Q1. What are the conservatories generally used for?
They are usually an extension of the informal living areas (e.g. kitchen/familyroom) but are also used as formal lounge rooms, studies, studios, bathrooms, swimming pool enclosures and commercial dining rooms, even gymnasiums.
Q2.Where are they made?
Our design office and workshops are located in Moorabbin, Victoria.
Q3.What are they made of?
Our conservatories are generally timber and glass structures. Some of our larger rooms require some structural steel which is normally encased in timber and the rafter cover straps on the roof are usually powdercoated aluminium.
Q4. Do you have standard designs and sizes?
No each conservatory is individually designed.
Q5. Do you build conservatories designed by others?
Yes if we are satisfied that the design is sound we are pleased to work with other architects and builders. Usually we are asked to comment on the proposed design and we strongly suggest that the detail of the conservatory design is finalised before any building work is commenced.
Q6.Do you work with other builders?
Yes, we are happy to work with other builders. We are often engaged to design major renovations where our only construction involvement is the conservatory itself.
Q7.How do you control heat and cold?
We use natural ventilation, double glazing and often roof blinds to control heat and cold.
Q8. How does the ventilation work?
We design openable windows in the roof and walls to allow convection currents of air to form. The roof windows may be operated manually or by motor and may be connected to a thermostat for automatic opening and closing.
Q9.What is double glazing and how does it work?
Double glazing is two sheets of glass separated by a sealed pocket of air or Argon gas. Double glazing is similar to normal insulation in that it slows down the transmission of heat and cold. It also reduces noise transmission.
Q10. Do you ever use single glazing?
Yes, but very rarely. Fewer than 3% of our conservatories are single glazed and we have not single glazed any within the last three years.
Q11. Why not single glaze?
Most conservatories we build are rooms to be lived in day and night throughout the year. Without double glazing it is almost impossible to adequately heat a conservatory no matter how large (or expensive) the heat source may be. With double glazing most conservatories can be easily heated by extending the existing heating system and if air-conditioning is installed it is much more efficient.
Q12. What type of glass do you use?
We use a number of different types and thicknesses of glass including toughened and laminated safety glasses and high performance thermal glasses.
Q13. What is the purpose of the blinds and are they on the outside or the inside?
The blinds are normally on the inside and they are used differently in winter and summer. In summer they are used during the day to provide shade to protect from radiant heat. In winter they can be used at night to help keep in heat. Blinds also reduce glare especially where very light coloured or glossy surfaces are used in or near the conservatory. They may be operated manually by cords or automatically by motors.
Q14. Do all conservatories have blinds?
About 75% of our conservatories have the roof partially or fully fitted with blinds and fewer than 40% have them on the walls.
Q15. Does Ashcroft manufacture blinds?
No, a specialist blind manufacturer will be able to assist you.
Q16. Are most of your conservatories air-conditioned?
Around 75% are air-conditioned. The need for air-conditioning is governed by a number of factors such as orientation, natural shading, whether blinds are fitted or not, but mostly by the proposed use of the room and whether or not it is to be used during the hottest part of very hot days in summer. If the conservatory faces west or north and is the kitchen or opens directly onto the kitchen without any separating doors then it will probably need to be cooled.
Q17. Are conservatories expensive?
Yes. If they are built to last they are often around twice the cost of a similar sized room of conventional construction. Our conservatories vary greatly in style, size, type of glass, floor finish etc which means prices vary greatly. But generally prices start around $80,000 for small rooms with the average double glazed domestic conservatory being in the $120,000-$150,000 range.
The materials used by Ashcroft are very expensive and there is far more skilled labour involved in conservatory building than in conventional building methods. A visit to our workshops to view work in progress or inspecting a completed conservatory will demonstrate the time and skill involved.
Q18. Are all conservatories expensive?
No. Not all builders use the same quality of timber and construction methods, double glazing and ventilation systems as we do. By building to different standards, it is possible to enclose space in glass for less than the cost of an Ashcroft Conservatory.
Q19. Why don't you offer a cheaper alternative?
We prefer to produce high quality work. Other firms will build to different, less expensive specifications.
Q20.What areas do you service?
We design and build throughout Australia
Q21.What is the first step?
Usually we send our brochure and a brief letter. We are then pleased to visit your home and discuss your ideas and offer advice.
Q22. Do you charge for this visit?
No, there is no cost or obligation involved for Melbourne and surrounding areas. For country and interstate visits we may charge for expenses but this would be agreed on in advance. Subject to our discussions we will then prepare sketch plans and a cost estimate.
Q23.Do you charge for sketch plans?
It depends on the amount of work involved. If we are provided with "existing conditions" plans and it is a simple small addition, then we may not charge a fee. If however we have to do more work then we may need to charge a fee. If we intend to charge we always agree on the fee before doing the work. The plans are drawn by a qualified architect who is a member of our staff.
Q24. And after that?
Generally we discuss and revise the design (or designs) and specification until we have a final scheme and firm quotation. If you wish to proceed we then draw up contracts and prepare detailed drawings for permits.
Q25. Do the normal contracts and guarantees which apply to domestic building work apply to conservatories?
Q26. How long does it all take?
The time depends on a number of factors including the complexity of the design and finishes and whether or not a Planning Permit is required. For some projects the actual time spent on site is less than it would be for conventional construction because a lot of our work is carried out in our workshops.
Q27. Are we able to inspect example of your work?
Yes and we strongly encourage it. In the early stages you may wish to inspect one of our public buildings such as a hotel or restaurant and later on one or two private conservatories. We usually try and arrange a visit to a conservatory which is similar in some way to what you are considering building and we are quite happy to not attend the inspection with you so you may vigorously "grill" your hosts. Nearly all our clients inspect at least one conservatory before deciding to proceed and many of our clients offer to show and discuss their conservatories with interested parties.
Q28. Do you only design and build conservatories?
We specialize in conservatories but if your conservatory project includes a new kitchen or even a new house or commercial building we are able to design and build that for you also. We often design and document the whole project and then act as a specialist sub-contractor for the conservatory while another builder does the majority of the work.