Questions You Should Ask: Conservatories By: Solar Innovations, Inc.
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 end result. Below is a set of quality questions we suggest posing to conservatory manufacturers you are considering.
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 and to see how your conservatory will be made. 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. 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?
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? 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. 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.
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 twenty years and has only produced fifty conservatories, that is a red flag. A constant flow of conservatory projects shows the business’s strength. Visit local conservatories that they have manufactured. In person, you can touch, see, and feel the conservatory; it is the best way to fully experience the product. You can inquire about the owners experience while working with the conservatory manufacturer .
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? 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 manufacture as members are screened before being accepted. Do they offer all the desired accessories? Your conservatory should fulfill all of 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?
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. 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. Are low-e 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.
Ask about the conservatory’s framing.
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.What finish 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 that 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