Pros and Cons
Most sunspaces arrive on site as kits a contractor can install in a few days instead of the weeks it takes for a site-built addition. Although they're prefabricated, variety isn't a problem. Choices include everything from rooms that recall 19th-century English conservatories to contemporary designs. All offer the latest energy-efficient glass which, when combined with the right location, can reduce energy bills by up to 30 percent. There is a darker side to sunspaces. For one, all that glass compromises privacy. If your addition will be in full view of either neighbors or passersby, wood-frame or masonry construction is a better choice. What's more, despite the many styles available, sunspaces simply won't blend with certain types of architecture. And though special trim, shading options, and other extras are available, site-built additions offer more opportunities to customize. Finally, don't let the words "prefabricated" and "kit" lull you into thinking anyone can assemble a sunspace. Most should be installed only by a professional contractor. If you want privacy, a sunspace is not your best choice. But placed in a secluded location, a sunspace, such as this curved glass model from Lindal Cedar Homes, is a great way to add living space while enjoying nature. Where to Find It (page 6) lists a number of major sunspace manufacturers, which sell directly or work through local dealers, which you can find in the yellow pages under "Greenhouses & Solariums." You'll also find local companies listed in this section of the directory. Installation cost is one area where prefab and site-built additions come out about even. Both require a slab or pier foundation. Higher material costs for prefab sunspaces also offset their short labor schedule. "A large expanse of glass wall usually costs more than a frame wall with a window in it," explains Richard Bendix, vice president of Lindal Cedar Homes in Seattle. That means even a $6,000 entry-price sunspace will cost more like $8,500 to $9,000 with delivery charges, foundation work, and installation. On the other hand, customizing a site-built addition can drive costs up far beyond those figures.
Ask TOH users about Porch

Contribute to This Story Below