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Let the Sun In With a Sunroom

Building a sunroom can add value to your home as well as boost its looks -- not to mention offering a nice respite from the weather by allowing you to enjoy the beauty of natural light whatever the temperature outside. The space itself can be used for any purpose, from dining areas to spaces for the family to gather.

Do It Yourself?

If you are an experienced do-it-yourselfer, it is possible to do this job on your own, designing, planning, and purchasing raw materials and building it from scratch. But most choose to purchase sunroom kits -- they have design plans and instructions, and most of the necessary materials. As another option, some homeowners buy the kit and hire a professional to do the actual construction.

If you hire your own contractor, you can find one through your local home builders association, or ask friends and family for recommendations. If you plan to buy a kit, first find the contractor to do the work, because the contractor may be able to offer you some other options, including a custom build.

Follow the same guidelines for hiring a contractor to build your sunroom as you would any home remodeling project. Another option is to purchase your sunroom directly from the manufacturer and have them supply the contractor to build it. This way you'll get a contractor with experience with the particular sunroom you have chosen.

So Where Do You Want It?

Whether you choose to build a sunroom yourself or hire out the work, one of the most important aspects of building your sunroom will be its location.

Sunrooms tend to rely on passive heating, so placing it to receive the correct exposure to the sun is vital. Most place the structure facing "solar south." This is not exactly the same as compass south, so you'll have to contact your local weather service to find it. It it's not practical to place your sunroom exactly facing solar south, you can deviate up to 15 degrees and still generate free passive solar heat in the winter.

You also need to be sure your sunroom is placed so that it does not interfere with existing structures. Make sure second-story windows are not going to be affected, and try to use an existing door as an entry to your sunroom to save money.

Also, consider placing the sunroom near a deciduous tree. It will provide shade during the hot summer months, but as the leaves fall in winter, it will allow solar heating.

Keep in Mind

Other things to keep in mind while planning and building your sunroom include:

• Do you want full glass walls or knee walls with insulation and electrical outlets?

• Does the style of the sunroom complement your home?

• What kind of heating and cooling systems do you need? Will passive heating and ceiling fans be enough?

• Do you want a full glass roof?

Kathy Wilson is a home and garden writer, author and consultant and is the home decorating expert for LifetimeTV.com. Visit her for more home and garden ideas at http://www.TheBudgetDecorator.com and

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