Why it Pays to Consult an Architect for your Home Renovations

Home Renovations

When you first start planning any home renovations; it is easy to get carried away dreaming about the end result and not always consider the how you get there. The first step should always be to consult a professional experienced designer as soon as possible.

Their expertise, together with your ideas and requirements, are so helpful to arrive at the final design quickly; without impacting the cost and quality of the build. The professional designer is not there to block your home renovation dreams but help steer you to a realistic design; whilst keeping in mind any building construction techniques, building regulation and planning requirements.

Equally, there are occasions when the homeowner may not be confident sharing their ideas and dreams or has no idea how to even go about creating more space. However, a top-notch designer can tease the client’s woolly idea and with encouragement and adding meat to the bones; they can develop a stunning and practical solution together.

Unfortunately, some homeowners bypass this step and go straight to a builder for their extension, loft conversion or re-modelling of their home layout; therefore, causing more stress months (or even years) down the line. This can involve problems coming up during, at the end of the project or even worse years later when they decide to sell.

This is just one example of the many requests Building Tectonics receive as an architectural practice: –

“Back in 2014, I carried out a garage conversion to turn the space into an art studio. At the time I was advised by my builder that planning permission was not required as the garage could not be accessed from within the house, had no toilet facilities and was less than 30m2.

I am now selling my house and the Buyer’s Solicitors are asking for a Certificate of Completion, a Certificate of Regulation and drawings of the garage prior to and after the work was completed. I do not have any of these items; so, therefore, need professional advice or an inspection of the garage conversion”.

Whilst the majority of builders are trustworthy and should identify any issues that could potentially occur before they start a home renovation project; there are many who are just as eager to get going and take the money and therefore, aren’t as prudent when giving advice.

Having a reputable design company on board also helps with the finer details that most of us rarely think about; but if designed incorrectly could potentially end up being a costly mistake. They can advice you on reputable local builders, project manage the build and keep it within your budget. As they are subject to a statutory code of practice and have Professional Indemnity Insurance to protect their clients; you are more importantly covered in all areas.

It is always advisable to plan ahead as much as possible on any home renovations and see if they will cover potential future life events like having children or elderly parents moving in with you further down the line. This way it will then save you both time and money in the long run. Always make sure the correct planning and building regulations have been adhered to and certificates received; to save you a lot of time and stress further down the line.

If you need any help or advice on this area or would like Building Tectonics to conduct a Feasibility Scheme to assess your home renovation options; please either call us on 01908 366000 or email:- email@building-tectonics.co.uk

Top Tips to Get your Home ‘Fit’ for Summer

We are all dreaming of some kind of normality this summer and being allowed to invite people into our homes; instead of huddling outside in the garden. You have probably spent time tidying the garden before the last easing of lockdown restrictions; but is your house ready for when friends and family can venture inside in a few weeks’ time? If not, here are some quick and easy tips to get your home ‘fit’ for summer.

Air your house
Over the winter your home tends to trap smells like damp, smoke from fires and wood burners, cooking and pet odours. Now the weather is warming up, throw open those windows and doors and give your home a good freshen up throughout.

Let the sunshine in
When the sun is out, it highlights all those dirty marks on the windows and glass doors; especially children’s handprints. Giving them a good clean inside and out will instantly make your home look fresher, let the light in more and remove all those spiders’ webs that have built up over the winter.

Clean those handprints
With the kids being at home more than normal over the winter; it is likely the walls are also covered in dirty finger-prints. Give them a gentle wipe down to freshen them up and concentrate on those areas around the door frames which get filthy. You may have also noticed lots of little black dots around the house; these are spider poos – but just wipe off easily!

Freshen up your lounge area
If your sofas and armchairs are looking worse for wear; it’s time to freshen them up. Remove any fitted cushions and vacuum up crumbs and other debris. Use a steam cleaner on the cushions or alternatively just use a good quality upholstery cleaner. However, if your sofas and armchairs are overdue a deep clean and you are really not confident – get a professional in. For sofas with removable covers; you can pop them in the washing machine on a hand-wash to get any stains off.

