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Add a Conservatory or Garden Room--
Sunroom Additions: Bringing the Outdoors In
by Steven Stone
(c) Paradox Productions, Inc.
Sunrooms, also known as conservatories, have become very popular additions to today's home. The design brings the homeowner closer to the outdoors, but with all the coziness and comfort of an indoor room. These open sun areas generally have numerous windows, and are closely related to solariums, garden rooms or greenhouses, and they were popular as far back as 16-century Europe.
When considering a sunroom addition design plan, consider the numerous sunroom manufacturers, contractors and dealers that can help with sunroom construction...
Before choosing a sunroom design, you will want to consider several factors:
• How many months of the year you wish to use it. There are four season sunrooms and three season sunrooms.
• Whether you will be growing plants in it, and whether this will be year round
• Whether you will have a hot tub or pool in your sunroom
• Whether you wish to consider building a sunroom with a kit
• Your budget, and the various costs
• How it fits best in with the rest of your home
• The view looking out and in, and accessibility from your home
• Whether you will be having it installed, or doing it yourself
• Whether you want a glass roof
• Building materials, which will be discussed later.
Design options vary. Exteriors can come prefabricated in metal or wood, or custom-clad in stone, wood or brick to match your house. Specialty items will, of course, drive up the cost, and possibly the time it takes. The least expensive sunrooms can start at around $8000, with no set upper limit, depending on the extras. The lowest priced rooms usually are made of prefabricated aluminum, with red cedar often being the next step up, due to its longevity, light weight, and ease of handling. Other woods can be chosen at a greater cost, to match your house.
Thermal breaks, which reduce heat loss, often are not included on the least expensive models, but can be important to stabilizing temperature and controlling condensation. You will need to consider thermal breaks if you plan to install a hot tub, for example.
The type of glass in a sunroom can make a big difference in the number of months you are able to use your room. Low cost models, in some climates, will be too hot in the summer and cold in the winter, giving you just six months of good use.
The standard is usually insulating glass with double-pane thickness. It is also available in triple pane, for better insulation. The rate of heat flow will be reduced further if argon or krypton gas is placed between the panes. In extremely sunny climates or spaces, consider tinted, Low-E, or reflective glass.
The R-value of a pane of glass is its measure of resistance to heat flow, and is the opposite of U-value, which measures the heat that escapes. Solar heat gain is a measure of the sun-shielding properties of the glass, and its ability to absorb and reflect heat. The lower the solar heat gain, the better the product is at protecting from the heat of the sun.
You have the options of installing duct work to extend your home's heating and cooling systems to include your sunroom, giving your sunroom an independent heating and cooling system or simply opening the windows when it is comfortable to do so. Other options for heat control can include installing shades over the windows, or heat-absorbing tiles or masonry on the floors. Small trees can be carefully positioned to block the sun from the outside, though you won't want to use evergreens, since they would block the sun in winter as well.
Sunroom pricing and installation time varies, depending on the materials used, as well as whether you use a sunroom contractor or builder, or do it yourself using a solarium kit, also called prefabricated or diy sunrooms.
Having a little preliminary information going in can help you choose a sunroom or conservatory that fits your individual needs, budget and environment. Choosing wisely can help you enjoy your sunroom for years to come.
About the author: Steven Stone is a staff writer for ParadoxPro.com, which offers advice for your home and garden. Read more articles on home improvement topics in the Home Style News email newsletter. Subscribe free at http://www.ParadoxPro.com/ezine.html
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