Tag Archives: Home Improvement

How to choose an architect to bring your
home improvement vision to life

The beauty of building design is that no two architects see things exactly the same way. Variety and creativity are the elements that make buildings interesting and beautiful – but this can also be the cause of confusion when it comes to choosing an architect to improve your home.

How can you be confident of ending up with a development that’s designed to suit your tastes, not your theirs? And what about all the practical factors, like budget, planning permission, building control and project management?

Choosing an architect is a major undertaking but you can approach that decision with confidence by doing your homework and following these tips.

Do your research
Before you approach any architect, draw up a shortlist of suitable local candidates. Ask around for recommendations. Don’t be afraid to knock on doors of houses with developments you like and ask for their architect’s details. Look at websites to get a feel for the company and view their portfolio. Think about the job you want the architect to do. Do you have a blank page and a need for creative inspiration? Do you have a design in mind but need the details and execution taken care of? Do you have a planning problem that needs working out? Different architects will be stronger on some of these aspects than others, so make your choice accordingly. With a few hours’ research you should be able to shortlist three architects whose style you like.

Write a brief
Taking the time to write down what you really want from your building project will help you to clarify your vision, as well as helping prospective architects to understand exactly what you’re hoping for. While you may have a clear vision of how you want the project to turn out, an experienced architect will also look at how your use of it might develop in future and, therefore, what else needs to be considered to allow for future developments.

Your brief should include:

  • An overall ideal vision of what you want the building to achieve
  • How you plan to use it
  • Any current issues that you want the building to solve
  • Your budget
  • Your design preferences
  • Practical considerations (eg will you be living there during the work?)
  • Planning permission sought or obtained yet?

Put all this down in a document and give it to each architect on your shortlist for their comments. This will enable you to make a direct comparison in their responses.

Choose an architect who understands you
Choose an architect who understands you

 

Make contact and meet face to face
Your initial contact will most likely be over the phone, but you will only really get an accurate impression by inviting them to visit the site. Some architects will charge for the initial visit and if you’re really keen to use them you may decide it’s worthwhile. However, plenty of architects provide their initial consultation free of charge with no obligation. Remember, they’re trying to sell their services to you and this is their chance to do that.

An architect who holds back their ideas in the initial visit is really giving you nothing to go on. You want to come away from the consultation confident that the architect understands what you want, is a good listener but also has ideas to offer and is not afraid to challenge your decisions. You need to feel comfortable that you can work harmoniously with them and that they have the creativity and reliability you require.

Ask the right questions
Don’t be afraid to grill prospective architects to make sure you’re left in no doubt about the service they will provide. Questions you should ask include:

  • Will they be doing the work or will they pass it to a junior?
  • What is their fee structure?
  • What experience and success rate do they have with local Planning and Building Control?
  • What do they offer in terms of engaging the necessary trades?

Ask for evidence
An experienced architect will be able to give you a good idea of their creative ability during the initial consultation but the real proof lies in seeing their work. Ask them to show you examples that are similar to what you’re asking for, either in photographs or, better still, in the flesh.

Ask for references and follow them up, either by phone or email or, better still, with a visit to see the work. Ask the referee about their experience of working with the architect in question. Were they reliable? Did they stick to the schedule and complete the project on time? Did they keep to the agreed budget?

Get it in writing
Once you’ve settled on your choice of architect, they will send you a contract or proposal, together with a ‘Conditions of Appointment’ or ‘Small Project Services Schedule’ document. This should include:

  • A description of the project as agreed
  • Budget estimates
  • Project schedule
  • Details of fees and the payment schedule
  • Details of expenses and other sundry costs
  • Party Wall Act requirements (if applicable)
  • Their services with regard to planning permission (if required) and building regs
  • Details of their professional indemnity insurance

Check this document through and don’t be afraid to question them on any aspects of it before signing.

This might seem like a lot of work to put in to engaging a single service but the role of your architect is crucial and the outcome of making a bad choice can be costly, time-consuming and destructive. By putting the work in up front, you can enjoy the process of working with an architect who understands your thinking, inspires you with their ideas, helps the whole project to run smoothly and cost-effectively… and most important of all, delivers a beautiful addition to your home that brings you joy forever.

