What will affect the price of a sunroom addition?

What types of things will affect the cost of adding a sunroom to your house? Specifications including the style and structure, the size, shape, materials used, and even the architect and the construction company you choose will all directly affect the cost of your addition. The most obvious part is the size since that is directly related to materials and construction labour. The smaller a sunroom extension is, the less expensive it will run you.

Your architect can help you make decisions about personalization when designing the addition, and it’s up to you to make choices about accessories, paint colors, and other more decorative additions like hardware and finishes, but these will also affect the cost of a sunroom.

So, what exactly is a sunroom and how can they be used?

A sunroom, which goes by a variety of names including solariums, garden rooms, and sun porches, can make a great addition to a home for a variety of reasons. If you’re looking to read a book in a cozy nook, or entertain a garden party for guests without being bugged (literally!) by inquisitive ants and bees, you may just want to make a sunroom part of your home.

There are many uses of a sunroom area, and whilst this may be traditionally used as a seating area, you could choose to purpose this space in several ways:

  • Conservatory / relaxation area
  • Reading nook
  • Office space
  • Play area
  • Utility room

A sunroom can be transformative to how you use your living space and offers many of the benefits of being outside without the disadvantages of bugs and weather elements. With options for screens, you can experience all the sunshine and fresh air, while still being indoors.

The natural daylight might be what you enjoy most with a sunroom, and can use the extra light for a workspace, dining area, or simply a place to congregate with friends and family. Also, your heat-loving cat and dogs will always be able to find a spot of sun to laze in.

Given the flexibility in design, a sunroom extension can be easily constructed in smaller outdoor areas that do not seem spacious enough to accommodate a larger extension.

Choosing advanced insulation materials and high-quality glazing will ensure that your sunroom aids the overall heating of your home. A solid roof is easier to clean and maintain than a glazed roof and expands the use of your transition areas between the indoors and outdoors throughout the colder months.

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What are the factors that affect the cost of a sunroom addition?

Sunroom extensions vary greatly in floor space and design, and so the budget is dependant on exactly how you wish your sunroom to look, and what purpose you wish it to provide:

  • How large a sunroom extension you would like
  • What sort of floor space the extension will provide
  • Which materials you choose for the roofing and glazing
  • The existing construction of your property
  • Whether any structural work is required to create your extension
  • How simple the shape and external design is
  • Whether you require professional services

The most obvious factors that affect the cost a sunroom is, as mentioned above, the size – due to the sheer number of materials involved, as well as the type of materials used. How the sunroom will be used can also play into costs since you may use different materials for different uses.

There are several options available to materials available for a sunroom or conservatory addition. The two most common options for building it are aluminium and uPVC; they are equally modern in function, and both have increased thermal efficiency in comparison to other older materials.

The cheaper option of the two is uPVC. The material will ensure your home is kept dry and warm throughout all 4 seasons, just as aluminium will. Available in a range of colours and finishes, uPVC can blend well with the existing exterior of your home.

The slightly more expensive option, aluminium, is very lightweight, strong, and flexible. The reason that aluminium is sometimes chosen over uPVC is that aluminium uses less frame, thus allowing for more glass exposure. This allows for overall better views when in the sunroom.

If you are alright with slightly more obstructed views though, uPVC can offer a great slightly-less expensive option.

To decide which you’d prefer between the two common materials, consider how you expect to use your sunroom. If you’re using it to expand an already existing room, you’ll likely choose finishes that reflect this. If you are aiming to make a space look larger, ideally you’ll want to use aluminium to maximize the glazing. This will provide an illusion of more space, and create an airy atmosphere in what might otherwise be a small area. This is also ideal if you are using the sunroom for a greenhouse since the plants inside will thrive in the abundance of extra sunlight.

Some options that you would want to stay away from using in a modern sunroom include timber, which can rot, discolour, and warp over time, leading to leaks and air drafts that you wouldn’t notice immediately.

Considerations to make when budgeting for a sunroom include security and the standard of insulation. Many homeowners choose a sunroom conversion as an alternative to a conservatory given the avoidance of typical problems such as condensation, debris build-up on a glass roof, and the aesthetic of having a glass structure added to the outside of your home.

Good quality sunroom conversions encounter no such problems and are designed to last for many years to come. Weatherproof roof materials are essential to avoid future maintenance costs, and choosing a robust locking mechanism will ensure that the security of your home remains intact.

Additional material costs

What other materials might change the cost of the additional sunroom?

