What are the differences between orangeries, conservatories & extensions?

When our customers contemplate adding extra space onto their homes they often ask us about the differences between extensions, orangeries and conservatories.

With our extensive knowledge of all three types of construction, we are always on hand to guide and advise depending on what the customer’s outcome is and nine times out of ten this involves us creating a bespoke design to incorporate features that will allow them to maximise their investment.

This is why it’s always best to consider up front what you want from the extra space you are planning, including how you intend to use it and what you will end up putting in the new area in terms of furniture. From your brief, we can plan the most effective solution for your needs within your budget and advise on the best solution.

Home Extensions

Compared to an orangery or conservatory, a house extension is effectively a way of making the interior of your home bigger by opening it up to new space. Extensions can be all shapes and sizes and can be single-storey or multiple stories.

In most instances, you will need planning permission from your local authority, although there are exceptions, which also apply to both orangeries and conservatories.

Traditionally an extension will follow the same style, design and ratio of brick and windows to the existing property.


In simple terms, a conservatory tends to be more glass and frame, including the roof. These tend to be built onto the side of a property rather than as an integral part of the house. Hence, you will usually have an external door between your home and the conservatory.

Often used in the summer as a sun room, conservatory design has evolved as have the materials used to build them and you can now have combinations of brick, frame and glass, as well as a lightweight tiled roof, which makes the room more usable throughout the year.


An orangery is similar to a conservatory except they tend to have a more diverse construction, including more brickwork. This offers the effect of an extension, at a lower cost, using a combination of brick, frame, doors and windows and a choice of roof.

This flexibility allows for a room that can be used all year round opening up your house in the summer or retaining more heat in the winter through its construction and integral heating or cooling.

Permitted Development

A conservatory or orangery can be deemed to be a permitted development, negating the need for planning permission if,

  • No more than half the area of land around the “original house”* would be covered by additions or other buildings.
  • No extension forward of the principal elevation or side elevation fronting a highway.
  • No extension to be higher than the highest part of the roof.
  • Single-storey rear extension must not extend beyond the rear wall of the original house* by more than three metres if an attached house or by four metres if a detached house.
  • In addition, outside Article 1(5) designated land* and Sites of Special Scientific Interest the limit is increased to 6m if an attached house and 8m if a detached house until 30 May 2019.
  • These increased limits (between 3m and 6m and between 4m and 8m respectively) are subject to the neighbour consultation scheme.
  • Maximum height of a single-storey rear extension of four metres.
    Extensions of more than one storey must not extend beyond the rear wall of the original house* by more than three metres or be within seven metres of any boundary opposite the rear wall of the house.
  • Maximum eaves height of an extension within two metres of the boundary of three metres.
  • Maximum eaves and ridge height of extension no higher than existing house.
    Side extensions to be single storey with maximum height of four metres and width no more than half that of the original house.
  • Roof pitch of extensions higher than one storey to match existing house.
  • No verandas, balconies or raised platforms.
  • On designated land** no permitted development for rear extensions of more than one storey; no cladding of the exterior; no side extensions.

* The term “original house” means the house as it was first built or as it stood on 1 July 1948 (if it was built before that date). Although you may not have built an extension to the house, a previous owner may have done so.

**Designated land includes national parks and the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, conservation areas and World Heritage Sites.

Ref. Planningportal.co.uk

Please note, guidelines on house extensions are slightly different and it is always best to take advice from your builder, architect or home improvements company before instigating building work to improve your home, whether an extension, conservatory or orangery.


Ultimately, it’s better to think more about what you want your new space to achieve rather than specifying a conservatory, orangery or extension. A good home improvement or building company will offer a wide range of options using different construction materials – including bespoke glazing, door and roofing options – to open up your home without compromising on energy efficiency.

The result, you get the extra space to use all year round, rather than just through the summer months, suited to the use you originally planned.

As one of the larger purchase in life you are likely to make, it’s essential that that you realise that value form your investment.

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