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Chapter one – Homework / planning.

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Do bear in mind that manufacturers often quote ‘inside cill’ sizes. This is roughly equivalent to inside of the outside skin of bricks in a cavity wall, which is neither the indoor floor size, nor the outside wall size.
David Salisbury - Bespoke Hardwood Conservatory Doing your homework can be frustrating if you let it be. Particularly as you will likely find there is a lot more to the subject than first meets the eye, but I believe you can make it FUN. First things first, plan the size and the style that will be right for your property and purpose. Quite apart from the technicalities we suggest you start buy taking some leisure trips out to garden centres and show sites. Why not stop for lunch somewhere and make light work of doing your research?
Do go direct to the specialists and avoid the ‘we do everything’ superstores. Just one reason for example: imagine even a small part missing and the nightmare of queuing up at customer services only to find yourself trying to explain your problem to some spotty youngster who gives you a blank stare before getting on the P.A. for a senior, by way of dropping a hot potato and calling in the reinforcements. (The above is we know a bit of a generalization and we don’t mean to be critical of any DIY superstore in particular)
Do research all the polycarbonate roofing sheet variations such as subtle effects, and most importantly, shading and heat reflection. Conservatories can get very HOT and bright; so consider at the minimum a roof sheet that puts ‘sunglasses’ on your conservatory. Often choosing clear polycarbonate is probably the biggest mistake you could make.
Do try and go to where the trade buys from for bits and pieces like fixings and sealants and trims, etc. Take a tube of Silicone sealant for example, in a superstore at a silly price of around £7 a tube, whereas you can buy online from say Screwfix – for around £2. Valuable savings can also be made on power tools and just about everything else you might need by ‘buying right’.
Do make sure you take account of the requirements of drains and down pipes etc., and local soil and weather exposure conditions.
Do make the new conservatory floor height end up the same level as the floors in of your home.
Baltic Pine - Edwardian Link Style Conservatory Do remember that just as people at parties always gravitate to the kitchen, when you have your new conservatory they will all gravitate to that, like a magnet. Experience has taught us that although many people regret buying a conservatory too small, people who choose more space than they expected to use are extremely pleased that they did.
Do understand that as much as your partner wants the new conservatory – the support you expect may in the event be limited in contribution for ‘charity to the cause’. Disruption, dust and mess, and less social /relaxing time together may all conspire to fray tempers and take their toll. And also consider that your partner will only take so much of ” Can you read these instructions to me” -” What does that mean” – “Can you find me this part” – “Pass me that screwdriver” – “Hold on to that bit for a minute while I…” – “Can you plug the extension lead in” – “Any chance of (yet another) cuppa”. You get the point.
Do think it all through “plan your buy – and buy to plan” and don’t EVER buy there and then on impulse, particularly from a superstore where the so-called ‘special offer’ ends in a few days. It may seem a bargain at that moment in time, but may well turn out not to be all you expected had you done more homework. For example you may find that the model on ‘such a good deal’ turns out to have inferior ‘twin wall’ 10mm polycarbonate roofing instead of the now minimum standard of 16mm triple wall, etc., and keep your eyes open for such ‘scams’ and worthless deals.


Don’t’ worry too much about if you face North South East or West. A North-facing conservatory can be fine, and can also be used all year round if you plan for it. On the other hand, a South or West-facing conservatory needs special considerations with ventilation, solar roofing properties and blinds, as it will be bright, and get HOT.
David Salisbury - Edwardian Box Gutter Don’t make the mistake of thinking a certain size “will do us”. Lay canes or a hosepipe out on the size and shape you are considering. Then put a chair inside and imagine. Remember, when you have your new cane 3 piece, the small table, maybe a little television, plants and whatever, it will very soon fill up. It’s a bit like cupboards, have as many as you like, you will always fill them up and not know how you could possibly cope with smaller storage space! Buying a conservatory half as big again does NOT cost half as much again, as you have already ‘bought’ one end. Think about it, a normal conservatory usually has two sides and a front, extend the two sides to make it longer, and the cost of the front is not increased. In such an instance only the roof and sides cost more, and this saving applies to the groundwork as well. Bigger pro rata always becomes better value for money, with the smallest conservatory being the most expensive per square foot.
Don’t pick a Victorian style just because it looks ‘pretty’, and a great many people make this mistake. For the same money you can get all the good looks of a stylish type roof, with the pretty, decorative and fancy top, and as a bonus, a lot more space for your money by going for a ‘square’ Georgian / Edwardian style. The chopped off corners of a Victorian style will waste you a lot of indoor useable space, and because of the complication of manufacture will be the most expensive per square foot of useable space.
Don’t take it for granted that your immediate neighbours won’t mind. ‘Green Eyes’ syndrome can be a funny thing, so get them on your side at the outset before any problems arise such as ‘it makes my room dark’, I didn’t realise it was going to be so big’, and ‘it is closer to my fence that I expected’. If you can get your close neighbour to be happy for you, it might help avoid bad feelings, and possible other problems.
Don’t underestimate financially that in reaching completion you need to budget for extras such as: drainage, skips, paving, flooring, blinds, furniture, and heating, etc.
Don’t think that it will be as easy as the Lego or Meccano you were so good at as a child, and remember Murphy’s Law which states “if it can go wrong it will go wrong, and the more inconvenience and disruption it could cause, then the more likely it is to go wrong”.
Don’t plan a dwarf wall that will be too high to be able to enjoy the view of the garden from inside your new conservatory, when you are sitting down. 8 Bricks above indoor floor level is about 600mm (2ft) and is a popular height; and we suggest you even consider 7 bricks above DPC as possibly a optimum.

© Based on an original article by The Window Man 2002 – Reproduction prohibited without the express consent of the author – All rights reserved.

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