Glass Roof for Sunroom - Good or Bad Idea?

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Old 01-30-08, 10:00 AM
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Glass Roof for Sunroom - Good or Bad Idea?

We are thinking of adding a sunroom off our MBR. 16'x16'. It will have a cathedral gabled ceiling. We like the look of a glass roof to keep more of the nature feel. We were going to build our gable out about 4' from the existing roof and only go with a 12'x16' foot glass roof but the price was pretty ridiculous. We could do 1/2 glass and the other 1/2 of the roof could be shingled as an option or just downsize the glass roof to 10' or 8' long by 16' wide.

My question is more with glass roofs and their livability during the summer/winter. We will add a ductless unit for heating/cooling. We live in VA so get hot summers and average winters. We face south so extreme sun all day during the year with not tree shade. Should I stick with just a shingled roof? Again, we really like the glass to bring the stars into the viewing etc but don't want to be miserable either. Thanks
 
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Old 01-30-08, 10:15 AM
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I've installed several solariums by Sunshine Rooms, which were full-glass enclosures. Both of them had reflective roman shades that could be raised and lowered depending on the conditions. With Sunshine Rooms, the beams that make up the roof and wall are one piece, bent to the proper angle, with curved glass on the corners. They have an integrated weep system to channel any water that gets in around the glass downward to the sill. One of the biggest worries with a glass roof is leakage. The amount of glass in your room will also increase your heating and cooling needs DRAMATICALLY. The more glass, the less likelihood that your room will be comfortable year round, especially with a southern exposure.

I'd suggest that perhaps you could go with a shingled roof and a few well-placed skylights. You should also consider the benefits of tinted (bronze) glass to reduce summer glare, and low-e to further reduce heat loss/gain.
 
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Old 01-30-08, 02:28 PM
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I totally agree with XSleeper. Rooms with glass roofs need an integral weep system. That can only be had in an engineered room -- not something that a homeowner or contractor can design and install on site.

All that glass on a south wall is going to make life tough on your AC unit in the summer, and hard on the heat system in the winter.

Building the room to comply with energy standards so that you can heat and cool it will add a lot to the cost of the room. I don't know about VA, but in CA, a glass roof would make it virtually impossible to meet those standards.

You haven't said, but if you build the room at this location, you will still have another legal egress from the bedroom won't you?? (Code does not allow you to build a room that encloses the only window of a bedroom.)
 
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Old 01-30-08, 04:11 PM
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Lefty and XSleeper:

Good points. FourSeasons was going to provide and install the glass roof. I was going to hire a contractor to frame to the roof and add windows along the 3 walls. Will a roof from Four Seasons have the weep holes you mention. I assume since they sell this product. Also, you mention egress. My only egress out of our MBR is through the bedroom door and the french doors that lead to the deck. We were going to build the sunroom off the french doors and replace the deck at the same time. The sunroom would have 2 doors. 1 doors would lead to a set of steps down to grade and another door to the open deck that you would have to traverse about 10' to get to another set of french doors that lead into our great room. Will this violate code?

So, even if the glass roofs has the weep holes do you think we should avoid it? We are not gardners and not planning a greenhouse. Extra living space to give us privacy from the kids when we need it, dining area when we want to feel more outdoors without having to deal with bugs during the summer on an open deck etc.
 
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Old 01-30-08, 04:28 PM
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Glass Roof for Sunroom - Good or Bad Idea?

How often do you think you will sit out there and look at the stars?

That is not a good reason for a major expenditure.

When I lived in Tidewater, it was nice to go out at night to go out on the deck ot to the gazebo to look at the stars, but schedules and weather do not allow as much time as you think.

Dick
 
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Old 01-30-08, 04:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Concretemasonry View Post
How often do you think you will sit out there and look at the stars?

That is not a good reason for a major expenditure.

When I lived in Tidewater, it was nice to go out at night to go out on the deck ot to the gazebo to look at the stars, but schedules and weather do not allow as much time as you think.

