In most cases, it is important to ensure the conservatory or orangery seamlessly blends in with the existing building. Matching the masonry is an obvious, but often overlooked, way of doing this.
Boring it may sound, but brick libraries do exist! We have a number of connections with brick merchants and brick matchers to ensure we get the best available bricks for the job. In addition to matching the main brick, we would normally match any feature or detail bricks.
Where appropriate we will use reclaimed bricks, from Yellow, Red or Multi Stocks, to Plain or Multi Gualts, Arlesey Whites and Luton Greys. These are sourced form a variety of local stockists as local buildings tend to be built from local bricks. Unfortunately battered old second hand bricks cost a lot more than brand new ones, but the end result always justifies the cost difference.
Brickwork and Pointing
Matching the bricks is only part of the job, they also need to be laid and pointed appropriately. For modern houses this is a Stretcher Bond, bricks laid lengthways with a cavity wall.
On older properties a Flemish Bond was often used, bricks laid in alternate directions so that the inner an outer leaves of brickwork were bonded together. This is not appropriate form modern cavity walls, but using “snapped headers” can replicate this effect whilst providing the insulation and damp-proofing properties of a modern cavity wall.
Cavity Wall Insulation
Insulation is fitted in both the floor and walls. The exact specification will vary between jobs; but typically there is 100mm of Isowool type insulation the cavity walls.
For the inner leave, thermal blocks are used which when combined with the insulation and plaster give an overall u-value of around 0.27 W/m 2K
Either a concrete floor slab is laid or a suspended concrete “beam and block” floor is used. A concrete slab is laid on compacted and blinded hardcore, with a damp-proof membrane. The top of this will typically be 185mm below the finished floor level, the difference is made up with 100mm of insulation and 70mm of screed to allow both new and old floor levels to match.
The standard specification is for 100mm of Kingspan/Celotex type insulation to be fitted below the final screed. Unfortunately many firms use cheaper methods, but this detail is paramount if underfloor heating is to be used and requisite if the structure is subject to building control. This type of floor construction will have a typical u-value of 0.17 W/m 2K
Using a screed on top of insulation allows us to fine-tune the final floor level to perfectly match the existing, essential when new opening to the house are being created and desirable in most other cases. It also make it convenient to bury cables and pipework, either to provide services into the conservatory, and/or as underfloor-heating.
The downside of a screed is that is need to dry out before a final floor covering can be laid. We normally aim to get the screed down as soon as possible, then work on finishing other aspects of the build whilst the screed dries out.
The foundations are arguably the most important part of any building. Although conservatories are relatively lightweight structures, proper attention needs to be given to the type of foundations used.
For jobs where building regulations are required, the type and depth of foundations are determined using the NHBC’s foundations depth calculator and have to be inspected and approved by the building control.
In cases where building control approval is not necessary, we dig footings to a minimum of one metre depth, but deeper if required. Neither us nor the client want the expense of digging unnecessarily deep, however it is in both parties interests to ensure there are no future problems.
The ground conditions and presence of trees usually dictate the type of foundations required. The ground the local area varies between chalk and clay, with “Brownfield” sites requiring special consideration. The subject is far more complicated than can be dealt with here, but a brief summary can be found on the conservatory foundations page