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Sun Room

Old 01-16-2005, 08:23 AM
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Default Sun Room

Ok here is another home improvement project that I can begin now that I am truely done with work. I have a great view of a small wetlands Valley in the back of the house (that I mostly own and connot be developed) facing South where a sunroon would fit perfectly - due also to the home layout. Around the neighborhood I see many of the newer homes have two basic types.

One seems to be all glass and metal that I assume is form a pre-fab type kit. Some have built in blinds in the insulated glass. The roof of these can be glass also. Assume these require special tools and skills to install or use of a contractor. I llke the look of these. Haven't done any pricing yet.

The other seems to be a small extension of the house with a traditional roof wood construction some have sliders, french doors and other types of large windows that blend in with the home. This is also attractive to me as I could probably do it mostly myself.

I would like to incorporate a wood stove for year round use - somehow and would built either one on a deck type base with no foundation (pilings). Now that they have this flexible heating pipe material I could probably have hot water heating and do that myself.

I would like it to be able to used year-round and would like to be able to control the amount of Sun all times of year also. And much of the glazing would have to be able to convertible to screens for summertime ventilation as needed.

Any thoughts??? Anybody do a project like this recently? Any pictures would be appreciated also.
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Old 01-16-2005, 10:01 AM
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We priced out one of these sun rooms from a manufacturer 2 years ago. I think the per foot cost is going to knock you over. The one company we looked at (then we said NFW) was greater than 200/ft. That was a little too rich for the project.
I know that you can stick build one for a LOT less plus it matches the house instead of being stuck onto the side. Of course if you add heat to it for winter or cold day use, your costs naturally go up. I like your thought on the woodstove though. A nice soapstone or colored enamel stove would be very nice. You can easily find a used one season Vermont Casting woodstove. This can save a few bucks too.

My new house will have a 3 season porch (no heat or AC) vs the screen porch that is drawn on the plans we had done. I have the option of doing the 2 outside walls of glass at any time. The inside walls are already mostly glass over the 36" elevation to make the porch more part of the house. Final yes/no will be just where the numbers come in for constuction. I think I'll end up just doing it anyway. In the end I'll be happier and the cost of the 2 glass walls gets sucked into the much larger picture. This will make it easier to swallow.
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Old 01-16-2005, 12:50 PM
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If those things you see on the internet sites "Four seasons Sun Rooms" etc. are anywhere near $200. ft. Then my decision is made. I suspect they are expensive as they have proce calculators but you have to send in info and then a local contractor contacts you. I have found that when you can't get a price over the phone or on the net - the thing is ridiculously priced - they know it and that's why its not published... Plus with a wood stove and chimney, etc. it'll probably look better with a traditional roof and wood standard constuction.

Also don't want top price myself out of the neighborhood as I may not be living here forever...

Thanks

I liked this one but woith the small walls and brown frame- or with the woof interior..

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Old 01-16-2005, 01:20 PM
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The metal/ glass enclosure are outragously priced. Up here a 8' x 10' is worth approx. 20k and that price does not include the foundation, ultilities or flooring. Yes they are nice, but you could all to easily out price your home. Stick frame construction would probably cost you somewhere in the neighborhood of $40 a sq.

Either way you go Bob, depending on which way the back of you home is pointing, the heat of all that sun can very easily render the room usless - have you every stood in a greenhouse in the middle of summer when the fans arn't going? Trust me, it will knock you over.
Winter is just the opposite. Pretty much the BEST windows on the market today only have an R value of R3. In a sun room that translate into like having solid insulated walls but the doors left wide open. Without heating the room in the winter, expect to be able to freeze meat.

Now how were you figuring on opening the whole back side of the house to your new structure or just using an exterior set of french doors?

Edit:

Bob, that pic of your's above, figure on that extention is worth 200-250k.
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Old 01-16-2005, 01:33 PM
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The one that was looked at was a class act. It was 'going' to be installed on a rehab (spec) in a greater Boston suburb. Target market was 1.5 M. You got to draw lines someplace.

You now have me thinking about a woodstove you SOB I do have the option of just opening the windows and french door on those cool days and just let the heat from the house enter the room. It is going up in Northern Maine so I know I don't want it year round. It would be nice to enjoy it on the 50 degree days that's all. Our room sixe is 12X22. It will have a small cafe style table out there and some chairs w/ TV. A small wet bar will be just inside the house with a beer and wine fridge in the base cab. The finish deck elevation is the same as the first floor. (no step down)
Double wall stove pipe ain't that much money is it? It will not be visable from the street so the 'looks' are not that important. I need to lay out the room.
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Old 01-16-2005, 01:43 PM
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LI Grunt, my company has built quite a few sunrooms over the past few years. We stick frame them as an addition to the house, often where there is an existing screen porch or deck. I have no experience with the kits so I can't help you on that.

If you're looking for year-round use then you're not going to want a three-seasons room--that's exactly what it means--usable for three seasons because it's not insulated or conditioned.

