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Complete Sunroom: Cost, Definition, Pros & Cons, Examples


guide to sunrooms

Sunrooms | A Complete Guide

What is a sunroom?

A sunroom (also solarium, garden room, sun parlor, sun porch, patio room, Florida room, and other variations) is an enclosed structure, either attached or integrated into a building which allows in ample sunlight while being sheltered from the elements.


Types of Sunroom

There are 3 main types of sunroom, and each is suited a specific climate. The three types of sunroom are:
  • 3 Season Room
  • 4 Season Room
  • Solarium

4 Season Sunrooms come in 2 varieties. They can either be "stick-in" or integrated into the structure to which they are attached, or they can be "stand alone", meaning they are attached to the structure but can be removed with relative ease at a later date

1.) 3 Season Sunrooms


3-season-sunroom

Features of a 3 Season Sunroom

  • Generally Pre-Fabricated Off-Site
  • Does not have central AC/Heating
  • Not insulated against heat or cold
  • May not be suitable for very hot or very cold climates
  • Least Expensive to build

2.) 4 Season Sunrooms


4-season-sunroom

Features of a 4 Season Sunroom


  • Can be pre-fabricated or built on-site
  • Has central AC/Heating
  • Insulated against heat and cold
  • Are suitable for any climate
  • Come in two Varieties: Stick-in orStand-alone
  • Most Expensive to Build

3.) Solariums

solarium

Features of a Solarium

  • Generally Built on-site
  • Generally climate controlled
  • Main difference from other varieties is that Solariums have glass roofs

Sunroom vs. Home Addition

Sunrooms and home additions are two separate things, with the exception of a "stick-in" sunroom. A stick-in sunroom is actually built into the structure and generally shares a roof with the structure. Stick in sun rooms are equipped with electricity, insulation, require a slab to be poured, and for all intents and purposes are an actual, permanent addition to a structure.

In all other cases, a sunroom differs from a room addition because the sunroom is built separately and is not completely integrated into the structure of the house or building. Sunrooms are generally detachable and do not share wiring or foundation with the home. Due to this, sunrooms are often less expensive than a room addition


Cost

The cost of a sunroom varies greatly depending on the type of sunroom you decide to purchase. Pre-Fabricated sunrooms are far less expensive than sunrooms built on site, but still need professional installation.

  • Pre-Frabricated, Non-Climate Controlled, 3 Season Sunroom Cost: Starting around $8,500
  • Climate Controlled, Build On-Site 4 Season Sunroom Cost: Starting around $45,000
  • Built-in, Climate Controlled 4 Season Sunroom Cost: On average $55,000-75,000

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Add Square footage to your home
  • Allows a safe-enclosed space for children to play
  • Gives the feeling of being outside without pests or inclimate weather
  • Abundance of natural light is said to be relaxing and healing
  • Versatility: Sunroom can be used as a playroom, dining room, hobby room, workshop, library and more
  • Great for growing plants

Cons


  • Glass walls mean reduced privacy
  • Can add to monthly heating/ cooling costs depending on what type of sunroom your decide to buy
  • Can be non-energy efficient unless solar glass windows are used
  • Can be costly to build

FAQ

Is there a standard for sunroom design?

AAMA/NPEA/NSA 2100‐11 is the specification for sunrooms.  It is currently being used in the Florida Building Code as a reference to help building officials, contractors, and consumers understand the different options available in the sunroom market and determine how each type will need to meet the different building code requirements.


Do I need a building permit to build a sunroom?

Most jurisdictions will require some type of permit for a sunroom.  The extent to which the permit is required may depend on the category of sunroom being installed.  Permit requirements are set at the local level, so the best way to determine if you need a permit is to contact your city or county.  They will also be able to give you the details regarding what is needed to obtain the permit (drawings, calculations, pictures, etc.)  See AAMA/NPEA/NSA 2100‐11 for the sunroom category definitions.


Can you build a sunroom on a deck?

Yes.  However, it is typical that the deck will need to be upgraded with additional beams, posts, and/or footings to have the strength to withstand the additional weight and loads created by the new sunroom.  Contact a local structural engineer to find out whether your existing deck is suitable.  In some situations it may be more cost effective to build a new deck, especially if the existing deck is older or has deteriorated.


Is there a maximum amount of glass that may be installed in a sunroom?

As long as the structure is shown to be structurally sound, there are currently no limits set by the codes to state a maximum percentage of glass.  


What are the electrical requirements for a sunroom?

The electrical requirements for a sunroom will depend on the category of sunroom.  Sunroom categories I through IV only require that there be an exterior light with a switch at each door to the exterior.  Other electrical circuits such as interior lights, ceiling fans and receptacles (outlets) are permitted but not required.   When installed, electrical circuits must be Ground‐Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) protected.   Category V sunrooms (room additions) require the exterior light and switch at each exterior door as before, but also require outlets 6‐feet from each door and 12‐feet maximum spacing between outlets.   


Do sunrooms need to meet the building codes?

Yes.  All structures need to meet the building code adopted by the local municipality.


Are sunrooms required to meet the energy code?

Yes, all sunrooms are required to meet the codes.  However, the building and energy codes have varying levels for requirements that are based on the level of complexity of the sunroom.  


In conclusion

Sunrooms come in many different sizes, costs, and varieties. Each specific type of sunroom has its own uses, benefits and disadvantages. All sunrooms add square footage to your home and can add curb appeal, function, and increase the resale value of your home. Regardless of which type of structure you use, Patios4all is here to help you with any questions you may have. Give us a call today to learn more!

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