There’s never been a better time to refresh your conservatory offering says K2’s Charles Fox. New roof materials, portal frames and different designs are just some of the elements that installers should add to their portfolio. Charles give’s his top 5 recommendations for 2010...
The conservatory market grew rapidly on the back of relatively standard designs and even some of the PVCu window systems companies got in on the act. However, we are now in a more maturing market and one in which is seeing the emergence of new sales opportunities, which as any salesman will tell you, is great news.
The core conservatory market will always remain, but the challenge is to identify new products and designs which can be integrated into your existing offering. There’s always a group of consumers looking for something a little different and we need to satisfy their needs. It’s also a perfect way of standing out against your competitors and ensuring you don’t just sell on price, but on a little innovation.
1) Aluminium Roof and Other Materials
Aluminium is making a comeback in the conservatory market. While PVCu has taken the lion’s share, people have always liked the look and feel of aluminium for the roofing structure.
Given the nature of the product it also lends itself perfectly for coloured installations and K2’s own aluminium system is proving popular in standard and even in milled finish options. An aluminium roof is also perfectly suited to go with portal framed applications and loved by specifiers.
2) Portal frames
There’s an increased number of large scale conservatory/glazed extension projects both in the commercial sector and at the domestic level as K2’s own architectural division has experienced. With some project management and technical expertise, installation companies can now look at some of the large jobs with increased confidence and the backing of their supplier.
At the domestic level, bi-folding doors are becoming increasingly popular and due to their size require a portal eaves beam. K2 has been able to develop theirs using the existing internal claddings for a more uniform finish.
3) New designs inc Orangeries
Over the past 18 months we’ve seen a shift in conservatory design from Victorian to Edwardian/Gable and even a renaissance in lean-to’s. The latter design is now a far higher specification product than those pre-packed roofs from yesteryear. Consumers are also looking for cleaner lines in their conservatory and there are fewer fanlights installed now, with consumers opting for large top opening windows.
Orangeries are very much in vogue and are more affordable than ever as are individual glazed extensions. There are an increasing number of conservatory installers focusing on a more affluent market sector and have integrated bi-folding doors into many of their installations. Some have even combined timber windows and doors with an aluminium roof.
For many consumers, some of these newer designs may just be in reach in terms of budget and they will add a considerable element of flair to any project. In the past there’s not been much between the top end PVCu conservatories and the bespoke hardwood timber offerings in terms of price and product, until now. The conservatory has moved on from its traditional roots to a more contemporary design.
4) Conservatory Makeover
There are around 2 million conservatories in the UK that are over 5 years old and that means there is an emerging replacement market. Many of the older roofs will have polycarbonate, whilst the side structures may have unwieldy tilt and slide patio doors for example.
Using a little technical expertise and the supporting materials from conservatory systems suppliers, installers can now assess what needs to be done to carry out a conservatory makeover. Either from window and door frames upwards or even just the roof, it is a relatively cost effective option for the consumer.
The added weight of glass will add increased structural loads and may require tie bars, bolster bars and other means of support.
Historically, over 80% of the conservatory market has been white with the addition of a few woodgrain options. However, new technologies in terms of paint application/bonding and the growing demand for powder coated aluminium roofs has seen the emergence of a marked trend towards coloured conservatories.
There are also many more players in the coloured market now which has also been helped by the introduction of new foiled finishes by several of the leading window and door systems companies. Such products are also perfect as part of a conservatory makeover.
Now is a good time to look at these top 5 ways to refresh your conservatory offering, before the conservatory market picks up in typical style in the Spring. It’s also timely to have a look at what your supplier offers you in terms of new products, support and an overall package that’s designed to help your business. Have a great year!