From start to finish, there are four main steps to building a conservatory.
Design – Including Planning & Building Regulations
Building Works – Base work, Brickwork, & Plumbing
Installation of the actual conservatory
Detailing – Flooring, Heating, Electrics & Painting
Every conservatory includes all four steps but there are different configurations as to who does what.
You can commission a conservatory company to design and build your project from start to finish. Most companies that offer this service will also seek the required approvals for your project – Planning/Listed building consents and building regulations/heat loss approval – on your behalf.
Employing a professional company in this way is the best option if you want as little as possible involvement in the building of the project. This option also allows a company to maximize its planning and organisation ability, and to complete a project on time and with minimal fuss.
Good Tip: Full build packages rarely include decorating, flooring and landscape work in the initial contract as these are difficult to price at the time of sale. Most companies will discuss these options with you during the build. Remember, these still need to considered and approximate costs allowed for in order to plan the total cost of your project.
Separating the design from the build
This is a particularly good idea if you are considering a cheaper build from one of the thousands of home improvement/double glazing companies.
A cheaper conservatory (perhaps a uPVC one) can be very impressive, but only if the design is right. Every company that I have ever seen that sells low priced products, uses self employed salesmen to design their conservatories. They are all on commission and only get paid if you buy a conservatory from them. This frequently leads to a design that is affordable to build (designed to a budget), but is completely wrong for the intended use.
The design of your conservatory is absolutely crucial to the overall success of the project, so I would always advise you to seek guidance from an architect or professional designer for the initial design work.
An architect or designer will charge you for a professional design service, but they generally also sort out the planning and listed building consents and submit for building regulations on your behalf. Some will also project manage the build, for a fee.
Most importantly – you will get a design that works for you and your home- so even if you do use a home improvement company, you will know that the design is right.
Useful tip: For professional design services, prices start at around £400 for simple projects. More complex designs on listed buildings start at around £800, and a full design, planning and building regulation service can cost from £1,500 upwards.
Once your design work is done (with any planning and building control issues also completed) you can decide how or who you want to build your project.
Many companies offer an install only service. This means that they will supply and install the conservatory to base-works prepared by yourself or your builder. Most companies will prepare detailed drawings for your builder to work to, and will come to site if your builder has any concerns or needs a hand ‘setting out’.
This option is great if you have a builder in the family, or you know a good reliable builder that you would like to work with. You might save yourself a few pounds, but don’t forget that you are responsible for the building works – which could affect your guarantee.
Some companies will ‘recommend’ a builder for you to use. This is normally a builder that the company has worked with on other projects and is happy with their quality of work. You will still be responsible for the building works in this situation.
Good Tip: If you have decided to use your own builder, there is nothing wrong with asking for some references so you can speak to some of their clients, and asking to see some examples of their work. It’s standard practice in the building industry, and if the builder is not keen to give you details then find another one!
The Custom Build
The best way to build a conservatory.
Choose a company that offers every service required to build a conservatory and will tailor a package around what you want.
The company that has your interest as its priority, will custom design a build package to suit your project and your wishes.
If you have experience dealing with building projects, and more importantly, have the time to manage a project yourself, (and if the conservatory is simple and straight forward), then you could consider a self build.
I would always advise that you consider a far safer -Design, Supply and Install option, especially if your project has any intricate design detail.
For bespoke timber conservatories. it is unlikely that you will find a manufacturer willing to make a product on a supply only basis (unless they have a trade section selling simplified standard modules).
For best results, bespoke conservatories should always be installed by the joiners that make them.