The potential problems of replacing your conservatory roof and how to avoid them

Replacing your conservatory roof can seem like a minefield and you might be concerned whether you can do it. Before you make any major improvements to your home, it’s important to be armed with all the facts. Although it’s becoming less common, there are still cowboy companies out there trying to make a quick buck. This means they could be cutting corners with building regulations or using substandard materials. Before you get quotes, ensure you know the legal facts as well as what you want from a replacement conservatory roof.

Why is my conservatory roof so important?

Conservatories are one of the most desired home improvements. This is due to the extra space they give you as well as an abundance of light. However, original conservatories from the 1980s and 90s were often built with a polycarbonate roof. The majority of these are getting to the end of their natural life. Heat in any room is lost through the roof as heat rises so it’s important your conservatory roof is insulating. The roof is also the key component of any structure so if it’s damaged, this can compromise the whole conservatory.

What’s wrong with my polycarbonate roof?

replacing your conservatory roof- polycarbonate vs solid

Polycarbonate was used for conservatories as it’s cheap and can keep the rain and wind out. Nowadays, the affordability is one of the only benefits and this can show in terms of performance and aesthetics. Many polycarbonate roofs are opaque so don’t allow beautiful views of a clear blue sky or starry winter’s night. They certainly don’t have the attractiveness of crystal-clear glass. They can also be hard to keep clean which makes them look worn and tired over time.

Polycarbonate conservatories have a reputation for being a cash drain due to poor energy efficiency. If your conservatory suffers from the following issues, then a replacement conservatory roof could be perfect for you:

Too hot in summer and too cold in winter

This is the most common problem suffered by polycarbonate conservatories. It’s not a great thermal insulator so cannot keep your warmth in when the temperatures drop. Polycarbonate also doesn’t keep the sun out, so in the summer, your conservatory can feel like an unbearable greenhouse. The sun’s glare can also be extremely strong. This forces many homeowners to abandon their glazed extensions for half the year which isn’t a good use of space or money.

Loud rain

The sound insulation of polycarbonate isn’t great which means it’s not a peaceful place to be when it rains. Even the lightest of rain can make an unbearable racket. So, if you want a relaxing lounge where you can unwind, a polycarbonate roof probably won’t give you what you need.


If you’re suffering from leaks, this is a clear sign that your roof needs to be replaced before your home is damaged any further.

What is a solid conservatory roof and why do I want one?

A solid conservatory roof is normally made of tiles or solid panels. They make your conservatory feel as warm as the rest of your home and it becomes a natural extension rather than an add-on. You can still enjoy letting some light in with skylights which will let you control ventilation. The benefit of less glazing is that during summer you can stay shaded against the sun’s strongest rays. With u-values as low as 0.18, your conservatory will stay at a perfect temperature all year. You’ll notice an impressive saving on your energy bills with a more efficient conservatory.

With a range of coloured tiles, you can boost your home’s kerb appeal and make it feel fresh and new. Another popular benefit of a solid roof is that you get a plastered ceiling. This continues the flow with the rest of your home. You can then have spotlights or even a chandelier put in to add an elegant touch.

What about a new glass roof?

You might think that a new glass roof will suffer the same problems as polycarbonate, but this isn’t true. Using modern energy efficient glass, you can still enjoy an abundance of light and gorgeous views. You can even choose to have a triple glazed roof to ensure that both sound and thermal insulation are at their highest performance. Only the right amount of energy from the sun will enter so your room won’t overheat, and your warmth won’t escape.

Thinking of replacing it yourself?

replacing your conservatory roof -DIY

Unless you’re a trained expert this could cause you issues. DIY roofs may seem cheaper, but this often means something is compromised. Whether it’s the quality or safety, they aren’t usually the long-lasting solution that your conservatory needs. It’s far better for your wallet, safety and home to let a professional deal with it. If something was to go wrong, your insurance provider might not cover you if the roof is not professionally installed. If you’re not 100% sure what you’re doing, an accident is more likely as well as a poorly installed roof.

Is planning permission required to replace my conservatory roof?

Replacing the roof on your conservatory normally doesn’t need planning permission as regulations changed in 2010. However, you may still need building regulation approval. What’s the difference? Planning permission is concerned with changes to your home that may affect the wider environment or your neighbours. Building regulations refer to standards set to ensure a home is safe and comfortable to live in. For example, when adding a solid roof to an existing conservatory structure, a survey will be carried out. This ensures that the bearing load is strong enough to cope with a heavier roof. Cutting corners here could cause your conservatory to collapse. To avoid this, it’s extremely important that all building regulation control checks are carried out. In some situations, your conservatory windows or doors could need to be replaced. Ensure you understand whether the company will be sorting out any permission or whether you’re expected to.

What could happen if I don’t get my new conservatory roof approved?

replacing your conservatory roof- approval and planning permission

When conservatories were first used, they were considered a temporary structure. Adding a solid roof makes them permanent so planning permission could be required as a ‘change of use’ has occurred. This can differ on a case by case basis though so it’s best to talk to your local authority who can advise you. Sometimes simply adding skylights for ventilation can be all that’s needed to satisfy building regulations. Failing to follow these rules could incur a fine or you could be asked to have your new roof dismantled. An unapproved conservatory could also cause difficulties when you sell your home.

The following rules must be followed to not require planning permission:

  • Your conservatory roof cannot be higher than the highest part of your home
  • Your conservatory should be separated from the rest of your home by exterior standard windows and doors and should be no more than 30 sq. m
  • If you live in a conservation area or listed building, there may be additional restrictions on what you can do. Contact your local authority before you do anything else

How can I ensure my new conservatory roof is safe and efficient?

The best way to ensure your conservatory roof ticks all the boxes is by using a conservatory specialist like Win-Dor. They will ensure that all the correct regulations and permissions are complied with. A full survey of your current conservatory’s structural integrity will be carried out. For some no-obligation and honest advice, contact Win-Dor today.