Buying a conservatory is a big investment of time and money, so you need to get it right. Here's how you can avoid making mistakes that you'll later regret.
From finding your new conservatory is so hot it’s uncomfortable to sit in, to discovering your new furniture doesn’t fit where you want it to because of a restrictive layout, conservatory owners often admit they'd do something differently if they were choosing their conservatory again.
Common frustrations or faults that people experience include:
Other problems experienced less frequently are weather damage, marks on the glass, broken or scratched panes and windows that can’t open.
So that you're not out of pocket and for peace of mind, make sure your new conservatory comes with a decent guarantee covering labour and all the major parts – the windows, roof, brickwork and base.
Top tip: You should expect any guarantee to last at least 10 years, so don't settle for anything less.
Avoid making common mistakes with our handy downloadable conservatory checklist. It includes all the major questions you'll need to ask.
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There is a file available for download. (pdf — 361 KB). This file is available for download at .
The last thing you want is for your new conservatory to be too cold to sit in during winter, or too hot to enjoy in the height of summer.
The experts we spoke to couldn't stress enough how important it is to think carefully about the temperature of your conservatory. This can be affected by the number of windows and vents you have, whether you get blinds and even the type of glass.
Top tip: One way to ensure a more even temperature in your conservatory is by having specialist glazing. This can be pricier than standard glass, but comes recommended by experts.
Thermally efficient glass is key to making your conservatory a comfortable temperature. There are many different types, but generally they use either a special coating to reflect heat back into the room, or a gas such as argon between the glass panes for extra insulation.
Conservatories can be built facing in any direction, but this can affect how much sun it will get – so think about how this will affect the temperature. For example, if your conservatory faces south, you’ll need more vents or windows to keep the room cool. If it faces north, you might want to strongly consider thermally efficient glass.
The temperature can also have an impact on whether or not your conservatory gets a lot of condensation, which can often be a common problem. Condensation can be worsened if your conservatory has a leak, but it can also be an issue if there's not enough ventilation.
Experts also mentioned that with the recent trend to build a conservatory that opens up the back of your home, there's an even greater need to consider its temperature. Having this type of conservatory can have a significant effect on the rest of the house – lowering the temperature or making it too hot.
If you're opting for this type of build, it's even more important to think about thermally efficient materials – whether it's specialist glass or a more solid construction – as well as planning your heating and ventilation carefully.
Polycarbonate plastic roofs are generally cheaper than glass roofs, but they have a lot of drawbacks. They are less thermally efficient, can be noisier (particularly when it rains) and they also tend to let less light through.
Top tip: Experts said that having a glass roof as your number one choice is almost always a no-brainer — if you can afford it.
One conservatory owner said: 'We replaced an existing 20-year-old south-west-facing conservatory. This time we have had a solid insulated roof with a uPVC-clad ceiling to retain heat in the winter and keep the heat out in summer. It works! It was 35°C this week and we could still use our conservatory, and no need for blinds!'
Self-cleaning glass is an option worth considering and it can keep maintenance costs down. It works using a special coating that reacts with sunlight to break down dirt, which is then washed away by the rain.
However, you'll need to make sure you have the right pitch of roof for this to work properly – the steeper the better, and certainly at an angle of more than 10 degrees.
The experts we spoke to recommended self-cleaning glass, if the roof is steep enough.
If you find bright light uncomfortable, it's worth looking into anti-glare glass. Blinds will also affect the quality of the light in your conservatory.
One conservatory owner said: 'Although we had anti-glare glass, I have not found it to be effective – which is why we later had blinds fitted.'
Of course, you may also have natural shade from nearby trees or buildings covering your conservatory for some of the day, and the intensity of light will be affected by the direction your conservatory faces.
Experts say a common regret is picking a conservatory that’s too small – and that’s backed up by the people we spoke to in our survey. 28% of all the conservatory owners we spoke to wish they had gone for a bigger size.
One told us: 'When I spoke to friends and family who had built conservatories, they all gave the same advice ... "I wish it was bigger".'
Smaller conservatories can have advantages though – they tend to be cheaper, quicker to build and are less likely to need planning permission. So it's crucial that you think about how you will use the conservatory and what your budget is, so you can be as realistic as possible about the size you need and can afford.
