Property: How to hothouse your money

A conservatory should be more than just a spare room for the dog's basket and the children's toys - and it can be a real investment.

A conservatory is proving to be this year's must-have, and could enhance and add considerably to the value of your home. Latest figures released by the National Conservatory Advisory Service (NCAS) show a 58 per cent increase in sales of conservatories for the first quarter of 1998, with a spend in the UK last year of pounds 250m.

NCAS director Richard Craig believes the current rise in house prices is a contributory factor to the growth in the market. "If people can't afford to move, they can draw on equity in the property to improve the house instead. Conservatories can be built to a very high specification and can create a very useable living space."

Whether you choose a conservatory to install a Jacuzzi, gym or just the dining table, tacking it on to the back of the sitting room is seen as a mistake. Richard Morgan, from Buckinghamshire estate agent Barringtons, has good advice. "A conservatory has to enhance the living space. Creating a breakfast room off the kitchen or a dining room where none exists is the best idea." And what of saleability? "They are a definite selling point if done properly and in sympathy with the property," adds Mr Morgan.

Runcorn Residential in south London is currently attracting great interest in a detached Victorian villa it is marketing, with a gothic style conservatory on two levels. The conservatory was rebuilt 10 years ago, and its unusual aspect, overlooking the large, secluded garden from the ground and first floors, is a major selling feature. Nicholas Runcorn comments: "On the first floor the conservatory is at the end of the rather grand entrance hall, so it's the first thing you see as you enter the house and the light just floods in." Offers on the property have gone to sealed bids, and are expected to be in excess of pounds 385,000. Without the conservatory Mr Runcorn estimates that the house, parts of which are in need of refurbishment, would have been valued at around pounds 50,000 less.

Three toddlers and a dog drove Lancashire residents Joanne and Alan Lockhart to think about a room that they could escape to without having to wade through a pile of toys. "We already have a spacious house," says Joanne, "but on the ground floor it's really one big room, so we decided to get some quotes for a conservatory."

For once, an unsolicited telephone call from conservatory company Anglian came at the right time. "I'd already had four quotes and I could see the quality was pretty much the same," said Joanne, "but as Anglian claimed to be offering 40 per cent off, I asked them to match the cheapest quote I had." They settled on an inclusive price of pounds 12,000 for a spacious, Victorian style glass conservatory, incorporating a dining and seating area. "We couldn't believe that it was finished in two weeks, and it's fantastic. We sit in there every evening."

A radiator provides heating during the winter but on really cold days they top up the temperature with an electric fire. "When it's really hot in the summer, we could do with blinds," adds Joanne, "but they cost a few thousand so we'll suffer for the time being." And a recent valuation of the house has shown that the Lockharts have more than recouped the cost of the addition.

But beware. Conservatories can also make your house difficult to sell and, in the case of a bad construction or inappropriate styling, knock a few thousand off the asking price. Baz Truman bought a house three years ago with a so-called conservatory. "It was a dog's dinner (apt, as the previous owner had kept a couple of Rottweilers in there). The market was dead, and no one wanted to buy the house because of it, so I got a great bargain, but there was no way the conservatory could stay. Getting rid of it was a nightmare."

As with many home improvements, recommendation is often the best way to choose a company. However, the NCAS offers free, independent advice and will try to arrange for you to inspect local constructions. An adviser visits your home to discuss the style, materials and building regulations. Drawings are then submitted to up to four of the 400 NCAS-registered firms whose accounts and installations have been checked. Tenders will be collated and discussed.

The NCAS will also advise on completion of the work and payment structures. Fixed fees charged to the company selected to do the work fund the NCAS, and are guaranteed not to be passed on to the consumer in the quote. Prices quoted will be lower than usual, as there is no commission payable to a sales person.

When the sky's the limit, a rooftop conservatory has to be the ultimate extension. You can't buy it, but the split level penthouse apartment overlooking central London's Russell Square with three bedrooms and conservatory opening on to a large roof terrace is for rent through Capital Asset Management for around pounds 1,200 a week.

National Conservatory Advisory Service 0500 522525; Runcorn Residential 0181-516 6585; Capital Asset Management 0171-736 5633; Barringtons 01753 880200

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Frank Turner performing at 93 Feet East
musicReview: 93 Feet East, London
News
Toronto tops the charts across a range of indexes
news

World cities ranked in terms of safety, food security and 'liveability'

Extras
indybest
Voices
A mother and her child
voices
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Product Manager - (Product Marketing, Financial Services)

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Marke...

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Assistant

£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established ...

Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive

£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Report Writer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Technical Report Writer is re...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee