We don't get too many sunny days in Ireland, so it goes without saying that you don't want to miss the sun when it does shine. We have asked our experts for some advice on adding a sunroom or conservatory to your house.
Sunrooms, Extensions, Renovations

A lot of people use the term sunroom and conservatory interchangeably thinking they're the same. Are they?

No. A sunroom is a solid structure, very much like an extension with a solid roof but with more windows. A conservatory on the other hand is almost entirely made out of glass with a glass or clear plastic roof. What we like to do is bring customers around to see sunrooms or conservatories we've built so they can get a feel for how they look and get real-life input from the homeowners.

Which is more common in Ireland and why?

Sunrooms are more popular because unlike conservatories, they can be heated or cooled and can therefore be used all year. Another benefit sunrooms have is that they are multipurpose; they can provide extra space because the family has grown larger, as an office, a playroom for the kids or just as a room near the garden where the family can eat dinner or watch T.V

You've explained why sunrooms have the edge but what would you say are the pros and cons of conservatories?

Not everybody wants or needs the benefits that come from sunrooms. Conservatories are great for people who want unparalleled outdoor views from inside and will only be using the conservatory primarily during the Spring and Autumn seasons. The real negative of conservatories is their seasonality. They are notoriously hot in the summer and cold in the winter. If it's 19-20C outside in summer, it could be 30-35C inside and vice versa in winter.

What about cost, is there a difference and if so, why?

Not everybody wants or needs the benefits that come from sunrooms. Conservatories are great for people who want unparalleled outdoor views from inside and will only be using the conservatory primarily during the Spring and Autumn seasons. The real negative of conservatories is their seasonality. They are notoriously hot in the summer and cold in the winter. If it's 19-20C outside in summer, it could be 30-35C inside and vice versa in winter.

Conservatories range in price from 14,000-20,000 euro. Materials are fewer and less expensive as it's really only a glass and/or plastic structure.

Is planning permission required?

Generally speaking, not as long as the structure is built to the rear of the house, not visible from the road and stays within 40 sq. metres.

What would you say are the biggest mistakes people make and should avoid?

Many people purchase a size that is too small for their needs. The industry norm is 12ftx12ft but that's measured externally. Inside it's only 10ftx10ft which is like taking 2 or 3 steps. You can't even get a couch inside! A better recommendation is to go at least 13ftx16ft or 14ftx18ft. The second problem is the style and shape. A popular style is the Victorian which has 5 sides like an old 50p. Placing furniture between these odd angles not only wastes a lot of space, it just doesn't look right. Rectangular shapes are easier to furnish and leave you with more room to move about.

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