What is a Lean-To Conservatory?

Amanda Dean

A lean-to conservatory is a structure that functions like a porch and a greenhouse. Sometimes called a sun room, the conservatory consists of three glass walls and a glass ceiling. The remaining side of the structure is the house that it is attached to. Sun rooms are usually constructed along the house's south-facing wall. The lean-to conservatory can be used as additional living space or as a greenhouse for indoor gardening.

Woman with a flower
Woman with a flower

These structures are popular additions to existing homes, but can be designed as part of the home's initial construction. This structure is easier to build than a free-standing greenhouse because only three walls need to be erected. It may also have ready access to water and electrical hookups due to its proximity to the house.

Before constructing a lean-to conservatory, homeowners should consider if they want to use the structure three or four seasons out of the year. In cold, northern areas, the structure may need to be heated during the winter. Owners in warm or arid regions may consider blinds or solar shades during summer months to reduce the amount of heat produced in the conservatory. Tinted or double-glazed glass may also be used to help control the temperature in this structure.

The purpose of the addition is another consideration in construction. Amenities such as running water or heat may be added for comfort if the room is intended as additional living or entertaining space. If the lean-to conservatory is designed primarily for growing plants, irrigation and drainage systems may be included in the initial blue print.

When the conservatory is not a part of the original home design, the weight of the lean-to conservatory may cause problems with the structural integrity of the existing home. A shift in the home's balance may interfere with the function of existing windows and doors. Close attention to the foundation and structural support for the conservatory can reduce these issues. Before the project commences, the builder should take a careful survey for utility lines or other hazards.

Some people choose to have contractors build their sun rooms, though many view it as a productive do-it-yourself project. There are many prefabricated lean-to conservatory kits available on the market. Prices for conservatory kits range from about $2,500 to $30,000 US Dollars (USD). The kits vary in size, materials, and quality. If the sun-room is built by the homeowner, a licensed electrical contractor should be hired to set up power in the lean-to conservatory.

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