An orangery is an extension to your home, made of a brick base, and it also often features brick walls. It is similar to a conservatory in form and function. Therefore, an orangery can increase your quality of life and the value of your home by creating a desirable avenue for leisure time amongst the more business-like sections of the domicile.
Not everyone has one, so you can feel sophisticated and even superior when referring to the new orangery in your home.
What Are The Differences Between A Conservatory and an Orangery?
Keep in mind that a conservatory and orangery are not just descriptions of different types of rooms. They are also legal definitions. The differences matter for permit purposes and have differing ramifications.
The most apparent differences relate to the base and roof. A conservatory normally features a pitched roof based on a frame that goes directly to the ground in terms of the floor. Meanwhile, an orangery has a brick base, and it has a flat perimeter roof. They also have a brick base. A conservatory will typically have no perimeter around the frame base.
The most significant difference, of course, is in the material of the walls. To qualify as a conservatory, a structure must have (at the very least) a 75% glazed roof. After all, they are technically intended for growing plants. As for the walls, conservatory walls must contain 50% translucent material. An orangery does not need to abide by these restrictive rules.
The doors of the two structures are also usually different. For example, orangeries typically have bifold doors, while conservatories often feature French doors.
The Advantages of an Orangery
If you clicked on this article, you are likely strongly considering adding a room extension to your home. However, you may not be sure what sort of sun-soaked leisure room is right for you.
Orangeries and conservatories have a notably different look. What looks right for one design may look entirely out of place for another. For example, a very modern house can be made of a lighter material and feature more windows. In that case, a conservatory would fit right in.
However, most homes in the UK are more traditional and are made of brick. If your house is one of those more typical places of residence, an orangery may be far more appropriate for your look. It can also be customised to fit precisely with the existing finish and thus improve the kerb appeal of the property.
That is one reason orangeries are more suitable for most homes. But there are others. While a conservatory is primarily made of brick, an orangery can be more solid and therefore is less likely to heat up or have an undue amount of sunshine during the daytime. Since brick and concrete material tend to block out the elements far more than glass, it will also save you a good deal on energy expenses. An orangery requires less heating in winter and may not require cooling in summer.
But if you think that an orangery may be darker or possibly more depressing than a translucent conservatory, it doesn’t have to be. When you build a conservatory, you must have a certain amount of glass or transparent material involved. But an orangery allows for a more significant amount of flexibility. You can make it as sunlit or as insulated as you would like.
Additionally, a conservatory is by definition a break with the rest of the house and serves a different function. Meanwhile, you can design an orangery as an extension of any room you like. So if you feel that the living room is too cramped for your liking, or the kitchen needs that extra something, an orangery can extend the potential and usefulness of that room. However, an orangery may have limited appeal as an extension of the bedroom or bathroom. After all, those rooms require less light and more privacy than most.
Alternatively, the orangery can serve as a secluded and unique part of the house where you can pursue specific activities. For example, it is advantageous if there is a lot of noise or intrusion in other parts of the home and you would like to carve out a little niche for tranquillity. For example, if you paint or want to read, the new extension can serve as an ideal arena for these pursuits.
Finally, an orangery adds about as much value to your home as an extension. Since it is a solid structure with little difference from a traditional extension, the real estate boon you get out of the room is significant. And since an orangery is significantly cheaper than a conventional extension, it is a far more cost-effective way of adding value to your home.
The Disadvantages of an Orangery
No one is paying us to promote orangeries. So believe us when we say that they are more helpful home extensions than conservatories for most homeowners (but certainly not all).
However, there is no getting around it: conservatories are more reasonably priced and may offer better value Pound for Pound. In addition, translucent materials are generally less expensive and easier to install. Therefore, you can expect the installation of an orangery to be dearer and more time-consuming.
If you are planning the orangery as an extension to an existing room, you can also expect that part of the house to be out of commission for the duration of the construction. Make sure to consult your builder on this point before they start working. They are not always sensitive to the upheaval construction can bring to our lives, and you will want to know well in advance if you need to make alternative living arrangements within your home or elsewhere. Even if the inconvenience is temporary, you will want to know.
What Size Orangery Do You Require?
Before calculating the cost of a project, you will need to establish the size of the structure you need. Obviously, a smaller orangery will cost less. But we will get into that more later on. First, however, it is also essential to keep the aesthetics and proportions of your home and the garden in mind.
