If you were to imagine a conservatory, chances are you are picturing a Victorian conservatory. These types of conservatories became popular during the early 1800s in the UK during the reign of Queen Victoria. They gained fame primarily as garden rooms for their ability to nurture the growth of plants during the harsh winter months, enabling conservatory owners to have fresh vegetables and fruit. True to their Victorian style, these conservatories are known for their craftsmanship, intricacy and beauty.
Victorian conservatories stand apart from any other contemporary designs by having a classical appearance and ornate architectural flourishes. This type of conservatory can also be built using a P-style structure, which adds extra structural complexity to the extension.
If you decide to go for this conservatory style, you can either go for one with a dwarf wall or full-height glass walls. The option of a full-height glass wall with polycarbonate panelling does not exist for a Victorian conservatory as few would be willing to cheapen the overall look of a grand Victorian conservatory with cheap building material.
However, you can choose from either glass, polycarbonate or tile for your roofing. This is due to the outward look of a polycarbonate roof being quite similar to a glass one, though the longevity of this elegant look is shorter. Homeowners generally prefer tiled or hardwood flooring to complement the luxurious design of their Victorian conservatory. They also tend to go for heated flooring as it is excellent value for money.
How much does a Victorian conservatory cost?
A Victorian conservatory’s cost breakdown falls into three categories, foundation, building materials and installation charges. The cost of the conservatory’s foundation is often overlooked by homeowners looking to build a conservatory, but it ends up adding a lot to its long-term value. This cost is also quite variable as the length of the footing depends on what kind of soil your property has. It is recommended that you go for a solid foundation since a Victorian conservatory is quite heavy due to its ornate roof and the dwarf wall that homeowners generally opt for.
The cost of the materials for your new conservatory will depend on what type of roofing and walls you go for and the logistics cost of these materials. The costs will skyrocket if you choose a dwarf wall, triple-glazed glass with low-E (low emissivity) and original slate tiles. Using cheaper materials such as coloured concrete tiles or polycarbonate panes for the roof and double-glazed glass for the walls will significantly reduce the end cost of the conservatory. However, to get the full benefit of going for a beautiful Victorian conservatory, it’s recommended that you go for the higher-end materials.
The most significant variable for cost is the installer charges. It’s essential to go for a highly skilled installer for this type of conservatory as you are already spending extra for a complicated structure and a luxurious look. It would be pretty disastrous if all of this went to waste due to the negligence of an incompetent installer. The cost for a skilled contractor will vary considerably depending on where you live. The cost will also vary greatly depending on whether you live in a metropolitan area versus a more suburban area.
What is a Victorian Conservatory?
A Victorian style conservatory can be described as a reiteration of an orangery without the use of so much brick. It does this while maintaining, or even increasing, the amount of ornateness in design. Orangeries were sunrooms that started being added to homes during the 17th century. They were also used for growing vegetables and fruit during the cold winter months when other forms of farming were not possible. As the solid orangery structures were costly to build, only the extremely wealthy could afford them during this period.
During the early 19th century, the growth of the upper-middle class allowed for a lower-cost option to gain popularity. The trend to make conservatories more open while losing their heavy brick structure continues during this century. This period was when Victorian conservatory design achieved the height of its popularity. By the end of the century, a more minimalist style with square and rectangular conservatory designs called Edwardian conservatories was the fad.
The Victorian conservatories don’t maximize floor space like other conservatory designs, and it goes for a rounder look with multi-faceted bay windows and roofing structures. More brick is used compared to other designs such as Edwardian, lean-to or verandah. Another distinctive feature of a Victorian conservatory is the ornate structure of the roof that adds a lot of its glamour and luxuriousness. The roof’s pitch is also quite steep, in style with the homes built during the Victorian era.
Some homeowners also opt for a P-style design in the Victorian conservatory style. This is by far the most complex Victorian conservatory structure. The bay window part of a Victorian conservatory generally has 3 or 5 windows, while a rare design might include 7. This results in a conservatory of this style to have a range of 5 to 9 total facets. Some architects will further enhance the glamourous look of a victorian style conservatory by popping up the roof of the conservatory with a short glass line that runs right under the roof.
Most homeowners that decide to go for this type of conservatory will use it as a kitchen, living space or dining room. As a homeowner that chooses to go for a Victorian conservatory doesn’t have as tight a restriction on their budget, this type of conservatory generally tends to be a larger build. This factor allows ample extra space for an aquaponics or hydroponics farm for fresh veggies and fruit throughout the year.
What is the average cost?
