Greenhalgh & Co.
Chartered Building Surveyors & Valuers
21 Towncroft Lane
Bolton BL1 5EN
Tel: +44 (0)1204 845382
Mob: +44 (0)7813 439196
RICS Company No. 002973
This type of outbuilding is of a less permanent nature than a conventionally constructed house. Foundations tend to be shallower making potential settlement more likely and the roof seals can sometimes leak.
However the main problems with conservatories are as follows:
Ø They make access to the first floor of the house above the conservatory roof difficult from a maintenance point of view.
Ø The rear external wall of the house is plastered, and if one ever wished to remove the conservatory the rear wall will look unsightly unless it is re-skinned or the plaster hacked off and the wall rendered.
Ø Conservatories are often too hot in the summer and too cool in the winter, and independent research has shown that the average conservatory provides a comfortable living environment for only two hours per day, unless it is artificially cooled or heated.
Ø The construction of a conservatory can compromise the fire safety of houses. For the purposes of the Building Regulations, a conservatory up to 30 square metres in floor area is considered to be an “exempt structure”, meaning that a specific application for Building Regulations approval is not required. A conservatory added to an existing house has to be built in such a way that it does not diminish the existing fire safety, specifically the means of escape, and this is the area that is causing concern.
Ø For many years now, houses have had to be built so that every bedroom has a special “escape window” of sufficient size and shape that an adult can climb out through it, and this window is supposed to be accessible by ladder from ground level.
Ø A conservatory below one of these windows can prevent a ladder being used to access it, meaning that the room in question is effectively deprived of its emergency escape route. You might think that in an emergency, you could always climb out onto the roof of the conservatory, and thence make your way down to the ground. But before you try it, remember that glass or plastic conservatory roofs are themselves exempt from Building Regulations approval, and therefore unlikely to take your weight.