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August 25, 2005

Sunrooms

Help make the best of every season

Debbie Elicksen

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It’s nighttime, 30 below, the snow is blowing, and you’re sitting cozy under the stars reading your favourite book, oblivious to the elements. This is a four-season sunroom – enclosed in glass and fully insulated with the home’s heating and cooling system extended to keep you comfortable no matter what time of year.

A sunroom is an exclusive addition to a home. In it, the homeowner can sit comfortably whether it’s 35 below zero or 35 above.

People will find different reasons to install a sunroom. It might be for a new estate home. If you love the area and like your neighbors, perhaps you just want to add something different.

Every sunroom is unique because they tend to blend with the home’s existing architecture.

Contrary to what you might think, the sunroom business is not seasonal. Jeff Paquet, Partner of Four Seasons Sunrooms, explains. “Our company is busy year round.

“We do rooms in three different materials: aluminum extruded, aluminum extruded with a wooden interior, and the vinyl-clad room – aluminum clad in vinyl. We only sell one type of glass called multi-coat wonder glass. It’s a glass that keeps out 85 per cent of the relative heat gain and 85 per cent of the cold.”

The cost of a sunroom has a lot to do with the room’s size and how much construction is involved with the installation process. Paquet says an average room might cost $30,000 to $35,000 and upwards. The average size is 150 to 180 square feet.

“Most of the rooms we do become quiet rooms, extending the living space off a kitchen, dining room, or family room. It’s usually a section of the home that is utilized by all family members and is easily accessible. We’ve extended bedrooms, pool rooms, covered Jacuzzis, and home gymnasiums.”

Bob Whiteside, Owner of Sunrooms Direct Ltd. says a sunroom’s walls can be more efficient than those in the rest of the house.

“We also have the Canadian rights to the latest technology in a patio cover called the eclipse roof system, which is an automatic system that will close when it starts to rain. As soon as the rains stops and the sensors dry out, it will open back up to where it was. It’s a very heavy-duty aluminum, like a horizontal Venetian blind.“

If you are considering a sunroom addition, Paquet recommends you start in the showroom. This is where you can see several full sunrooms actually built – all of which are decorated with furniture. Rooms look great in a magazine, but on paper, they can’t compare to sitting in the room itself to experience how it physically works.

“Do your research: product research and company research. Ask the company for references. Don’t ask from two years ago. Ask from five or ten years ago. Speak to homeowners who have had a sunroom that have been through five or more winters. Get other quotes and compare apples to apples.”

Whiteside adds, “Check the ads. Check and make sure people are licensed. Check their showroom to see that it’s not a fly-by-night operation. Ask how many permits they pull a year. The sunroom is an item you need to have a permit for. If the builder wants the homeowner to go and get their own permit, that’s a flag right there.

“It used to be that you’d show up at the house with window samples and a few bits and pieces of what a sunroom looks like or drag people into someone else’s house. We took the lead from the homebuilders where we built the showroom with all the models. We keep them updated. You can see how they will look on your home.”

Improved technology has impacted the sunroom industry. The way the windows are treated, how they close, and many other factors have improved. Today, a sunroom looks more like it belongs rather than just an add-on.

While it’s an investment that can increase the value of your home, a sunroom adds more square footage and offers you a place to get away from it all. You can enjoy your yard without the bugs, wind, or rain. Just put your feet up, turn the music on, and relax.

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