Looking at the price range for Victorian conservatory styles can be a little tricky since there are so many options to choose from. A modular DIY kit for a small Victorian conservatory will allow you to go home just £3,000 lighter in the UK. However, there are additional costs to consider, such as the foundation, the logistics and installation charges. Generally speaking, the range of prices for victorian conservatories will be from £6,000 to over £100,000.
The average homeowner who builds this popular conservatory style tends to go for a good foundation, high-quality materials, and an installer with a high skill level. The average size of the conservatory would also be about 4m x 4m. In this scenario, the foundation would cost about £2,500, the materials would come to around £12,000, and the installation charges would be around £4,000. While companies that do installations will advertise a much lower cost, the total cost of an average Victorian conservatory will come to about £18,500 in the UK.
You should also make a note of all the furniture and fixtures that you want in your new conservatory. Electrical wiring, floor heating, sockets and wall fixtures are not included in the cost calculation above. Carpeting, kitchen accessories, sofas, tables, lamps and other necessities for your new sunroom will also add to the final cost of your beautiful new Victorian conservatory.
Why choose a Victorian conservatory?
If you can afford it, there is absolutely no reason why you SHOULDN’T go for a Victorian conservatory style. They are the top-of-the-line for conservatory styles and can be incorporated into any period housing design. These conservatories have all the functionality of their sleeker and cheaper counterparts. You can use it as a sunroom where you lounge around getting some additional vitamin D. You can use it as your breakfast or brunch room where you bask in the morning sun while getting some all-important family time in. You can even use it as your new kitchen space, which might just result in a lot more home cooking and healthy food intake.
If you have an eye for art and beauty, this is the conservatory design choice for you. Everything from the beautiful ornate roofs, the gorgeous, intricate structural details and the curvy design will appeal to you. This type of conservatory is usually recommended for installation on a period house, which means that it would be optimal if you currently have a Victorian-era house or a house built to that style to fully enjoy the aesthetics of this type of conservatory.
You can also go for a Victorian conservatory if you are allergic to the modern minimalist, monochrome, and straight-line type of architecture that is an Edwardian conservatory’s main features. These conservatory designs are anything but minimalist and incorporate a lot of faceting on the walls and roof to give you a very comforting final product. While the original beautiful sunroom designs were modified to maximize floor space for the tighter-budgeted middle class, Victorian conservatories throw these new-fangled concepts to the wind with a multi-faceted floorspace that goes for beauty rather than space management.
Another great reason to go for this type of conservatory is if you are looking at a P-shape design. Other conservatory styles like verandah, lean-to and Edwardian don’t really have the structural finesse to fit a P-shape design properly. The multi-faceted nature of the Victorian style and its versatile roofing style make it a perfect fit if you have this shape in mind for your conservatory. The P-shape Victorian conservatory is truly a sight to behold, as the ornate, exquisite Victorian style comes together with the beautifully arranged extra structural pieces needed for its unique ‘P’ shape. When this type of conservatory is made using high-quality materials, it is indeed the epitome of what a conservatory should be in every sense of the word.
A lean-to conservatory is mostly what a Victorian conservatory is not. Lean-to conservatories go for cheaper materials, sub-par foundations or no foundation at all, and a simple roof that continues the same pitch as the house’s roof (resulting in less headspace). Anyone with more financial clout will fare much better going for even an Edwardian conservatory. Verandah conservatories are often used as car parking spaces and do little more than keep the rain off of your car while letting in more sunlight. You should consider a Victorian conservatory superior to all the other options as long as you have the financial power to go for one.
Full Glass or Dwarf Wall
When you plan your Victorian conservatory, one of the main things you will have to decide on is the type of wall you will use. There are two different types of walls available for this type of conservatory. The first is called a full-height glass wall. While other conservatory types might have this subdivided into two additional classes, the Victorian conservatory style does not allow polycarbonate bottom panelling. The second is a dwarf wall that serves many purposes. These walls are short and rarely go beyond 8 brick heights.
There is an almost infinitely long list that you can consider when you decide what type of wall to go for. However, we’ve narrowed it down to some of the main points so that you don’t have any nasty surprises waiting for you when the construction is finished.
You should think about whether your home is situated in an area that needs extra security features for your conservatory. Another point to consider is whether the area within which your conservatory will be built will be completely secluded. If there will be some wandering eyes around that area, you will need to go for a conservatory option that might give you just a little bit more privacy. This is especially true if you have children or other inhabitants that need to be safeguarded from this kind of exposure.