Looking for a creative, reliable architectural designer?

Call Greenway Associates today on 01737 652737

Dreaming of an Extension this Summer?

Summer dreams? Start planning now

The buds are beginning to burst and the rain is getting warmer. Yes, folks, spring is here and that means it’s time to get busy with all those grand plans you’ve been dreaming about over the winter.

Are you looking to create more space at home? Kids don’t get any smaller as they grow up, do they? And all that stuff they accumulate! Where does it come from? More to the point, where are you going to put it?

Home extension choices

There are several ways you can create additional space without having to move to a bigger house. A loft conversion can add an exciting dimension to your home, creating new bedroom space with plenty of light and lofty views. A ground floor extension will transform your main living space, whether you want to create a comfortable area for chilling out or give the kitchen a more generous feel with expansive glazing and bi-fold doors to bring the outside in.

Another option is a separate garden room. With clever use of natural materials, you can have a structure that complements your garden perfectly, creating a beautiful place to work, rest and play, complete with heating and power and built to the latest energy-efficient standards.

Summer Home Extensions

Book a builder before it’s too late

Whatever your home improvement dreams may be, it’s important that you set the ball rolling now. For maximum efficiency and minimum fuss, you really want the work to be completed over the summer months, before the rain and snow return to hold up the works.

So start planning this month. Speak to your architect, talk to your neighbours, consult the kids. The sooner you get your plans drawn up, the sooner you can start commissioning builders, working out your budget and applying for planning permission. You want to book your builder before the busy summer season kicks in, so start getting quotes and recommendations right away.

Start turning your dreams into reality. Call Greenway Associates today on 01737 652737

Spring Cleaning Tips

Spring is traditionally the time for sprucing up your home, whether you’re planning to extend or not. With a few simple tricks you can sweep away the winter cobwebs and give your interior a brand-new sparkle.

Here are five tips to make your interior shine like new.

  • Use white vinegar to wash away the tracks on window panes and doors.
  • Give your toilet bowls a new gleam by leaving them soaking in Coke overnight.
  • Sweep away cobwebs from high places with a damp towel fastened to a broom.
  • Use a rubber window squeegee to pull pet fur out of the carpet and soft furnishings.
  • Clean the stainless steel in your kitchen and/or bathroom using a light, wax-based spray. It’s well worth the effort.
Spring Cleaning Tips

Taking pride in your home is a recipe for happiness. The place deserves a bit of TLC for keeping you warm and dry all winter, so start turning those dreams into reality and make sure you’re ready to make the most of those warmer months. It may be raining now but oh, those summer nights!

Start turning your dreams into reality. Call Greenway Associates today on 01737 652737

Boring (but essential) Home Improvement Jobs

Boring (but essential) Home Improvement Jobs

I have a long list of boring but necessary jobs that has become the inspiration for today’s blog. It’s all well and good planning extensions or conversions or other grand ideas, but some days you just need to sit down and get on with it. Just before December is, the month for this kind of job. Here are a few from my list to get you started:

Guttering – the leaves have been coming down in droves, we are nearly there now. This is the ideal time to either look-up a company who can come and clear your gutters or possibly be bold and get up the ladder yourself. Either way though, it’s essential, but consider health and safety.

Guttering

Raking – Again, leaves galore on your lawn but quite possibly moulding fruit, pine cones – you name it. Tedious I know and in my case frustrating as I have no large trees in my own garden, it’s all from overhanging trees. However, if you don’t do it though, it will really affect the health of the grass for next summer when you want to be out there enjoying the sunshine (remember that?!)

Raking

Mowing – no you can’t get out of doing the mowing, as the grass has not stopped growing, it’s just slower. You can spread the mowing further apart, for example fortnightly, but if you want nice grass in the summer you need to keep it up. This can require more planning at this time of year as you need to look for the driest possible day to avoid damaging the lawn when mowing wet grass.
More things for your to-do list next week!

Here at Greenway Associates we have over 24 years’ experience, and work hard to keep abreast with the best in design technology and planning policy. Whatever you are looking for, please get in touch for more advice, at Greenway Associates or call us on 01737 652 737.

>>> Continue Reading Boring(but essential) Home Improvement Jobs Part 2