I'm assuming that you intend to do this by the book, so you should contact your local building inspections department to see what their requirements are for one of these structures. If you're going to do it as an owner-built project I advise you to be sure that you are building it to the applicable building codes. If you do it on the cheap and go to sell your home at a later date you may find yourself dealing with "issues" relating to a structure that doesn't meet code. That can get costly for you and drag out/kill a sale. FWIW.

Here in NC there are limits to what you can build on a deck floor system. Don't know what the rules are in Connecticutt. Check this out. You may have to beef it up in order to meet the structural requirements.

The wood stove is a good idea, as are the windows with screens. We mostly install a mix of casement windows and fixed-glass insulated windows if we're trying to keep the costs down. (If the client wants to spend the money we often install all casements.) This allows for natural ventilation when the weather is nice but also keeps your space well-conditioned during the colder and hotter periods. If your budget allows, go ahead and purchase LowE (low emissivity) glass for the windows.

Here in NC the woodstove would be considered supplemental heat, so some other form of HVAC system would be required--as in heat pump, gas furnace/AC. This could be an extension of your existing home's HVAC system if it has the capacity. Or you could go with a wall-mounted or ceiling-mounted unit such as those manufactured by Sanyo and other companies. There are some good ones that don't sound like a B-52 taking off and they're priced lower than other options.

A lot of folks don't think of this when they become their own general contractor, but it's a major consideration for resale: have a designer put together some drawings for you to review and select from. There is nothing worse than going to someone's home who is so proud of their owner-built POS. A LOT of do-it-yourselfers consider design an expendable luxury. If you value the look and resale potential of your home don't overlook professional design help.

You might also consider adding some skylights. We install only Velux brand because they are trouble-free if properly installed. (In other words, read the instructions BEFORE you install them).

Good luck with your project.


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Old 01-16-2005, 01:55 PM
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Default RE: Sun Room

Gotta disagree on skylights. 15 year flashing kits with 35/45 year shingles just don't cut it for me. Out of ALL of the GC's I know, not ONE of them has skylights.
Down South it may be a whole new story. I have no real world experience there so please forgive my ignorance if it applies.
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Old 01-16-2005, 06:01 PM
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Mist Rest, I'm definitely not up on Connecticutt skylight requirements, but down here in the sunny south, we have been installing Velux skylights for over 25 years. We are a small company with a reputation for high quality construction and exceptional service. We have lots of repeat clients for additions and remodeling of all types. About 15 years ago we had three clients call us about leaking skylights. We were so concerned (we install LOTS of skylights) that we went to every single home we'd ever installed a skylight on and physically checked each skylight.

It turns out that a roofing subcontractor we were using didn't bother to read the instructions and was lapping a counterflashing flange under instead of OVER the flashing. (A seemingly minor detail that has major ramifications)

Since we redid all of the installations this sub had screwed up we have had ZERO callbacks on skylight leaks. That's why we use Velux.

That's the truth, the hull truth and nothing but the truth. So help me cod.



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Old 01-16-2005, 06:26 PM
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It would not suprise me if the freeze thaw cycles had anything to do with it. Lots of days in the minus 0 temps up North. It's expected.
I just will not take the risk for the small amount of enjoyment they can offer. That's all. Nothing personal.
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Old 01-17-2005, 01:16 AM
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From my exposure Bob, I too would not install a skylight in my home even if the best of skylights was given to me for free - I just wouldn't do it.
- Up here in a land where winter is cold, condensation is a problem. If it's not a problem with the skylight, then condensation is a problem with the skylight well.
- Also, tarring off the exterior of the skylight or caulking it to sealed it is almost a frugal effort because of expansion and contraction properties.
- The best way to deal with condensation issues in the well at the skylight in the north country is to install a ventilation system with every skylight. This venting system should be self monitoring and exhausted straight to the outside.

Skylight venting systems should be heat and moisture sensitive and automatic per thermostat. Bob the heat in a sun room will kill you. Period. If you don't deal with the heat and moisture in the first place, I guarantee you in a year's time, you'll wish you never spent the money on a room that you barely use. But now if you are building a two season room that's a totally different story - spring and fall.

But aside from my personal opinions above, there is enough windows in the room to over heat one in the summer time and way to much windows in the winter time to freeze one's a$$ off. What and now add skylights to this problem? It's just not worth it Bob - plain and simple; I WOULDN'T DO IT EVEN ON A FRIDAY!

As far as building a sun room off of a deck construction - yah right. Bob you will NEVER use that room in the winter time because the floor will be so cold unless you make a sandwich insulated construction. I know you well enough Bob to say, you would want the room's floor warm enough for your granddaughter's bare bottom to comfortably be on. If it is not done right, "you" will need your winter boots on to be in the room in the late fall and the winter time. Double insulation in the form of layer would be your only alternative unless you went to radiant floor heat. But radiant heating will kill you with heating expenses if you didn't deal with things properly in the first place..
When installing insulated deck style floors one needs to watch out for condensation problems as well.

