Q: What exactly is a sunroom addition? How is it different from a plain old addition?This is a slippery issue, in part because sunroom builders in recent years have been stepping up their game and rewriting some of the rules. For example, there was a time when most sunroom additions were not wired for power; now, this is becoming the norm.
Generally, you can say that a sunroom addition:
- Does not have central heating and cooling (HVAC).
- Lower square footage cost than regular additions.
- Often comes in the form of a pre-fabricated kit.
- Main purpose is to provide a supplemental place with generous light for reading, plants, small swimming pools, etc. By supplemental, this is in contrast to a room with necessary functions such as a bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, etc.
Q: What are the biggest misconceptions about sunroom additions that I should be aware of?
- "I don't need a building permit." Wrong. Building permits are required with sunroom additions.
- "Pre-fab kit sunrooms will cost less than a stick-built addition" Not necessarily. Even though sunroom additions cost less per square foot and lack cost-drivers like bathrooms, sunroom builders can easily lard up your purchase with unwanted "extras."
- "Sunroom additions don't need foundations. I can build right onto the slab patio or deck." Foundation requirements are as varied as the localities where these codes apply. Generally, you will need a proper building foundation for your site-built sunroom. Pre-fab sunrooms can sometimes be built straight onto existing patio slabs or decks.
Q: What two different types of sunroom additions are there?You can either have a pre-fabricated "greenhouse-type" sunroom addition, which is composed largely of aluminum and glass, or a site-built, "stick" sunroom addition.
- Pre-Fab Kits: One type of sunporch is designed and fabricated at an off-site location and is shipped to you flat. In some cases, these "greenhouse" type additions can be assembled by the homeowner. In other cases, it may be advisable for the sunroom retailer to install it for you.
- Site-Built: With the site-built "stick" addition, a contractor constructs it just as you would a regular addition or even a house. A foundation is laid, walls are framed, roof trusses built on-site or brought in, and the entire structure is wired for power and may even be plumbed.
Q: How much does a sunroom addition cost?Unfortunately, most sunroom retailers will give you the run-around when it comes to pricing. However, I have found one company, SunPorch Structures, Inc., of Westport, CT, to be transparent about the cost of their sunroom additions. They produce greenhouse-style sunrooms. With their most current pricing calculator, they indicate:
- Large: A sunroom of 24 feet long by 15 feet wide is about $19,275. Add about $950 for shipping.
- Medium: A 15'x15' sunroom costs $14,936, including shipping.
- Small: A small sunporch addition--about 9 feet long by 15 feet wide--is around $11,170, with shipping running you $700.