Wednesday was a day when the conservatory market woke up and realised that it had to change or else face a very negative outlook. So Ultraframe have now launched what they believe will redefine the conservatory: Loggia.

I want to start with some facts from the presentation. 2006 was the best year, with the market peaking at 204,000 units installed. This year, Palmer expects a paltry 80,000 units to be installed. Clearly a market that has struggled to cope with the downturn and the higher expectations from our customers.

Now, right to the point. A Loggia, rather than being called a conservatory is to be marketed as a ‘light and space solution’. Conservatories are boring and old hat, light and space solution sounds far more modern and flash to the customer. A Loggia’s design allows for little or no brickwork, instead going for glass to floor windows. French doors or bi-folds would be the ideal door options for the Loggia. However it’s the posts which make up the main construction of the Loggia and what sets it apart from the rest of all the other options available on the market right now. If you look at the image, the corners and the pillars between the windows and doors, this is the main new product. These are prefabricated, constructed with highly energy efficient polystyrene and timber with damp proofing, easy to to fit and with plenty of variables. These posts are what makes up the construction of the Loggia, with the windows and doors fitting in like a conventional orangery.

There are two types of white, the green you see above, the cream you see below and something called urban grey which looked more like brown to me but hey ho!

One of the showpieces of the Loggia is it’s energy efficiency. The posts themselves have a super low u-value of just 0.15w/km2. A Loggia on the whole, with triple glazing and about half a dozen of the posts can achieve an overall u-value of just 0.74w/km2, which is a very thin slice better than a brick extension. So no massive heating bills. They also come with some really funky radiant panel heaters which Ultraframe claim to be more efficient than underfloor heating and easier to use. I don’t have any images of those yet so you’ll have to ask them about that!

Ultraframe say the cost of a Loggia is relatively the same as a standard conservatory. This is roughly true. We did our own calculations a couple of weeks ago and we worked it out to be roughly £750-£1000 more. But, one of the main points of the presentation was that the Loggia will be able to command a higher sales value, definitely worth more than an extra £1k. Marketed in the right way, with sales people who really do believe in the product, then I think that this is achievable.

Ultraframe have been pushing the full height frames look for the Loggia. They firmly believe that this is going to change the game. Personally, I think it will take a bit of time for our clients to get used to the idea of no brickwork after many years of selling dwarf walls.

During the presentation and the many speakers and screen shots, the message if you read between the lines was one of slight panic, a need to change or die. In fact, at the end of the presentation, it was said that the Loggia was able to ‘save our industry’. To me this says Ultraframe believe the standard conservatory market is now dead and that the big companies are going to be in big trouble if they don’t adapt to the very rapidly changing market. There was an under-current of do something now or face extinction.

The whole day was well run, just about bang on time, friendly people all around, good mingling with everyone and overall a very professional feel about it. On a personal note, I got to meet some of the people I have only been able to talk to on Twitter, and they were all a pleasure to meet and talk to! Some of whom I shall be meeting again on Friday!

Overall, I think the product is a good one and was worth making the journey down to Birmingham to go see it in the flesh. My only concern is that the Loggia won’t look right on your average semi-detached house. If you look at the designs or the brochures I’m sure you will all see soon enough, the Loggia’s are set against high value detached properties with a period look. These products won’t look right on every property, but on the right property will look stunning and will be able to pull in the right margins that many double glazing companies desperately need right now. I just hope that the ‘under-sell-it’ brigade doesn’t do to these what they have done to the standard conservatory market.

Good job Ultraframe!