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How to Build a Sunroom

Susanne Clemenz | Improvement Center Columnist | January 30, 2012

Thinking of building a sunroom kit yourself? Success depends upon the extent of your health, skills, and carpentry tools, and the design of the addition.

Skills needed for building a sunroom kit

Sunroom installation requires following written and/or video instructions to assemble components that are pre-cut to size and predrilled for fast assembly. Instructions provide the sequence for assembling the kit and tips on keeping things square and level. Don't skip any sunroom installation steps. Accessories such as roof vents, snap-together floor tiles, ceiling and wall shades and screens are manufactured to conveniently fit the kit's measurements.

Here's what's involved in building a rectangular sunroom kit with a slanting roof:

  1. Planning: Plot on graph paper the height, width and depth of the space the sunroom will occupy. Do one graph for the floor plan and one for the wall where the sunroom will be attached. Provide strong bracing where the kit is fastened to the wall. Mark electrical and plumbing.
  2. Site preparation: If using an existing deck or patio, make sure it is level and sound.
  3. Materials storage: Prepare a nearby site where kit components can be stored.
  4. Tools: Have good ladders, a power drill and screwdriver, a rubber mallet, hammer, level, tape measure, and a circular saw available, plus other suggested tools. A skilled, able-bodied helper is also essential.
  5. Method: Resist any temptation to assemble parts in a different sequence than suggested. That includes having a finished floor, and having any electrical and plumbing roughed in before assembling the kit. Allow two to seven days for the project.
  6. Complexity: If this is a large sunroom kit with a domed or complex roof and a curved wall, get a quote from the supplier or a remodeling contractor for doing the sunroom installation. Kits themselves start at around $1,500; large, complex ones can cost $20,000 or more.

Custom sunroom installation requirements

A custom-designed, year-round sunroom requires all the skills of a home building contractor. These include drawing the blueprints, preparing the site, installing the flooring, running electric and plumbing lines, framing the room, installing insulation, cutting, framing, and ordering windows and doors, applying inside and exterior siding and finishes, and building the roof. Cost per square foot is about the same as for building a home in your area. This ranges from roughly $70 in the Dakotas to about $140 in California.

A sunroom expands living and entertaining spaces, and brightens your daily life. It's also an attraction when selling a home.

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