The Zero Stress Guide to Conservatories


What You Need To Know Before You Buy a Conservatory

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Planning permission – do you need it?

Top tip

  • Make the necessary checks yourself

If you live in England and Wales, probably not. Planning permission is not usually required as long as you don’t exceed the ‘permitted development’ limit for your property, which is 50-70 cubic metres, depending on where you live. However, any extensions made to the property in the past will have used up some or the entire permitted development limit, in which case you may need permission to expand further.

Note, too, that permitted development rights may occasionally be withdrawn from a property in which case any extension, however small, will need planning permission. Or there may be covenants affecting building work – check your property deeds if you suspect this may be the case.

If you have any doubts about planning permission, make the necessary checks with your local planning officer – it’s better to be safe than sorry! Don’t rely on your conservatory supplier to sort it out – you’re the one who will be in trouble if planning rules are flouted.

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Scotland’s planning legislation also allows for certain works to be exempt from planning permission.

In homes other than flats and maisonettes no building warrant is required for an unheated conservatory under eight square metres attached to an existing house. The conservatory must be located a minimum of one metre from any boundary and not must not contain sanitary accommodation nor be situated on land within the boundaries of which there are harmful or dangerous substances. A door must be provided between the conservatory and the house.

However, due to the more complex nature of Scotland’s planning legislation it is highly advisable to liase with the Development Promotion Section of the local council – and essential to do so when contemplating adding conservatories to listed buildings, houses in conservation areas, flats or maisonettes. See for further details.

Building regulations – are they applicable?

Top tip

  • All criteria must be met to claim exemption

In general, conservatories and sunrooms on residential property are exempt from building regulations as long as the extension meets the following criteria.

  • It is single storey and sited at ground level
  • It is permanently separated from the remainder of the property by a door
  • The floor area does not exceed 30 square metres
  • At least half the area of the walls is formed of windows
  • At least three-quarters of the roof consists of glazing, polycarbonate sheets or a similar translucent material
  • Any radiator(s) is controllable – if fixed heating installations are proposed, they must have separate temperature and on/off controls
  • The glazing meets the requirements of part N, schedule 1 covering toughened/safety glass
  • There are no drainage facilities, eg for a sink, washing machine or WC

Bear in mind that if your conservatory does require building regulation approval it will need glazing with the highest insulation quality such as Pilkington K glass (low E) with argon-filled units.

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