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Green Building Bible, Fourth Edition
Green Building Bible, fourth edition (both books)
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    • CommentAuthoralexw
    • CommentTimeJun 12th 2016
    Hello all,

    After recently pulling out from a house purchase (aided from some useful comments from this site) which would have involved a significant amount of work to make the home more energy efficient, we've decided to buy an off the shelf new build house on a new building site. I appreciate that perhaps a self build we could gain a higher level of energy efficiency but with two daughters aged 2 and 3, we are looking for the most stress free option.

    Therefore, we have reserved a plot on a new site just outside Minehead in Somerset, but I have a concern over their design with a conservatory on the back of the house which has no doors between the main house and itself. Instead it is described as a family room, basically an open plan conservatory leading off the kitchen area. I have been reassured by the sales team that its roof is double polycarbonate roofing, and its a B rated house but am I right to have concerns that this will be cold in the winter months and defeats the object of trying to buy an energy efficient house? The conservatory isn't huge, approximately 3m x 3m. We have spoken to one of the neighbours who has the same design and the first comment they made was that the kitchen area was cold! This probably already answers my question, but I'm confused as to how it can be a B rated house?

    Any thoughts or recommendations would be welcome. I have only committed £500 at this stage, so whilst painful I can still walk away.

    Many thanks,

    • CommentAuthorDarylP
    • CommentTimeJun 12th 2016
    I would suggest that the house does NOT meet Part L building Regs, with a poly-carb roof?
    The design might be 'B-rated', but with the conservatory separated, or not there?:bigsmile:
    It will be v cold in winter, and cost you a significant amnount of money to heat.

    If you have doubts now, how will you feel in December?:angry:
    Ask the builder to put in external grade doors between the main dwelling and the conservatory? :devil:
    I wonder what the "B" stands for.


    More usefully, since you are a from-plan buyer, can you have any changes in the design?

    • CommentAuthoralexw
    • CommentTimeJun 12th 2016
    Yes, think I will enquire about getting the conservatory turned into an extension. The footings and groundwork are the same as the main house. The walls are being started next week, so its still at the early stages.

    I am also confused about it complying with the part l building regs, but assume because its a new build it must be approved? I will challenge this also.

    Thanks for the comments so far...
    Edit: I was composing this while Alex was writing the post above

    Per Planning Portal:

    ''Building regulations will generally apply if you want to build an extension to your home.
    However, conservatories are normally exempt from building regulations when:

    They are built at ground level and are less than 30 square metres in floor area.
    The conservatory is separated from the house by external quality walls, doors or windows.
    There should be an independent heating system with separate temperature and on/off controls.
    Glazing and any fixed electrical installations comply with the applicable building regulations requirements (see below).''

    I realise compliance with Part L is assessed differently (TER vs DER) in new-build, but unless the the conservatory is allowed as a trade-off for better standards elsewhere (and I don't know if you are allowed to do that with 'un-exciting' conservatories), it won't comply. And if it does comply, it should not!! It will be a cold-magnet. Is the light offered by the clear roof deemed essential? What about, at very least, a 'proper' roof with lots of insulation and high-spec roof-lights.

    If you */have* to go with the conservatory as it stands, tell them you refuse to buy unless it is separated from the house by the external-quality doors it should have anyway, and prepare yourself for a room that is largely unusable in the winter. (Which way does the conservatory face, by the way?).
    • CommentAuthoralexw
    • CommentTimeJun 12th 2016

    I have just had a response back from the developers

    "The conservatory does have a poly carbonate roof and double glazed. Inside there is a radiator and you are quite right that it is open to the kitchen. The build and design is built to NHBC standards and regulations and complies with the latest heating requirements.
    I have asked the other owners of the Dunster house types on site for their views on the ambient feel etc. Especially as they moved in during the winter months. Their reply was that they did not feel ,by having the opening from the kitchen into the conservatory at any way contradicted their feeling of warmth. Certainly no cold spots."

    The rear of the house/conservatory is south facing, however there are 3 other houses of the same design on the plot, all with different facing gardens.
    • CommentAuthoralexw
    • CommentTimeJun 12th 2016
    Hi Nick thanks for your advice.

    Yes, the conservatory is definitely not exciting, but the usable space by having doors separate off the space would be reduced considerably. I don't think light would be an issue if the poly-carb roof was replaced.

    Based on all of the feedback above, I think my options are to insist that the roof is not poly carb or pull out. I will update with the outcome on Monday :)
    ''Based on all of the feedback above, I think my options are to insist that the roof is not poly carb or pull out.''

    I think that is the right thing to do, or if you are desperate to have the house, 'take the hit' on having to pay to amend the conservatory into a 'proper' extension later. It seems ridiculous that because they are (obviously) allowed to 'trade off', something that would not be allowed on refurb *is* allowed on new-build. Absurd! It is the same sort of system which allowed houses to be built in the 1990s without floor insulation. I know of a pair of semis which are forever overheated because the tenants are trying to get warm feet - which they never get. Mad! Utter false economy.
    If it it is South-facing, then it will need to be done over to be useable in winter and summer, anyway.

    I have famiily who have just replaced the conservatory glass roof with a real roof after 15 years.

