The Differences Between Conservatories and Sunrooms

May 20, 2019
small sunroom

Conservatories and sunrooms have certain similarities that often confuse homeowners, but their distinct difference involves the seasonality of using these rooms.

Unlike a greenhouse, a conservatory design can either be made to add living space and raise plants at the same time. It is possible to build a conservatory by yourself, but take note that it can be a complex one. A faulty installation can be problematic, especially if you do not know the right way for building a foundation, glass roofing, electrical and plumbing systems if necessary. On the other hand, a sunroom can be designed to function like a conservatory with the possibility of using it year-round.

Other Differences

While conservatories could double as an extra room and places to grow plants, homeowners who live in four-season climates should consider building a sunroom instead. Four-season sunrooms, in particular, let you stay regardless of the weather. These also provide more enclosure with a tiled roof and several windows.

However, a four-season sunroom might cost more for heating and insulation when you use glass for 80% of the structure. Otherwise, it would be difficult to enjoy spending time here when outdoor temperatures reach below freezing point. Sunrooms can either be pre-fabricated or custom-built by a home builder. Pre-fab additions could be a DIY project, although you need to understand the guidelines for building it in the same way as you would do with a puzzle.

The Average Prices

seating area with plant

The average cost of building a conservatory in the U.S. reaches $10,000 for a small sitting room that measures 10×10 feet. An average sunroom construction costs around $15,100 for a 15×15-foot room, while four-season rooms may cost between $20,000 and $35,000 for additional installations like HVAC systems and finished walls.

A bigger space entails a larger budget, and conservatories would be more expensive based on the type of design. As an example, a rustic theme can cost up to $50,000 for a 10×10-foot greenhouse. Modern styles can reach up to $70,000. Some custom-built designs might require you to spend at least $80,000, but you could save money when you plan to convert an existing space into a conservatory.

Converting Existing Spaces

If you plan to convert a greenhouse into a small conservatory, this would only cost as low as $5,000 to install HVAC and climate control systems. You could choose not to install a glass roof when you no longer plan on growing plants. A glass replacement requires you to spend anywhere from $6,000 to $12,000.

You should ask your local building authority about specific permits. This applies to sunroom projects as well, even when you only intend to use a small sunroom kit. The cost of building permits will likely cost between $50 and $200 depending on the project.

In the end, choose a conservatory when you want to have more natural light when spending your recreational time, and raise plants and flowers. If you only want to add some space without spending a lot, a sunroom seems like the better choice.

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