Guide: Adding a Sunroom to Your Utah Home
Adding a sunroom to your home is an attractive and economical way to expand your living space and add character and value to your home. Selecting a sunroom design that ties well into the style, flow, and structure of your home is the first step in making this exciting enhancement to your lifestyle. There is a vast variety of design options, from basic styles with simple windows to elaborate structures with full glass ceilings and walls. Understanding how various sunroom designs fit with your budget, desired room size, and planned use can help you narrow your focus to suitable options and make the ideal choice. Sunrooms are a very desirable addition to a home for numerous reasons.
Benefits of a Sunroom
- Healthy lifestyle —Sunlight and relaxation are important for optimum health. A sunroom offers an ideal environment for both, while also providing protection from outdoor elements.
- Increased property value —Typically, a homeowner who sells a home with a sunroom addition recovers most of, or more than, the initial expense in adding the sunroom. Additionally, the attraction of a sunroom can be a big bonus in terms of the overall salability of a home.
- Expands living space —A sunroom takes in sunlight, providing an outdoor experience free from insects and weather hindrances. The versatility of the space permits a wide array of uses, including as an indoor patio, an additional family room, a breakfast nook, entertainment space, or as an indoor garden.
- Green energy —It provides a green source of home heating, even without utilizing an artificial heat source. By capturing extra sunlight, the room serves as a heating source that is a winter bonus on cold Utah days.
Before purchasing a sunroom
To make sure that your sunroom selection will meet your needs, consider the extent to which you plan to use your sunroom, seasonally or year-round.
- Seasonal sunrooms usually have only single-pane glass and often have screens, and usually don’t have central air-conditioning or heating. Sunrooms built for year-round use typically have an HVAC system and full weather protection.
- Your planned extent of use should help determine your choices of window types (single, double or triple glass pane), window material (Low E, Argon filled, tempered glass, etc.), wall structure choices (vinyl, aluminum, wood), flooring (tile, wood, stone, or simulated stone or wood), and roof configuration (slanted, curved, straight), roof material (glass or a standard home roofing material), and appropriate exposure (eastern, western, southern, northern).
Building restrictions vary between municipalities. These projects require review of a site plan for compliance with land use requirements. Building height, front, side, and rear yards are all regulated based on the zone that they are in. The Planning Specialist can usually review and approve this unless you are requesting a variance from what is allowed in the zone. The plans examiner will be particularly interested in verifying that the existing building can handle the additional loads that may be imposed on it from the new addition as well as the other code items mentioned above that are ordinarily checked. Depending on your home’s location and the sunroom design and type of structure you want to construct, you may be required to obtain a building permit. Contact the planning and zoning department for your municipality to ensure that your construction plans comply with all current building codes.
Best placement of sunroom for desired uses
One popular spot for a sunroom is adjacent to the kitchen. The sunroom very often becomes the preferred breakfast and lunch area. Other common locations include expansion of the living room, family room, dining room, game room, or in close proximity to any gathering space.
Considerations in choosing sunroom location
It is important to make the right choice of direction for your sunroom to face in relationship to sunrise and sunset in Utah. A good rule of thumb is to situate the sunroom so that it receives at least four hours of direct sunlight each day—so that it’s truly a “sunroom”. Decide on an appropriate exposure:
- Eastern —provides sunshine in the morning. This is a frequent choice for people who want to use their sunrooms for growing plants.
- Western —yields afternoon sun. This is sometimes preferred, depending on desired purposes for the space, and on times of day for most frequent use.
- Northern —minimizes direct sun exposure throughout the year, or eliminates it (depending on design).
- Southern —captures a bit of sun exposure throughout much of the day during the warm season.
What window structure to use
- Vinyl —Vinyl window framing is the most popular material for the supports. It costs the least, requires minimal upkeep, and offers the best in overall strength and insulation.
- Aluminum —By comparison, aluminum not a good insulator. It does not provide the quality of fit to afford optimum reduction of heat and cooling transfer that is provided by the vinyl alternatives.
- Wood —Constant maintenance requirements make wood a labor intensive and expensive option for window materials.
Window Glass – helps control heating and cooling costs
- LoE Glass —coated to reflect heat
- Window glazing —seals to prevent air and water exposure and resultant cracking
- Argon filled glass —sealed for energy-efficiency
- Tempered glass —increased strength for optimum safety
- Flat —usually less expensive to install, reduces room volume and related heating and cooling costs
- Slanted —adds a style element, adds space, improves air circulation, adds light due to additional glass panels that fill in the roof peaks
Optional climate control features
- Ceiling fans —Circulate air, reduce need for or provide supplement to air-conditioning, reduce cooling costs
- Window shades or blinds —Significantly reduces cooling loss and electricity costs
- Heating and cooling units —Permit maximal comfort control
- Sunrooms used as plant conservatories sometimes have plumbing for water and tile or other flooring suitable for high moisture areas.
- Those used as dining space should have power outlets for various uses, and perhaps even some storage for tableware.
- For all-purpose sunrooms, furniture low in height is recommended, vs. taller pieces that block sunlight. A sound system adds a deluxe retreat quality to the space.
- Adding features of interest, like a fireplace, waterfall, hot tub, etc. offer bonus to style and enjoyment. It’s essential to have such items safely installed by an experienced professional.
- Furniture, curtains, artworks and other décor tie in the space functionally and stylistically with the rest of your home.
Whether you’re planning a basic screened deck or a fully climate-controlled room constructed on a building foundation, your sunroom cost will depend on combined factors including your choices of design, materials, current labor rates, proximity to available tie-ins to power and plumbing sources, and any special issues in installation, among others.
Enjoy your new sunroom
Building your own sunroom using a kit or prefab template might be less expensive than having a professional installation, but requires skills. If instructions are not followed precisely, costly and hazardous consequences can emerge at any point during use of the structure. Complex designs should be executed by experienced professionals who are qualified to efficiently manage even very unique requirements. Using a professional sunroom contractor will also permit more flexibility to use creative combinations of materials that require appropriate integration between ceiling, walls, and flooring.