How to Plan a Sunroom
From a full-scale solarium to a simple deck enclosure, let the sun shine in
By Sylvia Cochran
As you consider how to plan a sunroom, you may envision the appeal of oversized windows and white wicker furniture. Before you head over to the home goods store to pick out a chaise lounge, work out the design details shaped by the code requirements of the project. Additionally, explore blueprint options that take your unique personality and family needs into account. The result should be a welcoming room that adds ambience as well as value to your home.
- What You Need to Know
- A sunroom could be as elaborate as a new addition to your home or as simple as adding an enclosure over an existing patio or deck.
- You'll need to know if your local building codes will restrict your sunroom and you'll want to view photographs of other sunrooms in magazines in order to get a good idea of what you want.
Investigate local building codes and permit requirements. Building departments regulate sizing and overall permissibility of your planned addition by evaluating the size of your property parcel, prior additions to your residence and also the proposed presence of fully or partially separating walls between your residence and the sunroom.
Detail the proposed uses of your sunroom on a notepad. List them in order of importance. Your primary use of the space determines your construction prerequisites, location of the room and also opens up available material options. For example, if you intend to use the sunroom as a natural extension of a living room, construction details must focus on heating and air conditioning the space. On the other hand, if you wish to use the sunroom to install a Jacuzzi or home spa, you will have different material needs that factor in the proper venting of moisture-rich air. Allow the sunroom to face the eastern sky, and you enjoy an early-morning sun. Orient the room to the north and -- even though you may not have a lot of heat -- it could be the perfect setup for an atelier.
Establish if your sunroom is a do-it-yourself project or if you will enlist the help of a licensed contractor. As an experienced home improvement do-it-yourselfer, you are likely able to draw up the plans yourself and specify material needs. If you work with a professional, the services of an architect may be included in the quoted price. In this case, work closely with the architect to plan a sunroom that offers a functional interior and a visually appealing exterior.
Design your sunroom to be energy efficient. By utilizing passive solar techniques, your sunroom can provide welcoming warmth during the cold winter months but unless you provide a way to remove some glass panels, it may become too hot during the summer. Consider glass panels that come with screens that you may put on in the summer to reduce your cooling bill. In addition, you'll have a nice screened area to enjoy.
About the Author
Sylvia Cochran is a regular contributor to DexKnows, specializing in home and garden.
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