OK, so you really want to extend the family home but are not quite sure how to tell the difference between an Orangery and a Conservatory?
Both Orangeries and Conservatories have their roots firmly planted (pun intended!) back in 17th to 19th Centuries. They were originally used more or less as “greenhouses” to grow Citrus trees (hence the name Orangery). Conservatories were the second of the two to appear, as they were a development of the original Orangery room.
To help you out, here are some “easy to spot” external visual differences between the two types of home extensions.
The first clue is in the way the walls are built. Conservatories are always “3 sided”, utilising the actual house itself as the 4th wall.
Orangeries can sometimes be built as a stand-alone building,
For Conservatories, the walls will be mostly full length floor to ceiling glazed panels. They can, however, often feature low level brickwork known as Dwarf Walls as a design feature. These Dwarf walls are rarely more than a couple of feet or half a metre in height.
Orangeries will typically make extended use of solid walling such as brickwork and pillars. Windows will be built within these solid sections. This makes the Orangery a sort of “mid-point” between a Conservatory and a full house single storey extension.
The second clue lies in the way the roof of each room is constructed.
Orangeries will typically be a combination of part glazed, part solid flat roof. A popular type of Orangery roof will consist of a vaulted (raised) central glazed “dome or lantern” around which is a flat roof section (a bit like a square polo-mint if you like, with the centre “hole” being the glazed section).
Whilst Conservatories can also have vaulted or lantern roofing (Gable, Victorian, Edwardian for example), they are almost always full glass (or equivalent).
As ever, there are both conservatory and orangery designs in the market that may well “blur the line” between the two, but in most cases the above will hold true.
Visual clues are all very well and good, but what else is there to differentiate that is not so immediately obvious?
I think it’s fair to say that an average orangery installation will be more involved and labour intensive than that needed to install a conservatory. So just based on labour & materials, you can expect the cost of a fully fitted orangery to be more than that of a conservatory of the same size.
Most conservatories in the UK fall into the category of permitted developments and may be built without the need for prior planning permission. This may not be the case with an Orangery.
If you do need it, having to acquire planning permission before you start work will inevitably take time and have an associated cost.
There are rules & regulations regarding the construction of home extensions such as conservatories in the UK and you can find out more about that here: Conservatory Planning Permission.
Again, in general, because Orangeries can be more complex to build than a conservatory, they could take more time to complete.
If you take an average uPVC lean-to conservatory that utilises a pre-fabricated steel base, has full glass sides and a standard type roof (and does not need planning permission), it can be fully fitted in quite a short space of time.
Compare that to an Orangery that has extensive brickwork and a heavy solid roof. The construction will need to be quite robust with appropriate foundations and possibly need planning permission. You can clearly see that it’s almost certain to take a lot longer to finish.
At the end-of-the-day, it usually comes down to personal preference and budget.
Contemporary budget conservatory designs make for some excellent examples of living spaces that are very functional and cost effective. But if you have the inclination, many top of the range bespoke conservatories can easily give Orangeries a run for their money.
Orangeries, on the other hand, offer what is often considered to be a more solid or permanent solution to increasing living space in the home.
Whilst not the cheapest way to extend a home, Orangeries do add significant visual appeal and also cost effective because they do add actual “measurable re-sale value” to a property.