Wash your home furnishings
It’s time to put all those heavy blankets and snuggly throws away after giving them a good shake outside and washing and drying them. Most cushion covers are removable and can be put on a hand or 30-degree wash and you will be surprised how dirty they actually are. If they are in need of an update; just pop a new cover over the old one and try mixing and matching yellows and bright colours/patterns for a summery feel.

Change your furniture around
In the winter we tend to move our furniture for a cosy feel around a focal point like the fireplace; and away from the radiators to maximise the heat. However, in the summer we want to enjoy the views of the garden and the sunshine coming in, with our windows and doors all left open. There is nothing better than curling up on a armchair by the door with the sunshine warming you up.

Make updates to rooms
Sometimes all it takes to refresh a room is to move photos or artwork around or update some of your accessories by adding a new statement piece of artwork or a new clock on the wall. Get yourself in the holiday mood (if we are lucky enough to go away this year) and have a selection of happy holiday photos printed and framed. Fresh flowers also really improve your indoor space and make you feel happy and summery.

Deep clean your bathroom
With us being at home more, our bathrooms have been getting more use than ever and with no visitors using them recently; they may well have become neglected! Get your rubber gloves on, concentrate on any mould patches and let your toilets soak overnight with bleach in for those tough limescale marks.  Always air your bathroom after showers and baths to avoid damp or mould building up from condensation. When it’s sparkling again; get some new towels if they are looking shabby and add candles and lotions and potions.

Cool and refresh your bed
In the cooler months there is nothing better than staying in a nice warm bed; so, our beds now need a really deep clean. Strip your beds, turn the mattresses and wash or replace mattress protectors.  Give your mattress a good hoover on both sides and then put some cool fresh bedding on.  Store your throws and blankets away and remember to swap your winter duvet for the lower tog option to keep you cooler at night.

Put winter clothing away
Once you are confident the warmer weather is here to stay, put your winter clothing into the loft to make more room for cooler summer clothing. It can be placed into vacuum packed bags to take up less room.

Tidy your outdoor space
If your garden is not quite ready for visitors; just cutting the lawn can make a world of difference. Tidy the pots and flowerbeds and give your decking or patio a brush to get rid of dust, leaves and other debris. Pressure washing it can give amazing results or just use a hose, broom and scrubbing brush. Wash your chairs and tables and check they are still useable and have no cracks. If you haven’t yet enjoyed the first BBQ of the year; check it’s clean and ready for use; as it could still has the remnants of last summer’s sausages sitting there!

Love your home
Our homes tend to get neglected over the winter as we just want to snuggle up on the sofa in front of the fire. However, once the weather starts to warm up; its all about connecting with our outside space again. Take time now to prepare your home and you will then be ready to entertain and catch up with all those friends and family you haven’t seen for months without worrying. It is also the ideal time weather wise to get the outside house maintenance jobs carried out that you ideally need better weather to carry out.  

We hope these tips have been useful to help you organise and transform your home ready for the first visitors of the year 😊

How Feasible are your Home Improvement Plans?

Do you have several ideas for how to achieve the extra living space you dream of; but just don’t know where to start? You may think you need a large extension to gain space – when simply changing the layout of your home is all you need to do. This is where Building Tectonics’ Feasibility Scheme can really help sort the practical ideas, from the ones that just won’t work for your particular property. We will also generate additional options that may not have even crossed your mind.

When you first look at improving your home; you normally start by reviewing how your current living space works and what you would like to keep or change about it. Once you have decided on what is needed to gain a particular space; you would usually instruct an architectural practice. They would then draw up your plans to potentially put forward for Building Regulations approval and/or Planning Permission.

