Questions You Should Ask: Conservatories

Solar Innovations, Inc. understands that a customer may only buy one conservatory in their lifetime. We recognize that a conservatory is a major investment, and planning its purchase can become overwhelming. Choosing the right supplier is an important first step in the process. Not knowing what to look for or what questions to ask can leave you with a less than desirable result. Below is a set of quality questions we suggest posing to conservatory manufacturers you are considering.


1) Does the company’s manufacturing take place within the United States, and do they perform their own manufacturing?
2) Who installs the conservatory?
3) Is technical support available?
4) Do they have conservatory designers on-site?
5) How well do they know conservatories?
6) How financially stable is the company?
7) How long have they been manufacturing conservatories, and how many have been produced?
8) What is their environmental stance?
9) Do they belong to reputable affiliations and associations?
10) Do they offer all the desired accessories?
11) Are their products tested?
12) What glazing selections are available?
13) What does the conservatories’ framing consist of?
14) What finishes do they offer?


 

1) Does the company’s manufacturing take place within the United States, and do they perform their own manufacturing?

Ask where the conservatories are manufactured. Purchasing your conservatory through a domestic manufacturer is an intelligent choice, as it will ensure the entire conservatory is manufactured within a serviceable distance, provide realistic shipping costs, and remain accessible for maintenance. Find out if the products are offered in standard models or if the conservatory will be custom manufactured. Does the company employ professional engineers to design each conservatory for local wind and snow loads? Is there an architect on staff who completes drafting services? Who oversees the projects? Do they employ project managers? Can you take a tour of their manufacturing facility? Does the manufacturer have conservatories on display for customers to see? We recommend visiting the manufacturer’s facility to see how your conservatory will be made. | Back to Top

 

2) Who installs the conservatory?

Ideally, a provider will not only manufacture your conservatory, but will also install it, or provide a qualified dealer to do so. Inexperienced installation crews create the potential for expensive mistakes and may inadvertently cause damage during the installation process that will void your warranty. Look for a company that will install the conservatory, through an in-house installation crew or a qualified dealer. | Back to Top

 

3) Is technical support available?

You do not want to purchase a conservatory and be left to fend for yourself if problems arise. How easy is it to get a real person on the phone if you have questions? Do they have a technical support department and project managers? Is the support staff knowledgeable? Will you be provided with a call reference number and contact information when taking care of concerns? | Back to Top

 

4) Do they have conservatory designers on-site?

Designing a conservatory is different than designing a traditional construction addition. Having a conservatory specialist is an added bonus when designing your structure. Who designs your conservatory? Is the staff knowledgeable? Are you talking to an architect, engineer, designer, or someone without any experience? How long have they been with the company? How long have the employees been working in this specific industry? | Back to Top

 

5) How well do they know conservatories?

Does the person on the phone know what a Palladian arch is? Do they understand decorative conservatory ornamentation, heating, and cooling? Knowledge of decorative accessories and conservatory function is crucial to a successful design, whether it be for people, plants, or a combination of both. | Back to Top

 

6) How financially stable is the company?

Credit scores are constantly being evaluated; your conservatory manufacturer should not be an exception. Their credit levels will give you insight into their business. A low score is a warning sign. Will the supplier still be in business five years from now when you may need maintenance work? Research the company thoroughly before deciding on a supplier. | Back to Top

 

7) How long have they been manufacturing conservatories, and how many have been produced?

Is this a new product line? Are they a new business? Find an experienced manufacturer. Years of glazed structure manufacturing experience ensures they are knowledgeable and your conservatory will be designed, manufactured, and installed the right way.

If the business has been manufacturing conservatories for 20 years and has only produced 50 conservatories, that is a red flag. A constant flow of conservatory projects shows the business’s strength. Visit local conservatories they have manufactured, so, you can touch, see, and feel the conservatory in person; it is the best way to fully experience the product. You can inquire about the owners experience while working with the conservatory manufacturer . | Back to Top

 

8) What is their environmental stance?

This is more important to some customers than others. What do they offer in terms of environmental stewardship? Do they offer FSC certified wood interiors and veneers? Do they recycle at their manufacturing facility? What kind of energy efficiency is offered in your conservatory? | Back to Top

 

9) Do they belong to reputable affiliations and associations?

Belonging to national organizations shows the company meets or exceeds industry standards. Do they belong to NGA (National Glass Association), NSA (National Sunroom Association), or NAHB (National Association of Home Builders)? These organizations promote quality, craftsmanship, and lend credibility to the manufacturer as members are screened before being accepted. | Back to Top

 

10)Do they offer all the desired accessories?

Your conservatory should fulfill all your needs. Do they manufacture doors, windows, or roof vents? It is imperative for all accessories to function within the system and blend seamlessly. Decorative accessories, such as grids, finials, and ridge cresting are just as important. Can accessories be custom fit for your conservatory? | Back to Top

 

11) Are their products tested?

Learn about the manufacturer’s national testing certifications. Certification will show the level of quality their products have achieved. Inquire about Florida testing for hurricanes. Look at their testing scores and dimension limitations and research air, water, and structural testing. You may not live in a hurricane zone, but how your conservatory will fare against air and water penetration is important. Are Energy Star products offered? Energy efficiency is an important topic in today’s market and Energy Star products display a commitment to the environment and economic savings. | Back to Top

 

12) What glazing selections are available?

Is their glass insulated, or is it just a single pane? Single pane is a poor choice for energy efficiency. AreLowE tints offered? What kind of spacer is used in the windows? Is it an aluminum spacer with a limited warranty or a Stainless Steel spacer? Look at their warranty. What does the warranty cover? How long is the “seal failure” warranted for? The longest possible warranty time frame should help build confidence in the provider, as they stand by their product. | Back to Top

 

13) What does the conservatories’ framing consist of?

What materials do they use? Wood, vinyl, and aluminum are the three most prevalent choices. Wood will rot, warp, and require more maintenance when exposed to water and high humidity. Vinyl will degrade, break, and lose its color through prolonged exposure to sunlight. Aluminum retains its finish for years and will not rot, warp, or rust. Ask if they offer a thermal break. Thermal breaks reduce the transfer of heat and cold through the frame of the conservatory. | Back to Top

 

14) What finishes do they offer?

Is it certified by AAMA? AAMA is a national certification for finishes that ensures its quality, color retention, and chemical make-up. AAMA 2603 and AAMA 2604 should be the minimum accepted. This will guarantee the finish is water proof, will retain color uniformity, and is semi-scratch resistant. Ask about standard color options, as many manufacturers only offer white and bronze. Do they anodize (a chemical treatment useful in commercial settings and along the coast.) | Back to Top

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