A garden room or conservatory can make an attractive and versatile addition to your house, linking the living room with the patio or garden. Even a small room with the right aspect and fully or partially glazed can provide an enclosed suntrap for the family and a show place for indoor plants. A larger room will offer space, too, for hobbies and games (perhaps table tennis), parties, al fresco summer meals and, if adequately heated and insulated, might also serve as a spare bedroom.
As an extension to the living area of the house, the garden room or conservatory can be any one of several types of construction including: brick-built, glazed: half-brick, half-glazed; timber-framed, fully glazed. The roof can be flat and boarded or pitched and tiled.
The materials used should blend with those of the house so that the garden room looks part of the house and not an afterthought. Its design and proportions could well enhance the appearance of a box-like house. To ensure harmony use timber or bricks, tiles or other roofing materials that match those of the house.
Kits. The garden room can be purpose-built or you can erect it from a proprietary home-extension kit. There are many different designs to complement most types of home. The kits usually consist of timber framing with standard doors and window frames, roofing materials and guttering.
Once the kit has been delivered, you can assemble it yourself, having prepared the base for the floor of the room. The depth of excavation you need will depend upon the subsoil and the ultimate load of the new structure. A waterproof membrane, which may consist of liquid bitumen or sheets of heavy-duty 500-gauge polythene, must cover the oversite concrete. You can screed the concrete to provide a base for the final flooring.
Standard joinery. If you are designing a purpose-built garden room, plan to use standard joinery; this will reduce work time and costs. You must make sure that the size of the structure conforms to a standard module.
Approval. Nearly all house extensions and major structural changes require consent under building regulations and bye-laws may govern the kind of construction and materials that can be used. Consult the Local Authority before starting the project. They will require a scale plan of the proposed extension and a site plan showing its relationship to the existing house. If you build the extension without permission, the Local Authority has the power to order its demolition.
Take these factors into account when you create a garden room:
1 Since the garden room has the purpose of extending the living area into the garden or patio, there should be access to it directly from a room or via a corridor or lobby.
2 In most cases making a garden room will involve a structural extension of some kind. But in a large living room with a big enough bay projecting into the garden, the bay might be turned into a garden room by glazing the entire wall of the bay that faces the garden and perhaps glazing one or both side walls of the bay as well.
3 The site of the house may give you little choice in siting the garden room. But sunlight, shelter and outlook are important factors. The room should attract as much sun as possible over the longest possible period each day. Ideally the room should face the west. It should be protected from cold winds. On an exposed site a peripheral windbreak of quick-growing shrubs or open-screen block walling could give this protection and the additional advantage of shelter and privacy for any patio adjacent to the garden room.
The garden room needs all the natural light it can get both on its own account and, where it is an extension built out from the living room, because otherwise it may reduce the penetration of light into the living room.
Glass walls. To admit maximum light, the garden room could have one or more glass walls. For access to the garden one wall might consist of aluminium-framed sliding doors which slide across side lights. Full glazing. The glazing represents a major item of expenditure in a fully glazed garden room. Furthermore,, in summer the sunlight may prove too intense and louvred or roller blinds or curtains may be needed to filter the light glare. Another consideration is that glass alone is a poor insulator so that it may be worth going to the expense of introducing double-glazed units, at any rate on the exposed sides of the room, particularly if the room is to be heated and used all the year round.
Roof. As well as fully glazed or partially glazed walls, reinforced-glass or acrylic-sheet roofing will help to give the garden room extension maximum light. But a wire guard should be fitted to the roof as a precaution against damage from heavy falls of snow in winter or tiles falling from the roof of the house.