If you are looking to add more space to your home, a sunroom may be a good idea. It can provide you with extra space and a nice place to relax. Sunrooms are an excellent alternative to a traditional build out in a home because a new room addition can cost you around $100,000 to do. Fortunately, sunrooms cost less than this and can still provide you with exactly what you are looking for. Below, we will discuss what you need to know about sunrooms.
What Exactly Is a Sun Room?
Not familiar with what a sun room is? A sunroom is a type of recreational space that helps to bridge the interior and outdoor living areas together. Most of these rooms are made with lots of glass. In fact, most sunrooms are 80 percent windows. This allows natural light inside and helps to connect you with the outdoors without actually having to go outdoors.
In most areas, you do not need to have electricity or even an HVAC system running to the sunroom, but it is important to check with your local building office to verify. Most sunrooms do have some type of electrical running to them and an AC or heat, depending on where you reside.
A sunroom is built usually on a floating foundation similar to how the garage is built.
Is a Stick-Built Addition an Option?
A stick-built addition is any type of structure that is built from the ground up. For example, this would refer to room additions or other buildouts on the home that are constructed from concrete, wood, glass, or a variety of other materials. A stick-built addition may have a constructed basement below it where sunrooms do not. In addition, these types of buildouts must be connected to an HVAC system and have full electrical services within the room.
Sunrooms: Prefabricated or Custom
When it comes to a sunroom for your home, you have two options. First is the prefabricated option and second is a custom option. Prefabricated sunrooms are much more common as they are less expensive; however, a custom sunroom can work to meet your exact needs.
Most sunrooms are prefabricated and come in a kit style format with all of the framework and glass panels for the walls. The framework can be made from aluminum, steel, or fiberglass. These types of sunrooms are assembled like a puzzle and done by licensed and experienced technicians. These kits are not necessarily a DIY project, so do not assume that because it is a kit, you must do it on your own. These prefab designs are created off site and then shipped to the location where it will be built.
A custom sunroom is one that is built to a homeowner’s specifications by a contractor. These types of sunrooms typically come with traditional framing (stud and truss) and has a shingle roof. The walls to this type of structure are made up predominately of glass. Since custom-built sunrooms are not as popular as prefabricated ones, it is important to make sure you work with an experienced and qualified contractor.
What Will a Sunroom Cost Me?
Ah, good question. Everyone who is considering a sunroom addition to their home wants to know how much it costs. We did mention that it is significantly cheaper than a full room addition or build out on the home and it is. The cost to build a sunroom though will vary depending on your exact needs, so the price varies too widely to give just one answer.
For example, a smaller sunroom may cost you $7,500 while a larger custom one may run you $75,000. Of course, you can have some that cost much less than the minimum above and the maximum, so it is important to receive quotes and know what influences the cost and what your needs and wants are.
To give you a little more of an example, we will provide some estimated pricing based on a standard 15-foot x 15-foot sunroom. This is for a KIT and NOT a custom option.
- The starting price for a kit such as this in wood with the standard required materials would be about $16,000
- If you want to upgrade to a higher-quality product, you can expect to pay around $22,000
- If you are looking for a four seasons sunroom with HVAC, electrical, and finished walls, you can expect to pay upwards of $35,000 for this
When you look at a sunroom kit, know that this DOES NOT include the cost of labor and you will be responsible for finding a contractor to install it for you.
Things to Consider
As you start to think about your sunroom, there are some additional things you need to think about, as they will affect the build and cost of the sunroom itself. Let’s have a look.
Sunrooms are not required to have any type of electricity running to them; however, most people want some type of electricity within the room. Most custom options do have electricity, however. When comparing a sunroom to a stick built addition, stick built options are required to have electricity and they must follow the same codes set forth for electrical services in homes. This is what makes them quite a bit more costly too.
Sunrooms are not required to have an HVAC system installed. In most cases, custom options do have heating built into them. The decision to have an HVAC system in your sunroom will largely depend on where you live and if it is needed. If you do have electricity running in the room, you may be able to get away with a window unit or a space heater, when needed.
Type of Space
When considering your sunroom, you will need to consider what type of space it will be. For example, most sunrooms are considered supplemental space and what that means is that they add to the house and allow you to be “outside” without actually being outside. An addition that is added due to necessity is considered essential space and this means that the addition was added to expand the needed living space within the home.
A true room addition will add more value to your home due to increasing the required or essential space of the home.
Resale of the Home
In general, you will find that the cost of a sunroom is cheaper than that of a full room addition. In fact, you can get a sunroom at about half the cost per square foot than a room addition. If you do want to maximize how much value your home has, a room addition is likely the way to go, as you will receive a bit of your investment back when you sell.
- Do I need a permit to build a sunroom?
In most cases, a sunroom WILL require a permit to build it. You can, of course, check with your local permitting office, but it is likely that you will need one. Even in the case of a small kit, you will probably need one. If you plan to run an HVAC system or electricity to the sunroom, you can plan on needing a permit.
- Will my sunroom need to be built on a foundation?
Sometimes. It will depend on where you live and also what the local codes are for your community. In general, you will likely need to have a foundation built to place the sunroom on, especially if nothing is currently there. Sometimes, prefab options can be placed on an existing deck or patio space.
- Can I use my sunroom as a place to grow plants?
Yes and no. A sunroom is not a greenhouse. A greenhouse is an area that is specifically designed to house plants. For example, a greenhouse will have built-in drainage into the floor and a sunroom will not. A sunroom will receive lots of sun, which might not be conducive for all types of plants. You can grow some plants inside your sunroom, especially those that thrive well inside the home.
Should You Get a Sunroom?
Ultimately, the decision is up to you. A sunroom is an excellent alternative when you do not have the budget for an entire room addition, or you do not need an entire room addition. Sunrooms can be cost-effective and be constructed rather quickly too, which makes them a great option.
If you do plan to have a sunroom installed in your home and you need extra space, consider renting a self-storage unit to keep your items safe throughout the construction process.