Why should I conduct a Feasibility Scheme?
Often clients are conflicted about the various ideas they have; which can result in extra costs later on when they decide to make changes or have the plans completely re-drawn. This can be due to planning permission being refused or the neighbours’ objecting to your plans. By first undertaking our fixed fee Feasibility Scheme process, we can help identify your initial needs and can potentially rule some ideas out at the start. We will even come up with some additional innovative and cost-effective schemes which you perhaps wouldn’t have even considered.

Over 35 Years’ experience
Building Tectonics has over 35 years’ experience of re-designing, altering and extending houses across Beds, Bucks and Herts and our Chief Designer, Tony has extensive knowledge of what works design and build wise. This means he often finds solutions to issues that builders may have with a client’s design thereby, finding a happy compromise.

Visiting your Home
We would usually start the ball rolling by visiting your home on a day and time that suits; to listen to your requirements (at a safe distance) and measure the house and surroundings. This takes 2.5 to 3.5 hours and clients often have a number of design aspects for us to look at. These are best to be assessed individually but also combined, as often one may have an effect upon the other. You may also wish to consider phasing the work; so, that different parts are carried out at different times.

Drawing up Schemes
Following the visit and survey, we will produce our schemes. There may be variations to consider or even some entirely different approaches; but we feel that it is important to get the best possible scheme before commencing to the next stage. We normally return these to a client 4 to 6 weeks after our visit. Once you have had a chance to evaluate our schemes and give us your thoughts, we can then further explore a particular idea altering it as necessary. If we have any reasons to believe that there is no solution to what you are looking for, we will warn you so you can decide whether to go ahead with the project.

Scheme Acceptance
Once a scheme has been agreed and you wish to proceed, we will advise whether or not we think you need Planning Permission and/or Building Regulations. We will then give you a quote and more detailed plans for both of these and the following stages. If for any reason your circumstances change, you can cancel at any stage and we would only charge for the stage which we have commenced.

Planning Application
The next step is to decide whether you wish to consult the Planning Department prior to making a formal planning application. You may not require Planning Permission, but it is useful to have this letter on file should you decide to sell your house. However, as the Planning Authority charges for this enquiry, many clients are instructing us to go straight for a full planning application. We can discuss and agree the best approval with you once the feasibility stage is complete.

For a ground floor extension, it is recommended to carry out an Asset Enquiry to check whether any sewers run under your property, as this may prohibit the building work you require. The Water Authority charges an extra fee for this; but you may already have this information from when you bought the house. 

Once you have asked us to go ahead and sent our fees together with the local authority fees, we will send a formal application. We will also assess what further costs you will incur in order to proceed and are happy to obtain an approximate build cost from a competent builder if you need this. If required, we can also obtain any costs from a Structural Engineer. The Planning Process takes 8 – 12 weeks from lodging the application. We will advise you of the Planning Officers’ comments and if favourable, your project would move to Building Regulations stage, at which point our next fees become due.

Building Regulations Application
Once the Planning Process has concluded; we can advise you regarding other matters such as Party Wall/3 Metre Notices, which are sometimes needed. When we have received our fees together with local authority fees; we would submit the Building Regulations application. This requires considerable technical input on our part and for most domestic work takes us 2 – 3 weeks to prepare. We would also deal with the queries from the Building Control Department on your behalf.

Taking the stress out of your project
We are thoughtful designers and do our best to keep our client’s costs down; often spending extra time to produce a scheme that is more cost effective to build. By careful analysis of the requirements, a design can often be produced that does not require an Structural Engineer. This care benefits the client by reducing the build cost and the disruption to their home – particularly important and often overlooked.

Good communication is essential so that everyone knows what is expected of them. You may form a relationship with your builder whereby the project is satisfactorily completed without our on-site involvement. However, we strongly recommend that the project is very carefully planned and the builder carefully selected which we are happy to help with.

We have found that it pays to be thorough at the outset of a project by thoroughly examining the client’s requirements and seeing how the existing house can be adapted. This is why so many of our projects get built on time, within budget and with the minimum of drama on-site; and also why most of our work comes from recommendations.

