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How To Buy A Conservatory In The UK
By T. O' Donnell
The first question is, what is a conservatory?
There is no standard definition of what constitutes a conservatory (apart
from "greenhouse"). This is one reason why quotes vary so widely.
The conservatory industry itself does not have a consistent approach. So,
the only way out of this is to be specific about your requirements. *Don't
be afraid to ask questions if the sales rep or designer's comments don't
If you want it to last and keep looking good, buy the best one in the most
expensive material your budget allows. The cheapest supplier rarely supplies
the best product or the best service. Do not try to beat the price down too
much. Less professional suppliers will agree to it, but sell you short later.
Get the best you can afford. Allow 10% for 'extras' or additions you may
make later to the order.
A 10% deposit is normal. A larger one is appropriate only if the work is
'bespoke'. Try to pay in stages according as the work in completed, and withhold
the final payment until the work is completed to your satisfaction.
Inform your insurance company; your home policy may need amending.
Contact your local planning office early in the design process. You need
planning permission for a conservatory.
Check out different designs on the internet. Send off for brochures. Make
your conservatory as big as your budget or actual floor space will allow.
Stake out the dimensions of the conservatory on the ground with pegs.
Decide if you want a conservatory with glass full height or one with dwarf
Consider your neighbours; will the conservatory affect their enjoyment of
their sunlight, their garden? You can avoid legal action!
When you build a conservatory in the UK it should ideally face towards the
south and should not be overshadowed.
Materials: Aluminium is strong, with a small risk of condensation when humidity
is high. Hardwoods look good but can be difficult and expensive to mantain.
Double-glazed, white uPVC is inexpensive, popular, heat conserving, easy
to maintain and long-lasting.
Suppliers: Don't rely on the Yellow Pages or advertisements as proof of
proficiency. Anyone can place an advert, join a trade body, or display badges
they're not entitled to. Always use a reputable company that you have had
independently checked out.
Don't rely on the fact that you have heard of them, as even some of the biggest
advertisers may have had several incarnations. It's very easy in Britain
to shut down one company and open up again under a similar name. Always pay
deposits by credit card, as this will afford you some level of protection
under the Consumer Credit Act. If the company will accept credit cards for
the whole job then that is even better. You have 30 days to make a claim
with your credit-card company. You have to show how you were given bad goods
or workmanship i.e. they contracted to give you X and gave you Y instead.
Also ask them how long the delivery will be. Have this stated in the contract.
Additionally ask for an estimate of how long the work will take to finish
once they are on-site.
Check, double check and get independent advice on the contract before you
sign, as some contracts are considerably more onerous than others.
The best way to avoid salesmen's traps is to be sure of what you want before
the salesman arrives in order to present him with your requirements and use
that as your bargaining chip.
Getting a specific quote against a specific set of requirements is the only
way you can be certain of getting like for like quotations and getting the
best prices to compare at your leisure.
About the author: T. O' Donnell
offers conservatory quotes, advice, and an ebook, in London, UK.