If you have a modest home or garden, an imposing structure could overwhelm the existing setup and decrease your kerb appeal. However, that defeats the extension’s purpose and, therefore, considers the size quotient seriously before planning your orangery.
What is the key to aesthetic beauty? Architects have developed a measure they call the ‘golden ratio,’ which is very helpful in these situations. A ratio of 1:1.618, apparently. No, this isn’t a reference to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. However, it is how these structures are usually planned.
How does this work? An addition to a structure should be .618 smaller than the main building. You do this by putting together the sum of the longer part and the shorter part, where the shorter part is slightly under 62% of the size of the more extended section. Or you can use this handy calculator! For example, if your home is 30 feet in height (slightly above the national average), you will want to build an orangery 18.541 in size for a total structure length of 48.541.
You should, of course, talk to a builder or even an architect before committing to the size of the final product. However, the ‘golden ratio’ will give you an idea of the correct size and, therefore, the estimated recommended size.
How Much Does An Orangery Cost?
These are expensive and elaborate construction products, and therefore the average orangery costs homeowners upwards of £20,000. However, they vary wildly in price, depending on size, and consequently, a small extension could cost half of that. You may be noticing that prices on orangery construction are a bit vague. You are not wrong. They are not prefabricated structures as many conservatories are. Instead, each one is unique.
Every project is different. Materials vary, and of course, it matters where your home is located. However, as a general benchmark, you can expect to pay around £2,000 – £2,500 per square metre in the current market for an orangery.
If that sounds extravagant (and it certainly does not sound cheap), keep in mind that this price refers to the completely finished article. Therefore, it takes into account the electrical wiring and finishing. It also includes the lighting and the complicated job of returning your property to its original state and blending the extension into the look of the entire property. In other words, that is the price when all of the components are included.
It would be best if you also kept in mind that building a solid extension to your home, in other words, a traditional room will likely cost about £500 – £1,000 more per square meter. And considering that in many ways, the differences are minimal, it is probably a better deal.
What Material Should You Use?
Orangeries come in different shapes and sizes and are also constructed out of a variety of building materials:
- Composite Materials
The usual combination is a mixture of timber and aluminium. However, it avoids the problems associated with timber construction by isolating the wood from the elements with a layer of aluminium. Therefore, orangeries made from quality composites can last for decades with no need for refurbishment.
We all remember when aluminium was a terrible material in terms of conserving energy. However, it has improved by leaps and bounds in recent years. Today aluminium is far better at keeping out the elements and, correspondingly, in preserving energy.
Average Price: £15,000 to £20,000
The more reliable form of timber and therefore better suited for orangeries. Unlike its softwood equivalent, the hardwood variant comes with a coat of varnish or other forms of protection that helps prevent rot.
Average Price: £17,000
This material is the less expensive and less durable form of timber and most prone to warping and rot. In addition, softwood is usually painted and does not include a layer of insulating finishing.
Average Price: £10,000
- uPVC framing
These are good frames to use because they are not particularly expensive yet durable and reliable.
Average Price: £25,000 to £30,000
If you are concerned about the price, the cheapest option is an orangery is to build it out of timber. Indeed, a timber-framed orangery can cost less than half as much as the average.
But as always, there is a catch. Timber is excellent, at first. But eventually, problems will arise. The wood tends to rot or become misshapen. Fixing this is not easy and certainly not cheap. As a result, some homeowners replace the timber and spend more money than they would have by using dearer but more solid materials from the start.
Therefore, if you do go with a timber variant, think of it more as paying for your orangery in instalments than as a way of cutting long-term costs. Even if you are lucky and do not face extensive and expensive reconstruction, cutting corners will lead to more frequent upkeep and refurbishments. Therefore, you should consider building your orangery out of more solid material. Keep in mind that if you sell your home, you are likely to make up the difference in the resale.
As always, the closer you get to London, the higher construction costs you will likely face. This discrepancy occurs since greater London, and the South East area are expensive, while central London is even costlier.
What Is the Best Roof Option for an Orangery?
One of the main determinants of the cost of the structure is the roof. Obviously, the more elaborate it is, the higher the price.
However, building a simple roof may defeat the purpose of the orangery. The secret to an extension that allows in sunlight but maintains maximal comfort is installing the proper top. Getting the balance right is essential. When properly made, an orangery roof can be a spectacular way of letting a touch of the outdoors into our homes.
One of the best options is a full pelmet surround. These sophisticated rooves insulate the home and prevent heat loss while keeping harmful UV rays at bay. In addition, many homeowners choose a decorative tint, which can blunt the sun while accentuating colours that complement the room’s aesthetic scheme.