Make 2021 the year you start your project
If you are thinking 2021 is the time to improve your home; please do look at our projects on Facebook, our website and Houzz to get a taste of what we can do and why we have so many delighted clients. We always aim to leave you with a house that is designed for a modern family lifestyle and whether your requirements are a simple home extension or a loft /garage conversion, you could benefit from our expertise and experience.

You can contact the Building Tectonics team on 01908 333000 or message us via Facebook and we will be only too happy to discuss whatever project you may be looking to undertake.

Why it Pays to Plan Ahead on Home Improvements

In 2020; lockdown resulted in millions of households turning their kitchens and living rooms into offices and classrooms; as we adapted to a new way of working often with the added challenge of home schooling. This resulted in an influx of enquiries to architects and builders from homeowners for home improvements; ranging from extensions through to re-modelling of their existing home layout – but all with the same aim of achieving more living space.   

The shift in family life

Despite two previous lockdowns; research from online retailer, Furniture and Choice, shows that 37% of people surveyed admitted they still don’t have a dedicated space to work from at home. Home Offices have become the most asked for home improvement with homeowners realising that they do not have enough room to meet their changing family and work needs. Buyer expectations have also shifted as more people plan to work from home more frequently. Gardens and proximity to outdoor space have also become a necessity for many buyers; meaning thousands have now moved out of the city into the countryside.

Working from home – the new norm?

Now we are in Lockdown 3.0 and working from home and/or home schooling are yet again the new norm for at least several months. The start of a new year is usually the time (in normal circumstances) when homeowners consider what they would like to improve about their home during the next 12 months. Or it’s when they decide if they need to move home instead to be able to achieve their long list of home requirements.

Improve don’t move

If you have not yet jumped on the band wagon and are still trying to work out what you actually need to do to make your home work more effectively for you; then Building Tectonics is here to help. It is always hard to find your perfect home (unless you are stupidly rich) but it is not always the case that you need to move to obtain your dream home.  Even when people undertake a self-build, they still don’t always achieve every little detail they would like or end up changing their mind several times as they go along. You often need to live in a house for a while to see how you utilise it – which has certainly been the case for us all over the last year.

What are my options?

In most cases; extra family space can be achieved by either adding an extension (side, rear or front) or by converting your garage. Or you may be able to build upwards if you already have a single-storey extension (although this will obviously depend on the foundations of the current extension). Alternatively, an external pair of eyes in the form of an architectural practice can open your eyes to different options including re-jigging a few walls or changing a draughty conservatory to create a warm more permanent part of your home – whilst also suggesting extra design features that you may not have considered or even thought possible.

Look to the roof

The biggest space in your home; that is often overlooked but can drastically change your home and how you utilise the other rooms; is the loft. In most cases it is full of rubbish and by converting it via a number of different options; you can create one or several bedrooms up there, or if you prefer a children’s playroom, extra lounge or more importantly in these strange times – a home office.

Re-modelling your living space

An alternative option either on its own or alongside an extension or loft conversion is simply to change the existing layout of your home to make the space work better for you. Many houses over the years had extensions added without any real thought for what is really needed and how the house would flow. Kitchens could have had extensions added to make a kitchen/breakfast room or a utility room; whereas some houses may have conservatories and sun rooms just plonked on. Whilst people envisage changing home layouts to be a massive upheaval; it is often not that difficult and can provide them with a house that meets their needs; rather than moving again and still not finding their ideal house or layout. 

Improving kerb appeal

If you love the interior of your property but hate the exterior; this is also easily rectified. It can easily be updated from a tired and dated exterior to give it a modern ‘wow factor’ look; that not only makes it look like a brand-new house but also adds value to your property.

Future proofing your home

When planning any home improvements, it is always a good idea to consider changes in technology and new inventions that could help you and your home. Smart homes are becoming more popular; as homeowners look at ways to make life easier and control devices around their homes at the touch of a button or a voice command. Home automation can include clocks, speakers, lights, doorbells, cameras, windows, window blinds, hot water heaters, appliances and even cooking utensils. Many of these options are not too expensive; but bigger options like advanced surveillance cameras require a more serious investment of time and money.