If you don't deal with the problems associated with sun rooms properly in the firs place, the room will be rendered a 2 - 2 ½ season room at best - IMO not worth the money. If one is only going to get 2 ½ seasons use out of it, one might as well put up a screened in awning and save a pile of money.
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Old 01-17-2005, 09:34 AM
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Thanks to all. yes the sunroom with Glass roofing would certainaly be hot - But I have seen these built in "shade" systems whereby you flip a switch and the Blinds or whatever unfold inside the roofing glass panes to give you a sunblocked roof. But ofcourse they are extrememly and probably prohibitively expensive.

And part of the point of the project is to do this my self to the extent possible. So it will be standard add a room stick frame construstion with hopefully creative glazing and ventilation systems. Although with these new flexible tube heating systems I suppose radient heat is now getting a reberth. But I don't think I'll gamble on that. So sounds like even a foot of insulation in the floor would still be cold in the winter...? Aagin - don't think I wanna gamble on that. Just thought of trying to use less concrete and more wood so I could do more myself.

And yes after I draw up plans I will have them fine tuned by a local architect that I have worked with in the past.

I have installed several home made skylights in previous homes. None leaked but had a condensation with one where I had a Glass Plate on the roof and then a totally open attic that I thought would provide enough ventilation and another double pane glass plate in the kitchen directly under the roof glazing. The whole thing was like 6 feet by 6 feet and let in tons of needed light to the kitchen. It looked Kinda cool - seeing the rafters form the kitchen, but in certain weather conditions water condensed and drops formed on the attic side of the kitchen glass. Never got around to changing the roof glass to double pane which may have eliminated the problem...

Thanks to all for the advice - been looking at some nice rooms locally...
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Old 01-17-2005, 10:28 AM
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I recently added a metal addition to my MH at the NC coast. I basically built a 12x18 deck on the back of the MH and put the metal addition on the deck. The metal additions are nice from the perspective of nice - clean - neat - shiny - no painting required and you dont have to worry about the weatherization as much close to the coast as you do with wood.

Mine is a screened porch type but I can add the windows later if I choose. I did spill for the insulated roofing to keep the heat tolerable in the summer. It really does help during the middle of the really hot days. It probably keeps the room 20 degrees cooler than the non insulated rooms during the peak of summer when the sun is high.

My advice is do not try to install a metal addition without the help of someone who is experienced in the installation. The product is totally unforgiving and measure twice cut once really is applicable - measure 5 times cut once would be better.

My cost breakdown was around 10k for the entire addition and I helped the contractor on the footings/deck (6 x 6 - 42" depth surrounded by 30" concrete) and the roof installation. I did the electrical and the carpet. I figure I saved about 1500 in labor with my assistance.

The metal kits can be bought from Ballew's aluminum in SC. You will have to have a contractor's license to purchase from them or know someone who will purchase it for you. If you send them plan's/sketches they can help you estimate your total product needs.
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Old 01-17-2005, 11:38 AM
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This topic brings back memories of a few years ago when I started to look at sun rooms. Like the old Crazy Eddies of electronics fame, "THE PRICES WERE INSANE". Wound up at the drawing board for options. End result was a 14'X28' addition which is part dinette, part rec room, used year round, heated, plenty of windows. With the exception of the 3' block crawl space, I did all the work myself. Best move I ever made. Upped value of house much more than the sunroom would have and the cost was quite reasonable. While I was at it, gutted the kitchen and replaced all appliances, cabinets,light fixtures,new ceramic floor, etc..
Check all your options, think of future value and in my opinion stay with a stick built to keep the costs down. Home depot and Lowes have some great deals on windows, I used HD, nice windows, no problems unlike some of the andersons that are in the rest of the house. Just my thoughts, good luck.
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Old 01-17-2005, 03:23 PM
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LI Sound Grunt - 1/17/2005 10:34 AM

yes the sunroom with Glass roofing would certainaly be hot - But I have seen these built in "shade" systems whereby you flip a switch and the Blinds or whatever unfold inside the roofing glass panes to give you a sunblocked roof.
Yes most of our Wendy's have these, but they are still quite warm in the summer time, even with their industrial strength A/C units pumping it out.

Although with these new flexible tube heating systems I suppose radient heat is now getting a reberth. But I don't think I'll gamble on that.
They are very reilable Bob. They are extremely efficent and cost effective if you already have a boiler system for you heat source. There is also electric radient systems.

So sounds like even a foot of insulation in the floor would still be cold in the winter...?
YES IT WILL BE, and that my friend is no fun at all. What you need to do is build the floor with at least a 2x10, that will give you a R36 value. On the underside of the joists you will need to clad it with 1/4" chip board or something to keep the rodents out. Top side of the joist will be ½" tongue and grove. Then install an inch of Styrofoam SM, a sealed layer of Super 6 poly, then another layer of ½" tongue and grove plywood. You will now be good for a tile or hard wood floor. This floor does not have heat but will be warm enough for your granddaughters bare bottom on the coldest of winter days - a carpeted floor is only a bonus but is not needed.



Venting of ANY indoor air should NEVER be vented into the attic = condensation problems in the attic. Basically any insulation that would be found in the attic does not take well to moisture = GREATLY reduces it's R value for ever.
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