sites like this and keep an eye on them the whole time.
Our conservatory company's builder built the brick walls, and then left the open cavity walls open to the elements for 3 weeks before the installers arrived to fit the actual conservatory. I noticed this and fitted heavy duty plastic over the cavities. There are many other examples of mostly minor stupidity during course of the works. The trouble is most conservatory companies use sub-contractors who are only interested in their portion of the work, and don't have an overall picture. Also make sure that the conservatory company's installation manager visits site regularly and co-ordinates the tradesmen. Despite the above we are delighted with the finished product. We chose Anglian (Submitted by Maurice in Harefield, Middlesex).

Tip 9 It is really important to make sure that the groundworks, plumbing and electrics are carried out by proficient tradesmen. Although companies often say they do not sub contract, the builders may work for a different company, often using casual labour. Once the conservatory is up and you have paid your final balance, it's extremely difficult to get any recompense once things go wrong. None of the accreditations in the advertising relate to master builders/groundwork I would like to see every company being made accountable and give guarantees on all stages of the build, not just the main structure. The company we used have appeared on Better Homes, apparently won conservatory competitions (can't find out what for), registered with FENSA (who don't want to know that we have problems as they only cover window installations in the main body of the house) and the IWA (who only offer compensation if the fault occurs after a company ceases trading). After a long, drawn-out battle, the courts have awarded judgment against the conservatory company, but they have gone to ground. BE WARNED! Two years on and we are still without a useable conservatory. Wish we had found your site earlier. (Submitted by Conservatory owner in Watford, Hertfordshire).

Tip 10 Be very sure about whether you need planning permission and building regs. Most local authorities have either a 50cu metre or 70cu metre limit to building extensions. If you already have any kind of extension to the property, you must first subtract the volume of this from the local limit, and then see if what you have left is enough to accommodate your conservatory. If not, you will require planning permission, irrespective of what your conservatory supplier or builder may tell you to the contrary. If the conservatory is over 30 sq metres on its floor area, it will need building regs. Be sure that the builder is aware of this when the base is quoted, as the foundations and drainage will have to comply. Also, it will be necessary to have the conservatory supplier do a site survey to produce design specifications. This must take into account local features such as wind tunnel effects from adjacent properties etc, and such things as overall wind loading, snow loading and construction methods. Failure to have this will result in the building inspector refusing to sign the job off, and in you then having to employ a structural engineer to prove to buildings control that it will comply. This is a problem that I have run into. The conservatory manufacturer has no obligation to supply this information if the conservatory was sold to you via a third party such as a builder who has a " supply only " arrangement with the manufacturer, so if you are going to run into this scenario, it may be worth going directly to the conservatory company, even though it may cost more, because they will then have the responsibility to ensure that it complies with all regulations. (Submitted by Geoff in Northampton England).

Tip 11 Potential DIYers should be aware that the regulations with regard to electrical installation work have just changed, such that most work of this type is now subject to building regs, irrespective of whether or not the rest of the project is, and must be carried out by a qualified electrician approved to carry out and certify this work, or separately certified by a similar person if you carry out the work. Failure to notify building control is apparently a criminal offence. (Submitted by Geoff in Northampton England).

Tip 12 If installing ceiling fans in the apex of a multi faceted conservatory roof, the downrod supplied as standard will probably not be long enough to allow correct operation of the fan, even though the fan blade tips clear the roof. The blade tips need to be at least 40cm clear of the nearest roof slope, otherwise a circulating air pattern is set up between the bottom and top surfaces of the blades, resulting in no pressure differential and hence very little downward movement of air. Longer down rods seem to be readily available at little cost from the fan manufacturers - several alternative lengths were listed in the instructions for my ones. (Submitted by Geoff in Northampton England).

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