5 key questions to ask before you build your dream solarium

December 9, 2014

A solarium can add year-round usable space to a home. To ensure your dream solarium doesn't become a nightmare, here are five key questions to ask before you build.

5 key questions to ask before you build your dream solarium

There are five key questions you should consider before building a solarium. Otherwise, your dream of having more space that you can use year-round has the potential to become a mess you might regret. Let's get started.

1. What's my budget?

To begin, check the price to see if it’s aligned with your budget.

  • A solarium typically costs anywhere between $10,000 to $80,000, depending on the quality of materials and features you’d like to have installed.

That being said, don’t fall into the trap of spending too much money because there is such a thing as “too much of a good thing”.

  • How much you spend on your solarium should be in proportion with the usage you intend to get out of it.

2. Will it work with my house?

The second thing you should consider in order to build a solarium is the location of your house. Solariums are usually built to bring the outdoors in, including more sunshine into a house. For this reason, consider the sun's movement and positioning before installation.

  • If your house is north facing, you should ideally build your solarium with a southern-facing design. Contact the local weather centre to determine the movement of the sun throughout the year so you can position your solarium for maximum sun exposure.

3. What are the options for glass?

Another aspect when it comes to building a solarium is the quality of glass you’re looking to use. Solariums are usually built to retain heat for a more comfortable interior. Because of this:

  • Stay away from single-pane glass, which encourages rapid heat loss.
  • Opt for double-glazed glass or glass that contains argon. You might have to pay more, but it will be worth it in the long run.
  • Choose non-reflective glass to minimize blinding flashes of light during the summer.

4. Do I need permits?

Solarium construction usually requires a permit of some sort.

  • Speak with the local authorities so you can have your papers in order before commencing construction.

In addition, seek the services of an experienced contractor if you don’t fancy yourself as being handy around the house.

  • Ask the contractor to provide references, proof of licensing, insurance and cost estimates before getting started.

5. Is there anything else I must consider?

Solariums don’t perform well with regard to energy efficiency. Therefore, ensure that yours retains adequate heat or can remain cool for long periods of time without you having to use extra energy in order to achieve an ideal microclimate.

  • Consider planting a few aquatic plants in large pots to give off both oxygen and vital moisture. It will help aerate the area and add humidity during the cold winter months.
  • To keep the area warm, consider installing a fireplace.

That being said, along with more space, a well-built solarium can add an extra layer of comfort and practicality to virtually any home.

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