sometimes called sunrooms
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Problems with conservatories
Whilst carrying out surveys recently we have come across the same problem with conservatory add ons a number of times and we thought it would be worth discussing the problems that we generally find with conservatories and things to consider.
Conservatories are great because they extend the summer
If conservatories are positioned right they allow you to sit in what feels like an outdoor environment for most of the year, if not all of the year. Unfortunately they are often not positioned right or the design isn't thought through and they become rooms that you can only use during parts of the year.
Conservatories offer a great indoor/outdoor space
Due to the amount of light you get in a conservatory it has a feel like no other room and can quickly become a favourite room. Most conservatories today are added as a feature later on rather than being an integral part of the original design and as such there can be a few issues when they are introduced to a house as well of course as plus points.
Overall build quality
Some of the conservatories that we come across are very poor quality and are what we would term DIY quality even though they have been installed by a professional company. These considerably have problems with leaks where the conservatory meets the main house. Rather than a proper flashing something like flashband has been used.Flashband Defined
Flashband does tend to solve a leak problem for a short term.
Conservatories can be too warm
A problem that we have come across quite a few times is where the conservatory literally gets too warm to be comfortable to sit in. Whilst this sounds nice in the middle of the winter during the middle of the summer it makes it a room you can't use but what's more the heat is gained in the conservatory and then passed around the rest of the house. How much heat your conservatory gains does depend very much on which way it is situated i.e. north, south, east or west and also if there is anything shadowing it such as nearby buildings or trees. There are various ways to make a conservatory cooler. These range from blinds being added particularly to the roof level or the windows that allow the most sun in although we have heard also that it is too late once the sun has got inside the conservatory as the heat remains in, we personally found them cooler and they removed problems of direct sunlight. An alternative is an air conditioning system although we have been on a survey where the owner showed us how the air conditioning worked and still by the end of the survey the conservatory had not cooled down.
Being too cold in the winter
Many conservatories have so much glass even if they are doubled glazed they are simply too cold to use in the winter. Whilst it does have the benefit of you moving to a different room for your winter lifestyle to some extent, even a poorly built conservatory will extend your summer months, it can be a pain having to move things from one room to the next.
Movement between the conservatory and the main building
Often conservatories are built on minimal foundations. Often they are built within the permitted planning development rights or whatever they are called this year which are rights where you can extend the house without getting proper planning permission. Unfortunately this then means that the local authority doesn't have to necessarily look at the work standard that has been carried out and the conservatory company is left to their own devices with regards to the standard of work. In our experience they are always price driven and are trying to do the work as cheaply as possible and as quickly as possible to of course make the most profit possible.
We would add where the conservatories are poorly constructed and the foundations are sub-standard movement occurs. If you are lucky the conservatory moves separately to the main building thus causing a defect between the conservatory and the main building that could often be covered over. If you are unlucky it actually pulls the main building which can cause structural problems.
Where a conservatory meets the main building there should be a flashing. The best way of doing this is a lead flashing but we come across time and time again the use of Flashband. If Flashband is used or an equivalent it makes a big difference as to whether the property stays watertight or not. Even when the Flashband is done correctly it can sometimes be a problem due to movement.
Flashband does tend to solve a leak problem for a short term.
We were involved with one legal case with regard to a conservatory where we carried out a dye test with water to establish how the rain was getting in to the conservatory as it was filling up the polycarbonate roof sheets. The dye test showed that rain was actually coming in via the windows on the first floor, behind the plastic cladding and then into the conservatory roofing, which the conservatory company had fitted and incorrectly detailed, which meant that when we carried out the dye test we ended up with a red roofed conservatory.
This is a plastic sheet, normally double or triple thickness for strength which has air pockets in it to give insulation.
Leaking conservatories and rainwater getting in
We have also been involved in cases where a conservatory was just so poorly constructed no matter what was done rain was still getting into the conservatory. On close inspection it turned out to be the rubber seals that hold the double glazed units in place had not been cut correctly and water was tracking along the glass and then into the joint and then through into the building.
Awful valley gutter details
Sometimes no thought is given by the conservatory company to the design and future problems or maybe they do think about it but decide the need to sell a conservatory is far greater and then give their clients, who become our clients a problem with an awful valley gutter detail.
Sketch of valley gutters
Whilst generally valley gutters are problematic those that are made by conservatories are normally destined to leak sooner or later.
Good points about conservatories
With the article above you would think we are not keen on conservatories. We do however think they make an excellent room as long as some thought is given to where they are positioned and how they are ventilated. With regards to ventilation the Victorians used to put ventilation in the roof of the conservatories because they knew that heat rises and this was the best place to get rid of the heat.
We hope you have enjoyed reading this article. Other articles on our website that maybe of interest to you are:
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We hope you found the article of use and if you have any experiences that you feel should be added to this article that would benefit others, or you feel that some of the information that we have put is wrong then please do not hesitate to contact us (we are only human).
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