Many clients are choosing to upgrade or replace their old conservatory. It may be something that they’ve inherited from a previous owner, or a building at the end of its lifespan. The standards of building materials, in particular their insulation properties, have improved greatly over the past few decades and it often makes sense to take advantage of this to enhance the usability of the space.
There are various way to approach this, from a complete rebuild to minor alterations. Many clients are choosing to replace their old conservatory with a modern orangery, thereby benefiting from improved insulation values, but still allowing in plenty of light.
Option 1 – Complete Rebuild
This is the optimum but most costly option. We would completely demolish the existing structure and start afresh with new foundations. There are an infinite number of design possibilities and sizes.
With new foundations, obtaining Building Control approval for the new structure would be straightforward. A new insulated floor would be laid, which is a huge benefit in itself and opens up the possibility of underfloor heating.
Option 2 – Level and Rebuild Using Existing Footings
We would “level” the existing structure. The walls and floor would be removed but we would re-use the existing foundations. This saves time, mess and expense, but obviously restricts the size and shape of the new building to that of the old.
In this scenario, the client would need to be confident of the quality of the old footings, however if the old building has not suffered from subsidence, that is a positive indication. Obtaining Building Control approval may be problematic depending on the situation, although trial holes could be dug to inspect the depth of the footings and ground conditions.
As with Option 1, a new insulated floor would be laid an underfloor heating is usually installed.
Option 3 – Rebuild From Floor Level
We would take any brickwork down to floor level and rebuild where required. The size and shape of the building would be limited to that of before and the floor base would be reused. The floor surface may be changed depending on the scenario, but with this option it’s not normally possible to fit additional floor insulation or underfloor heating without raising the floor level.
Option 4 – New Structure on Existing Walls
This is the simplest and quickest solution that we offer, but can make a dramatic improvement on the usability of the room. The size, shape and door openings positions are limited, but there are almost endless possibilities of what to do above the walls.
This may be a new conservatory, orangery or solid-roofed sunroom.
Option 5 – New Roof on Existing Windows
Normally this isn’t a viable solution because if the roof is in need of repair or replacement, it’s unlikely the old windows are in a good enough condition. Fitting a brand new roof on top of old windows which my be near the end of their lifespan is rarely a wise investment.
Option 6 – Upgrade to Existing Roof
This is not an option we offer. There are several lightweight “solid” roof systems on the market, which generally involve some form of plastic imitation roof tiles that are overlaid onto the existing conservatory roof with additional insulation fitted internally. For some people, this may the the right solution, but it’s only ever a short-term fix and the quality of the end result is debatable.
The systems we’ve seen are not particularly cheap yet the quality is lacking. The cost difference between this type of roof and doing a “proper job” is not as great as it should be and therefore we don’t consider it to be of good enough value to offer.