Another popular option is the roof lantern. If you want to build an orangery to add a certain Edwardian mystique to your home, this is the option for you. It is reminiscent of the conservatories of old but is custom installed to control the light and temperature in a way our predecessors can only envy. Indeed, roof lanterns can be customised to allow a reliable amount of sunlight, much like a lightbulb.
As you can tell, the sophisticated solutions for orangery rooves are very advanced and appealing. That is why orangery rooves have become a popular feature in many modern homes.
How Long Does It Take To Build An Orangery?
Since every orangery is a unique and custom-built entity, it is hard to develop a hard and fast rule regarding construction times. It depends greatly on the complexity of the job, as well as the material involved.
However, in most cases, the construction should be completed well within two months. As you might expect, a brick orangery requires more time to complete than a timber or aluminium one.
The bad news is that you may not save much time if you try to convert an existing conservatory into an orangery. As we have seen, the materials for both are quite different. Most importantly, they have a very different base. In addition, an orangery requires a substantial foundation, not dissimilar to other rooms in your home. Therefore the conversion process is complex and time-consuming.
On the other hand, if you choose to convert an existing room or extension into an orangery, the process will be far more straightforward since the base is likely compatible and will be adequate for the task.
What Kind of Ventilation Does An Orangery Require?
One of the most critical factors in the price and energy efficiency of the extension is the ventilation system. According to the building code, your orangery must be up to the following specifications: “There shall be adequate means of ventilation provided for people in the building. For new dwellings, a target of four air changes per hour is required to ensure suitable ventilation.”
Aside from being a necessary part of the construction process, an efficient ventilation system will save you money. In addition, it is the cheapest way to keep a comfortable temperature in a type of extension that may become uncomfortable in the summer.
To keep the structure up to code, you can choose between two different forms of ventilation:
- Background ventilation: When you install this form of ventilation, it allows in outside air without opening any windows to the outside. Thus, background ventilation constantly allows in the fresh air.
- Purge ventilation: Allows in air intermittently through an openable portal, usually a window or a door.
Most orangery owners have background ventilation options. They can be important in the summer months. However, either is acceptable.
How Do You Keep An Orangery Cool?
Good ventilation may not be enough to maintain a pleasant temperature in your orangery in the summer months. If you get the ventilation right, you may not need to expend as much energy on cooling your orangery. However, on hot days you will want to supplement ventilation in a variety of ways.
We recommend the installation of a heat reduction film into the roof of your orangery. Film installation will increase construction costs somewhat, but it is well worth it. The film doesn’t only reduce heat; it also minimises uncomfortable sunlight glare.
Many people also install air conditioning in their orangeries to ensure maximal comfort.
Do You Need a Permit To Build an Orangery?
Unlike a conservatory, an orangery is not legally distinguished from any other home extension. Therefore, you must comply with all the rules and regulations you usually would when adding rooms to your property.
However, in most cases, the structure and dimensions of an orangery are such that you will not require a permit. For example, you can build an orangery without obtaining a license if it conforms to the following specifications:
- It covers less than half of the land surrounding the existing structure. But, generally speaking, it is good to avoid building an orangery that covers more than that anyway, for aesthetic reasons.
- The orangery extends less than 6 meters out of a detached home. However, in the case of a terraced or semi-detached unit, you are allowed a bulge of up to 4 meters from the wall. This size limit may be a bit of a problem with very large homes but usually does not impede the desired size by much.
- The roof is no higher than the maximal roof height of the existing home. But, again, this is advisable for aesthetic reasons as well.
- The material used is not radically different from the rest of your home.
Remember that whether or not a permit is required, you must build all structures per building regulations. When in doubt, we advise you to contact your local council to ensure that you do not need a permit. Better to waste a bit of time than face fines and forced demolition.
How to Choose the Right Builder For Your Orangery
Finally, an essential element in determining the cost is the builder you choose. These are not simple projects. Therefore, make sure that your builder has experience in successfully completing orangeries.
You will also want someone who is experienced with construction and plumbing, and electrical wiring. An orangery is an extension of your home and requires the same fundamental construction capabilities you would expect from a home builder.
Because of the complexity of the job, make sure to get a fixed price quote. Otherwise, you may find that the price has gone up significantly due to ‘complications.’ Don’t fall for that one!
Good luck, and we hope that you will soon be lounging in the orangery of your dreams.