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Conservatory-Base.com presents an introduction to DIY Conservatories

WHY HAVE A DIY CONSERVATORY?The Choice of Diy

If you are a competent DIY enthusiast then constructing your own conservatory could be for you. It offers several benefits to an experienced amateur who has the knowledge needed to undertake such a large project.

Does this sound like you?

  • I know I am equal to the challenge of constructing a conservatory
  • I know this option will save me money
  • I know doing it this way will give me more for my money
  • I know I will get a great deal of satisfaction from seeing a job well done, and
  • For the more adventurous and knowledgeable - this could be the opportunity to design my own conservatory.

On that last point - it isn’t just a case of a drawing on a fag packet - you need to know a great deal about the materials, how they work, load bearing, getting the structure watertight, good standards of insulation… there is quite a list but - there are also companies who will help you overcome these and they are well worth looking for.

DIY conservatorySAVING MONEY

This is usually one of the biggest reasons for undertaking any DIY project.

Let’s see how it works out.

Comparing prices between DIY models and those offered with the planning and building services built into the price can make interesting reading.

DIY versions can start from around the £1,500 mark. But you do need to take several things into consideration:

  • Do you plan to use this room all year round? If so you need good standards of insulation.

  • What use will you be putting it to? That could help determine the size, whether heating is required and what kind, and
  • What material will the frame be made from. The most popular is PVCu as it is hard wearing and needs little maintenance. But if you live in a conservation area check that local planners will allow this.

GO FOR QUALITY

Generally, like any big purchase, it is best to compare very carefully what one company is offering against another.

Look for the quality of the materials used. If anyone tries to fob you off with ‘they are all standard, companies don’t differ’, walk away. They aren’t - cheaper conservatories may use single glazed panels or inferior PVCu - they are not a good long-term investment.

All PVCu frames should have a thickness of at least 55mm, the thicker the wall the more strength it has.

Ask to see a cross section of the wall. You may be surprised to see that it isn’t solid but has a multi-walled or chambered construction. That multi-wall must be strengthened with aluminium or galvanised steel to add extra strength and load bearing properties.

If your conservatory is to have a glass roof rather than a polycarbonate - then good load-bearing walls are essential. If you look around you will find that some company’s frames are nearer 80mm in thickness, which is all to the good.

You need to ensure that you are being supplied with genuine conservatory panels and not being fobbed off with windows made to the size you require - these will not be robust enough for your conservatory.

If polycarbonate is to be used for the roof look at the very minimum for a 16mm version - don’t accept less - and remember that 35mm is far more preferable, in terms of length of its life and its thermal properties.

Glass can have special coverings which help to retain heat in winter, and although it sounds contradictory - help to keep some of the heat out in summer, together with damaging rays which fade furniture.

SELF- MANAGING THE PROJECT

This version of DIY holds a great deal of appeal to those who want to save money by not buying the complete package of conservatory and installation from a supplier.

It offers several options even for those without good DIY skills:

  • Choose how much of the work you want to do yourself - such as digging our foundations
  •  It can give more control over timescale - fitting it around other commitments, or the bonus of not having to wait until a supplier has an installation team free to do the work
  • You can arrange the work to fit in with your budget - for example lay the base and then start saving again for the conservatory, and
  • You can chose tradesmen you know and trust and negotiate a deal to suit you

BUT

Also be aware that:

  • Just because you aren’t doing all/some of the work yourself - if won’t just happen. You will have to plan carefully what help you need and when. It’s no good having the cement for a base poured if you needed a plumber in first laying underfloor heating.
  • You will need to have a very good idea of what you can expect each trade to do for you. Remember that even if you undertake electrical work for yourself it has to be checked by an expert at the end.

PLANNING PERMISSION

Legislation which came into force on October 1 saw much of the planning permission previously needed for conservatories put to one side.

BUT

It is worth checking that you are ok to go ahead with the project. Rules such as not being able to place a conservatory on the front of a building still stand, as do restrictions in conservation areas and how much the original building can be increased in size.

It is well worth taking time out to check that your plans meet the current legislation. If you are in any doubt call the planning department of your local authority. They are the experts, and the people that will enforce any steps to be taken against someone who has overstepped the mark, or broken the rules.

DIY AFTERSALES

Making the decision to make your conservatory a DIY project will mean that you don’t get the cover-all guarantee given by a company who manufactures and installs the product.

But you are entitled to a guarantee on any work carried out for you, and you should look for at least a 10-year warrant or guarantee on the conservatory you buy.

You also need to check out the standard of after sales service that is given by the company you buy from - if you find that components aren’t up to the mark you want to know they will be replaced promptly.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST

Choose your suppliers, tradesmen and conservatory carefully, but also enjoy the experience. You will have the satisfaction of knowing you had a big hand in creating the lovely new living space which enhances your home.



For even more information on DIY Conservatories visit http://www.diy-conservatories-uk.co.uk

Images courtesy of Dial a Conservatory - click here to visit their web site

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