The sunroom business, by some reports hit hard by the economy, is still dominated by traditional all-glass styles, but consumers’ desire to bring natural light into their homes and use sunrooms for indoor gardens are two of the latest trends, they say.
Chris Smalley of Hudson Valley Sunrooms, a regional supplier of Four Seasons Sunrooms, says that while there are many choices, the traditional, all-glass varieties are still the company’s bestseller. More recent innovations, Smalley says, are new types of glass, including an option that is better able to block ultra-violet rays. Additionally, self-cleaning glass, introduced about two years ago, continues to impress customers, he says.
Picking up on the health trend, Smalley sees customers interested in using their sunrooms not just as a place to relax, but as a space to grow vegetables. “Typically, most people are interested in growing flowering plants that look nice, but now some are growing things they are going to turn around and put on their table,” he observes.
The wellness trend is likewise evident in the home spa and hot tub business.
While consumers used to want the latest TVs, stereos, and gadgetry to go along with their hot tubs, today they’re placing a greater emphasis on the health and wellness aspects of the hot water, says Gregg Galati, president and owner of Galati Pools and Spas in Newburgh, entering its 48th year in business.
“The biggest trend we see is more a back-to-basics emphasis on hydro therapy—the health and wellness benefits such as sleeping better and feeling better,” Galati reports.
Beyond that, homeowners also recognize the value of energy savings, another important aspect of new spas, Galati points out. “The manufacturers we deal with have put an emphasis on energy efficiency. The tubs are a good value upfront; they’re a good price and long lasting but affordable to operate and maintain, so you get a lifetime experience of owning a hot tub.”
Indeed, home spas and sunrooms are permanent additions to a home that will add lasting value. As such, they should be considered as long-term projects that require careful research, planning, and budgeting, sources say. Smalley advises getting the proper building permits, and ensuring that a home has the proper structural support.
“Someone could spend a lot of money on, let’s say, a patio, but it may not be an acceptable surface to build an addition on.” Smalley provides a common example: “I get a lot of people who are disappointed when they have this beautiful patio, and they want to enclose it and then find out it’s basically built on sand. And then finding out they need to dig a trench down four feet to make it buildable—it’s understandably upsetting.” As a result, Smalley suggests that homeowners do their homework, and while their patio may appear to be ideal for enclosure, understand that “it is just that—a patio.”
Similarly, homeowners should understand the financial commitment to the project.
Howard Falkow of Betterliving Sunrooms of New York has seen an increase in the number of customers who begin planning sunrooms before securing the necessary funds. Midway through the planning, he says, clients “get in the situation and then realize they don’t have enough money.” In order to curb this, Falkow encourages people interested in a sunroom or similar addition to go over their budget beforehand and “really commit to the process.”
And for those both ready and able to build, Falkow recommends what is known as a thermally-broken sunroom. Unlike other varieties, a thermally-broken sunroom has the ability to easily absorb the heat and the cold, before it is able to enter the actual room. He also emphasizes the importance of having a custom design. “There are a lot of companies out there that have sunrooms that just go up like LEGOs,” explains Falkow. “But it’s always better to work with a company that has the ability to provide custom building, so that it can meet the specific needs of the house. I, personally, only work with custom builders.”
Consumers, adds Galati, should “look for quality product from a reputable manufacturer and a strong local dealer with a substantial track record.”
B&B POOL AND SPA CENTER Chestnut Ridge (888) 438-4407; bbpoolandspa.com
BETTERLIVING SUNROOMS OF NEW YORK Spring Valley (845) 445-8255; nysunroom.com
CKH INDUSTRIES, INC. New Windsor(800) 800-6056; ckhindustries.com
GALATI POOLS AND SPAS Newburgh (845) 564-0555; calderaspas.com
HUDSON VALLEY SUNROOMS Kingston (845) 339-1787; hvsk.fourseasonssunrooms.com