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With so many homes hampered by tiny, claustrophobic kitchens, a certain home improvement project has been growing in popularity: conservatory kitchen extensions! As the name suggests, the gist of this job involves building a conservatory extension leading off from a kitchen, providing extra space and an abundance of healthy natural light.

This solution offers a number of advantages, most notably that conservatories are often cheaper to build than standard extensions. They can also provide a welcome walkthrough to a property’s garden, letting in more natural light and showing off views of the outdoors. This can make a conservatory extension the perfect place to set up a space for dining or prep work; some even choose to relocate their entire kitchen to their new conservatory, freeing up valuable room indoors.

Building any kind of extension is never a tiny task. It will be important to run your idea past a local architectural designer first and foremost, as they will be able to design the conservatory and incorporate all of the materials you want to use through building information mapping. They can also predict the work necessary to alter your property’s utilities to accommodate the extension, which will be particularly important if you want to relocate the kitchen itself. That said, if you simply want a conservatory to use for dining or food preparation, an experienced local builder may be able to get the work done more cheaply.

Be sure to contact a local kitchen fitter at the start of your project. In addition to performing the kitchen fitting work, they will also be able to help you source materials at a discount and advise you on kitchen design elements. Remember, for any home improvement project experience is absolutely golden; asking the right Pro for advice could be the deciding factor that leaves you with something truly fantastic when all the work is finished. 

Before we get started it is worth pointing out that extension work will, at the very least, be subject to Building Regulations. In addition to applying for approval, you may also require Planning Permission. Be sure to get consent for the work in advance: you do not want to pay for your project, only to be told that you need to undo everything because of an issue with the paperwork. This is another advantage of hiring experienced local Pros, as they should be well versed in local planning law.

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Can I turn my conservatory into a kitchen?

The question of whether you can simply turn the conservatory that you already have into a kitchen is actually surprisingly common. In fact, it’s almost as common as the answer is blunt: probably not.

In order to accommodate a kitchen, an existing conservatory usually needs a great deal of physical work done. Ventilation will need to be added for the cooker and insulation will need to be installed in order to make the kitchen usable all year round. Many kitchens are also simply too small to comfortably contain a cooker, fridge, countertops, sink, dishwasher, washing machine and so on. Remember, it is not just about fitting them all in: you also need to be able to use them without straining yourself.

For all these reasons, using a timber framed conservatory as a kitchen is usually out of the question. Solid brick conservatories and orangeries have slightly more potential, provided they have the space, but as a general rule it usually makes more sense to build a new conservatory from scratch.

Creating a conservatory kitchen

Here are generally two types of conservatory kitchen extension:

  • Conservatories used as kitchens
  • Kitchens which open into conservatories

We recommend the latter for a number of reasons. First, relocating a kitchen is not just a matter of lifting the units into place. You will also need to alter your property’s plumbing, electrical and gas utilities, install ventilation above your cooker and, depending on the size of your extension, you may also need to upgrade your fuse box. This of course brings us to the second reason: price. While building a conservatory from scratch will make it easy to accommodate the necessary utilities and installation, working all this in will still be more expensive than simply creating a cosy kitchen add-on.

That said, there are a few perks to moving your kitchen. For one, it will free up valuable space indoors. Most people however do it in order to give themselves a more attractive work space (at least in the summer, before the outside views begin to turn dreary).

Whatever your decision, it will be important to plan the work carefully. Almost all projects like this are done bespoke because the structural, space and design considerations can vary considerably from house to house. Because of this we highly recommend having architectural plans drawn up by an architectural designer

There are a few common elements, however:

  • Glazing and insulation - Your conservatory-kitchen should be comfortable to use all year round, which means thick glazing and adequate wall insulation
  • Ventilation - If you want to cook in your conservatory, you will need an extractor or flue above your hob
  • Appliances - Most budget-conscious homeowners leave these in the current kitchen in order to avoid having to spend too much on utilities. However, you can certainly afford to move one or two appliances to your conservatory, such as your freezer or microwave, if you are desperate for space
  • Storage - Good storage should be a priority in any kitchen. A conservatory can provide all the space you need for new cabinets, shelves or other solutions, so take advantage of some space saving home hacks
  • Worktops - Another key advantage of a conservatory kitchen extension is being able to give yourself more kitchen worktops for food prep. Options like kitchen islands can also double as dining furniture
  • Connecting door - Most kitchen-conservatories remain separated by a door. This is not just a structural consideration: external doors also help to insulate your property and ensure it meets regulation standards for energy efficiency. The structural calculations for replacing the door with a lintel or rsj should be done by a local structural engineer
  • Decor - Granted, the most dominating decorative feature of your new conservatory or orangery will be the windows, but things do not have to end there. Think about what you want in terms of flooring, furniture and accessories. Remember, your architectural designer can factor these into your plans using building information modelling

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Building a conservatory kitchen extension

If you want your project to go smoothly, there are two things for you to keep in mind:

  • Planning permission and Building Regulations - An experienced local builder or architectural designer should know enough about local planning law to make applications on your behalf, but it will be your responsibility to make sure that this is done. It may sound like a hassle, but for a project this expensive it simply isn’t worth the risk of assuming your local planning authority won’t notice the work.
  • Access - Demolishing an old conservatory and building the foundations for a new one requires heavy machinery. Your workmen will need proper access to your property, or else the project will become more expensive and drawn out.