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Thomas Sanderson

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My Conservatory Tips

Some of my favourite tips plus Hints on Extras and other improvements you can make.

These tips are not in any particular order - some I think may be original - some almost certainly are not! Please make use of those you can. I have put an (***) beside any particularly important tips. If you know of any "tips" that might make a worthy inclusion here I would be delighted to hear them, please
e-mail me. If we use your tip/suggestion we give you credit here in the guide.

TIP 1 - This is a great one - especially if you have children. I call it the TIME CAPSULE tip. My Children loved this - simply put some current newspaper clippings plus a brief description of yourself and family in a waterproof/rotproof container. We used a 2 litre plastic carton with screw cap. Children love to include some "original artwork" and written descriptions of themselves. The fun and sense of occasion was amazing. Perhaps someday somebody else will share in this also. You can "hide" the time capsule almost any where - but the favourite is within the cavity walls or under the floor if you have a suspended floor.

TIP 2 *** Always calculate your internal floor area when ordering a conservatory. Most suppliers will quote sizes based on external sizes. Typically your internal depth (projection) is 10.5 inches (275 mm) less than external depth while internal width is 21 inches (550 mm) less than external width if you use a cavity wall construction. A BIG DIFFERENCE! It's the internal floor area that most people are really interested in.

TIP 3 *** A follow on from the above. Always manually mark out the area of your new conservatory when designing and obtaining quotations. Do this as accurately as possible. A few stakes and string will do the job. You could even get a potential supplier to mark out the area. Don't however let them remove it when they leave - you will need the lay-out as a reference when other suppliers quote.

TIP 4 Unless you feel especially confident - do not go for the cheapest quotation. A bit of a generalisation I know - but rarely in my experience does the cheapest supplier also supply the best product or the best service.

TIP 5 When obtaining quotations do not try and "beat every supplier into the ground". Most of the better companies will not wish to trade in this way - only the less professional will usually have the flexibility. These less professional companies will often "agree" to your request but end up short changing you later. I'm not suggesting that you don't negotiate - what I am suggesting is that you negotiate fairly. Make a detailed list of the features "you must have" and ask each company to give their best price. Don't expect to get a conservatory with a glass roof, Pilkington "K" glass and Argon filled units for the price of a standard double glazed conservatory with 16 mm polycarbonate in the roof.

TIP 6 It is always good practice to allow a small contingency (I recommend 10%) for "extras" or additions you may make to the order after you place your initial order. Builders can have unforeseen work or you may decide to make some changes as work proceeds. There may be some landscaping or similar.

TIP 7 *** Buy the best possible conservatory you can afford. For a relatively small additional sum spent now you can have a conservatory which will give you many years of satisfaction. Of course we want value for money - but don't try doing it too cheaply. Consider glass roofs, Pilkington "K" glass etc.

TIP 8 When you go on holiday - please make sure you have adequate shading and ventilation for your conservatory. You don't want to come home to a conservatory full of dead plants!

TIP 9 Candles and such like are wonderful in a conservatory - especially in the evening. However do remember that these candles will melt/bend in the day time heat!

TIP 10 *** Do remember to inform your insurers of your new conservatory addition. Adequate cover for complete rebuilding should be arranged as soon as the conservatory is erected.

TIP 11 Unless there is no alternative do not place doors in the front of the conservatory. This creates a "corridor" effect and limits your usable space for furniture etc. Better to position the doors on the side - ideally as close to the main house wall as possible so as to minimise the interruption to your "flow" and usable space.

TIP 12 *** If you "employ" one company to do all the work - try and meet their builders before placing a firm order. You may feel the company is the builders - but in almost all cases the company sub-contracts out this element of the work to a separate building contractor. You will most likely spend more time with this person on your conservatory project than any other. Ask them if they can foresee any problems? What do they do with rubbish? Will they reinstate around the new conservatory base after construction or will that be an extra? If you are having electrics or plumbing installed it is most likely the builder will in turn be sub-contracting out this element of the work. YOU CAN SEE HOW PROBLEMS CAN OCCUR - ESPECIALLY IF INFORMATION IS NOT PASSED ON FULLY OR "TRADES" DO NOT FOLLOW ON AS QUICKLY AS YOU HOPED. You must feel comfortable with this person - so do take your time on this element. Obviously if you are employing the builder direct you will have more control over this element. This is one of the reasons I always prefer to "project manage" all stages of construction myself.

TIP 13 If you think planning permission may be required you should check personally with you local planners. Do not rely on the conservatory supplier to do this for you. Most conservatory suppliers conditions of sale specifically puts responsibility for obtaining any approvals on you the customer. You are the one who is responsible.

TIP 14 A conservatory should not be a "bolt on" to your property. Always endeavour to match your new addition into your home. Match brick work and render details. Make it feel and look as though it's always been there.

TIP 15 *** If you have a particularly large or difficult project in mind it is often a good idea to have your own plans/drawings produced for you by an architect/draftsperson. Of course this will be an additional cost - but it is my experience that you will save time and perhaps even money with this method. You will receive impartial advice on what is practical and possible and will therefore be better equipped to "handle" the sales representatives. You will be able to ask each representative to quote on a "like for like" basis rather than having each representative coming up with their own design based on their own or company's agenda. You will discover - if you have not already done so, that when it comes to conservatories there are lots of different and conflicting opinions. Your architect may even be able to recommend some companies for your project.

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Leaded Lites Designs:

My favourite enhancement. Not necessary to put all over, but it does look superb in the top opening vents. Available in diamond and rectangular lead designs as well as a host of more traditional designs such as Queen Anne or Elizabethan. You can also consider "coloured lites" options if you want something just a little bit different. (Stained glass type design).
Georgian Designs:

You can fit a whole host of "Georgian" styles to your conservatory. From the more usual rectangular Georgian bar design to Georgian sweeps (arches), gothic arches, cathedral arches and specialist one off designs to match listed buildings etc.
Locking Systems:

The standard locks on most conservatory windows and doors are espagnolette multi-point locks (including night vent position) on windows and a five point lock for doors. There are many additional options including shootbolt locks, SAC bolt locking, entry guard, hook and shoot locks etc. Ask your supplier for further information or specify this on your quotation request.
Coloured Frame Options:

What colour do you want? You name it and we almost certainly can supply it. Standard colours for PVCu and aluminium are white, whilst for hardwood it is a natural stain option such as mahogany, walnut or light oak. You can, however, have hardwood already primed in green, cream and teak plus a whole host of options to your specification. PVCu in mahogany woodgrain and cherry oak woodgrain styles is also increasingly popular. Additionally, both PVCu and aluminium can be specially coloured in red, blue, green, black and orange! (and that's just a few of the options!)
The above only really touches the surface on some of the options available. From the most modern enhancements to the more traditional replications - they are all now available. Make sure to ask your supplier about them all. Don't let the salesperson put you off - often they will only receive commission on the cost of the basic conservatory and will not want to promote anything which increases your cost (and your ultimate satisfaction) and perhaps lose them the sale.

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