You have the option to hire a contractor to create a room addition to your house. This will add more space to the home. However, it can be a costly option for budget-conscious homeowners who receive bids from general contractors. A custom-built addition can easily cost more than $100,000 and is almost impossible to obtain a custom addition for less that $50,000.
Many people are looking for other options to adding custom-made room additions because of these high prices. A sunroom, which is an area that connects indoor and outdoors spaces, offers a great alternative. It can provide additional living space as well as a place to relax. Sunrooms are often half the price of traditional stick-built additions, making them a popular choice.
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The confusing terminology used to describe add-on living spaces can be confusing for the uninitiated.
Stick-built refers to any type of structure built from scratch. It refers to additions to a house, rooms, or other types of bump-outs made from wood, concrete and glass. Also, it includes house sheathing and shingles. In areas where this is possible, these additions might have basements below them. True room additions must be equipped with both HVAC and electrical services. This room addition will increase the total square footage of your house. The International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) states that conditioned living spaces cannot contain more than 40% of the wall space for glass windows.
Sunrooms are recreational spaces that connect indoor and outdoor living areas. They often have a large amount of glass wall space, sometimes as high as 80 percent. Although it is not required by building codes, sunrooms do not need to be equipped with electricity or central heating/cooling services. Sunrooms are now equipped with electrical services. They may also have additional heating or cooling. Sunrooms are often built on floating concrete slabs that have shallow perimeter foundations. Full basements below sunrooms are uncommon.
Prefab vs. Custom-Built Sunrooms
There are two categories within the sunroom category. A local general contractor can design and build a sunroom according to your requirements. These sunrooms are built with traditional stud-and truss framing, shingle roofs and shingle roofs. However, the walls are primarily glass. They can be made by patio doors or full length windows.
Today’s sunrooms are more often constructed using prefabricated kits. These kits include the framework pieces made of steel, aluminum or fiberglass as well as the glass panels for walls. The prefabricated sunroom additions are usually assembled in a puzzle-like manner by skilled technicians. Although these kits are called “kits”, it does not mean they can be assembled by anyone. However, many homeowners have succeeded in assembling them. Prefab sunrooms are designed on-site and then shipped flat to your home in flat cartons. You can either assemble the sunroom yourself or hire a contractor who is associated with the manufacturer.
Sunroom costs can vary greatly. A small sunroom can cost as little as $8,000, while a larger sunroom with a slab-on-grade foundation could cost over $80,000.
These are the typical costs of a kit for a sunroom measuring 15 by 15 feet.
- Wooden kit sunrooms made with standard materials start at $15,000.
- Sunrooms made from top-of-the line aluminum and glass kits can be as high as $22,000
- If you desire a sunroom that can be used as a four-season space with wiring and heating, expect to spend between $20,000 and $35,000
Sunroom builders have been increasing their skill and changing some of the rules in recent years. This means that distinctions between sunrooms and stick-built additions is constantly changing. Prefab sunrooms used to be wired for electricity, but this was once the case. This is an option in most sunroom packages.
- HVAC: Sunrooms do not need central heating or cooling (HVAC). Sunrooms built to order usually have heating. This can be in the form fan-driven heaters or electric baseboards. True room additions must, however, have the same central HVAC system as the rest.
- Electrical service: Sunrooms do not have to be wired for electricity. However, custom-built sunrooms often are. Prefabricated sunroom kits might include provisions for electrical service. For electrical service, stick-built additions must be built to the same codes as the rest. This is why they can be more costly than sunrooms.
- Construction costs: Sunrooms are generally less expensive than room additions made by subcontractors and general contractors. Sunrooms cost about half the square footage of room additions.
- Sunrooms provide additional space: A sunroom’s main purpose is to provide ample natural light that can be used for reading, growing plants, or housing a spa. This distinction is important in real estate because supplemental space can be viewed differently to the essential living space provided by a true addition. A true room addition will add more equity to your home than a supplemental sunroom.
Many homeowners make incorrect assumptions about sunrooms in their rush to add sunrooms. These are some common myths that need to be corrected:
- Sunrooms do require building permits. A building permit is required to build any sunroom, custom-built or small-sized kit.
- Prefabricated sunrooms may not be as affordable as custom-built sunrooms. Prefab kits can be customized with many add-ons. A top-of the-line kit can cost as much as a room addition.
- A foundation may be required for sunrooms. The requirements for foundations are dependent on the specific codes in place. You will generally need a foundation to build a sunroom on site. Prefab kits can be attached to existing patio slabs and decks.
Prefab Sunroom Companies
These are some of the most reputable prefab sunroom makers:
- TEMO sunrooms: TEMO was founded in 1967 by Nino Vitale. Since then, TEMO has made sunrooms, patio covers, and screen rooms. TEMO is now located in Clinton Township (Michigan). They also offer basements/additions as well pergolas. TEMO sunrooms can be installed in as little as one or two days.
- Patio enclosures: Patio Enclosures is based in Macedonia (Ohio) and has been creating sunrooms ever since 1966. The company also makes sunroom furniture, solariums, sunroom blinds, shades, and screen rooms.
- Florian is based in Georgetown, South Carolina. He makes sunroom kits and greenhouses, as well as conservatories.
- Colorado sunroom and windows: Colorado Sunroom and Windows is based in Denver, Colorado. They make sunroom kits in many styles and provide quotes prices based upon your requirements.
The Final Word
Sunrooms are a great alternative to full-size additions. Sunrooms are typically cheaper than stick-built extensions. Additionally, there are fewer subcontractors involved so they can be built quickly. A sunroom, although it is an addition to living space, is often a great choice for homeowners.