Mark Hanson, marketing manager at Ultraframe and Chair of the GGF’s Conservatory Association talks to Real Homes magazine about the developments in the conservatory market.
“There are approximately three million existing conservatories in the UK alone and as you can imagine, many of these are now quite outdated compared with the technology, performance and aesthetic possibilities of the latest innovations currently hitting the market.
“As such, conservatory refurbishment and upgrading is becoming a key trend, particularly now the housing market is beginning to move again and homeowners ‘inherit’ older conservatories.
“With fashion and tastes changing, there has also been a shift in the market from traditional uPVC conservatories, to ‘crossover’ products such as orangeries and verandas which blur the garden/home interface".
“The orangery is a new take on the traditional atrium-style conservatory, which bridges the gap between a traditional conservatory and an extension. It is designed to be a versatile and stylish living space which can be used all year round.
“We have developed our ‘Ultraframe Orangery’, a new style in conservatory design which has been specifically developed to provide more privacy than a traditional conservatory due to distinguishing brick pillars. The interior height of the Ultraframe Orangery roof provides a focal point through which light can flood into the home, allowing a view of the sky above.
“Externally the Ultraframe Orangery features a flat roof around the perimeter along with a structural grade aluminium roof capped and clad with low maintenance thermal uPVC cappings and claddings. The high performance glazing of the Orangery ensures that the space can be used all year round. All Ultraframe roof systems feature integrated ventilation as standard, creating a comfortable interior atmosphere, whatever the weather.
“Further recognising the trend to ‘cross-over ’conservatories, we have also introduced our Veranda conservatory. Featuring glazing bars in the roof which oversail and carry the glass to form an additional covered area, the Ultraframe Veranda conservatory allows the consumer to sit outside, protected from the elements. In addition, by installing large in line sliders or bi-folds, this new conservatory provides a larger living space.
“As well as acting as an integral gutter, an aluminium powder coated half round beam provides structural support to the oversailing glazing and glazing bars. This integral gutter also features stop end spigots that seal the gutter at one end and are then ‘spliced’ onto an oak post to support the open side of the Veranda conservatory.
“At the design stage, there is an option to select either an aluminium down pipe or hanging chains from which rain water can be directed down, again further integrating the ‘room outside’ into the garden. A further option alongside the oak post is a powder coated aluminum support post/combi rain water pipe. There is also the option to be more innovative with the side walls of a Veranda, one side can be a masonry wall while the other glazed or, alternatively both walls can be the same.
“Another trend we are seeing within the conservatory industry is the need to be more thermally efficient. Ever-tightening Building Regulations have resulted in homeowners looking for products that will make their homes more thermally efficient and they want to achieve the same levels of efficiency in their conservatories too. As such, we have developed a brand new conservatory technology that can be used on traditional conservatories, in addition to new style orangeries or verandas. Our Utopia eco roof provides outstanding thermal efficiency as well as dramatically increasing the summer and winter usage of any conservatory.
“The Passivhaus Institute – which provides eco design guidance to Europe’s home builders - sets a U-Value target figure of 0.8 for wall glazing. However, the typical U-value of a conservatory roof is in the range 1.1 to 1.7, a poor level of insulation which is often combated by turning up the heating. By increasing the heating in a property, the homeowner is leaving themselves open to large utility bills. For example, a roof with a U-value of 1.70 requires approximately 2085 kilowatt hours of energy to keep the room heated all year round.
“Traditionally, homeowners have looked to achieve lower U-values by retrofitting a solid roof and turning the conservatory into an extension. Switching from a planned conservatory to an extension can often mean doubling the cost and then there are council red tape and Building Regulation approvals to consider. Perhaps more importantly, the homeowner loses the light and space benefits that come from fitting a glazed conservatory roof. One of the key benefits of a conservatory is that it does not rob light from the adjoining house, unlike a traditional extension with a solid roof.
“We developed our Utopia eco roof to provide a more cost effective and thermally efficient alternative to solid roofs, which escapes local authority ‘red tape’. The double layer polycarbonate system also provides a barrier to external noise transmission, allowing for a quieter and more peaceful internal environment, making it an ideal alternative to solid roof/tiled extensions.
“Utilising the integrated tracks of our Ultraframe Classic Plus roof, the Utopia roof features two layers of polycarbonate, 35mm Heat Guard Opal externally and 32mm Opal internally, along with an internal chambered ‘T’ cladding and a chambered ridge undercladding.
“The first glazed eco roof of its kind, the centre pane U-value of the two sheets of polycarbonate is 0.6 and yet it is reduced to only 0.53 when the twin wall chambered top cap and undercladding technologies are taken into account, producing a conservatory roof that requires only 788kWh of heating energy a year - 1300kWh less than the average – saving the average household at least £200 on heating their conservatory.
“Finally all conservatories featuring Ultraframe Classic roofs come with ventilation features as standard (ridge trickle ventilation) with further additional optional features available to be specified – Eavesflow for example. We are also working on a new generation of enhanced controllable ridge ventilation which will capture warm air in the cavity between our recently introduced Ultraframe Shades and the sealed units, and use it to reduce winter heating bills.”