    • CommentAuthoralexw
    • CommentTimeJun 12th 2016
    yes ferdinand, when you put it like that, it's crazy that they've designed it this way!
    • CommentAuthorowlman
    • CommentTimeJun 13th 2016
    Could you do a deal/trade off with the builders.
    e.g. instead of the conservatory leave the footings etc. and instead opt for decent quality external grade slide and fold doors or similar in the opening and then once you're in, build a proper sun room, " more exciting" and to a good standard.
    • CommentAuthorMarkyP
    • CommentTimeJun 13th 2016
    I've just demolished the SW facing conservatory attached to part of our bungalow renovation. It was the most satisfying part of the demolition yet! It had a poly roof and reasonably good quality DG windows but was freezing in the winter and constantly overheated all summer. It was also oppressively bright when the sun was out at any time of year. Awful, awful things.
    • CommentAuthorowlman
    • CommentTimeJun 13th 2016
    Posted By: MarkyPI've just demolished the SW facing conservatory attached to part of our bungalow renovation. It was the most satisfying part of the demolition yet! It had a poly roof and reasonably good quality DG windows but was freezing in the winter and constantly overheated all summer. It was also oppressively bright when the sun was out at any time of year. Awful, awful things.

    It's true there are some dreadful examples but they can be a good thing if done right.
    • CommentAuthorskyewright
    • CommentTimeJun 13th 2016 edited
    Posted By: owlmanIt's true there are some dreadful examples but they can be a good thing if done right.

    Our WSW facing (& ENE) facing conservatories work very well, but they were designed from scratch to suit the purposes we had in mind and our lifestyle, e.g. they have lots of ventilation (low transoms as well as high), 'opal' roof, plenty of blinds, we are around to adjust ventilation & shading. We see them as a very sheltered part of the garden not as a semi-outdoor room, so it's not an issue that it's too cool for indoor clothes comfort in there in winter.

    Works for us. For different people with different aims, the outcome would be different.

    PS. Been cropping salads since early spring, French Beans for just over 2 weeks, and the first courgette may be ready tomorrow. :bigsmile:
    And we had the heating off while still 'collecting' HDD12's.

    ETA: HDD12 comment.
    • CommentAuthorneilu
    • CommentTimeJun 13th 2016
    Hello, I do SAP assessments and have to do quite a few assessments to justify extensions that have lots of glazing including roof glazing.
    Many people automatically think that they wouldn't perform very well in SAP's but that isn't he case. The heat lost through the glazing having a poorer U-value than a roof is more than offset by the heat gain through the roof glazing providing it has a decent U-value.
    However I think the overall calculation hides the issues of it being cold in winter and too hot in summer. I'd definitely agree with the others and try to get it built as a sunroom. I do hundreds of SAP's a year and I can't remember the last time I did a new build house with a conservatory because the developers recognise the issues with them. I'd also be very nervous a poly carb roof, again this is poor for a new build.
    I'm assuming the B-rating refers to the EPC rating. Pretty much all new build dwellings with mains gas heating will achieve a B rating.
    • CommentAuthorowlman
    • CommentTimeJun 13th 2016 edited
    Skyewright;......'collecting' HDD12's.

    I googled and all I got was Tantric sound. Is that what you play when having tantric sex?:bigsmile::wink:
    • CommentAuthorowlman
    • CommentTimeJun 13th 2016
    I built my conservatory/sunroom with approx. a 55/45% split insulated solid roof and 2G glazing. I've been very pleased with the result. I fact whilst upgrading the rest of the property we've virtually lived in there for the past 9 months. It's now nicknamed the sleepy room, the quiet, peaceful, atmosphere just wafts around you and you're guaranteed to soon nod off.
    • CommentAuthorskyewright
    • CommentTimeJun 13th 2016
    Posted By: owlmanSkyewright;......'collecting' HDD12's.

    One "collects HDD12's" if the day long mean outdoor temperature is below 12.5C, so I meant that with the aid of the passive heating (& insulation effect) of the conservatories we manage without heating in conditions that in pre-conservatory days we'd have expected to require heat.

    I don't find collecting HDDD12's in the least erotic, but if that sort of thing turns someone on, then hey ho, each to their own. Just mind you don't scare the horses[1]... :bigsmile::wink:

    [1] https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Mrs_Patrick_Campbell
    Thanks for the link, Skyewright. I made ref to 'frightening the horses' the other day and had to explain to te nonplussed person I was talking to that there weren't *actually* any horses to frighten!
    • CommentAuthorSigaldry
    • CommentTimeJun 14th 2016
    If there's no thermal separation, or if it shares heating with the rest of the dwelling, it's not a conservatory, it's a highly glazed extension.
    • CommentAuthoralexw
    • CommentTimeJun 14th 2016
    Hi all, just to give you an update.

    I've challenged the conservatory or highly glazed extension, along with some unrelated questions about the garden landscaping. The developers have come back and informed me that they have made a mistake with the garden boundaries and instead the garden will be half the size than I was originally advised. This has obviously led us to cancel our reservation and request the full fee back which they have agreed to do, but the cynic inside me can't help but think they were just trying to get rid of me and brush my concerns to one side so they could carry on selling the house according to their original plan??

    Thank you everyone for your comments though, I'm very glad I raised my concern.

    • CommentAuthorDarylP
    • CommentTimeJun 14th 2016
    ....... :bigsmile: 'cynic', no. More like sensible!
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