Window extensions

Glass Half Empty- Is Time Up For The Conservatory?

conservatory with rooflight

Some call it an orangery, some a sunroom, we call it a conservatory. Regardless of what name you give to the small box extension made almost entirely of glass, all seem to have dropped out of fashion somewhat in recent years as homeowners have turned to larger, more utilizable home extensions for extra living and leisure space.

Anybody who has owned a conservatory will have likely encountered difficulty in managing the temperture within the room. Although perfect for its original, early 19th century function of growing plants, in terms of being a room in which people can spend a lot of their time throughout the year, things are not entirely rosy.   

The nature of a conservatory’s design makes it difficult to keep a good temperature for 24 months of the year as the room gets too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer thanks its glass build. Keeping the temperature in the room comfortable through the use of air con and heating then, in turn, pushes up bills.

While on the subject of money, it is generally accepted that conservatories do not add as much value to the home as single storey extensions or dining room extensions do. Though you might not be considering moving out just yet, it’s good to know that your property will fetch a little bit more on the market should you ever decide to up sticks

Why then are so many conservatories still being built? Well let’s look at the positives to building a conservatory. For starters, building a conservatory is usually less disruptive to building other types of extension, conservatory planning permission is not normally required and conservatory prices tend to be lower. 

Of course, the two main reasons that most homeowners opt for a conservatory is to create space and to connect the home to the garden- probably achieved by 99.9% of projects.

But what good is space if the room is not always comfortable and what good is bringing the outdoors in if introducing natural sunlight makes the room overbearingly hot when June rolls around? Though there are ways to enhance ventilation in your conservatory, including by replacing the roof, if you are starting from scratch and deciding on what type of extension is best, why not opt for the option that gets the best out of both sun and space?

This can be achieved with a single/double storey extension or kitchen extension fitted with a combination of roof windows or a single rooflight, along with bi-fold doors that will combine with the windows to keep the temperature comfortable 365 days a year. Building an extension offers a lot more options to conservatories when it comes to design, shape and location.

VELUX roof windows lighting up ground floor extension

Being constructed from sturdier materials than a conservatory, an extension will also last longer and be useable all year round whereas a criticism often levelled at conservatories is that they do not feel like 'part of the home’.

Sue Wimpenny, a director at construction and interior design firm The Lady Builder, recently told the Telegraph that the temporary feel of conservatories was likely behind their fall from grace.

"The problem with conservatories is that they get hot in the summer and cold in the winter, and they feel rather temporary. At one point they were going up anywhere and everywhere but now people are realizing an extension or garden room is a better move,” she said.

The Telegraph highlighted data from Halifax which revealed that the 27% surge in applications for home improvements between 2012 and 2016 was driven by big kitchens and single-storey extensions, along with loft conversion and basements conversions (which experienced a whopping 183% rise during the four-year period)

With this is mind, here are some of our best window and door ideas for single storey extensions and dining room extensions for you to ponder. For more information and inspiration, full guides to kitchen extensions and single storey extensions can be found in our new Extension Hub.

Korniche Roof Lanterns

Korniche roof lanterns for extension

One of our most impressive and efficient options for flat roof extensions is a Korniche lantern or pyramid. Korniche are committed to their ‘faster stronger warmer slimmer ‘motto in the manufacturing of all of their products.

Korniche lanterns are a roof lantern that can be installed in less than half an hour. The lanterns are available in five different interior-exterior colour combinations to help you match your décor, along with a handful of glazing options, including blue tint which will help protect your furniture from fading and reduce the glare from the sun.

Although the specifications attached to Korniche lanterns is highly impressive (U values as low as 1.2 W/m²K!), arguably the most notable thing about these roof lanterns is their appearance. Though function and practability will rightly take precedent for many people, who doesn't love an awe-inspiring rooflight that offers family and friends incredible views of the blue sky above in the daytime and the glittering stars at night.

ECO+ Flat Glass Rooflights

ECO+ flat glass rooflights fitted into ceiling

One of the best value for money rooflights on the market. ECO+ flat roof windows are one of our top selling rooflights and one look at their low prices will tell you why.

Flat glass rooflights from ECO+ come in a number of different styles, all of which make perfect complements to single storey extensions and kitchen extensions.

Whether you are looking for an affordable rooflight that is easy on your budget, an electric rooflight for ease of operation, a smart window with switch glass that can change from opaque to transparent in seconds or a rooflight with built-in LED that uses up to 90% less power than normal lightbulbs, ECO+ have all bases covered and more.

VELUX GGL Roof Windows

VELUX GGL roof windows for extension

VELUX are a world leader in roof windows and their white painted GGL range has long been one of the most popular windows for our customers. As is the norm with all VELUX windows, the GGL window mixes style and function with an elegant design and feature list that will ensure your room is as comfortable, safe and stylish as can be.

VELUX white painted windows are perfect for kitchen areas and living areas where people spend a lot of their time, as their well-engineered design means they fill a room with more natural light better than the vast majority of other vertical windows.

For an added touch of style and easy opening, electric windows are available from the VELUX INTEGRA range, suited and booted with rain sensor and 8 pre-defined operation programmes.

For greater control over the sunlight, VELUX blinds are available in a variety of colours. See our warm-coloured VELUX blinds guide for more ideas.

REAL Aluminium Bifold Doors

REAL Aluminium bi-fold doors for extension

Choosing an extension over a conservatory does not mean you have to abandon the dream of bringing the outdoors in as adding bifold doors or sliding doors to the end or side of your extension can achieve this even more effortlessly. The quality design and aluminium construction of all REAL bifold doors and sliding doors are extremely thermally efficient and pleasing-on the eye while their slim design allows even more sunlight to enter the home.

Although Korniche lanterns are a world-class option for single storey extensions, if your home renovation is going to incorporate the holy trinity of doors, roof window and lantern, REAL have aluminium lanterns and pitched roof windows for sale which can be purchased along with their doors at a special 5% discount price that will save you hundreds on the price of buying individually. 

Visit the REAL Aluminium portal for more information.