In the past, the actual installation of the room was typically the shortest part of the process, with a small room installation taking as little as 4-6 weeks on site, depending on the scope of the project. While this can still be the case, it is certainly not a given today with some of the larger spaces that we create taking up to 4-5 months on site from foundation to finished floor. Over and above the actual construction, the length of time the building permit process takes plays an ever increasing role in the overall process and represents a significant investment of time. This “planning” part of the process includes the design of the space, architectural drawings, mechanical and structural engineering, and ultimately the permit application. All of this takes place well before a van pulls into your driveway. For these reasons, lead times can easily approach 6 months or more, and we therefore encourage our prospective clients to begin the design process well in advance of when they anticipate they may want the new room to be completed.
As a company, we do not use dealers at this time and rarely, if ever, sell product on a supply only basis as we cannot control the quality of the installation in this fashion. Having said this, there are two main types of business relationships that we commonly enter into with our clients today. The first is what we refer to as “shell” construction. As designers, manufacturers, and builders of sunrooms, we always control the installation of the actual frame and glass component of the installation (i.e. “the shell”). Over the years we have worked with many home builders, architects, general contractors and with homeowners who may have a relationship with some of their own trades that they would like to involve in some part of the process (i.e. an electrician, plumber, painter etc.). In these instances, our services may only be required in the specific area of our expertise, namely, the design, engineering, manufacturing and installation of “the shell”. In this case, the room is manufactured and installed by our staff, usually to the point of frame, glass, windows, doors and interior millwork finished 100% both inside and out. All warranties and guarantees are in full force as the actual shell is complete. Most “shell” construction projects like this tend to price out at or above $450 per sq. ft. of floor area created, but again, keep in mind the variables are significant. The second, and probably most common type of project, is what we refer to as “turnkey” construction. This type of project encompasses all facets of the process from concept to completion. It can include, but is not limited to, foundation, floor, frame, glass, windows, doors, heating and cooling, electrical, house wall removals, integration with a new kitchen renovation perhaps, finished flooring, plans, permits and engineering. At this point, we can call the project done and move in ready. The only thing we do not usually handle is landscaping, as this is a separate area of expertise. Again, average construction costs for this type of process are tremendously varied due to the diversity of the product and the applications we encounter. For the sake of generalization, one might consider that most projects tend to come in at, or above, $550.00 – $800.00 per sq. ft. of floor area. In a hypothetical case, a ballpark figure for a 200 sq. ft. “turnkey” project would typically be between $110,000 – $160,000 + taxes.
We will certainly treat an open concept room differently than we will treat a separate “destination” style of room; we will treat a smaller space differently than a large space; and we will treat an east-facing room with significant tree coverage differently than a west facing one with full sun exposure. Having said this, once the heat gain and heat loss calculations are presented to us by the HVAC engineer, it is up to us to pick the medium that we will then use to meet the prescribed heating and cooling loads. Common methods include, but are not limited to, forced air extension from an existing or new self-contained furnace, a radiant heated floor (electric or hydronic), a gas fireplace and/or split ductless heating/cooling units, etc.
Most assume that all such glass spaces must be this way; be assured, this is not the case. Just as all cars are not built alike, all sunrooms, solariums, conservatories, and/or greenhouses are not. This is, in part, why we tend not to randomly categorize the spaces that we build into one of the aforementioned groupings; the terms get used so loosely in the industry today that it is more accurate for us to simply say that we build “ additions”, albeit “glass” additions. With this goal in mind, there are really two major factors that contribute to climate control. The first is Mechanical (i.e. heating and cooling) and of course the second is the “Glass”. Technology in the glass industry has changed tremendously in the last 20+ years – no different really than many of the other things that are a part of our everyday life today: flat screen TVs, smartphones, iPads and the rest. Whereas the average R value (winter measurement of window resistance to heat transfer) of a window in the homes that many of us grew up in was a not so lofty R1 or R2, we recently built and installed a room in the Toronto area with R16 windows! The same can be said about the summertime performance with relative heat gain numbers being achieved today that are in the order of 600% more efficient than the typical clear double glazed window many of us have in our homes. By combining this quality of glass product, with proper mechanical consideration, as defined by our HVAC engineer, the room that results has the ability to readily achieve year round comfort in the harsh Canadian climate in which we live. This is why we commonly tell potential clients who want to use this room as living space: “if we are going to build a glass room in Canada, where summertime temperatures can reach 35 degrees Celsius and wintertime temperature can fall to -35, best to do it once, do it right, or don’t do it at all”.
Most decks are designed and built to be “decks” and therefore intended to support the weight of you and your lawn furniture perhaps. A similar format of room that we might build is done so under much more stringent and excessive engineering criteria, taking into account variables such as soil bearing capacity, the dead load of the room itself, and the live load of the worst 100 year snow fall in your geographic area. In reality, a significant percentage of our projects are supported over a substructure quite similar to that of a typical wood framed deck; we typically call this a suspended insulated sub floor. In all instances, this sub floor has a significant and permanent frost protected foundation and/or footing under it. The foundation we speak of can be in the form of a typical concrete pier or helical pier, a full perimeter foundation in a crawl space or slab on grade format, and in some instances, a full basement. Each application has its own particular set of variables and, like everything else in this process, is a matter of personal preference that is driven by your particular site conditions.
In fact, that type of typical “one size fits all” mentality that forms the basis of the global retail environment that we all live and shop in today, represents the polar opposite view of how a room that we build comes to be. The spaces that we create are individually designed in a size, shape, style and form that, for the most part, are dictated by the lifestyle, tastes and aesthetic preferences of each individual homeowner, and are in keeping with the look and style of their particular home. But this is where the repetition starts and ends in the process. Looking at the hundreds of photographs that form the backdrop of our web site portfolio, please appreciate that this is only a small percentage of the work we have completed as a Company over the past 25+ years and, as such, the photos are really only useful insofar as giving one some form of inspiration in the creative process. The room that we may ultimately build for you is one that will be designed for you. This is likely why, in all the years we have attended and displayed our product at various Home Shows, one of the most commonly heard comments coming from our prospective customers is that photos of the many projects we have on display look as though they are “a part of the home”, not at all like a typical sunroom/solarium that has simply been “bolted on” to the house envelope. In essence, this is the biggest compliment anyone can pay us, as it is, and always will be, a primary goal of the rooms that we create.