Make sure you plan ahead

Although we cannot predict the future (as we have seen over the last 12 months); all we can do is try and plan ahead as much as is possible when it comes to our home improvements. When considering what you want to change about your home; try and see if the improvements would cover any potential future life events like having children or possibly elderly parents moving in with you further down the line. This way it will then save you both time and money in the future.

How Building Tectonics can help


With over 35 years’ experience of re-designing, altering and extending houses; Building Tectonics aim to generate innovative and intelligent ideas that often achieve much more than the original brief. Our Chief Designer, Tony has extensive knowledge of what works design and build wise and often finds solutions to issues that builders may have with a client’s design thereby, finding a compromise that both parties are happy with.

If you are thinking 2021 is the time to improve your home; please contact us to arrange a time to meet with you and conduct a feasibility study to find out what your initials needs are.  From there we will come up with some initial schemes to make your home layout work more efficiently for you and your family. We always aim to leave you with a house that is designed for a modern family lifestyle and even if your requirements are just a simple home extension or a loft /garage conversion, you too could benefit from our expertise and experience.

Get your Home Autumn Ready

You may have spent the last 6 months undertaking those neglected DIY jobs and bigger home improvements; but have you kept on top of the important house maintenance jobs that need undertaking throughout the year? Next week is the official start of Autumn and the best time to prepare your home for the chillier months – especially if we should go into a second national lockdown. We thought we would help by sharing some simple tips to get your house Autumn ready which will help save you stress, time and money.

Get your boiler serviced

Getting your boiler serviced can be expensive which is why not everyone gets round to it. However, the last thing you want is for it to break down in the depths of winter and you end up with no hot water or heating. There is also the worry that you may struggle to find someone who can fix your boiler right away and therefore, end up paying out of hours rates or emergency callout prices.

Having your boiler regularly serviced means it is working in tip top condition plus it will have been checked for carbon monoxide leakages. If you want complete peace of mind it helps to have a monthly service plan. This often includes your annual service but does mean you are covered for any break-downs or work needed. You then have more chance of getting your boiler fixed in the winter months and can enjoy a cosy home without the worry of it potentially breaking down.

Insulate your pipes

Another way to make your heating more efficient during the winter months is to lag your pipes.  Lagging is where you put foam insulation tubes over any external pipes. They are inexpensive to buy, easy to install and not only reduce heat loss but also protect your pipes from freezing and bursting in cold weather.

Get your chimney swept

If you love your cosy open fire or wood-burner during the cooler months; it is important to make sure it is regularly swept to get rid of the build-up of soot and things that can drop down your chimney. Chimney sweeps are very in demand once Autumn starts so get booked in now to avoid the rush.

Check your garden fences

Both Autumn and Winter can feature very wet and windy weather; so, check all your fences to see if any repairs are needed or reinforcements; as again once the bad weather hits fence repair companies will be in high demand.

Clear drains and gutters

Autumn brings stunning coloured leaves but also means these unfortunately drop into your drains and gutters and can easily cause blockages. When heavy rain or snow then occurs you risk leaks or damage to your home if water cannot drain away properly. Make sure you check for obvious cracks or damage and clear your gutters and drains of leaves and moss before the Winter weather sets in.

Take care of your windows

Houses that have wooden window frames or windowsills might need more care as wet weather and freezing temperatures can make untreated wood expand and even rot. Protect your windows by filling in any cracks, check that any sealant around the edges is still firmly in place and tidy up any paint where needed.

Check your roof and chimney

The roof on your home is an area you might not pay much attention to or even think about. However, if your roof or chimney are leaking, water can damage your home, discolour your walls and cause a lot of damage to your property and belongings in the loft and rooms below.

Check that your roof tiles are still firmly in place and that any flashing and pointing is in good condition. Even if it looks ok, all you need is heavy snowfall or a bad period of wind and rain to dislodge tiles or mortar. This then allows draughts and water to sneak into your home.

