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There is a glass extension option suitable for everyone. This guide, takes you through the considerations you need to make when planning a glass extension.


Let The Light In With A Glass Extension


According to statistics gathered by the UK government, 16% of households in the UK have a conservatory. That figure is set to rise as a change in how we live, continues to take hold. Previously, having lots of rooms, and boxing every living space off was the way to make a property the most valuable. Now, the trend is for open plan living, and letting in as much light as possible. Conservatories or other glass extensions certainly add that element into a home, by extending the space, and letting in lots of light which can reach the corners of the part of the home it attaches to, IE the living room. If you’re considering investing in a glass extension, there’s a lot to think about beforehand. Unlike adding a small feature or gadget to your property, or doing up a room, adding a glass extension is much more permanent and extensive, so it pays to do your research and take your time. In this guide we will take you through some of the basic aspects of designing, planning and building a glass extension, so you can begin to feel more in the know about this exciting addition to modern living.

Different Types

A glass extension tends to be one of three different structures; a conservatory, an orangery or a sunroom.



A conservatory has the minimum amount of brick involved in the structure, and is designed so that those spending time inside can enjoy a view of the garden in a room that feels like part of the home.

Although most people have only heard of a conservatory, an orangery is actually what came first and the idea of a conservatory grew from the design of orangeries which weren’t really designed for human enjoyment at the time.

Conservatories are always attached to the home which differentiates from an orangery which could be anywhere in the garden.



Orangeries are on trend at the moment, and although they use a lot of glass in their design, they differentiate from conservatories in that they use more brickwork, and they are much bigger than conservatories so are considered the luxury choice. Originally, in 17th century Britain, orangeries were very much a part of the life of the rich. Any person with substantial wealth would have an orangery on their grounds. The warm, greenhouse like environment provided by an orangery was primarily used to cultivate citrus trees and other herbs and shrubs. As the citrus fruits provided by the trees became more convenient to source, the space was then used to cultivate plants from afar, along with decorative shrubs and trees. Nowadays, an orangery is more of a luxurious private space to be used however the homeowner sees fit and is usually attached to the house.



A sunroom is usually the glass extension of choice for people who have struggled to get planning permission for a larger structure, or for those who don’t want to go through planning permission. A sunroom is a completely glass made permanent structure that is a bridge between the home and the garden. Where a conservatory and orangery is an extension to the home, a sunroom is an addition which is attached to the home, but isn’t like an extra room. A sunroom does not usually need planning permission as it falls under Permitted Development, as long as it meets specific criteria such as:

  • Having no balconies
  • Being a smaller total space than 30 metres squared
  • Not extending more than 6 metres out if the home is semi-detached and 8 metres if the home is detached
  • It does not extend higher than the roof of the home

There are many further intricate rules that should be checked,and may also be affected if you live in a conservation area. You can find all the information on


let light in - glass extension


This really does depend on how much you want to spend, as their is no ceiling height depending on the level of luxury you want to achieve. In general though, prefabricated sunrooms are the cheapest option, conservatories are the next expensive, and orangeries cost the most. The building work is likely to cost more if:

  • You use a lot of glass, as insulation levels then need to be adapted in the rest of the home
  • You use high-spec glass
  • You alter the rest of your home to suit
  • You use professionals like architects, designers, thermal consultants or structural engineers, over a ‘package’ offering from a windows, doors and conservatories type company


Expect costs to start at £10,000 and rise as high as you want them to depending on special features, and the level of luxury you want to achieve.

Eco-Friendly Glass Extensions

If you’re looking to maintain eco-credentials with your current property, or to ensure any additions are eco-friendly, then there are certain things to consider with your new extension. You’re already off to a head start of sorts because glass has lots of eco-friendly benefits to it, as it is durable, recyclable and harnesses the power of natural sunlight. One key issue you may face however, is the fact that glass does not have the same thermal properties of a solid wall, it will always allow heat to be released from a building. Of course, it can also let heat into the home as well. As with most things, a level of balance must be achieved to ensure any negatives are balanced by positives, in terms of eco-credentials at least. With any extensions that are separated from the rest of the home by a wall, or secure doors, any thermal issues are avoided as the main building isn’t affected. If your extension is going to be attached to the rest of the building, there are some more complex decisions to be made. Generally, a moderate amount of glass will ensure that you’re balancing out any potential thermal issues. However, if you have a great team helping you create your glass extension, they will have several options for you to consider to ensure your extension has eco-credentials to be proud of.

