Living in Glass Houses – the secret to magnifying the value of your home?

According to RICS, adding a conservatory can raise your house’s value by a respectable 4% to 5% but is this the reality in today’s market?  James Wyatt, partner of privately owned estate agency Barton Wyatt in Virginia Water, Surrey shares his thoughts. “If not done properly, conservatories can be design disasters resembling oversized porches crudely stuck onto the most convenient exterior wall with no consideration for the interior layout.  When care is taken however they can be a work of art, lovingly designed with care and consideration to the house and the environment that it is being added to,” comments James Wyatt.

A fabulous modern house in this convenient cul-de-sac with half an acre of gardens, within a mile from Ascot station and village.  Five bedrooms (master with en-suite bathroom and wardrobe area) family bathroom, entrance hall, cloakroom, TV lounge, kitchen/breakfast room with conservatory, utility, sitting room with Inglenook fireplace, dining room, study, large games room, wooded and lawned garden, triple garage, electric gates.

“Once highly fashionable, the demand for traditional ‘conservatories’ has declined in our area with buyers now seeking “orangeries” instead alluding to a feature of luxury and sophistication. It seems to be all about perception,” he adds.

With the type of ‘orangeries’ prevalent in many of Barton Wyatt’s clients’ homes costing anywhere from £25,000 to £250,000 to install and planning permission often required; committing to additional space is not a light undertaking but for some having the extra space has become invaluable.

One such lady is Mrs Fernando who purchased through Barton Wyatt; she was so taken with the large conservatory, located just off from the kitchen. Covering some 500 square feet, the space has been designed into an L-shape in order to connect the main house with the swimming pool complex.

“When we moved into Broomfield House I quickly realised that in order to fully utilise the living space of the conservatory that it would need some serious refurbishment.  We installed a fully retractable seamless glass door system which meant that in the winter we can shut the room off and stay cosy in the kitchen and when the house needs cooling down we can throw the doors open and let the fresh air in.   I also had thermal glass installed at this time to keep the heating /cooling costs to a minimum,” explains Mrs Fernando.

“We also added in an air conditioning system.  This is, I believe, essential in any glass house. Although we live in England, a glass room can get ferociously hot and needs cooling on hot days. In the winter the air conditioning unit is able to quickly and efficiently heat the room so it really has become an integral feature of the house.

“The final item that must be purchased is a decent set of blinds, without which you will find yourself having friends for dinner and all sitting there in sunglasses!” she advises.

So, if living in a glass house is for you then follow these top tips on installing a conservatory:

Choose a design that complements the style of your home and make sure it doesn’t dominate your garden. Also think about its position: a south-facing conservatory needs ventilation and shade, while a north-facing room requires good heating.

Check with your local planning department whether you need permission. If you’re within your home’s permitted development allowance (your local planning department can advise on this) and your conservatory is separated from your house by patio doors, you may be exempt.

Cheap doesn’t always mean the best. Obtain several quotes and do check feedback from other customers, the biggest and most vocal companies aren’t always the best either.

Do your research – make sure you are buying the highest quality structure within your budget

Do make sure you ask your builder what is included in the quote – is it inclusive of flooring and electrics or will you be left with a bare shell?

Do install effective heating and ventilation arrangements so that you can use it in all seasons

The benefits of a conservatory are multiple; they give you greater living space and can add light into your home.  You can achieve the desirable feeling of bringing the garden into the home and they make fabulous spaces for entertaining.

And the downsides, well they can be very costly to build and will eat up a chunk of your garden. If they are not properly ventilated this room will end up being too hot or too cold and then unusable.

So, is it worth while? James Wyatt says a definite yes!

“There is no point adding a cheap and nasty lean-to onto your house but if you have the funds and space to build something beautiful and tasteful then I would say yes every time. Done properly, it will add more value to your home than the cost of it. Our purchasers are always wowed when they walk into a conservatory that has had time, thought and energy put into and it will definitely help to sell your home.”

Two examples of houses available through Barton Wyatt with conservatories are:

Broomfield House, Windlesham                              £4,995,000

This magnificent country retreat features an incredible array of modern day living.  A CAT 5 integrated request audio system with speakers through out many rooms, in intercom facility throughout the house, security cameras and a state -of- the art Rako mood lighting system.

The accommodation comprises a fabulous kitchen which was featured in Beautiful Kitchens in May 2009 and utility room.  An impressive entrance hall with marbled flooring and chandelier leads to a further six reception rooms include a study and conservatory.  The master bedroom includes en-suite and dressing room, four further bedrooms (2 en-suite), a further family bathroom.

The recreation area includes a pool and jacuzzi which operate an ozone filtration system thus reducing chemical use.  There is a steam room and shower plus separate changing rooms.  A custom built bar area which has access onto a terrace via 10m fully retractable glass doors.

The property also includes a detached triple garage block with staff flat above.  The flat includes a private entrance, kitchen, living area, bedroom and bathroom.

Grounds extend to approximately 1.7 acres.

Rhodora, Wentworth Estate              £2,250,000

This fabulous home offers bright and spacious accommodation and has the character of an older style home with all the modern conveniences of a contemporary luxury home such as a well fitted kitchen, TV room, beautiful conservatory extending into the garden on three sides, fine drawing room with open fireplace, modern bathrooms (master bedroom with en-suite spa bath) double glazing with leaded light windows and excellent joinery.

Four bedrooms, three bathrooms en-suite, family bathroom, cloakroom, drawing room, dining room, study, family room, kitchen/breakfast room, utility room, superb conservatory, attractive mature and level gardens on three sides, triple garage, ample parking.

The gardens are very attractive and are well stocked and well tended on a regular basis. There is a brick driveway with ample parking for several and wrought iron electric gates on brick piers.

For more information, please contact Barton Wyatt Estate Agents Surrey.