Glass Structure Planning Guide for Homeowners

by | Oct 25, 2017 | Planning

Glass structures transform homes through the architectural beauty and natural sunlight they introduce. But glass door, window, roof, and skylight elements require special considerations. That’s where expertise matters. We’ve prepared this consumer resource for homeowners considering renovation projects involving glass design. In it, we’ll touch on a few topics every prospective buyer should be aware of.


Selecting a Glass Structure Dealer or Construction Expert


Many glass structure dealerships offering sunroom, conservatory, orangery, or greenhouse units only offer prefabricated products with modest customization options. These units often suffer performance limitations which restrict the regions and climates they can be used in. In a region with highly variable weather like New England, this can be a deal breaker. If you’re going to the trouble and expense of renovating your home, the last thing you need is a series of headaches brought on by improper thermal regulation, increased heating bills, leaks, or worse. Just as importantly, you want a structure that looks beautiful and pairs well with your home’s existing appearance.

Research is crucial! Consider speaking to a company’s most recent clients or asking for references if needed. The goal at this stage is to ensure that a company’s qualifications are satisfactory. Another option: investigate the company’s Better Business Bureau profile (if available). Also look at a company’s social media presence and assess the sort of response they receive from past clients. Taken together, this body of information should give you a sense of what to expect if you choose to work with that company.


Designing Your Home Addition or Renovation


Once you’ve settled on a company and made initial contact, you need to be able to convey your ideas, concerns, and goals. A proper design-build firm will be able to present you with design sketches that indicate the options and approaches available for your project. Throughout the design, budgeting, redesign, and re-budgeting period, it is essential that you are able to maintain open lines of communication in order to avoid disappointment. The end result of this process should be a final plan that meets your budgetary and design requirements.

During the design period, you and your builder will work together to plan the construction elements which will support your glass structure, connect it to your home, and render it a comfortable year-round living space. This often isn’t possible with prefab structures, and is a strong argument in favor of custom design and construction—our specialty.

Your structure will likely require a concrete support system of either helical piers or poured concrete walls. You may need a conventionally framed base wall for heating and electrical components. Oftentimes the wall between the glass enclosure and the home is removed to create a full opening into the new room. In other cases, sliding doors, atrium doors, or French doors are used for access. Other considerations include exterior siding, trim, interior finishes, flooring, and stylistic flourishes.

Remember that your sunroom, orangery, or conservatory shouldn’t seem “stuck on” to your home. The goal of the design process is to create a seamless pairing between your new structure and the existing architecture. This is the responsibility of the glass construction specialist. If you’re using a dealer that doesn’t have its own design-build team, you will require multiple companies involved in the process instead of the one-stop shop experience provided by a design-build company like Sunspace Design.


Sunspace Design crewmembers are hard at work installing new glass panes in the glass roof of a stunning Rye, New Hampshire conservatory

Sunspace Design is a one-stop design and construction company that gets the job done throughout New England.
Our team is experienced and capable. And the results? Absolutely stunning.

Budgetary Expectations for Glass Structure Projects


Let’s make this clear at the outset: prefabricated models are cheaper than the alternatives. Unfortunately, you often receive a low-quality product as a result. Custom glass design and construction products offer superior aesthetics, performance, durability, and overall quality. Budgets for these projects will be comparable to conventional upscale construction projects of comparable workmanship and size.

Every homeowner embarking upon a renovation project must decide what they’re seeking. The price tag will be higher if you want a high quality, custom addition, but the results will be worth it. Nowhere is the phrase “you get what you pay for” truer than in the building industry. That said, we pride ourselves on our ability to extract the maximum value of each dollar spent.

When setting your budget, it will help to be aware of the major components of a new addition. Whether you’re looking for a conventional construction project, a sunroom, conservatory, orangery, or a custom greenhouse, you can expect the following requirements:

  1. A support system
  2. A frame (including a floor system, base walls, etc.)
  3. The glass enclosure itself (or, in the case of conventional construction; walls, roof components, siding, insulation, plaster, trim, etc.)
  4. Electrical
  5. Heating
  6. Flooring
  7. Documents (building permits, construction drawings needed to obtain permits, and the possibility of plot plans or survey requirements)

The estimate you receive should include all of the items necessary to fully complete and occupy your new room, so be sure that this is the case before signing off. Any items not included in the budget should be listed separately with dollar amounts provided so that you have a full understanding of the costs you might incur during your project’s completion.


A seating area is located beside a newly renovated kitchen and beneath a gorgeous orangery-style skylight in this Medfield, Massachusetts home

This orangery-style skylight and enclosure was installed by Sunspace Design in Medfield, MA.
When you partner with an experienced firm like ours, you can expect the very best quality.


All of this is another way of saying that it’s very important to settle on a budget upfront. What are you comfortable paying? Ask yourself this question at the outset of the project. It’s not uncommon for a budget to be lower than what’s required for the project. An experienced builder will be able to provide preliminary cost information based on recent completions. If your budget isn’t realistic for the type of project you have in mind, work with your specialist to modify the scope and budget until you’re satisfied with the plan.


Sunspace Design’s Glass Design and Construction Expertise


At Sunspace Design, we pay close attention to every element needed to successfully complete a construction project. Throughout our 35+ years of continuous operation, we’ve designed and built hundreds of residential sunrooms, conservatories, orangeries, greenhouses, pool enclosures, and custom glass structures. In practical terms, that means we’ve had many opportunities to understand and work with the clients in our region. We’ve learned how to solve a broad range of challenging problems in order to produce the kinds of spaces our clients dream of.

Perhaps most importantly to the consumer, we know what our projects cost. When we provide a preliminary estimate, you can expect a full inventory of the costs associated with your project. Nobody likes expensive surprises, so we work hard to avoid them.


This photo of a happy Belmont, Massachusetts family was taken after Sunspace Design finished work on their kitchen renovation

This happy Belmont, MA family received a gorgeous kitchen renovation. See the details here.
See those smiles? That’s how you should feel in your brand new space!

We also help you avoid those surprises by identifying and addressing important areas of consideration in the budget itself. These areas include ventilation, roof glass, window, and door selection. You’ll always be equipped with the information needed to make a good decision. And because we can offer a full range of services from planning to design to construction, you’ll be in good hands from start to finish.

If you’d like more information about our offerings, or if you wish to discuss your plans or goals, please contact us. We’ll make every effort to provide the information you need. We appreciate your interest, and hope that this guide has given you some insight as to what to expect as you begin the process of transforming your home. To reach us, click here to use our contact form, email us at, or call us on the phone at 1-800-530-2505.

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