Action Stations

Having work done on your home can be a rewarding process if it goes smoothly, but there are potential pitfalls along the way. Here are eight top tips to consider before you start to ensure you keep on track.

1. WRITE A CLEAR BRIEF

Before you begin, it’s crucial to have a clear brief. Not necessarily an endless list of requirements, but do think about what you want to use the space for, your living style, what time pressure you may have, any particular design style, and most importantly what your budget is – remember 20% VAT!

2. SPEND TIME ON DESIGN

Transforming ideas into a feasible design is a complex process and it’s important to spend time on it early on as bad decisions are much harder and more expensive to change later. An architect can help you balance stylistic and practical elements of your project to create a design that will fulfil your requirements and maximise your budget.

3. CONSIDER THE IMPACT ON THE OVERALL HOUSE

When designing extensions, people often become so focused on the new space that they forget about what is already there! Multiple small extensions can ruin the cohesion of a house, and larger ones can make existing rooms feel like dark corridors. Take a step back and consider how the whole house will look and feel with the new design.

4. SET A REALISTIC BUDGET

Having work done on your house is expensive, and not all the costs are obvious from the start. One of the first conversations you should have with your architect is about your budget – there’s no point designing something that is more than you want to spend.

5. DON’T BE AFRAID TO USE AN ARCHITECT

Never think your project is too small.Architects are independent design experts with the training, experience and creativity to make decisions about what will work in your home and whether it’s feasible. Only those registered with the ARB (Architects Registration Board, www.arb.org.uk) can legally refer to themselves as architects. You will have the reassurance that comes from using a qualified professional with relevant experience, design vision, creativity and years of training.

6. DON’T CUT CORNERS

Many architectural technicians, architectural designers, planning consultants and building surveyors can do planning drawings, but they do not have the same training, experience, codes of conduct, professional qualifications and insurance as a registered architect. They may cost a bit less but that generally means a poorer quality job, producing something very basic with no consideration of your requirements and the house as a whole. With an architect you will be in the best possible hands for the best outcome for your investment.

7. DON’T RUSH

It’s only natural to be eager but rushing can make the whole process more expensive and slower in the long run. Planning applications need to be properly thought out to avoid having to resubmit. Racing through finding a builder can lead to huge costs and botched projects. Talk to your architect early about a realistic timescale to avoid issues and added expense later.

8. TALK TO NEIGHBOURS AND THE COUNCIL

Not having the relevant paperwork – from planning permission and building regulations to health and safety – can mean repeating stages and adding time and costs to your project. Talk to your neighbours and the council early on about what you intend to do. It will save you some major headaches. Source: Architect Your Home

WHY IT’S WORTH DOING THE GARDEN NOW

Extending your house, filling in the side return, installing a beautiful new kitchen – it’s well worth doing the garden at the same time rather than as a separate project in the future

Cost economies – contractors on site already, same batch quantities of materials (eg. tiles inside and out), waste removal costs

Efficiency of layout – electrics, lighting and water can all be incorporated. Floor levels and drainage will work to best advantage when planned together

Beautiful house inside – you want to look out on, and have immediate use of, a beautiful outside that reflects the transformation indoors

Time, stress and mess – ideally take just the one hit Maturing gardens – take time to develop

Real or artificial grass – it’s personal preference and choice of maintenance level, but….

Trees, plants, flowers – are essential for wildlife, the environment and wellbeing. Have them in abundance.