You should also think about how much time and effort you are willing to spend on maintaining your conservatory in the long run. When thinking of how you will use the conservatory, consider how many wall sockets and fixtures you will need to install in your new space for you to be comfortable when using it. Also, you will need to think about how many tables and other fixed table-tops, like islands, you might want to install (especially if you are going to use it as a kitchen). Finally, and probably most importantly, you should think about the resale value of your house after getting your extension made.
Dwarf walls provide a lot of positive options for conservatories. These kinds of walls increase your privacy and allow you to spend your family time without worrying so much about nosy neighbours. Shorts walls of this kind will also enable you to hide all your outlet and fixture needs (as long as the fixtures are within the wall’s height) without taking away from the main aesthetic of the conservatory. Dwarf walls are also great at supporting the overall structure of the extension and will help maintain structural integrity in the long run.
These pint-sized walls also help reduce the risk of a break-in. While glass panelling has come a long way during the past few years, they are still not as strong as a wall, no matter what type of glazing or re-enforced glass you use. Since there is a wall underneath, the panelling and windows don’t need to have as much vertical strength to prevent break-ins. Dwarf walls would also allow for your new Victorian conservatory to look like an original part of your house instead of an extension. If and when you try to re-sell your home, this comes in handy as the value will be positively affected.
Dwarf walls also help you clean your conservatory since stains are much less visible on a wall than on glass. This will be especially useful to you if you have toddlers running around with their cute but extremely sticky fingers! If you want to use your new conservatory as a kitchen, dwarf walls are excellent at hiding your islands, tables, chairs, fixtures and outlets from view. This allows for your conservatory to maintain an uncluttered look, giving you a lot of peace of mind visually in the long run.
While dwarf walls are a popular construction style, if you are looking to maximize your new home extension as a conservatory, nothing beats a full-height glass-walled design. This type of construction allows for the maximum amount of light to enter your sunroom and invites nature right into your day to day life. Usually, full-height glass walls include windows, doors and panelling that go from the bottom to the top. Nothing can beat the aesthetics of this type of walling, and if you are looking for a conservatory design that pops while being glamorous, this is the design for you.
While the design will look amazing to your eyes, there are a few practical issues that you will have to work with if you go for a full-height glass-walled design. One of the main issues will be that you won’t have many options for hiding your plug points and fixtures. The structure of your new conservatory will also be a little less sturdy than it would if it were to have the support of a dwarf wall.
When you are choosing your panelling, you will have quite a few options. This includes the type of glazing the glass panels have and whether you want a low-E (low emissivity) coating on the glass panels. Low-E coating comes in two varieties, hard low-E and soft low-E. Hard low-E coating refers to a coating applied to the glass before it cools during the manufacturing process. Soft low-E coating refers to a coat put on the glass after it is made. The hard low-E side of a panel is faced inwards and has special instructions on cleaning it for maximum longevity. A soft low-E coating can only be applied to the insides of a panel for glazed glass. Both kinds of low-E glass are great at insulation and significantly reduce the heat loss of your conservatory through its glass panelling.
There are two options of glazed glass for a Victorian conservatory. The most popular style is the double-glazed glass panel, which is consequently the cheaper option. In this glazed panel, there are two glass panes within which an insulating gas, such as argon, is trapped. In a triple-glazed panel, there are three panes of glass within which an insulating gas is trapped. Suppose you don’t live in an area where the difference in insulation for a double-glazed panel compared to a triple glazed panel is large enough to cause your heating expenditure to significantly increase. In that case, triple-glazed glass panelling is not justified.
Victorian conservatory frame choice and prices
You can choose from three options when selecting the type of frame you want for your Victorian conservatory. You can go for either a polycarbonate, aluminium or wood frame. However, the type of frame that generally fits the Victorian era style of conservatory is wood. Consequently, it is also the most expensive option available. You should consider the price, durability, maintenance time & expense, conservatory design and home design before making your final selection.
Wooden frame Victorian conservatory
Wooden frames come in both softwood and hardwood. The problems caused by softwood often make it too much of a hassle to consider for a frame of these dimensions. No other frame type comes to the richness and elegance of a hardwood frame. If you are trying to maximize the glamorous look of your expensive Victorian conservatory, this is the option to go for. However, wood is also the hardest of all frame types to maintain. You should engage in timely maintenance procedures to prevent your conservatory frame from warping, rotting or getting infested.
Wooden frames can come at a 50% premium over uPVC frames and even cost 30% more than aluminium frames. If the installer does not damage the structure during installation and has ensured that the wood has been adequately treated, the time and effort needed to maintain a wooden frame are significantly reduced.
