December 4, 2023

Building Regulations for Conservatory Roofs

There are many misconceptions surrounding building regulations for tiled and solid conservatory roofs. This guide clears up the confusion around permitted development and building control to give you confidence when starting your project.

Building regulations consist of codes that set standards for designing and constructing roofs, including those on conservatories.

Not all conservatory roofs need to adhere to building regulations, but solid ones do since they are seen as permanent fixtures. Therefore, solid conservatory roofs require building regulation approval. However, this does not always entail multiple site inspections; you can skip those with a system that has pre-clearance from an approved building control inspector.

Do building regulations apply when replacing a conservatory roof?

Conservatories with 75% translucent roofs and 50% glazed sides are excluded from building regulations. But solid roofs are not excluded.

You need to follow building regulations when putting a solid roof on a conservatory. In short, you require a Building Regulations certificate, and there are two methods to obtain it.

The first involves having the roof constructed and examined by building control. The second is installing a prefabricated system with building control approval.

The second choice is more appealing since it simplifies construction and inspection. It requires an approved building control inspector (e.g., from the Modular and Portable Building Association) to approve a roofing system according to building regulations.

Don’t mix up planning permission and building regulations

You may have read that if you want to install a solid tiled roof retroactively, you can do so without following any building regulations if the conservatory satisfies the ‘permitted development’ rules set by the planning authority.

Note that this is not accurate because a solid roof changes things. While some local councils allow homeowners to replace their conservatory roof without approval, most require it, so you should always check first.

When you look into why, the reason is clear—it’s a structural consideration. The main concern of the authority is whether the existing conservatory structure can support the new roof, which is reasonable given it wasn’t originally built to hold up a tiled roof. Safety also plays a role here.

We advise consulting your local planning authority first because the policy is sometimes set locally.

If you are a trade or homeowner looking to change an existing glass, traditional, or polycarbonate conservatory roof to a solid roofing system, building regulations apply, and planning permission might too.

Wrap-over roofs don’t bypass building regulations!

If the need for building regulations comes from swapping a conservatory roof for a solid one, can you build a solid roof over the old one to skip building regulations?

Installing or wrapping a tiled conservatory roof over what already exists does bypass building regulations, so there’s no argument there. However, cladding over, wrapping over, or building over roofs is potentially unsafe due to the added weight.

It’s vital to know that your conservatory roof is constructed to handle a certain weight load. No matter how lightweight a solid roofing system is, it can push the weight load to hazardous levels and increase collapse risk.

Installers may tell you they can add structural support to the existing frame to improve its weight-bearing capacity. But it is rare for installers to be structural engineers qualified to make those kinds of modifications.

Clad-over conservatory roof systems also seldom satisfy building regulations when tested because of their poor thermal value and structural integrity.

However, the most significant issues with wrap-over roofs involve condensation, heat loss, leaks, and creaking in bad weather as the two systems expand and move independently rather than as one unified component.

System certification and building control

There are many low-quality, solid roofing systems out there. You can ensure a system’s quality by looking for LABC or MFA certification. For instance, some conservatory roof panels have MFA (Modular and Portable Building Association) approval.

Systems authorized by the the MFA are vetted for design, quality, and engineering, so they receive a stamp of approval from building control experts.

We recently had a question about whether LABC-approved systems exempt a solid conservatory roof from building control or planning. The answer is no. Still, this stamp of approval should assure buyers of some quality.

However, MFA certification DOES make a solid conservatory roof exempt from traditional building control. The system has pre-clearance, so it only needs a post-install check from the MFA to guarantee correct construction.

But if your local planning authority categorizes your conservatory as an extension, they will want oversight of the work.

Lastly, we’ll discuss newly built conservatories since different building regulations and rules apply here.

The building regulations for new conservatories

A newly constructed conservatory will usually bypass building regulations and get permitted development when built to 3 metres tall and 30 square metres.

However, if you plan to put a solid roof on a conservatory, you need to follow building regulations for roof construction.

Regarding permitted development, your conservatory can’t become an extension of your home to meet the criteria. It must remain a separate outbuilding connected to the house. It needs separation from the main house by exterior walls or windows or doors (e.g., bi-fold doors) and has its own heating.

Building regulation control becomes relevant if your new conservatory does not satisfy permitted development rules. If so, you may require planning permission and must follow building regulations. Check with your local planning authority if you are uncertain.

MFA Accredited

MFA Building Control Providers Accredit Panel X Conservatory Roof Panels as an Improvement or Betterment to an Existing Conservatory Roof