Being prepared will pay off come Autumn and Winter

Autumn and Winter are traditionally thought of as being the cosy time of year where we snuggle up on the sofa in front of the fire with the family.  However, if your house isn’t prepared ahead of time, you may find that the colder weather brings plenty of problems that you need to fix at a time when there will be big demand and therefore, extra expense. By undertaking these jobs now, you can relax and look forward to snuggly nights without the worry of something breaking down or going wrong; as the temperatures get colder and we have more rain and blustery winds.

35 Years in Business for MK Architectural Practice

35 years in business

The 10th July 2020, marks 35 years in business for ‘Building Tectonics Ltd’ as an architectural practice in Milton Keynes. Whilst we want to take the opportunity to celebrate this notable accomplishment, we also wanted to reflect on how things have changed significantly over the years especially in terms of technology, what we have learnt and our biggest design achievements to date.

We Design, You Enjoy
Over the last 35 years we have re-designed, altered and extended hundreds of happy clients’ houses across Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire. Many clients have come back to us a second (and even third time) when they have decided to make further changes to their homes or moved house. We have always endeavoured to exceed the aspirations and desires of our clients whilst providing a personal and friendly service. Our aim is to generate innovative and intelligent design ideas that often achieve much more than the original client brief.  Indeed, that is why our business slogan is ‘We Design, You Enjoy’.

Where it all started
To go back briefly to the beginning; Building Tectonics Ltd, was formed by Tony Keller, our Chief Designer in 1985; following a career working on large commercial projects in and around London.  The business moved to Fenny Stratford in 1998 after completing the conversion of a Grade 2 listed building into three commercial units and three flats; after which the team moved to our current office space in an old Salvation Army Hall. It was completely refurbished to create a wonderful studio space that we now enjoy together with other companies.

Tony Keller – Chief Designer


High quality architectural design
Our ethos is to provide a high-quality architectural design led by a careful feasibility planning process to make clients projects a reality, without suffering the pitfalls that many owners of properties face. With Tony’s excellent organisational and communication skills and extensive knowledge of what does and doesn’t work design and build wise, it means all the projects that we as a company take on are managed successfully to completion.

How technology has changed over 35 years
We have seen many changes over 35 years in business with technology being the biggest shift. When we started out in 1985; there was no internet, emails or social media and everything was done via the telephone, fax or post. Computers were slowly coming into use but were not at the same technical level as today. Drawing boards were used (many architectural technologists still draw by hand even now) and we had no laser measuring equipment or Google Earth. It was a slower pace of life as you had to wait for responses, documents and fees via the post instead of just logging into a system.  

The introduction of social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn has meant us constantly having to reassess how we work and promote ourselves to potential new clients. This includes how we share useful information through to how we promote our new projects. Our website is obviously key to showcasing our work; but websites such as ‘Houzz’ are also becoming critical to view a professional’s previous design and/or building work.


Home design across the years
Home design is very different to 35 years ago; when it was mainly featured in company brochures and renovation magazines.  It is now heavily influenced by the many TV programmes on renovation, design, interior design and DIY across numerous different TV and streaming channels. Social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest are key for clients to consult to get ideas for designing a room (or their entire house) and there is not much you cannot find on there if looking to extend, remodel or make any changes to your home. Social media influencers are constantly piling pressure onto people to try and achieve the same lifestyle as them by showing their rooms off and endorsing household products and styles.

Increasing popularity of open-plan living
Open-plan living is still one of the most popular schemes that we as an architectural practice get asked to design; as families aim to spend more time together whilst also having zones to enjoy individual time in. Loft conversions are also becoming more and more requested as children stay at home for longer and therefore, need more space with many families not able to afford the next step up on the housing ladder.

Staff have come and gone over the years and each one has contributed a great deal to the business and its clients. Our current team have a varied skill set but each have their individual areas that they excel at and work together to meet our clients varied needs.

