Pros and cons of extensions and conservatories

Hopefully a non-contentious topic (unlike my last post on solar heating!)
Next year (according to the grand plan) we should be replacing our decrepit conservatory. Now that the regulations on conservatories seem to have changed (no stipulations about percentage glass etc), it would be possible to re-build with solid walls and roof. ( Of course the possible PD changes may even make sizing a little more flexible but that's no big deal from this POV).
Clearly, this enables decent insulation values to be achieved (which is desirable in any case) and so the structure starts to come close to being an extension, from a building regulations viewpoint, especially as footings and floor slab will be re-built as part of the process. Of course, there are other elements to complying with BR but I guess my point is that the distinction between the two sort of merges.
Other aspects that come to mind are that heating in a conservatory has to be controlled independently of the main house system (but it seems that would be implemented in any modern extension), while wiring in a conservatory should probably be 'external' (but that sort of blurs with RCDs on everything anyway). Also, the doors into the space have to be 'external', but they are in place anyway and I probably wouldn't change them in a hurry. (Too big to get easily as internal doors.)
I suspect that keeping it as a conservatory would allow for a more 'creative' approach in design (as not every last BR box needs to be ticked) but then again creativity isn't always as good as boring old good quality building. (How do those glass boxes they build on the telly get past building regulations anyway? Maybe it's special magic glass.) And of course, it would be a bit cheaper for the same build if there was no BCO involvement.
In the end, the real question is what are the pros and cons of having either a conservatory or an extension, cost and hassle during construction notwithstanding? Is there an essential practical difference (house value, danger of higher council tax etc etc) or is it simply a philosophical distinction at that point?
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GMM wrote:

I've read this twice and still not sure what you are asking or telling us.
If you are undecided whether to have a conservatory or an extension in place of what you have now, no one can answer that but yourself.
Do you *need* the space for a new kitchen? - bathroom/shower? - bedroom?
if not, then it's unlikely you *need* the space at all, at which point it becomes folly, IE a conservatory / greenhouse / junkroom.
What I'm saying is, don't build something that's not neededs it often puts off potential buyers. A conservatory might be a nice *addition* but IME vast experience, they rarely are.
I must have worked on a few thousand houses in the past decade and I've only seen one that I liked, it was brick built with lots of windows at 4ft, with brick panels between the windows and four or five 'velux' roof lights - lots of natural light, but plenty of wall space inside where units, furniture etc could be put, also radiators, making it not too hot nor cold - the major drawback of glass boxes with polycarb rooves.
My house has a kitchen extension, but the entrance to it is where the old kitchen was, which is now part of the living space, except it's pretty useless space as it has a door at each 'end', so apart from having a more spacious kitchen, the space previously occupied by said kitchen is now pretty much wasted as there's little natural light, IE a dark corridor.
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On Wednesday, September 26, 2012 2:31:21 PM UTC+1, Phil L wrote:

Sorry, I thought I had been clear but obviously not (!)
I already have a conservatory, which is getting to the end of its life (moved in last year and knew this). I'm going to rebuild it because it's a good thing to have in that location and useful to us (even at present when it leaks etc etc).
Now that the rules have changed on what makes a conservatory (i.e. no need for 75% glass on the roof and 50% on the walls any more) I have been planning to replace with something a bit like what you describe.
If built at the right standard, that could then comply with building regs and become an extension (so long as it is approved by the BCO). The aim would be to re-build at modern standards of insulation etc anyway, but BR approval adds to the complexity of the process a bit.
So the question was, what are the pros and cons of having it classed as one or the other or doesn't it really matter which it is?
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On 26/09/2012 15:01, GMM wrote:

Should have added in my last post - the council tax thing only really matters if you are close to the upper limit of your assessment band anyway. When I converted the loft at the previous house it caused it to be reassessed, but it stayed in the same band.
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John.

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On Friday, September 28, 2012 1:29:20 AM UTC+1, John Rumm wrote:

So (as I suspected) it's swings and roundabouts, with no compelling reason to make it one or the other?
The structure itself would probably be pretty much the same regardless of classification: Although there are attractions to the 'light and airy' classical conservatory, the south facing location makes the existing glass one uncomfortably hot in summer (even this year!), so a shadier design would be better and this would allow a decent level of insulation (i.e. building regs standard) which, in turn, will effectively insulate the house walls adjacent to it. This would also extend the useful 'season' for it to year-round.
Whether the hazard of tax rebanding would be offset by increased resale value is something I'll have to look into: I have a sneaking suspicion we are already in the top band and, although I'm here for the long haul, it's bound to be sold one day.
I'm sort of tempted to take the view that we're doing it for our own purposes and so make it as simple as possible and call it a conservatory, which would allow more flexibility in design, materials etc.. I'm mindful however, of the fact that BR approval isn't a simple thing to do retrospectively ( a friend of mine had the BCO drilling cores in his kitchen extension to verify the construction because his builder hadn't followed the inspection timetable!) so the decision between the two classifications is best made early.
The greatest practical issue is really whether the permitted development changes proposed a few weeks ago actually go through. Although I have no aspirations to a huge increase in size (currently based on replacement at around 4m deep by 6 wide) these changes may allow a bit of flexibility without going for the dreaded PP (of which I have a few applications on the go at present, for the front, so planning could easily get bored with seeing my name!).
Cheers G
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On 26/09/2012 10:17, GMM wrote:

now dribble is back, who knows? ;-))

Probably by taking a "whole house" assessment approach where you can offset some real energy inefficiency in one area with some gain in another (or more likely with some decorative token gesture in another like solar panels for your hot water heating! ;-)

In the grand scheme of things its not going to make that much difference.

I expect a proper extension adds more value and benefit, although it does to an extent depend on what space you already have. If the downstairs layout is already spacious and has all the rooms one is likely to need, then a conservatory to overlook a nice garden etc might be preferable.
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John.

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On Sep 26, 10:17am, GMM wrote:

A conservatory is *just* a conservatory.
An extra room is an extra room, can be advertised as such, and is more likely to add value to the house as it is extra space.
As Mr Rumm says, there are situations where a house has all the space it needs and a conservatory is nice. But if it's a single storey extension you may be able to make a roof terrace on top.
Owain
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On Friday, September 28, 2012 10:51:12 AM UTC+1, Owain wrote:

Well, that's sort of the way I was thinking (though I doubt the roof terrace would work!), except that with the current regulations (no longer any minimum amount of glazing needed for a conservatory), the two structures can be identical and the distinction seems to be whether BR approval is gained. Given that most of most houses is not compliant with current BR, it seems a pretty vague difference to me (depending on the design of the structure).
Having said that, my next door neighbour (of the adjoining semi) has coincidentally just submitted PP to build almost exactly what I had in mind, so there may be a benefit in coordinating with him to some extent and he will be getting BR approval as an extension, so the question may answer itself!
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On Oct 1, 12:31pm, GMM wrote:

There may be sensible financial advantage in pouring a common floor slab and designing a shared party wall from the outset, even if the extensions aren't built sumultaneously.
It also means that only one of you has the concrete pump going through the garden to pour the slab.
Owain
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GMM wrote:

When I checked teh other day, the glazing requirement had been removed from the planning side, but not the building regs side.
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Tim Watts
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On Monday, October 1, 2012 12:55:52 PM UTC+1, Tim Watts wrote:

Sorry Tim, that's what I meant originally (probably lost in translation though): The nature of the structure can be the same (i.e. no glazing requirements), although you still have to have external doors into the space, separate heating controls etc. But meeting those specs would;t disqualify the structure from BR approval for an extension, as far as I can see.
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