Dick

So is the glass roof, IYO too much or is the whole sunroom idea not a good idea? Just clarfying. To give you an idea, Four Seasons wants $15k just to install a 12'x16' glass roof or $8k for an 12'x8' and I would shingle the other side of the cathedral. I about fell to the floor. My contractor can build a 50 year shingled roof for under $2,500. I too agree its pricey but then again I hate sitting back and saying "should have done this"

Lefty, forget to ask also about the egrees. Last spring we replaced a large 8' sliding glass door with an 8' french door in our MBR I'm refeering to in my post. Since I don't really like true french doors we did a unmovable glass unit on each side of the operating door. The door is only 30 or 32" wide. I hope this does not violate code. Our only only window is a trapezoid picture window mounted high on a another wall. Please tell me I didn't make a mistake on this. Thanks
 
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Old 01-30-08, 05:04 PM
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Cecilt,

I don't to rain on your parade, but as you are describing this project, MY local bldg. depts. wouldn't let me build it, for several reasons.

First, as soon as you start talking about adding heating and air to the room, you are creating conditioned space. What's required for that simply can't be built on a deck. It won't meet Title 24 energy requirements.

Adding a cover (non-conditioned) over a deck would change the way the deck has to be constructed. It has to be able to support the extra load. That is doable, but it adds a lot to the deck.

Egress is going to be an issue if the set of french doors is inside the patio (or sun) room. Around here, I could never enclose the doors with another room, UNLESS there was another means of legal egress. Your trapeziodal window wouldn't qualify as egress since its sill is more than 44" above the floor. The french doors could be under a cover -- just not enclosed.

I think that before you sign a contract or get too much else invested in this you need to go to the building dept. and run it by them. Find out BEFORE you start if it's doable, or what changes would have to be made to your basic plan to make it permitable and doable.
 
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Old 01-30-08, 05:22 PM
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Lefty, good advice and I will do that. To also clarify a few points. We have an existing 10'x26' deck that is going to be completely torn down. We plan to build the sunroom on on all new structural supports, posts, footers, joists and girders. Floor will be insulated with Advantec so the sunroom won't actually be built on an existing deck. The sunroom is about 8-10 feet above grade as my back yard slopes. The four seasons sunroom people say they add HVAC to sunrooms all the time. Is my space as described different than other sunroom applications. Thanks for the advice.
 
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Old 01-30-08, 05:37 PM
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Cecilt,

You have several contractors involved with this project and I'm sure that they know the ins and outs of your local codes. Let them have at the project if that's what you want. They'll be responsible for dealing with the bldg. dept,, pulling the necessary permits, and having all of the ducks in a row before anything actually starts.

Just don't be surprised if there have to be some changes made in the initial concept for it to become doable. And changes are going to change the price. You haven't mentioned dollars, but if the initial concept is in the $30K to $50K range, it could become a $60K to $80K thing pretty quickly, depending on what the bldg. dept. throws into the mix.
 
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Old 01-30-08, 06:47 PM
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Reading the posts with interest. My drawback thought would be nearby trees. Limbs play heck on glass. I am only assuming there are none.
 
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Old 01-30-08, 11:03 PM
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I recently tore out a all glass sunroom for a client because it was just too hot during the summer. We replaced it with a more conventional addition with skylights and lots of glass.
 
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Old 01-31-08, 04:39 PM
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I build sunrooms, and I have one on the back of my house that has been there for over 10 years. It's small -- 10X12 -- right off of the living room, south wall of the house, with a sliding glass door between it and the living room. It's "non-conditioned space" -- neither heated nor cooled. Redding winters aren't THAT harsh -- we drop down into the 20's occasionally at night, and sometimes into the teens. Winter highs can be from the upper 30's to the 60's on occasion. Our summers can be BRUTTLE -- well over 110 for highs, and sometimes the hottest spot in the US. (Yes, even hotter than Death Valley or Vegas, or Phoenix on occasion!!)

Given those conditions, I simply will not build a room in this area that the customer envisions to be 4 season, or even 3 season. Summers are too hot to make cooling it an option. They would spend more to cool that one room than they do the rest of the house. All of that glass is simply too much of a solar collector. But, as long as they leave it open during the summer, it's no hotter inside the room than it is outside. It's just a covered patio. Trying to keep it warm in the winter would be equally as costly, for the most part. HOWEVER -- there are days when it's clear outside and the solar collection works well! I can close the windows in the sunroom, open the slider to the living room and use the sunroom to heat about 1/2 my house. It'll be 50 degrees outside, 75 to 80 inside the room, and I use the ceiling fan to push that warm air into the living room.

