Your Guide to the Great Outdoors: Conservatories vs. Summerhouses vs. Garden Rooms

Summerhouses, Conservatories, and Garden Rooms

Adding an outdoor living space to your home can give you a nice place to relax and enjoy fresh air. But should you build a conservatory, a summerhouses, or a garden room? This guide looks at the pros and cons of each choice to help you pick the best one.

What Are Conservatories?

What Are Conservatories

A conservatory is a building attached to a house, usually along one wall. Conservatories have clear glass walls and roofs to let in natural light. The floors are often made of tile or wood. Fancy rugs are also nice to add softness. Conservatories make sunrooms with bright light that is good for helping plants grow and providing cozy spots for people to unwind.

Related: Can Conservatories be Energy Efficient?

Pros of Conservatories

Beautiful Style

Conservatories feel open and airy because of all the glass. They look stylish and can increase the value of your home. You get wonderful views of your yard through so much glass.

Bring the outdoors in

With lots of sunlight coming in and clear views of gardens, conservatories blur the line between being outside and inside. You feel connected to nature.

Solar Heat

The glass traps heat from the sun during cold months. This solar energy cuts down on heating bills.

Cons of Conservatories

Can Get Too Hot

In summer, conservatories can turn sweltering hot inside from the sun beating through glass walls and ceilings. Special shades and roof windows can help control heat but regulating temperature is tricky.

More Expensive

Building a conservatory requires a solid base, ventilation ducts, roof windows, and measured glass. So conservatories cost more money than the other options.

What Are Summerhouses? webp to jpg converter 2

A summerhouse is a simple backyard building, usually made of wood or metal. Summerhouses have one or two rooms. They work well for seasonal use when the weather is nice. You might use your summerhouse as a guest house, art studio, home office, or fun hangout.

Pros of Summerhouses

More Affordable

With straightforward construction and no need to connect utilities from the main house, summerhouses cost much less than conservatories or garden rooms.

Flexible Use

You can use your summerhouse in all sorts of ways for different hobbies, crafts or leisure activities. Make it fit your interests!

Private Outdoor Space

A summerhouse lets you sneak off to your own quiet corner, without neighbours peering in as they might with a conservatory.

Cons of Summerhouses

Not As Sturdy

Lightweight summer house structures can blow over or break in storms. They only last between 5 to 10 years.

Can Get Cold

With zero insulation or heating, summerhouses get cold in winter. You won’t be able to go out there during the icy months.

What Are Garden Rooms?

What Are Garden Rooms

Garden rooms, sometimes called patio rooms, are permanent backyard buildings attached to the house. They work like extra all-weather rooms. Garden rooms have insulated walls, electricity, and often heating and air conditioning too. Sliding glass doors and windows allow nice views of the yard greenery.

Related: What is a Glass Room?

Pros of Garden Rooms


With the ability to use garden rooms year-round, they work great as home offices, exercise rooms, craft areas, kids’ playrooms or guest suites. The options are wide open.

Better Insulated

With insulation, plastered drywall, heating and cooling, garden rooms maintain nice temperatures during cold winters and hot summers. Very comfortable!

Increased Home Value

High-quality garden rooms add valuable living space to homes. This appeals to buyers.

Cons of Garden Rooms

Permit Requirements

Because they attach to homes and need electrical and utilities, building codes often apply for constructing garden rooms. Permits are needed.

Higher Upfront Costs

Between insulation, wiring, plaster, bricks, roofing and preparing foundations, garden rooms carry the largest initial price tags.

Key Differences

While all three structures furnish nice backyard relaxation zones, here are the main ways conservatories, summerhouses and garden rooms differ:

  • Attachment – Conservatories join homes. Summerhouses and garden rooms stand in yards.
  • Build – Conservatories need masonry bases, custom-cut glass, ventilation. Summerhouses come prefab. Garden rooms need insulation, electrical systems, and more robust materials.
  • Use – Plants live in conservatories. Summerhouses work for hobbies or guests . Garden rooms operate as functional extra living spaces year-round.
  • Cost – Conservatories are generally most expensive. Summerhouses are cheapest. Garden rooms fall somewhere in the middle price-wise.

Which is Best for You?

Picking amongst conservatories, summerhouses and garden rooms depends on your:

  • Climate – Conservatories suit mild weather without frigid winters.
  • Budget – Summer Houses are least expensive. Garden rooms cost the most upfront.
  • Intended Use – Conservatories: relaxation and plants. Summerhouses: hobbies/temporary guests. Garden rooms: long-term multifunctional living spaces.
  • Tastes – Conservatories offer gorgeous light. Summerhouses provide simple escapes. Garden rooms function as full home extensions.


When planning backyard structures, think about your local weather and exact needs. Compare initial build costs against long-term upkeep. Attached conservatories integrate indoor-outdoor beauty. Summerhouses allow seasonal getaways. Garden rooms operate as livable extra spaces year-round. Choose what best matches your lifestyle and budget. Careful thought now means enjoyment for years to come!


What are the main differences between conservatories and sunrooms?

The key differences are conservatories have abundant glass and feel almost outdoors. Sunrooms have more solid walls and feel like indoor rooms. Also conservatories have all-glass roofs while sunrooms have shingled ceilings.

Can you live in a garden room full-time or only use it part-time?

Yes, garden rooms can definitely work for full-time living! With insulation, temperature controls, electricity etc. they maintain comfortable conditions all year. So garden rooms are great as guest suites or even tiny homes to live in.

How long do summerhouses usually last before needing replacement?

On average, summerhouses last between 5-10 years. Well-treated wood summerhouses may stand up to 15 years max. More expensive oak-framed ones can survive over 20 years. Proper maintenance and weather-sealing extends durability.

What permissions do you need to build a garden room?

Check early with your town about permit rules for building garden structures. Things like intended placement on the land, size limits, proximity to other buildings on your property can all impact what’s allowable. Plus construction codes apply for proper wiring, windows, insulation, drainage, etc.

Which outdoor structure adds the most value to a home?

High-quality garden rooms add the most property value. Because they work as fully-usable living areas year-round, they raise the square footage of homes. Conservatories also boost value , while inexpensive summerhouses add little.

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