Buying A DIY Conservatory
So you've decided to add a new conservatory to your home and are joining the growing number of people who have realised the most economical route is to buy a DIY conservatory and either build it yourself or employ a local builder to build it for you. Assuming you have already decided on the style and size of the conservatory all you have to do now is make a decision as to which DIY conservatory to buy.
It sounds simple enough but if your knowledge of conservatories is limited to what style will look good on your house and you are, like most people, searching the internet for the best deal the choice available could prove daunting and confusing. There is an almost endless choice of conservatory specifications for you to choose from ranging from low budget conservatories to high specification models and it is important not to simply look for a cheap DIY conservatory but one that will suit your specific requirements.
Using the search terms of DIY conservatory or self build conservatories in your favourite search engine is likely to return hundreds of thousands of links to DIY conservatory supplier sites plus many sponsored or paid for links which will probably direct you to auction sites as well. Research shows that most users don't click back further than the first three pages of results but this will still give you around 30 different DIY conservatory supplier sites to look at and all will have different product specifications and different prices. So how do you make the right buying decision?
Obviously you will want to get the best value for money you can but going for a cheap DIY conservatory may not be the best choice depending on what you intend to use the conservatory for and whether you want it to be a year round extension to your home.
After all, the conservatory will be a permanent fixture on your property for many years to come and there are a lot of other design features that need to be taken into consideration. To put it another way, buying the cheapest conservatory now may seem like a great bargain but once installed, you will have to live with it until you decide to move on.
There are essentially two main routes to buying a self build conservatory:
DIY CONSERVATORY SUPERSTORES
Some of the search engine links will take you to the online sites of some of the major DIY superstores where you will be able to view their offerings which will normally be standard size models with minimum specifications designed to keep the price down. They will probably be quite basic in terms of design and limited in the number of options(if any)available. Opening vents and doors may be fitted with basic locking systems, you will probably be limited to a 16mm or 25mm polycarbonate roof in one finish and the double glazing is likely to be standard glass with no heat retention properties.
The fact is that these DIY conservatories are specifically made for the superstores where price is king and specification comes second. The components are usually sourced in bulk from developing countries where costs are very low which normally means they will be made from standard size windows and doors that simply lock together using frame connectors. This keeps the price down and whilst it does simplify installation, using a connector between each single window module does increase the sightline and reduce the glass area. The PVCu frame may only be 60mm deep and the windows and door will probably feature an external glazing bead which could allow the glass to be removed from the outside.
This type of product would not generally be offered by any respectable local home improvement installer because the specification is dated and the finished product would not have a quality feel and appearance.
Buying a DIY conservatory from a superstore does however have the advantage that you will probably be able to view a sample conservatory in their showroom although you may find it difficult to find anyone who will be able to discuss the project with you in any detail due to the thousands of different products these stores sell. It is simply a catalogue number to them which may come complete with a telephone help line.
Having said that, DIY superstores sell a huge number of self build conservatories every year and if you are on a very tight budget and are prepared to accept the lower specification you should be able to find a decent size DIY conservatory for less than £2,000.
SPECIALIST DIY CONSERVATORY SUPPLIER
The majority of your internet search results will contain links to dedicated DIY conservatory suppliers who specialise in supply only conservatories for the self build customer. These conservatories will usually be made to order and the specification will be much higher. As the product is made to order the options available to you will be much greater and will include extras like decorative glass and solar control roof glazing.
The PVCu conservatory frame will usually be 70mm deep which increases the structural integrity of the conservatory and the windows and doors will probably be internally glazed which prevents the glass from being removed from the outside.
Using a conservatory supplier who only supplies to the DIY market will ensure that you get all the assistance and advice you need from a conservatory supplier who knows what is needed and will provide base plans and installation instructions to make your installation as easy as possible.
Like any other purchase, you will only get what you pay for and it is important to consider the main requirements to ensure you buy a high quality self build conservatory:
- 70mm PVCu Windows & Door
- Internally Glazed for security
- 28mm Sealed Units preferably using heat retaining glass
- Minimum frame connectors to ensure traditional sightlines
- High security locking
- High specification conservatory roof system
- 35mm Polycarbonate roof glazing
Conservatory options worth considering are:
- Decorative glass fanlight
- Solar control glass roof
- Roof vents with rain sensor control
- Air conditioning unit
A new conservatory is proven to add value to your home, just how much will depend on the quality of the product and the usability of the conservatory throughout the year.
Saving a few hundred pounds on the cost of your self build conservatory now may be tempting but if the conservatory doesn't retain heat in the winter or is like a sauna in the summer the amount of time you will be able to spend in it will be greatly reduced.
Always aim for the best specification you can afford rather than the cheapest DIY conservatory you can find to ensure that you will be able to get the maximum use of the conservatory throughout the year and remember that ultimately the higher the specification, the more desirable your property will be when you come to sell.
This article written by Tony Wiggins who is a director of Trade Conservatories 2 U Ltd leading UK suppliers of self build conservatories. Visit Buy DIY Conservatories Online for detailed information and resources on all aspects of DIY and self build conservatories.
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