The user just has to realize exactly what they have and use it accordingly.
 
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Old 01-31-08, 08:23 PM
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Wink

Originally Posted by lefty View Post
I build sunrooms, and I have one on the back of my house that has been there for over 10 years. It's small -- 10X12 -- right off of the living room, south wall of the house, with a sliding glass door between it and the living room. It's "non-conditioned space" -- neither heated nor cooled. Redding winters aren't THAT harsh -- we drop down into the 20's occasionally at night, and sometimes into the teens. Winter highs can be from the upper 30's to the 60's on occasion. Our summers can be BRUTTLE -- well over 110 for highs, and sometimes the hottest spot in the US. (Yes, even hotter than Death Valley or Vegas, or Phoenix on occasion!!)

Given those conditions, I simply will not build a room in this area that the customer envisions to be 4 season, or even 3 season. Summers are too hot to make cooling it an option. They would spend more to cool that one room than they do the rest of the house. All of that glass is simply too much of a solar collector. But, as long as they leave it open during the summer, it's no hotter inside the room than it is outside. It's just a covered patio. Trying to keep it warm in the winter would be equally as costly, for the most part. HOWEVER -- there are days when it's clear outside and the solar collection works well! I can close the windows in the sunroom, open the slider to the living room and use the sunroom to heat about 1/2 my house. It'll be 50 degrees outside, 75 to 80 inside the room, and I use the ceiling fan to push that warm air into the living room.

The user just has to realize exactly what they have and use it accordingly.

Thanks Lefty, in Va we don't get summers over 100 often and sometimes never but we do have hot humid days in the 90's. I have scratched the idea of a 12'x16' glass roof. Too costly is the main reason. However, a 1/2 roof of glass is appealing. We are thinking of dong it 12'x8'(one side of the cathedral only.) This side of the cathedral will be exposed to more sun but it offers us a great view of the mountains. On the gable end we are thinking of 3 sets of dual casement Anderson 400 LowE, argon, high Performance sun windows that are 65" tall x 54" wide each. Each side wall will have a 32" full light door and 2 single casements that are 65" tall and 36" wide. We will use a ductless system in this room. Do you think we are still asking for trouble (mainly due to the roof). I won't sacrifice on the windows but I would give up the roof if it appears it will be impractical. The Four Seasons with their Conseraglass Plus looks pretty nice with nice values associated with it. Any opinions on this set up. I did talk to my inspector and he said we would need another egrees. We are going to remove the pocket door leading to our bathroom so that they would not consider the bathroom a separate room and we have a casement for egress there. That door may find its way back on in the future though.
 
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Old 02-01-08, 09:36 AM
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Glass on half the roof rather than all of it is probably smart. If you find that it's still too much, you could always make frames with sunscreen and cover some or all of it, at least during the summer. That wouldn't really affect the view, anymore than window screens, but it would block some of the solar gain.

Rather than "remove" the pocket door, just add a new casing to the pocket side and the header and retrim it. Then, when it's time for the door to reappear, it's just a matter of removing the casings.
 
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Old 02-01-08, 11:47 AM
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Originally Posted by lefty View Post
Glass on half the roof rather than all of it is probably smart. If you find that it's still too much, you could always make frames with sunscreen and cover some or all of it, at least during the summer. That wouldn't really affect the view, anymore than window screens, but it would block some of the solar gain.

Rather than "remove" the pocket door, just add a new casing to the pocket side and the header and retrim it. Then, when it's time for the door to reappear, it's just a matter of removing the casings.

Thanks Lefty. We were just going to take the door off the track. If the BI feels this is not sufficient then we will case over the pocket door opening but our BI's are pretty lienient around here and I doubt he would even look. If you have never seen the FourSeasons Conservaglass Plus here is a link. I think it appears to be very efficient. Thanks for all the input.
http://fourseasonssunrooms.com/Glass...lassStory.aspx
 
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Old 02-04-08, 09:33 PM
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In my climate (Chicago) I don't think I've ever seen a site-built "glass roof" that was not leaking after a few years.
 
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