Aluminium frame Victorian conservatory
If you want to ensure that your conservatory is as durable as possible, you should go for an aluminium frame. This type of frame requires minor maintenance and retains its original sheen for the most prolonged period. Another hidden advantage of having an aluminium frame is that, as it’s a strong metal, the frame can keep its integrity even while being physically much smaller than the other two types of structures. Aluminium is a great choice if you want to maximize your glass panelling without extensive borders.
Aluminium frames only cost about 20-25% more than a uPVC frame. If you are looking for the best return on investment when considering the long term, an aluminium frame would best fit the bill. Aluminium frames are also very light compared to wooden frames. If you haven’t spent a whole lot on your foundation and want to keep the structure light, an aluminium frame won’t add too much weight to the overall structure. Too much weight on a shaky foundation might result in a sink risk, endangering your whole investment.
uPVC frame Victorian conservatory
A uPVC frame is the least recommended type of frame for building a Victorian conservatory, and this is because it is the least sturdy and loses its fresh look the fastest compared to the other two options. It is also counter-productive to go for all the design and construction expenditure a Victorian conservatory requires and then use the low-cost material to cheapen the result.
uPVC frames cost about 33% less than wooden frames and about 15-20% less than aluminium frames. Even though most people that build this type of conservatory don’t use uPVC frames, uPVC technology is getting better by the day, and it comes in a wide variety of colours and prints, including wood. You might just be lucky enough to find a supplier that produces uPVC frames that mimic wood to a fault. If you do so, you would have all the advantages of using uPVC without the limitations!
Victorian conservatory roof choice and prices
Each of the three types of roofing available to you when planning your Victorian conservatory has its advantages and disadvantages. You will have to take a moment and determine what your conservatory will be used for most before making a decision. It’s important to remember that the cost of your conservatory’s roof will significantly contribute to the final cost of the extension.
If you plan on using your conservatory primarily as a sunroom, you should go for options that allow the most light into your new extension. If you live in an area where the winters are especially harsh, you might want to look at some options that won’t make you bleed money due to heat loss. Much heat can be lost through an improperly insulated roof as hot air rises to the top. Victorian conservatories generally have steeply pitched roofs in keeping with historical styles, and you won’t be able to get an installer to make one with a flat roof extension.
Polycarbonate Victorian conservatory
The cheapest option you can go for is the polycarbonate option. While polycarbonate roofing panels can be from 1cm to 3.5cm in thickness, it is still the weakest in terms of heat conservation. However, if you are worried about how it will look once installed, don’t be. Polycarbonate roofs look almost identical to their glass counterparts. The only negative looks-wise is that the sleek look of a polycarbonate roof will not last as long as a glass one’s.
The overall cost of a polycarbonate roof can be as much as 35% lower than a tiled one. Polycarbonate roofs are also the easiest to install unless you go for a pre-assembled tiled roof. The substantial cost advantage polycarbonate has over glass or tile is quite enticing. Still, if you are splurging on a Victorian conservatory, this is the last option you should be looking at. The hard-earned luxurious look of this type of conservatory will lose some of its splendour if you don’t go for one of the other two options.
Glass Victorian conservatory roof
Glass roofs are as popular as tiled roofs in new Victorian conservatories, and it adds a chic look to the extension and adds to the wow factor of a period conservatory build. Two types of glazed glass panelling are available to someone building this type of conservatory. At least double-glazed glass is necessary as standard glass panes will render your new conservatory useless during the winter. You can also go for a triple-glazed option if you live in a freezing environment. As explained in another section, glazed glass works by trapping an insulating gas within its panes to conserve heat within the room.
Some people consider glass roofs the easiest to maintain as they are almost self-cleaning. They also retain their beauty and elegance for far longer than the other two options as long as they are well cared for. One of the few disadvantages of going for a glass roof is that you might need to tint the glass panels to protect your furniture (and yourself) from harmful sun rays during the summer. Leaving your expensive furniture unprotected might result in damaged and short-lived furniture pieces.
Tiled Victorian conservatory roof
Tiled roofs are the most expensive type of roofing available to your conservatory. They come in various tile types, such as concrete, slate and synthetic slate. The original slate tiles are viewed by conservatory installers as the best kind. Synthetic slate tiles are becoming better made that last longer?. Both the concrete and synthetic slate options come in various colours that you can choose from.
You can install a skylight on your tiled roof to get more than 95% of the sunlight a glass roof can. However, you can expect to pay as much as 40% more for a high-quality tiled roof when compared to the other two available options. If you go for a guardian roof (pre-assembled tiled roof), you can reduce your costs by about 20%. A tiled roof built from scratch takes the longest to be installed, and a guardian roof ostensibly takes the least amount of time for installation.
