Conservatories and sunrooms have certain similarities that often confuse homeowners, but their distinct difference involves the seasonality of using these rooms.
Unlike a greenhouse, a conservatory design can either be made to add living space and raise plants at the same time. It is possible to build a conservatory by yourself, but take note that it can be a complex one. A faulty installation can be problematic, especially if you do not know the right way for building a foundation, glass roofing, electrical and plumbing systems if necessary. On the other hand, a sunroom can be designed to function like a conservatory with the possibility of using it year-round.
While conservatories could double as an extra room and places to grow plants, homeowners who live in four-season climates should consider building a sunroom instead. Four-season sunrooms, in particular, let you stay regardless of the weather. These also provide more enclosure with a tiled roof and several windows.
However, a four-season sunroom might cost more for heating and insulation when you use glass for 80% of the structure. Otherwise, it would be difficult to enjoy spending time here when outdoor temperatures reach below freezing point. Sunrooms can either be pre-fabricated or custom-built by a home builder. Pre-fab additions could be a DIY project, although you need to understand the guidelines for building it in the same way as you would do with a puzzle.
The Average Prices
The average cost of building a conservatory in the U.S. reaches $10,000 for a small sitting room that measures 10×10 feet. An average sunroom construction costs around $15,100 for a 15×15-foot room, while four-season rooms may cost between $20,000 and $35,000 for additional installations like HVAC systems and finished walls.
A bigger space entails a larger budget, and conservatories would be more expensive based on the type of design. As an example, a rustic theme can cost up to $50,000 for a 10×10-foot greenhouse. Modern styles can reach up to $70,000. Some custom-built designs might require you to spend at least $80,000, but you could save money when you plan to convert an existing space into a conservatory.
Converting Existing Spaces
If you plan to convert a greenhouse into a small conservatory, this would only cost as low as $5,000 to install HVAC and climate control systems. You could choose not to install a glass roof when you no longer plan on growing plants. A glass replacement requires you to spend anywhere from $6,000 to $12,000.
You should ask your local building authority about specific permits. This applies to sunroom projects as well, even when you only intend to use a small sunroom kit. The cost of building permits will likely cost between $50 and $200 depending on the project.
In the end, choose a conservatory when you want to have more natural light when spending your recreational time, and raise plants and flowers. If you only want to add some space without spending a lot, a sunroom seems like the better choice.