Planning Permission

Planning permission for any extension is very individual and unique to each property and area. It can even be individual down to one particular neighbour you have. You will have to put in a lot of effort and paperwork in order to achieve your glass extension but if you have your heart set on it, there are always ways and means to work with the laws and legislation in place. Regardless of whether you opt for a sunroom, conservatory or orangery you must ensure you put everything in place to ensure what you are building is legally allowed to be built. There are lots of rules and regulations relating to the building design, the materials, your neighbours, the area you live in and so on. There are also new schemes, such as the Neighbour Consultation Scheme that apply to specific types of houses. You can find the entire law and legislation listings on the Government’s Planning Portal Website along with step by step details of the planning permission process.

Why Built A Glass Extension?

Glass extensions have a WOW factor you cannot achieve with other building materials and designs. It looks glamourous and is a beautiful way to connect different parts of the home to the outside. Glass extensions can also add to the green credentials of a property, they can substantially add to the value of a home, and they add to the look and enjoyment of a home.

Is A Glass Extension Right For Me?

There is a usually a glass extension that is right for every property, but no one glass extension fits all properties. Of course you can add prefabricated extensions onto a property, but if you are aiming for real luxury, then a design will be added to your home that compliments it. Certain extensions will compliment a south-facing area because the home is naturally cold but the glass captures the warmth of the sun. A north-facing extension might be better for properties where underfloor heating can be used, and the heating isn’t supplied by the sunlight. It really is unique to the property you have, and a good team of designers will be able to help you ensure you are using all the right materials, and you have the right style glass extension for your property.

The Planning Process

Clearly, the planning process involves a lot of research in order to ensure that you get everything right, and also so you end up with an extension you love. Use these steps as a rough guide to the planning process:


Budget – Unless you have limitless funds for this project, it pays to budget so you can get the best possible value for money. The building materials and construction work will not cover any additional surveys or consultations from experts which could cost you over 15% of the build. Get quotes rather than estimates and keep tabs on all associated costs.

Architect – If you aren’t getting a package type extension, then you will want an architect to design your extension to your specifications. Research their previous work before agreeing to anything as their designs literally outline the structure.

Planning Permission – You must ensure you apply for planning permission if you need to. If you are unsure at any point, check with an expert, it is not worth risking a complete build of an extension only to be told it has to come down.

Party Walls – A party wall is a wall you share with a neighbour so if you want to build on it or around it you have to get neighbour permission. There are strict rules relating to the way you approach this where you have to let them know what you plan to do a certain amount of time before the work begins, and you must gain their consent. If you don’t get their consent in writing then you have to have a surveyor (or your neighbour does), who will create a document that lists all the relevant details, including who is responsible for which costs.

Technical Design – Your architect should be in charge of this stage to ensure that detailed technical designs are created.

Construction – The exciting bit! This is where your glass extension gets built! It could take up to a year to achieve, but should be supervised during the entire process.


Once your extension is up you can then get started with the best bit, the interior design!

Decorating Your Glass Extension

Now you have your stunning glass extension built, you get to decorate it in the luxurious, beautiful style you want.

Most people will ensure their glass extension blends with the rest of the home well, so that it feels part of the house. If it is separate, you might want to go all out and go for a completely different theme, like a tropical sunroom, or a Victorian orangery theme. If you had underfloor heating and beautiful floor tiles installed when the extension was built, you might want to add a rug for decoration, or compliment the natural tones of the flooring with other natural materials, like wood and stone.

With natural materials making up a lot of the decor, greenery linking the inside to the outside is a great idea. Pot plants, or succulents look stunning, or you could even have some citrus trees or olive trees. You may also want to include some pops of colour with soft furnishings that you can easily change depending on the season or trend. You could do the same with bright prints that contrast really well against natural materials.

With the lighting, you will have likely had innovative lighting fixtures placed on the walls or even in the floor tiles, but you can add your own soft lighting in the way of fairy lights or candles to add to the ambience.

You might also want to enhance the scent in the room, which can add to the freshness and outdoor feel of the space. Reed diffusers containing sweet orange or jasmine, lime and ginger, or patchouli, will brighten the ambience in the space.



With a lot of research and planning, you will have the most beautiful glass extension to enjoy for years to come. The light flowing through the panes, the smell of citrus in the air and the warm stone floor tiles underfoot, can only represent true luxury right in your own garden.






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