  •  Sliding Bifold doors: a great option if you’re working with a small space or have limited area directly outside of the sunroom. They can be quite large, and can even open up an entire wall of space so they are incredibly beautiful. On average, bifold doors run about £1,400 to £2,000
  •  French doors: if you’re looking for a more traditional style of door to the exterior, you can opt well-crafted French doors. These are much more affordable than a sliding bifold door, at about £400 per door.
  •  Flooring type: whether you choose tile, hardware floor, carpet, laminate, or even something like poured concrete for a more rustic-industrial feel, this is an easy way to reduce or increase costs of the sunroom extension. If you think you may have the bifold or French doors open for extended periods, you’ll want to choose a durable flooring type that doesn’t react negatively to humidity. When choosing your selections, take into consideration both long-term and short-term costs. What might be cheaper immediately could be much more expensive in the long-term.
  • Choice of roofing and glazing – Whilst sunrooms have solid roofing, the type of roof covering you require will be an influence on your total build cost. The most common options are tiling or slate, and many homeowners make this decision based on their existing property to ensure that their new sunroom extension blends seamlessly into their home. Another cost factor is the glazing itself, and what size and quantity of windows are required to glaze your extension. Larger or bespoke size windows will cost significantly more than standard sizes, since the glazing is custom made and requires tailored frames to be created to house the glass.
  • Interior design – Your new sunroom could be a standalone space to connect your garden with your interior, or could be used as an extension to extend the floor plan of an existing room within your home. The layout will have a considerable impact on the budget since it affects many factors of the extension build:- Whether structural works are required to knock through external walls, erect RSJs or external lintels- Flooring, decoration and interior design costs to create a fluid flow between the existing interior and the new space- Utilities, piping and additional fittings required

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Sunroom Kits vs contracting a sunroom company?

So, should you hire an architect and a construction company? This is a great question. The market right now has many sunroom addition kits already available, all without the need for an architect. The building plans come with all the basic materials you will need, as well as the architectural drawings and plans that are included. This can provide a cheaper solution to that of a bespoke architectural plan.

However, if you are looking to do something relatively unique, want to ensure that your home style is incorporated throughout the sunroom to blend seamlessly, or are looking to do considerable construction on an existing area of your home, you may greatly benefit from an architect rather than just using a DIY kit. At the very least, consulting one can prove beneficial before breaking ground, and can save you a headache in the long run.

To estimate how much an architect might run you, on average, an architect will cost you approximately 14% of the entire project, ranging anywhere from about £2,000 to £8,000 depending on how involved they are, and how large the project is. Architects typically charge more for additions than new construction due to the difficultly of working around an existing building. A consulting fee is much less expensive and can be a great way to talk through any issues or concerns you might have about the sunroom addition.

Labour Costs

When you go to have your sunroom extension constructed, choose a construction company that has built sunrooms before. They will be better equipped to complete the construction and will be likelier to do a thorough job while troubleshooting any problems that may arise. While a niche construction company might cost more per hour, they will more than make up for it by finishing the job quickly and by providing a solid structure and addition to your home. This will range anywhere from 20% to 40% of the total cost of the addition. So, for a sunroom extension that costs about £40,000, your labour costs will range anywhere from £8,000 to £16,000. These labourers include carpenters, painters, and electricians. How much for a small extension? Find out here.

Some options that you would want to stay away from using in a modern sunroom include timber, which can rot, discolour, and warp over time, leading to leaks and air drafts that you wouldn’t notice immediately.

Frequently asked questions

What are the benefits of a sunroom?

Sunrooms offer a plethora of advantages. Take advantage of its natural light, and greatly reduce your reliance on artificial lighting, which will reduce your electrical costs. They offer a fantastic way to enjoy the outdoors and can be a terrific way to keep your home a bit warmer with the additional thermal insulation. Even on a cool winter day, a four-season sunroom can add a great source of warmth without relying on your thermostat.

A well-constructed solarium can also be a point of interest to potential home buyers and can be a beautiful room in and of itself, a place to spend time with family and friends, or just a brightly lit area to work in.

Due to their light weight, sunrooms don’t require as deep of a foundation as a traditional addition on your home, which can reduce costs.

What are the disadvantages of a sunroom?

A well-constructed sunroom has far more advantages than disadvantages, but you will want to be deliberate in your choices to make sure you’re adding value to your home, keeping it in the same style as the rest of the house, and well-constructed to reduce any chance of air drafts or leaks. Another thing to keep in mind is that sunrooms have high visibility, so if you are worried about privacy, a sunroom isn’t the right choice for you.

Is a sunroom the same as a conservatory?

The consistency between a sunroom and a conservatory is that they are both built as extensions to a house to soak up the sun. The first difference between a sunroom and conservatory is that a conservatory is more seasonal; they tend to be used during the warm months, and become very cold in the winter months, and incredibly hot in the summer. This is mostly due to the materials used when building a conservatory. While a sunroom relies on glass, a conservatory typically uses several materials. Many conservatories have the bottom-half constructed out of brick, whereas a sunroom will have glass from top to bottom.

Do I need planning permission for a sunroom extension?

There are some qualifiers to decide if your sunroom requires planning permission:

  • A single-story sunroom can be built without planning permission if the maximum height is less than 4 metres high with some limitations if it is too close to a boundary. If your sunroom will be fewer than 2 metres from a boundary, you will need planning permission if it’s going to be 3 metres high.
  • If you plan on changing the height of the sunroof to be taller than the rest of your home, you will require planning permission.
  • Lastly, if you are extending the sunroom to be two stories, you will need to check the planning portal.

