Beginner’s guide to planning a glazed extension

Once you have decided to commit to a garden room or orangery, there are a few things to consider and decisions to make. We understand it can feel a little overwhelming, so here is our simple guide to planning a glazed extension.

Perhaps you love the idea of putting your mark on a property, or maybe your family’s needs have changed over time, and you need to create more space in the home. Whatever your reasons are for choosing to extend your property, a bespoke garden room or orangery has the potential to give you a home that you could not be happier with. 

Deciding on an extension style

Due to their bespoke nature, glazed timber extensions come in all shapes and sizes, but there are three main styles to explore – conservatories, orangeries, and garden rooms. Understanding the benefits of each option is the starting point when you are looking to create a feeling of light and space in your home. 

Conservatories are constructed from glazed units and built onto a brick base. While there is still a place for elegant, fully glazed conservatories in the right setting, they have a reputation for being uncomfortable in warm or cold temperatures. 

An orangery has semi-glazed walls with a roof lantern built on top of a flat roof. Their design lets natural light flood into the open space below while protecting the room from excessive exposure to a lot of direct sunlight and heat. A garden room often has a fully tiled roof and usually has large, dramatic glazed gables which form high vaulted ceilings.

In comparison to a conservatory, an orangery or garden room allows for more insulation during the winter and better ventilation during the summer, ensuring that your living space has a comfortable temperature all year round. 

Investing in a quality garden room

Building a glazed extension is an exciting experience, but it can be a significant financial investment too. No matter what your budget might be, you will want to get value for your money. Be mindful that each orangery or garden room must be priced individually, based on its size and specification. Nevertheless, one of the first things you will need to think about is whether to opt for a high-end, premium extension or to choose a middle-range design at a lower cost. 

The difference between a cheaper alternative and an extension of outstanding quality is immediately noticeable, with the latter designed with unrivalled attention to detail. Primarily, if planned correctly, your garden room will provide you with an impressive and appealing addition to your home, which your guests will be stunned by even though they cannot express what elusive qualities make it so. 

For an extension that feels truly special, design it in line with the style of your property using architectural ratios and concepts. Based on your home’s style, the structure has to incorporate the right balance of proportion, scale, space, colour and light. While these aesthetic details may not be as important as functionality and structural integrity, a design that incorporated these principles will have a considerable impact on your home’s kerb appeal. 

Transforming your home, from the outside in

A glazed timber extension will completely transform your home, opening up your ground floor’s plan to create a stunning kitchen, dining room or living area with eye-catching features such as roof lanterns and beautiful French Doors. With a glazed extension, you have the opportunity to relocate rooms depending on your requirements, add additional space and introduce new doorways and exits to change the way you move through your home. On the second floor, you will find that the layout of your home will stay much the same, but there are occasions when window frames need to be moved to accommodate for new rooflines. 

You will soon be enjoying a bright and airy living space, so it is worth having a clear idea of what activities will take place in the room and at what times of the day. This stage is about re-thinking the fundamentals of your home’s layout, well ahead of the design process. Consider who will be using the room and how their requirements might vary, for example, will young children need storage for toys or room for doing homework? Give thought to how circulation routes might work in your new open-plan space, which has the potential to become homely and comfortable seating places. 

The owners of this orangery have turned the main walkway into a cosy reading spot.

Choosing the right materials

Invest in a quality garden room and not only will it look visually appealing, but it will also perform well, last for years and require minimal maintenance. A premium design will include functional details that are not immediately spotted by the homeowner but make a massive difference to the longevity and performance of the extension. You will be glad of your decision to invest in a premium garden room or orangery in 10 years when you realise that your opulent open-plan extension still looks terrific and has only needed minimal care.

The right building materials will also ensure that you are maximising on the potential lifespan of your new structure. The detailing on windows, doors, garden rooms, and orangeries has the power to make or break the architectural integrity of your home. uPVC is most commonly associated with typical conservatories and glazed extensions; however, they will begin to show signs of deterioration if not appropriately maintained. A yellowing and brittle garden room is hardly on anyone’s wish list.

Wood is a beautiful, natural material that will allow for flush joints, sharp edges, and traditional mouldings to result in a classic, elegant appearance. While wood has had a bad reputation over the last 50 years, engineered timber made from fast-growing FSC® or PEFC™ certified tree species is sustainable and exceeds the performance of traditional hardwoods.

At Westbury, we use Accoya©, a revolutionary, sustainable material made from Radiata pine. This material will not move, meaning that your garden room’s joints, doors and windows have a 50-year guarantee above ground. We then use Teknos, a water-based paint explicitly formulated for external use on timber, to create a smart-looking and protective layer over the wood. This high-quality paint system is resistant to bacteria, mould, and UV attack. 

Strong and durable stone flooring

Consider your flooring options early on, as the wrong colours and textures have the potential to result in flat, unwelcoming interiors. Stone floors are by far the best option for a glazed extension as they are sturdy and durable, and will work well with underfloor heating systems. However, being a natural material, no two stones are the same! 

Some can be highly unsuitable for indoor use, can stain easily or fade in the sunshine. Look for specially selected flooring ranges, like our Westbury Stone Floors collection. They are a popular option for our garden rooms due to their durable and low maintenance attributes, as well as their aesthetically pleasing appeal.

These Encaustic Patchwork Satin tiles from our specially curated flooring collection can help to break up neutral or minimal interiors.

Heating and ventilation

With such a high proportion of glazing, a garden room or orangery runs the risk of trapping heat in the summer and feeling cold in the winter. It is hard to relax and enjoy your beautiful new garden room if it leaves you feeling hot and bothered during the warmer weather in particular, as you will want to enjoy the links to the garden while the sun is out. 

Modern designs now include insulated roofs, high-tech glass, underfloor heating, and dynamic roof vents which help control the temperatures. Glazing with a solar glare coating will bounce the solar heat off the glass and away from your garden room or orangery. It is excellent for south-facing extensions that have high exposure to the sun, reducing glare while maintaining high light transmission and reducing heat build-up in the room. 

Underfloor heating is not just about keeping your feet warm in the winter. It heats both the screed and the floor finish, which then radiates heat up into the room from the ground up, providing an even temperature throughout the space and eliminating cold spots. 

Choosing a design and build company to work with

Choosing to invest in a building project is a big decision, so it is essential to find a designer that you can trust. Ideally, speak to a reputable design and build company who can offer you a diligent service and work collaboratively with you. An architecturally led designer will do their best to understand and consider your needs, provide you with a full and transparent quotation and use innovative manufacturing techniques.

Choosing to work with a company who can provide you with assistance when it comes to applying for planning permission will give you peace of mind throughout the whole process. It is best to choose a design and build company that you can have a good relationship with from the beginning, so you will want to know that they can communicate clearly with you. 

Some homeowners are required to consider alternative living arrangements during the build; however, with the right installation team on your side, you can remain in your own home. A conscientious team will leave your home looking neat and tidy each day, and make sure that your home stays secure at all times. You should be provided with a start time so that you know when to expect building works to begin in the mornings, and you should be given a clear project schedule to help you plan around the build. 

Starting out at the beginning of your glazed extension project, anyone may feel a little daunted. Once you gain more of an understanding of what is required, it will be far easier to make decisions that are right for your home and find the best professionals to help you realise your ideas. Over the last 30 years, Westbury has built a reputation for design, quality and innovation, transforming ordinary houses into extraordinary homes in every corner of the UK and all over the world. Contact us today to discuss your project in more detail or book an appointment to visit one of our showrooms.