Top tip: Our experts said the best way to check you're opting for the right size is to measure out the dimensions of your future conservatory in your existing living or dining room. This will help you compare it to your existing space and will let you see how furniture will fit.
Think about how your conservatory will affect the boundaries of your property, your neighbours and the rest of your garden. You don’t want to find your neighbours peering down at you from their bedroom window, for example, or realise you no longer have enough space for your favourite vegetable patch.
It's also important to think about the internal layout of your conservatory. Make sure you carefully consider where to position doors, electrical sockets and any TV aerial sockets so you can get maximum use out of it.
If you discover a fault, either at the time your conservatory is installed or afterwards, the first step is to contact the company you purchased it from. Even if it’s clear your installer caused the fault, it's the responsibility of the retailer who sold you the conservatory and fitting service to ensure you are satisfied.
Explain the issue clearly – making sure you also put it in writing if you've spoken on the phone or in person – and consider sending photos and your proof of purchase. If you have a warranty or guarantee, it’s worth using it – our explains which is best to use when.
If your manufacturer's warranty or guarantee has expired, or you didn’t get one when you bought your conservatory, you can still exercise your rights under the , or its predecessor the Sale of Goods Act – retailers can't ignore this statutory right.
In the first 30 days from the date you took ownership of the goods, you can ask for a full refund for the fault. After the initial 30 days and within the first six months, you have the right to a repair or replacement. It’s only if they can’t do this that you can demand a full refund.
We've heard from people whose conservatory company went bust, either during the construction of their conservatory or soon afterwards.
While there are never any guarantees, you should look for a company that's been established for at least a few years and make sure that its guarantee is covered by insurance to protect you if it does go under. Find out more about in our dedicated guide.
Deciding to buy a conservatory is a significant decision and an investment of both time and money. Follow these five tips when planning your conservatory to make sure you're spending your money in the right way and won't have any regrets in the future.
A third of the people who admitted they’d change something about their conservatory mentioned self-cleaning glass. It works using a special coating that reacts with sunlight to break down dirt, which is then washed away by the rain. Benefits include saving time scrubbing hard-to-reach panes and keeping maintenance costs down. We’d only recommended self-cleaning glass if the angle of your roof is steep enough, as it relies on rainwater carrying dirt away. In addition, 16% of people told us they would use anti-glare glass if they were building their conservatory again. To find out more about the different types of glass and other ways to prevent glare, head to our .
Of the conservatory owners we spoke to who weren’t completely happy, 28% wished they’d chosen a bigger conservatory. A bigger conservatory can cost more, take longer to build and might need planning permission, but the extra time and effort could pay off if you then use the room more once it’s finished. If you’re wondering how big to go, start by measuring out the dimensions of your future conservatory in your existing living or dining room. It’s easier to visualise the new space when comparing to an existing room, and you’ll be able to see whether your furniture will fit. Early on, think about where you’ll position doors, electrical power points and TV aerial sockets so you can get maximum use out of your new conservatory, as these things are hard to change down the line.
Some conservatories are made entirely of glass, while others have some brick walls or a tiled roof. Floor-to-ceiling glass will create a greenhouse effect, so these rooms are likely to have problems with temperature in the hottest and coldest months. Consider using thermally efficient glass. It’s more expensive, but it will help to keep a conservatory cool, usually with a special coating on the outside to reflect light. Your conservatory’s construction materials will influence temperature, light and maintenance. It can be worth spending a little more to make sure that your conservatory is going to be comfortable to use.
While they’re pricier, glass roofs are more thermally efficient than polycarbonate, and let in more light and less noise. If you can afford glass, it’s probably worth the extra expense. Visit our page to learn more about glass and polycarbonate conservatory roofs and discover which option might work for you.
Some 16% of people we asked said they wished their conservatory was a different shape. One person said an L-shape would give them access from the kitchen as well as the living room. Before you begin, think through all the different ways you hope to use the new space and how it will connect with the rest of your property. There’s a trend to build a conservatory that opens up the back of your home, creating an open-plan shape. For this type of build, you’ll need to think carefully about thermally efficient materials and planning good heating and ventilation.