Sun room/atrium (build) & design


Old 10-12-04, 11:13 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: California
Posts: 37
Sun room/atrium (build) & design

Hope this is the right place for my question. Not sure what to call this thing. Thinking of a sun room/entry/atrium addition. 50% of floor space would be left open (no concrete) for plants. Southern exposure in N. Ca. Can get 110 in summer. Thought of the curved glass/alu. framed style. Too hot, too expensive. A sun room guy gave a price of $5oK and it would look like a metal shed with windows. I'm thinking that I can build this thing for about 15g's using sky lights and dual pane windows. Want it to be warm fall through spring, but am concerned about summer heat. Planned sky lights that open for ventilation and 20 inch eaves to shade the windows. Anyone got any thoughts or experience on the subject?
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Old 10-12-04, 05:57 PM
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Hello: JIMS 71

Read the question several times. Not to sure which topic would best suit the nature of the question. I added build into the question to help define both aspects of the project.

Seems you already have a good idea what you want and need. May need some minor alterations to the basic plan or additions to that basic plan.

Now all that seems is needed is how to build it. The construction phase. This topic than should be the correct topic to get all the help needed. Unless you are not totally sure. Best to know ahead of time prior to beginning the construction phase.

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Old 10-12-04, 09:50 PM
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Arlington, WA
Posts: 9,238
Whether $50K is too much, or if you might be able to do something for $15K, we need to know HOW BIG.

"Entry" -- does this mean you are wanting it in the front yard? Will your CC&R's allow it (assuming that you are in a subdivision in an incorporated city)?
Old 10-13-04, 07:02 AM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: USA
Posts: 215
$50k seems too high for a sunroom. You must have an extra large space or special conditions. A typical 15x15 sunroom should cost around $20k. There are garden rooms, solariums, and patio enclosures. You probably don't want a solarium (glass overhead) or skylights in a south-facing room in CA. There are several CA manufacturers who make attractive sunrooms that don't look like "metal sheds with windows." They use insulated walls and roofs and C-Thru glass that insulate and block harmful rays. They all secure necessary building permits. Attend the next home show in your area so you can see and compare.

You'll need a good foundation and floor, meaning a patio or good deck. By "no concrete" do you mean bare soil? Not advised, and probably not allowed (termite entry). A garden room should have a concrete floor.
Old 10-13-04, 12:10 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: California
Posts: 37
Been working on this thing for close to a year.

This thing is difficult to describe. It's approx. 550 sq. ft. How to construct it isn't the problem. My main concern is trying to anticipate the summer heat/winter cold factors.

I plan a two stage project. The first stage (no sky lights) has a HIGHER eave line than the house, built on a 18x12 slab. The second stage, with a eave line EQUAL to the house and built on a stem wall foundation, is a row of eighteen 2'w x 5'h windows spaced 1' apart. This second stage proceeds down one side of the first stage, turns the corner and continues down that side and butting to the house. (forming an L) Above each window is a 2' x 4' sky light. (don't forget the 20" eaves) This room will be separated from the living space by a wall with french doors, but my plan is too have the option to remove that wall "IF" it's decided at a later date that it's not too hot/cold. No plans for heat or air. There's more to it than that, but that's the short version.

I'm wondering if I can expect enough pasive solar heat to heat this space during winter. I need help deciding between Low-e and reg. insulated glass, and white or clear insulated sky lights. I don't know anyone who owns or has experienced with something like this. I have sky lights in other rooms and their great, but this is more than normal. I thought maybe someone here might have that experience, and would be able to offer an opinion on wheather or not I'm going to burn myself up in summer and freeze in winter. I'm a bit of a maverick, and most/all of my friends think I'm nuts. Do you agree???????? jim
Old 10-14-04, 08:16 PM
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Arlington, WA
Posts: 9,238
First, $50K for a 550 sq. ft. sunroom sounds a bit low. (Don't ask what I think about $15K!!!!)

Certainly low-E glass for the windows. Clear glass will cook you in the summer and freeze you in the winter.

Removing the french doors is a BIG no-no!!! You want this to be a "patio room" -- no heating and no cooling. As soon as you remove the french doors, it becomes "conditioned space" -- THAT is opening up a whole 'nother can of worms! You would have to meet energy calcs for the room, it will be subject to 'school fees' (about $2.50 to $3.00 per sq. ft.), the foundation changes, ... suddenly this becomes a $150K addition.

I'm in N. Ca too, and I deal with this stuff daily.
Old 10-15-04, 12:30 AM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 341
I use to have a hoop house greenhouse (pvc and greenhouse plastic). Then I built a 2 by 4 and safety glass green house. I got the safety glass (16"by30")from a Mervins that was giving it away by the pallet load (display case glass). Glass is pretty heavy so go larger on the roof rafters. In summer when it is hot I put shade cloth over the roof. You might want to tarp it to prevent excess heat. Built my 10 by 12 greenhouse for $60 or so. I considered using used patio doors ( the dump used to have them for $10 ea side. Getting a sealed roof is tricky though with any glass arraignment without it being the commercial aluminum and rubber sealed systems. Suntuf makes a polycarbonate fairly long lasting roof panel (home depot). I also would leave a way of closing the house from the sun room as pointed out. Looking for free house heating ideas? There are many books on the subject and would try the library first. Good luck

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