Renovating listed buildings takes a certain skill set which, fortunately as a practice, Building Tectonics have and it also helped our Chief Designer, Tony realise his other dream of owning his own restaurant after converting our original office in the Grade 2 listed building into ‘The Fenny Kitchen’ an Anglo Mediterranean Restaurant which opened in August 2018.


Still here after 35 Years
We are proud to have survived as a business for 35 years despite several recessions, the twin towers disaster, hurricanes, record heat, rules and regulations and of course the latest COVID-19 crisis and currently are lucky to be busier than ever. This unfortunate crisis with people having to spend months locked in their homes has meant they have now identified more than ever what they want to change about their houses. Therefore, following the ease in lockdown restrictions we have been contacted by numerous home-owners to ask for our help with design ideas for changing the layout of their houses.

Tony Keller, Owner and Chief Designer at Building Tectonics says “We are still here despite the economic and health crisis’ mentioned above and still really love our job. Our aim is to help people with sometimes tough choices, sometimes helping those with what we call the problem of choice (too many choices and can’t decide), sometimes achieving what the client dreamt of but dare not hope was possible and sometimes saving an old building by showing how it can have a new lease of life. We hope to continue helping our current and new clients realise their home dreams for many more years to come”.

Building Tectonics are proud to be a member of the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists and an approved member of Milton Keynes Buy with Confidence Scheme; so, you know you can put your trust in us. We aim to leave you with a house that is designed for a modern family lifestyle.  If your requirements are just a simple home extension or a loft /garage conversion, you too could benefit from our expertise and experience.

Please look at our projects on Facebook, our website and Houzz to get a taste of what we can do and why we have so many delighted clients. You can contact the Building Tectonics team on 01908 333000 or message us via Facebook and we will be only too happy to discuss whatever project you may be looking to undertake.

How to Bring More Natural Light into your Home

Rooflights and Bifold doors work together to add light to this kitchen

During the Summer months our homes are flooded with natural light which is beneficial to not only our homes; but also has a positive effect on our overall health and well-being. However, come the winter months when it turns dark and dreary; unfortunately, our homes (and often our moods) can go the same way.  Here are some different options for increasing the natural light into your home.

Roof Lanterns
Roof lanterns not only fill a space with natural daylight, but also add a focal point and height to the interior of a room. They work particularly well in new kitchens, sun rooms and garden rooms. Building Tectonics were asked by a client to design a very airy space to connect their house with their garden and the end result was this stunning garden room. Although it has plenty of glass it still has the feel of a solid structure, unlike a conservatory.

Garden Room with Roof Lantern

Rooflights
A popular choice for loft conversions – rooflights (or skylights as they are also called) can make a significant difference to the overall light in your home. They can be placed above a staircase, in a bedroom or bathroom or in a living or dining space (maybe over a kitchen island). They will bring in twice the amount of light of the average window and are also perfect for rooms where side glazing is not possible or you want to maintain maximum wall space.  

Rooflights come in a wide choice of designs and sizes with the main manufacturer being ‘Velux’ and are angled towards the sky allowing considerable light into a room. They work well in open-plan kitchen/living areas as they let so much light in alongside French doors or bifold doors. Many ‘Velux’ windows now offer built-in blinds and remote-controlled opening and some even allow the glazing to slide right back for a real ‘open air’ feel.

If you’re undertaking a loft conversion and are putting an extra bedroom in the loft space, you may want to think about the noise of the heavy rain hitting a skylight during the night as well as how much light it will allow. Velux windows are usually cheaper than a dormer (which we will cover next), and normally don’t need planning permission.

Rooflights really let the light into this kitchen extension

Dormer Windows
Another option for loft spaces are Dormer windows which give you the benefit of maximising the headroom and then depending on your surroundings – enjoying a great view. Some home-owners choose to go for the balcony option so therefore, have big glass doors fitted opening out with a railing across to enjoy the morning sunshine.  Often homeowners go for both a Dormer window and rooflights to increase both headroom and the light coming in. Dormer windows are usually more expensive than skylights and most also require planning permission as they alter the exterior of the house.

