A sunroom is one way to increase the footprint of a home, office or commercial space. Sunrooms can be built during new construction or as an addition to an existing home or office. Depending on the regional climate and desired usage, sunrooms can be constructed to accommodate year-round use or just for more temperate seasons. Sunroom designs vary greatly and can include conservatory, gable-roof, shed, studio or solarium detailing. Skilled contractors can help with design and architectural plans, or they can work with existing building plans to build the sunroom.
Sunrooms can be simple and budget friendly following a standard design and minimal frills, or they can be elaborate, custom-designed projects with specialty windows, wiring, heating and more. Energy.gov reports that for the most comfortable year-round use, a sunroom should have minimum glare, moderate humidity and the ability to maintain comfortable temperatures through the use of thermal-mass (materials that absorb and store heat) and energy-efficient windows. When building on-site from the ground up using wood, cement and windows, the total project cost will be higher than installing a prefabricated sunroom made of aluminum or other materials. According to Richard Kaufman of American Home & Hardscape in Burtonsville, Maryland, many homeowners opt to emulate the style of the existing home in the sunroom so the transition from inside to out looks seamless. Several factors affect the cost of building a sunroom addition.
Price per square foot
The cost per square foot varies depending on interior and exterior finishes, material types, necessary permits, architecture fees and company-related overhead, says Kaufman of American Home & Hardscape. Another key factor in cost per square foot is whether the sunroom is constructed to be a three-season or a four-season space. Kaufman says four season sunrooms that open up to the main house or that have a separate entry door are the most requested type. Four-season rooms are typically wired for electricity, have HVAC installed and may even have plumbing, Kaufman says. Here are some cost examples from American Home & Hardscape:
Standard sunroom construction: $120 per square foot
High-end sunroom construction: Up to $300 per square foot
- This pricing could include luxury materials and finishes, tradesmen upgrades (for specialized masonry work, etc.), and dealing with terrain issues (such as excessive leveling or excavation for building the sunroom foundation).
Professionals can install prefabricated sunrooms at a lower cost than constructing a new sunroom on-site. When purchasing a prefabricated sunroom, materials dictate cost with aluminum being the least expensive, vinyl the mid-level option and wood-framed sunrooms the most expensive. Other factors that affect the cost of prefabricated sunrooms include window type (double-pane, insulated, etc.), whether the sunroom is wired for electricity or HVAC, whether it has simple glass walls that enclose a porch space or something more elaborate. Prefab sunrooms can cost anywhere from $6,000 to $30,000 or more, not including installation.
Hiring an architect
When building a foundation for a new sunroom or opening an existing home to allow access to a sunroom, local building code may require hiring an architect to draft plans. Depending on the region and local rates, the cost of hiring an architect may be a percentage of the total project cost, a flat fee, a cost per square foot of the project or based on an hourly rate.
Local municipalities dictate building codes—and whether or not a permit is needed when adding a sunroom. It’s important to have official clearance because building a sunroom addition without a proper permit can—in the worst case scenario—lead to an insurance company denying a claim if an accident or damages occur in that space. In addition, unauthorized construction can sometimes lead to challenges when trying to sell a home down the road. Building permit costs vary by municipality. Two common factors for determining permit costs are project scope and total project value. Expect to pay $15–$50 and sometimes as much as $300 for a building permit.