Yes, there are a lot of qualifiers, but as a rule of thumb, you likely will not need planning permission. If you are not sure if your sunroom requires planning permission, the government planning portal can be found here and can be an easy way to see if more planning will be involved with your sunroom or addition.

Will a sunroom extension add extra value to my home?

In short, no. If you are looking to sell your home soon, a sunroom extension is not a good investment. On average, homeowners recover an average of 51% from their investment when adding a sunroom on. If you’re looking to add value, there are other options you may want to consider instead of a solarium.

A longer answer: maybe. A well-built sunroom can increase the value of your home, by as much as 7%, but you will not fully recoup your costs when adding a sunroom. This is true for many other home improvement investments, though. So, if you’re looking to enjoy a sunroom, do not build it for investment purposes, but rather to add enjoyment to your own life while you are living there. You’ll also want to consider that if your home and a very similar home down the road are both for sale, you may attract a more specific buyer with the addition of a conservatory.

A well-built sunroom will recoup costs better than one that has droughts, leaks, or is not in keeping with the style of the rest of the home. An architect will help you decide what will look best for your house so that you can recoup more of the investment long-term.

What are the build stages of a sunroom extension?

Constructing your sunroom extension entails several stages, the duration of each of which will depend on the complexity of your design and build.

  1. Site preparation

Some sites will require minimal work, whilst others will require extensive preparation to ensure that the build can proceed. If the land on which you wish to build is unstable, this stage can include erecting reinforced foundations. Most extensions will require the ground to be excavated and levelled, with cement footings or foundations laid on top.

  1. Framing and roofing

The next stage is to create a weatherproof canvas from which to work, and in good weather, your contractor will create the framework in your chosen material, along with the batons for the roofing.

Depending on what materials you have selected for your roof, this may constitute a larger proportion of the build time or may be completed alongside the framework for the external walls.

  1. Erecting walls and/or screens

Sunrooms are innately versatile, and a popular choice is to choose sliding or Bifold doors for flexibility of use. Once the timbers or framing are in place, the glazing can be installed to protect the extension from water and the elements. The roofing panels, slates or tiles will usually be installed at the same time.

  1. Internal fit-outs

Once the exterior of your sunroom is complete and watertight, the internal fit-out will begin. The time required depends on your design, but can include the laying of flooring, construction of internal doors, removal of interior walls and installing power points and utility access.

  1. Decoration

Probably the most exciting part of any building project! Once you have a secure, weatherproof extension with all of the construction work completed, the decorating can begin. For mainly glazed sunrooms this may be as simple as painting interior walls and laying your choice of flooring finish.

For more intricate designs, the internal fit-out might include installing kitchen units, sinks and bespoke lighting.

What designs are possible for a sunroom extension?

One of the biggest attractions to choosing a sunroom as a form of extension is the versatility of design.

Some popular options include:

  • Double-height sunrooms with full height glazing for maximum warmth and natural light
  • Sliding and/or Bifold doors to provide easy access to the outdoors, with level thresholds for accessibility and to provide a seamless transition
  • Galleried landings, to provide a more private relaxation area situated at the rear of your sunroom conversion
  • Integrated living spaces, as an extension to an existing kitchen, dining space or living room, with the existing external walls removed to provide an open plan area

Which glazing is best for a sunroom?

For a room primarily constructed from clear glazing, the choice of windows is important for the longevity of the structure, the cost to construct, and the maintenance required to keep your sunroom looking fresh and clean.

U-values are used to measure thermal efficiency and can indicate the trade-off between differently priced materials and the insulation they provide. The lower the U-value, the more thermal the material in question.

Glass tends not to be a great insulator, and thus most sunrooms are made from double or triple glazing. Modern double glazing usually meets a U-value of around 1.6 W/m2k, whereas more advanced triple glazing gets down to 0.8 W/m2K, making it an optimal choice where your budget allows.

In comparison, a standard external wall provides 0.18 W/m2k, to indicate the comparative values between the glazing options.

How much glazing should be used in a sunroom?

The primary purpose of a sunroom extension is to provide a warm, energy-efficient space to appreciate your outdoors areas from.

Particularly if your budget does not extend to triple glazing, it is crucial to think about how much solid wall space is incorporated into your design vs. the glazed areas. This prevents heat loss through the glazing and allows the wall space to absorb heat and retain the warmth in your home all year round.

Using insulated flooring and traditional roofing alongside larger elements of glazing will help protect the energy efficiency of your home and avoid losing heat and incurring additional heating costs when the temperatures drop.

Rich Crossley
Having spent 30 years working all over the world for top-tier investment banks, I’ve owned and developed houses all over the world – Europe, the US and Asia. I’m now based back in the UK and involved in the property industry – oh, and I’m a keen DIY enthusiast!
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