I want to build a sunroom off my family room for entertaining. How complicated is it to build a sunroom? Can I purchase a prefabricated sunroom that is easily assembled, or is it better to have the sunroom custom-designed to fit my home's architecture?
Shane D. ~ San Diego, California
Generally, sunrooms are a complicated project. There are at least four main steps in this building process, the planning, engineering, and permitting step, forming and pouring a foundation, the construction of the new sunroom, and a tie-in to an existing house.
They do make prefabricated sunrooms, and you can assemble them yourself, but they will probably not be "easy" to build. Although they might be prefabricated, you will still need to have structural engineering for the room, which will vary depending on where you live. The manufacturer usually provides all of the engineering services. The structural engineer will also determine what is necessary for a foundation to support your new sunroom. There are lots of choices in this market and most manufacturers have good websites.
Is it better to have an architect do the plans? I would only hire an architect that has experience in sunroom design and construction. Most architects will come up with a concept and use a sunroom manufacturer to make it buildable. Almost all sunroom manufacturers offer custom design services for their products and provide design advice and consultation.