Adding a Sun Room - Planning Adding a Sun Room - Planning

Whether you call it a sun room, a conservatory, a patio room or even a green house , adding a room where you and your family can enjoy the sun is a great investment in your home. Adding a sun room will not only add valuable floor space to your home, it will also add functionality and can even help make your home more energy efficient . However, adding that new room isn't a minor project and before you decide to take on that addition there are a number of decisions you need to make.

Find out what your responsibilities are
  • In virtually all jurisdictions, a sun room is an addition and will require permits. Talk to your local municipality to determine what your responsibilities are regarding building codes. Depending on your design you will probably require a building permit and quite likely also need to get plumbing and electrical permits.
  • If applicable in your situation, don't forget to get permission from your local Home Owners Association as well as your municipality before you start your project

Design and location of your new room

  • Gather ideas for your new sun room by looking at home design and architectural magazines as well as web sites. Don't just look at design and style, but also consider the difficulty of building if you're thinking of doing it yourself. and how it might fit into your home.
  • The best location for a sun room is having the main windows facing solar south or at least within 15° of solar south. It's important to realize solar south isn't the same as compass south and depending on where you are in the country the two can vary quite a bit. This orientation will give plants the best exposure to sun during the winter and also allow you to take maximum advantage of solar mass to provide passive heat during the winter. (See below for how you can determine solar south).
  • Create a floor plan for your new room while trying to integrate it into your existing floor plan. You want your new room to be a natural addition without dramatically changing your present layout.
  • Wherever possible you want to utilize existing doors or window openings to provide access to your new room and a having the room located close to the kitchen makes it convenient for serving food and drinks.
  • Ensure your room location doesn't interfere with any existing building features and if your home is two storys, ensure the room doesn't block or compromise any second story windows.
  • If possible locating your new room near a deciduous tree can prove your home's energy efficiency. In the summer the shade from the tree will help moderate the temperature in the room while in the winter after the leaves are gone, the sun's rays will shine directly into the room and provide a free solar heat source.

How do you want to use your sun room?

  • Sun rooms can be adapted for all kinds of uses such as a dining area, a room for entertaining friends or simply a family room for kicking back and enjoying the feeling of being outside while staying comfortably inside.
  • After deciding how you want to use your new room, you need to decide when you want to use your sun room. Many people build sun rooms to be 'three season' rooms rather than 'four season' rooms primarily because a three season room is less expensive and much less work to build. While both need to have wiring built in, 'four season' rooms also require extra insulation and changes/upgrades to the heating system and in some cases an actual foundation rather than a slab foundation that adds significantly to the building code requirements.
Murray Anderson is an experienced freelance writer over 800 articles published on the web as well as in print magazines and newspapers in both the United States and Canada. He writes on a wide range of topics and is a regular contributor to He can be contacted at [email protected]

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