Considering Natural Light in Locating your Conservatory

A conservatory or orangery is a beautiful way to extend your home. The cost is reasonable and also flexible, with a vast array of design possibilities to fit your budget and needs. But perhaps one of the most compelling reasons for choosing a conservatory as a way to extend your home is the ability to hold on to the light. By using glass extensively in the design you can retain much of the light in the room where the home is to be extended. A closed roof would lose the light whereas a glass roof will hold onto it. This article will take a brief look at the importance of natural light in deciding the location of your conservatory or orangery.

The Direction of Sunlight
When designing your conservatory or orangery it is useful to consider the direction of sunlight around your home. The glass of a conservatory will benefit from the sunlight in the winter, but this can make the space unbearable in the summer.

We all know the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Many people also know that a south facing window in the UK will enjoy the most sunlight. However, a conservatory facing south will likely be very hot in the summer. Facing south-west is good for your plants, but will be hot as it has the warmest sunlight longest. South-east facing will offer morning sunshine and some in the afternoon, even in the winter, and not be so hot as if it was facing directly south. Northern light is favoured by those who enjoy painting, and a room facing north-west will enjoy evening sun, but will not have sun shining on it all day.

Few of us, though, can turn our home around to favour the best light, although if you have plenty of room around your home, then you will have the opportunity to choose where to extend it and what direction it will face. Here, sunlight may be the most important factor.

For most of us the choice of where to place a conservatory is confined to the rear of the home, (which does have the benefit of simplifying planning permission). Yet even here there can be a choice of extending one end of the rear side or the other – the dining room or the living-room end perhaps. The small change from south-west to south-east, or north-east to north-west can make the difference in the length of time the sunlight reaches a room.

Wraparound Conservatories
A very interesting option for capturing light from different directions is the wraparound conservatory, where the new building wraps around one corner of your home – like an ‘L’ shape. Here, even if the conservatory only extends one metre around a corner you will have light from an opposing direction, which for example can brighten a north facing room in the morning.

Moving the Function of a Space
It is also worth considering changing the use of an existing space to fit with the best position for the conservatory. For example, changing the dining room to a living room, because the new space will, by definition, extend that end of the home and make it a larger space now suitable for a living room.

Moving the function of a space is possible if you are prepared to make the necessary changes. A reputable conservatory builder will be able to include additional work in your design and quote, and it is best to keep an open mind in this case. Even moving the fireplace is possible. Whilst a chimney may have to stay where it is, the fireplace can be removed and a new one added to the conservatory or orangery design. Contemporary electric fireplaces are increasingly fashionable, affordable and offer great flexibility – the same is true for modern wood burners. If the fireplace is at the side of the house where you want to extend then there is the possibility to create a dual-sided fireplace, where the chimney remains, but now reaches up from a fire in between the old and new rooms. This is not just a consideration of light, but also heat. Glass loses heat far more than brick and stone, having heating inside your conservatory is vital if you want to enjoy it in the winter.

Right to Light
Finally, it is also important to consider your neighbours’ ‘Right to light’. Legal disputes can arise where extensions are built with no planning permission, because for many extensions permission is not required now. But if the resulting build blocks a neighbour’s access to natural light they can take you to court. This right to light is protected under the law and a reputable conservatory builder will be able to advise you on this and all other matters relating to planning permission as well as the Party Wall Act.