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How to Construct an Orangery

By: Lucy Debenham BA (hons) - Updated: 25 Nov 2010 | comments*Discuss
Gardening Plants Orangery Flowers

The British orangery has its roots in the 17th century. The building of orangeries was taken up by the nobility in England who wanted to cultivate orange trees in the cool climate of Britain.

Although today's orangery may or may not hold budding orange trees, the modern usage of the word most commonly refers to a home extension with solid walls and a glazed roof.

This type of arrangement offers much more privacy than a traditional conservatory and orangeries tend to complement home styles in a more pleasing manner. Their design also makes them much more energy efficient than the typical conservatory.

Not only does it provide a stylish way to bring gardening indoors, the orangery is an excellent space for relaxation and entertaining. The extra living space is used in a number of ways, including as a dining room, home office or playroom. A well-designed orangery can add real value to your home.

Orangery Design & Materials

Given the traditional style of most orangeries, they tend to fit in quite well with older dwellings. In fact, the question more often is whether an orangery will complement a modern home. Most people find that an orangery fitted to any style of home has aesthetically pleasing results.

Common construction materials for orangeries tend to be timber or stone. These materials are stronger and lend a more traditional look to the structure. However, orangeries can now be built using PVC or aluminium. A good compromise is to use low-maintenance aluminium on the outside with traditional timber on the inside.

Some homeowners learn how to construct an orangery simply to add living space to their home. Others are keen gardeners excited by the prospect of growing tropical plants in the middle of winter. If you do intend to actually use your orangery as a gardening space, make sure you consider this early in the planning stages.

You may want to consult with an expert regarding indoor gardening tips. Optimising your orangery design for growing certain plants will require adjusting factors such as humidity, light levels, flooring, planting beds and ventilation.

Planning Permission

As you learn more about how to construct an orangery, don't neglect the possible need for planning permission. If your dwelling is a listed building or you live in a Conservation Area, you'll probably need planning permission to build your orangery (or any home extension for that matter).

Not to worry, though - the traditional roots of the orangery and its ability to blend with existing architecture usually assure its approval. In general, planning regulations and building rules that apply to conservatories probably apply to orangeries as well.

Build or Contract?

The orangery has a rich heritage in British history. Today, there is a resurgence of interest in how to construct an orangery that is due in no small part to improved technology. The invention of double-glazing, under floor electric heating, man-made insulation materials and other innovations have made orangeries easier to maintain and less expensive to heat.

Is an orangery a DIY project? Perhaps it is in the sense of serving as your own contractor. However, if you have visions of constructing an orangery alone over the course of a few weekends, you had better be quite sure of your skills. An orangery is a true home extension and will require the services of qualified tradesmen.

Electrical work is one such example - in order to be sure that you comply with building standards, you'll need a qualified electrician on hand. If you want to contract the job yourself, you can hire an orangery design service. Otherwise, many companies that specialise in the design and construction of conservatories and orangeries can be found online. Construction time is commonly listed at about five weeks.

Adding an orangery to your home provides additional space for living, working and relaxing. Plus, it has the added benefit of allowing you to bring your garden indoors. Even if you choose not to grow tropical plants, you can certainly use your orangery to protect tender vegetation from harsh winter weather. All this and an increase in your home's value too! It's easy to see why more and more people are interested in learning how to construct an orangery.

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