What should I consider when adding a sunroom or greenhouse?

Follow these guidelines for making the right decision about adding a sunroom to your home.

Sunrooms and greenhouses are wonderful ways for both you and your plants to take advantage of the sunshine. These rooms can make great additions to your home, which is all the more reason to choose the right home improvement professional for the job.

Following these simple guidelines can make it possible for you to have that sunroom or greenhouse you'll appreciate for years to come.

Set a budget and stick to it

Come up with a realistic budget and keep it in mind as you make decisions regarding each aspect of your greenhouse or sunroom, especially when you meet with prospective contractors you find on Kudzu.com

Do your homework

Learn what's new in sunroom and greenhouse design and acquaint yourself with the available features and building materials. Pay particular attention to different types of frames and greenhouse types.

Know what you want

A sunroom is a glass-enclosed extension of your house. It may be used to grow plants, enclose a pool or just as an additional room for relaxing.

A greenhouse is either attached to a house or is a free-standing building. It is used exclusively to grow plants. There are dozens of greenhouse types and many kinds of building materials for these structures.

You'll need to decide what type of greenhouse or sunroom you want. Then you'll have to choose a building material and the kinds of features you would like. Will your sunroom or greenhouse need electricity? Maybe a misting system and exhaust fan? The more details you know before you talk to a contractor, the better.

Manufactured or custom design?

Decide whether you want a manufactured greenhouse or sunroom or one that is custom-designed for your home. If you don't know for sure, meet with contractors who would be willing to design your greenhouse or sunroom.

Find a contractor who specializes in greenhouses or sunrooms because these construction projects often can present unique challenges. A contractor who is familiar with these challenges will be able to save you time and money.

Get estimates from at least three contractors

If possible, get itemized bids that include the costs for taxes, permits, labor and materials.

Check a contractor's references and past work

Evaluate samples of the contractor's work and obtain references. Read reviews online and see how actual customers feel about the work. 

Ask to see examples of a contractor's past work in person. If a job you visit was finished more than a few years ago, ask how the work is holding up. If none of the contractor's references are from the last year or two, ask why.

Make sure your contractor is insured

Any contractor working in your home should have personal liability, worker's compensation and property damage insurance. Confirm up front that a prospective contractor has all three types of coverage.

Review a sample contract

Does your contract include a specific description of the work to be done, a payment schedule, a start date and an estimated completion date? Also, ask whether the contractor would be comfortable following a payment schedule that follows the project's progress.

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