Conservatories vs Garden Rooms: Which One Will Save You More Money?

Conservatories vs Garden Rooms

When looking to add extra living space to your home, two popular options that homeowners often compare are conservatories and garden rooms. But making the decision between conservatories vs garden rooms raises questions around which option will save you more money in both the short and long run. This article examines the key differences in costs, benefits, permissions, sustainability and investment potential to help you decide which is the better choice for your home and budget.

Related: Free Conservatory Quotes from Conservatory Online Prices

What are Conservatories Vs Garden Rooms?

Before comparing conservatories and garden rooms, let’s quickly recap what each structure actually is.

Conservatories Overview

A conservatory is a glass structure attached to the main house, traditionally built with a brick or dwarf wall base with lots of windows and glass panes above. Conservatories have a lightweight and glazed roof and walls to let in maximum light.

Garden Rooms Overview

Garden rooms, also called garden buildings or outdoor rooms, are detached structures set apart from the main property in the garden area. They have solid walls and roofs like standard buildings, but are purposely built for leisure use.

Cost Comparison

One of the biggest considerations when deciding between a conservatory and garden room is the cost implications both short and long term.

Construction Costs

Conservatories are generally cheaper to construct than garden rooms. This is because conservatories have lightweight foundations and structures that require less building work. Garden rooms require solid wall construction and more complex roofs, so cost more initially.

Maintenance Costs

However, conservatories usually rack up higher maintenance bills over time. All the glass panels need cleaning regularly, and seals may need replacing every 5-10 years. Garden rooms though are lower maintenance once built.

Related: What is the difference between a conservatory and a garden room?

Features and Benefits

Conservatories and garden rooms offer slightly different benefits:

Conservatories Features and Benefits

  • Flooded with natural light
  • Great views of garden
  • Lightweight feel
  • Cheaper construction costs
  • Can augment heating from main house

Garden Rooms Features and Benefits

  • More flexible room uses
  • Greater soundproofing
  • Better insulation and temperature control
  • More privacy
  • Can fully integrate electrics and plumbing

Related: Conservatory Benefits

Planning Permission Requirements

Another key consideration is whether you’ll need planning permission or can just go ahead with certain building regulations for conservatories and garden rooms:

Conservatories Planning Requirements

Most conservatories under 30 square metres don’t need planning permission. Larger ones will need approval, unless at least half the walls are glass and the rest materials match your home. Specific regulations govern technical elements like foundations.

Garden Rooms Planning Requirements

Garden buildings also don’t normally need permission if under 30 square metres. Height is limited to 4 metres. Positioning shouldn’t overlook neighbour’s windows. Fire separation from the house and foundations must meet regulations too.

Related: Do You Need Planning Permission For A Conservatory?

Sustainability Considerations

How energy efficient and eco-friendly the structure is also affects running costs and appeal for conservatories and garden rooms:

Energy Efficiency

Conservatories lose a lot of heat through the glass and are harder to adequately insulate. Garden rooms though can meet much higher insulation standards, especially if you invest a bit more on triple glazing.

Building Materials

For conservatories, look for high-performance glass with solar control properties or even photovoltaic cells to generate solar energy! Hardwood from certified sustainable sources is preferable for frames. With garden rooms, materials meeting BREEAM environmental rating standards demonstrate sustainability credentials.

Which is the Better Investment Long-Term?

If looking at potential return on investment, two key factors are worth thinking about:

Resale Value

Well-designed structures that complement house styles tend to boost property asking prices. Garden rooms often have higher valuations currently as buyers want maximum versatility.


Conservatories may date quicker and be less accommodating for contemporary living needs. Garden rooms though readily convert to home offices, gyms or even rental accommodation if requirements change.


In summary, conservatories offer initial cost savings and great light. But, they may rack up higher heating and repair bills long-term. Garden rooms are a pricier investment upfront. But, they are easier to maintain and adapt, and may add value over time. Before deciding between these outdoor living space options, think about your budget. Also consider your intended uses and future plans. Both can enhance your home when well designed. Determining the better value option depends on your home improvement priorities and vision.


What are the typical dimensions for each structure?

Conservatories average 16 to 20 square metres. Garden rooms range from 15 to 35 square metres. Smaller builds under 30 square metres avoid planning permission obstacles in most cases.

Which is quicker to construct?

Conservatories take less time, typically 6 to 8 weeks. Garden rooms have a longer 10 to 16 week timescale on site. Factor these project durations in when comparing costs.

Can a garden room be linked to the house?

Yes absolutely. Attractive insulated room dividers with sliding or bifold doors maintain home integration while managing heat loss. Building regulation compliance ensures fire safety and other standards too.

What foundations are needed?

Conservatories just need concrete strip foundations around the perimeter due to lightweight structures sitting on them. Garden rooms require concrete slabs and beams to support solid wall construction and heavier tiled roofs.

Should electrics and plumbing be connected?

Not essential but recommended. Having power and water enables optimal room functionality for uses like kitchens or leisure. Underfloor heating also brings luxury while supporting temperature control. All services need meeting regulations.

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