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Solarium Additions Let the Sunshine In

February 14, 1988|Dale Baldwin

Greenhouse room additions have never been more popular, especially since they are considered a good investment. Also known as glass solariums, greenhouses were originally limited to horticultural applications.

Over the years, their use as a room addition has become popular. Many people began to realize that their homes were too small, too dark and lacked pizazz, according to Tony Russo, vice president of franchise sales and development for Four Seasons Greenhouses.

But, the early horticultural greenhouses had to be adapted for a different use. So Four Seasons changed the single-pane glass to insulated glass, waterproofed the rooms, painted the aluminum and designed them for more imaginative living space.

The solariums are prefabricated and assembled on the site in four or five days, according to Russo. Delivery can be expected two to three weeks after the order is placed, he said.

The Four Seasons units feature heat mirror glass, that keeps heat out in summer but brings it in during the winter. Shading systems are available if needed and the firm markets a Powervent device that removes heat, should it be necessary.

Existing home heating systems can be extended to the solariums, controlled, ideally, by a separate thermostat. Typical solariums built by Four Seasons cost from $8,000 to $10,000 and can be obtained in any length in standard increments.

The company is the nation's largest manufacturer and installer of greenhouse additions and is the only one in the industry that is franchised, according to Russo.

Free home consultations are offered and some stores provide an architectural rendering to show what the addition will look like. Four wood and three aluminum units are on display at showrooms.

The stores also handle windows, skylights, flooring, carpeting and other remodeling products.

Russo says the greenhouse additions are a good investment due to the high percentage of recovered cost in the resale value of your home.

Many home improvements are not recovered on resales. While the cost and percentage you'll recoup when you sell depend on location, the extent of the project and the kind of home you own, there are three additions that do pay off, according to a survey published in U.S. News & World Report.

The addition of a fireplace, recovering 138% of its cost, ranks as No. 1, followed by the addition of a full bath, which recovers 122% of its cost. Third on the list of highest recoverable costs is a solar greenhouse addition (100%).

Of course, convenience and comfort are probably uppermost on the minds of homeowners, but it's nice to know that the cost of additions will be recovered when you sell your home. And a solar greenhouse is a popular addition that will enhance most homes, while paying for itself at the same time.

More information and the locations of franchises can be obtained by writing Four Seasons Greenhouses, 5005 Veterans Memorial Highway, Holbrook, N.Y. 11741. Four franchises in Southern California are Dandoy Glass, 23406 Arlington Ave., Torrance; Capistrano Solar Systems, 27812 Forbes Road, Laguna Niguel; All Star Solariums, 618B E. Colorado Blvd., Glendale, and Lighthouse Solariums, 7527 La Jolla Blvd., La Jolla.

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