Victorian conservatory security features
Homeowners site one of their main concerns as the security threat of having so much glass panelling in a home when building a conservatory. However, modern solutions can help your conservatory be one of the most secure rooms in your home. You can ensure that your new conservatory is as safe as possible by asking your conservatory installer to adhere to the high BS7412 and BS7950 British security standards.
Push bolts for windows and toughened glass can almost entirely prevent smash-and-grab burglars from breaking into your home. Internal glass beading can also be fitted to ensure that the glass panelling cannot be pulled out from the outside for entry. Conservatory doors can be equipped with anti-force hinges to prevent them from popping off their hinges. Bi-fold and French doors can be fitted with multi-point locking systems to make them as secure as your home’s main door. If all security precautions are taken, your conservatory will be one of the least likely entry points for an uninvited guest.
Main features of a Victorian conservatory
Victorian conservatories have the most intricate and ornate detailing of any possible conservatory build. The intricate nature of victorian design options makes it highly versatile when accommodating complex designs such as a P-shape conservatory.
Another prominent feature installed in this type of conservatory by designers is the large bay windows. Even a small victorian conservatory has a bay window with at least 3 facets, keeping with historical styles. The number of facets in the bay windows of this type of conservatory ranges from 3 to 7, resulting in a range of 5 to 9 facets in total for the construction. The panoramic views of these bay windows are unparalleled by other conservatory designs.
Victorian conservatories also have intricate and ornate roofs that are also multi-faceted. The highly pitched roof can have a complicated ridge system with quite a few facets if the structure is complex enough. There can also be complex work done on the conservatory’s frame to give a stunning look to the final product.
Benefits of Victorian conservatories
Victorian conservatories have all the significant benefits of any other conservatory. Home improvements of this sort result in living spaces usable year-round for many decades. They have reportedly remained the most popular conservatory style for decades when assessed by third parties.
A conservatory of this sort is a massive investment but never a waste. You will be able to sell your house much quicker after adding a conservatory of this style and up the asking price to recover your expenditure. The conservatory will also fit your Victorian-era home perfectly as they are considered period conservatory designs.
The generally good material used and the sound foundation of your Victorian conservatory will serve you well, as its sturdy build might even outlast the rest of your house. Few home extensions will give your house that luxurious look a conservatory of this stature can.
What does a Victorian conservatory look like?
This type of conservatory looks like a plush sunroom or garden room built right when your house was constructed. The beautiful glass panelling (most times with a sturdy dwarf wall) add elegance to the overall glamorous and ornate design. You won’t find too many straight lines or plain sides, and you might even find a curvy extension in P-shaped format on some Victorian conservatories.
The roof, bay window and walls will all have multiple facets that make the construction enjoyable to look at, making your conservatory quite worthy of being the centrepiece of your house. The liberal use of brick columns in some conservatories will keep the house’s inhabitants a little more hidden from the outside compared to other types of conservatories. The overall look of this type of conservatory is elegant, as it seamlessly melds with the house and the nature it’s surrounded by with ease.
Do I need planning permission for a Victorian conservatory?
While some building authorities across the nation are relaxing some red tape for extensions, it’s always safer to get approval for your building plans from the local building authority. If you are found in violation of any of the building codes, you might have to tear down your entire investment, leaving a big hole where your new conservatory once stood. You may also be charged as much as £5,000 for a significant regulatory infringement.
As a rule of thumb, you can build an extension or conservatory 4 metres from the rear wall of a detached property and 3 metres from an attached property. If you want to go for something bigger, you might have to consult your neighbours and get their official go-ahead to proceed. Your conservatory should not exceed a height of 4 metres or the height of your roof, whichever is lower. You should also not build on more than 50% of the original available ground space.
What is the difference between Victorian and Edwardian conservatories?
The Edwardian era architecture moved away from the Victorian era’s extraordinarily ornate and luxurious architecture. It moved towards a more minimalist style that focused on wide-open spaces, maximized floor space, and optimized glass and transparent viewing area on the walls. The multi-faceted architecture of a Victorian conservatory was replaced with flat, rectangular and square shapes.
What overall shape does a Victorian conservatory have?
Victorian conservatories usually have a multi-faceted look and are built with expensive materials. You will not see many straight flat sides in an authentic Victorian design but rather an ornateness of both structure and style. The bay window and additional design elements might also stick out of the main conservatory structure. The roof will also have a complex central ridge, highly pitched slopes and multi-faceted panelling