March 2014

Home Section: What you should know when purchasing a Sunroom

Author: Special to CH2

Ask to see models. If you’re speaking with a contractor, ask if any models are available to see. Many of the sunroom systems look similar in a brochure, but the fit and finish, amount of exposed fasteners, and design details can look quite different in person. Seeing a finished product will also be a huge help in getting a better “feel” of the room; the details often make a big difference. When you view a sunroom, it may look like the perfect solution for your needs, or you may feel it’s not the right fit. Either way, seeing a room in person helps you narrow down your choices and see your design options.

Get an onsite design and estimate. When shopping for a new sunroom, many contractors offer a free, no obligations design consultation. This typically includes coming to your home and taking proper measurements, as well as providing design ideas and an exact cost for the complete project. They should also provide great ideas on how to integrate the sunroom into the architectural design of your home. Don’t make the mistake of accepting any pricing via e-mail or over the phone. Some companies may do this, but it is a “guestimate” at best and doesn’t give you an exact price for your project. Most good sunroom contractors will also give you a price that will be all inclusive so that there are few if any “surprises.”

Insist on appropriate design and materials. Once complete, your sunroom will become a permanent part of your home. This will affect the long-term value of your home in a positive or negative way. A properly designed sunroom that is in keeping with the design of, and made from materials that are appropriate for your home will add long-term value. A sunroom that looks like it was “stuck” on your home or is made from low end materials will reduce the value of your entire home. Taking the time to have the proper design and materials will ensure that your sunroom is an investment with a solid return.

Look to see that both sashes open. Sliding style windows and doors are the most popular in sunroom design, because they offer large unobstructed glass areas with expansive opening for ventilation. If you look at the sliding doors and windows in a quality sunroom, they will have high quality roller wheels. Your windows and doors are the centerpiece of the room’s design. Therefore, it’s important to make sure they are made of high quality materials, especially when thinking about insulation value and that “outdoor” feel. Doing everything right the first time will provide long-term durability and longevity to your sunroom. Roller wheels, especially if quality rollers are used, add to the ease of operation of the window and door systems. Also look to be sure that both window sashes operate in a slider window system. Only high quality window systems and structurally superior sunroom designs allow for “double” slide window operation.

Request clearview screens. A large part of the appeal of a sunroom is the view to the outside. Many companies offer typical screens. However, clear view screens minimize any type of viewing obstruction. They are also stronger than typical screens. You’ll want your sunroom to come with these long-lasting screens to take full advantage of the views and to keep the bugs out!

Select quality hardware. Every sunroom has window and door hardware. They need to be high quality and easy to use. It is recommended to choose color matched handles with full locks. They look a lot better and tend to last longer.

Nail down the details. Ask if sub-contractors will be used on the job. If the answer is “yes,” ask what part of the work they will be doing for you. Certain parts of the project may be suited for trade specialists. No matter who is on your job, make sure everyone is fully insured to cover any mistakes or injuries on the job. Sunrooms will require permits and inspections. Make sure the contractor handles all the permits and inspections from start to finish; all inspections and proper permitting need to be complete to ensure a quality and code compliant project.

This is by no means a comprehensive list of ideas to consider, but with these thoughts in mind, you can be confident you are asking the right questions to assure you end up with the sunroom of your dreams.

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