The Zero Stress Guide to Conservatories


What You Need To Know Before You Buy a Conservatory

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Going down the DIY Route

Top tips

  • Significant savings to be made
  • Make use of plentiful ‘how to’ guides
  • Cheaper option but not for inexperienced

Doing it yourself is certainly an option – and the favoured choice for those who want to save money and/or keep overall control of the project.

DIY Bespoke Woodgrain style PVCu Edwardian style conservatory

Bespoke Woodgrain style PVCu Edwardian style conservatory including box gutter.

However, it’s not for the faint-hearted – nor for the inexperienced. On the other hand, if you are a competent and confident DIY-er you can take on such a project and make a success of it. A number of companies now specialise in supplying the DIY market and there are plenty of ‘how to’ guides available which give useful tips.

The savings you make from doing it yourself will be maximized if you buy a standard conservatory model and do all the work yourself. However, if there is any aspect of the work you feel unable – or unwilling! – to tackle, such as digging the foundations, it makes sense to bite the bullet and sub-contract out that task.

The aspect of self-build that often appeals most is having total control over the project and the end result. There is always the suspicion that a contractor working to a fixed price might be tempted to take short cuts. If you are doing the job yourself, though, you are more likely to spend as long as necessary ensuring that each task is completed perfectly and correcting any problems that might arise. If there is something unusual about your site, which might require a little extra attention, then this can be particularly relevant.

If you go down the DIY route you must expect the project to take longer than a contractor who spends half his working life putting up conservatories. However long it takes, though, you will have the immense satisfaction of knowing that everything has been done exactly as you want it. And if you are a perfectionist then DIY is almost certainly the most satisfactory option for you.

Is there a downside to doing it yourself?

For a start, it’s hard work physically. It can also be lonely if you are working entirely by yourself, particularly if you encounter problems. Another pair of hands and an objective viewpoint can work wonders in overcoming the challenges that arise and this is where friends, relatives and neighbours can help.

You will find that many DIY conservatories do not currently offer alternatives such as Pilkington K glass and 25 mm polycarbonate. If you are keen on top insulation specification then you may have no alternative but to choose a made-to-measure conservatory from a supplier offering these alternatives. This will usually cost more.

While there are a number of companies offering a wide range of standard models, there are fewer set up to supply a DIY consumer with a made-to-measure conservatory. Many of those who do provide a ‘supply only’ service are companies that normally supply the trade or small builders. These companies will assume that you are familiar with glazing and normal installation practice – ‘holding the hand’ of DIY-ers is not part of the service. You will also often find that you will be responsible for supplying silicones, fixing screws, trims, glues etc.

Bear all this in mind when you place your order. Also check whether there is a helpline available should you have any problems. Be prepared, if necessary, to pay more to get the help you may need – these companies are, after all, selling at trade prices and will not expect to have to give you any more help than they would the trade.

Remember that regulations regarding electrical installation require that a qualified electrician who is approved to carry out and certify such work should carry out the work. Alternatively, if you undertake the work yourself, a qualified contractor must separately certify it. Failure to notify building control is apparently a criminal offence.

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