Victorian Conservatory
Victorian Conservatory
May 30, 2017

What is a Lean to Conservatory?

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A Lean-to is one of the most popular types of conservatory and can be found all over the UK.

Sometimes referred to as Mediterranean Conservatories, they offer solutions to those needing extra living room even if space outside is not that plentiful. Most homes could fit a small lean-to conservatory.

What does a lean-to design look like?

A typical example will have 3 full glass sides & a single “flat plane” angled roof. As a very straightforward rectangular shape, a lean-to conservatory is suited for use in both large and small designs.

This type of conservatory, as with many other styles, can be built with floor to ceiling glass sides or by using brick or block to form small low level walls or pillars. Low level brick or block-work is commonly referred to as a “Dwarf Wall’.

3 different lean-to styles

Alternative styling options personalise your room

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Gull Wing Lean-to

Larger versions can be created by combining other styles – P, T & L-shaped conservatories often make use of combining Victorian, Georgian or Gable designs with a Lean-to section to great effect.

By combining styles that have “vaulted” roof sections such as Gable or Georgian designs, it can create more headroom and make the rooms feel much larger than they actually are.

To “soften” the square edges of the room by using facets to round off the corners, such as in the Gull-Wing design, you can totally alter the look of the room. Although it does make the roof sections more complex to build – and therefore can increase the final installation price.

Veranda Lean-to Conservatory

L-Shape-Lean-toDue to the fact that the roof slope is gentle (unlike Period Conservatories), it has allowed development of what is often referred to as a Veranda Conservatory.

By extending the roofing bars & roofline it is possible to create a “protected” space allowing the area immediately outside the room to be used for entertaining or relaxing.

If you want to use a lean-to design to “wrap-around” a corner of your home, then you end up with an L-shaped conservatory. The L-shaped design is great if you have limited space at the rear of the house, but have some space to the side. You can make the most of both areas at once.

The modern Lean to Conservatory

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reverse roof lean-toThe current popular trend for homeowners looking to make their lean-to just a little more special and modern is for lean to conservatory designs to move towards sleek, slim or sharp appearances.

Some of the latest bespoke lean to glass extensions for modern conservatories can look amazing.

As briefly mentioned before, you can take liberties with the angle of the roof. Reversed or “side-on” sloping roofing can really make a stunning feature out of the upper section of the room.

Combining extended roof-lines to create veranda areas with the different roof angles gives a whole new lease of life to the humble lean-to.

One other benefit of using a reverse angle roof is that you can use inward opening “hopper” windows at the front (above the sight-line) to provide ventilation. Used instead of fitting vents in the roof, these “hopper” windows can be opened even during wet weather.

Popular Features & Options

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Doors style

The conservatory doors fitted can have an impact on both internal and external space. Choosing the most suitable doors for your conservatory is quite an important aspect of design, especially where you have a small room.

French Doors are very often seen fitted to smaller rooms (3000 mm x 2400 mm or less in size) as they don’t interfere with internal space. If you have a room that extends for the full width of your home, then in-line sliding patio doors or bifold doors could be an excellent solution.

Roofing type

Poly-carbonate roof panelAs mentioned, a standard Lean to conservatory roof is a very simple flat slope. Although the roof is usually angled to slope away from the house, the slope can be reversed (or rotated to the left or right) to give the lean-to a totally different look.

At the budget end of the market, you are likely to find poly-carbonate sheeting used as the roof material. Poly-carbonate is very light, has some insulating properties and can help block UV rays. It is also cost effective to use for a roof.

It does have some drawbacks; in that it is not a really good insulator (let’s in cold & heat) and some owners complain that poly-carbonate makes a lot of noise when it is raining.

The latest examples of full glass (double glazed) roofing are well insulated and, unlike poly-carbonate, really help in temperature regulation for the conservatory.

tiled lean-to roofSolar control, gas filled sealed units with low-emissivity and self-cleaning glass options help to make the room enjoyable the whole year long.

Quite a few homeowners are opting for a solid roof. With tiles or slates covering the conservatory, you don’t have any issues with sun-glare which can cause some rooms to become super-hot & stuffy during the summer. However, you will lose a lot of natural light and the conservatory loses the attractiveness of a “sunroom”.

One last option is the have the underside of a glazed roof fitted with a lining. There are a few options on the market from various installers. Just make sure its fitted with adequate ventilation to avoid problems with condensation between the lining & the roof itself.
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Choice of Material

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As with the majority of conservatories, the choices when it comes to what to build it out of are UPVC, Timber or Aluminium.

UPVC conservatories have a reputation for cost effectiveness combined with low maintenance requirements.

Timber conservatories vary in quality. Softwood rooms need a lot of looking after but can be low priced. The more modern solution for timber is to use engineered wood which is very stable, long lasting and not as expensive as “full blown hardwoods” such as Oak.

Aluminium conservatories are in a class of their own. Gone are the days of dull and oxidised pitted frames.

The inherent structural strength & lightness of aluminium allows it to be used to create some totally unique appearances.  But they don’t come cheap.

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Glazing & Energy saving

  • Double or triple glazed
  • Low-emissivity & anti-glare solar control glass
  • Gas filled double glazed units – Up to 21 mm gap
  • Self-cleaning glass for sealed units
  • Coloured or tinted.

Colours & Security

  • Over 12 UPVC colours
  • 150 + RAL Powder Coat Aluminium colours
  • Multi-point locks for windows & doors
  • Internally beaded glazed sections
  • Toughened or Laminated Glazing
  • Patterned, tinted, leaded glazing options

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More Conservatories

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How much does a small (or cheap) lean to conservatory cost?

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Probably the first thing to do is to define what a small or cheap means to you.

For example, take the reference to the word “cheap”.  If it means “low priced”, then it’s quite simple to compare prices, but a cheaply made or manufactured product could actually cost more in the long run – buying cheap does not always mean you are getting a bargain.

Small or Budget Conservatories

As a general rule, small examples that are “liveable” are often referred to as 3 x 3 conservatories, but having one around 3.0 metres wide x 2.4 metres deep is going to be OK.

Any smaller and you may have trouble fitting furnishings and have sufficient space left to move around freely and enjoy the room properly.

You could expect to find average prices for a lean to conservatory in the region of £5,500 to £7,000 for a 3 x 3 conservatory (3000 mm wide x 2500 to 3000 mm deep).

The basic specification for that price range should allow for the conservatory to be made from uPVC with a set of external doors (probably French Doors), 2 internal power sockets, basic internal lighting and a Poly-carbonate roof.

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Some Frequently Asked Questions

How much do Lean-to Conservatories Cost?

The cost of  lean to conservatory varies depending on the size and final design choices – you can find an average price guide here

Do I need planning permission for a lean-to extension?

If it falls within the guidelines for a permitted development, your lean to conservatory will not require planning permission – check with your local planning office before building!

Planning portal info:

How long does it take to deliver?

This is what is known as the Lead-Time and it will vary from supplier to supplier. 4 to 6 weeks is not unusual.

How long does it take to build a lean-to conservatory?

It will vary from supplier to supplier, but for the average sized room (without hitting any snags) it can be finished within a week.

All the installers who quote for your work are members of recognised UK Trade Associations – look for these Logos
  • fensa
  • GGF
  • trustmark
  • DGCOS Conservatory Price