How To Add Livable Space To Your Home With A Sunroom or Gazebo
Sunrooms or solariums can easily add low cost livable square footage to your home with little to no construction disruption. Gazebos or sunrooms can also make for a great backyard office or family getaway. Sipping a coffee or tea and reading in a bright solarium or gazebo in the Winter, Spring or Fall can be a great experience. No bugs or cold wind, but all the views of your backyard, garden or forest around your home. During warmer summer months, double sliding doors with screens can let the air in while keeping bugs and critters out.
But how much will this cost? Do I need a permit? Can I do it myself or do I need to hire someone? Do I need to heat it? These are all questions we get at Grizzly Shelter and I'm here to try and answer them.
Lean-to vs Detached Sunrooms
First let's look at the types of sunrooms, or solariums that we offer. There are fully attached or "lean-to" (3 wall) sunrooms and then are are detached gazebo options. We carry both and there are pros and cons for each. Just know that we do not do installations or have custom sizes. We only deliver Do It Yourself kits to your door. We recommend finding a handy person on HomeStars.com or similar sites.
Do I Need A Permit?
Typically a lean-to sunroom that is attached to your house requires a permit, whereas a stand-alone gazebo sunroom under 10 square meters (108 square feet) does not. Speak to your local building department for more details.
How Do I Heat My Solarium?
An attached solarium can be heated from air in your house, or you can choose to keep separate with an existing sliding door. The nice thing about a solarium is that it will use the "greenhouse effect" to generate lots of heat from the sun. This can make it quite comfortable in the Spring and Fall, and even warmer than your house depending on the sun exposure! A gazebo in your yard or on your patio maybe slightly more difficult to heat in the winter season. We do however provide an electric sunroom heater with a thermostat for those cold seasons so you can run an extension cord out to it.
What If A Roof Panel Breaks With A Branch Falling On It?
Well, firstly, the polycarbonate panels are very strong and have a 10 Year Warranty which you can read more about via the warranty download here. These sunrooms are made by an Israeli company (Palram) who first invented and has patents for military grade bullet-proof thermoplastics 50 years ago. Read more about them here. They also have demonstrated using a hammer to try unsuccessfully break these panels. As an authorized dealer for Palram, I can tell you that they stand behind their products and will always replace panels if any quality issues.
How Much Insulation Value Does a Solarium Have?
The short answer is "not much". The R-value of a typical exterior wall in your house (2x6) is R12 to R20 depend on the kind of insulation you use. With a solarium, even though we have a 8 mm twin wall polycarbonate roof, it has an R value of not more than R2. The walls are also 3 mm thick for the San Remo below, so you are looking at an R1 value for them. But again, with the natural "greenhouse effect" you may actually have more than enough heat in the direct sun during Spring and Fall, or will even want to open the doors and use the screen doors (included in our kits) if too hot!
Which Lean-to Enclosure Do You Recommend?
Our San Remo enclosure DIY kit is 10 feet deep by 14 feet wide (we offer just the one size but 2 frame colours: white and grey). It comes with a 10 Year Warranty, and has a snow load rating of 30 lbs per square foot and wind rating of 75 mph. It is made of a strong aluminum frame (grey or white) with near unbreakable polycarbonate panels (8 mm roof with 65% light tranmission, 3 mm clear walls). The SanRemo comes with 3 sliding doors with bug screen doors included for each. You can even customize the slope of the roof from 9'4" to 10'2" on the side of your house. Download the assembly instructions for more or review the price on the listing here.
NOTE: The 10x14 is the only size available for this SanRemo model and comes in white or grey frames. These are designed to be Do-It-Yourself kits with detailed instructions with pictures, a customer technical support phone # and only basic tools required. We don't provide customization or installation services, but often customers do hire local contractors to install this product from sites such as HomeStars.com in the GTA or Ontario region. See video below for more.
What Gazebo Sunrooms Do You Have?
We offer detached gazebos with more shade offered through diffused polycarbonate roofs. The Ledro Gazebo below comes in 3 sizes (10x10, 11x10 and 10x14) and includes a diffused light bronze polycarbonate roof. Note that this roof only lets in 15% of available light, so it is essentially a shade cover.
The Garda Gazebo below is shaped as a 6 sized hexagon and comes in one size at 19x19 feet. It has a diffused polycarbonate roof that lets in 42% of available light.
The Oasis 8x8 or 12x12 Gazebo can be used as either a greenhouse or sunroom and has a diffused light roof as well that lets in 82% of available light. This greenhouse/gazebo has a 5 Year Warranty.
Need a heater with thermostat for your sunroom, check it out here.
Contact us with any questions on sunrooms or gazebos!