Clerestory Windows
If you need to bring more natural light into your home without losing valuable wall-space and want to keep a degree of privacy, Clerestory windows could be the answer to your prayers.  Although mainly seen in the commercial sector or in contemporary/smart houses and apartments, these little gems are windows at high level (above your eye line) which can solve issues, such as overlooking in new extensions (which helps with planning permission) or hiding an ugly feature next door.

Clerestory windows can bring natural light in without losing wall space

Bi-fold Doors
With the continued trend for open-plan living; bi-fold doors are still very popular. They allow you to open up part of a wall or the whole of the back wall of a house; thereby joining your home with your garden space. If you have a smaller space you could consider French doors; but you will need to have the room for them to open out or inwards onto a wall.

Bifold doors not only increase the amount of light entering the home but also give great views outside and can be incorporated into both period renovations and modern extensions; due to the number of different sizes and styles available.  If you have a house that has dark and pokey areas; adding bifold doors when renovating or extending it is definitely worth considering; as they can make smaller spaces feel bigger.

Bifold doors really open up and connect your internal space to your garden

Glazed Internal Bifold Doors
With homeowners loving the trend of open-plan living; another way to increase natural lights is through adding internal bifold doors as they offer flexibility to your home. You can simple fold away the partition when guests are visiting or keep an eye on the kids while cooking dinner, and then shut them when you need privacy or to feel snug. By also choosing a glazed panel option it means the natural light can still flood the spaces, while keeping the practical functionality of internal doors.

You don’t generally need planning permission for bifold doors, but if your house is listed or in a conservation area, it is best to first check with your Local Planning Authority.

The Open Tread Staircase
Staircases are now becoming a real feature of many houses; from traditional bannisters and treads through to having no rails or glass rails. They can play a big role in the way light moves between the floor levels and opting for an open tread will give a greater sense of space and allow the light to trickle down. Adding a glass balustrade will then give a real contemporary look to your home.

The Glass Floor (or Ceiling)
If you have several levels to your home another way of gaining light from above is by installing either glass flooring or a panel of glass to the floor. This contemporary design not only lets additional light pass through to the rooms below, but makes a real talking point in your home. It isn’t just for new builds though, as it can be added to any age house within reason.

Sun Pipe
Some houses can have challenging internal layouts where extensions have been added over the years; therefore, leaving a room in the centre of the house with no windows and no natural light. Or you may have a house with a basement and would love to have some natural light entering the space? This is where sun or light tunnels or sun pipes as they are called are an ideal solution for introducing natural light into those awkward spaces. They allow light to reach this space and stop it feeling dark and claustrophobic.

We hope these suggestions have given you ideas for how to bring more natural light into your home and to better connect your house to your outside space. Whether it’s Summer or Winter; the more natural light you can achieve in your home the better.  

If you would like more information on which option would be the best choice for your current home or proposed self-build home, please do contact Building Tectonics 0n 01908 366000 as we will be only too pleased to advise you.

Which Home Improvements Add the Most Value?

The last 8 weeks in lockdown has seen Brits tackle numerous outstanding DIY jobs that they haven’t been able to turn a blind eye to; with many small to medium sized projects being accomplished. Whilst being confined to your home 24/7, you may also have been dreaming about the areas of your home you don’t actually like or feel don’t work; and how you would love more family space via an extension, loft conversion or remodelling of your existing space.  The current COVID-19 working situation has also brought a new problem to many households as more people have been working from home and will continue to do so for the considerable future. This means homeowners potentially needing an area to work from or potentially freeing up a bedroom for this use.

DIY Lockdown Projects
A study of 2,000 adults conducted by Ronseal during the lockdown found that more than half surveyed have noticed faults which need fixing or cosmetic damage around their house that they previously had ignored. 56% got busy with DIY projects with an average of four jobs being completed. The research also found that the kitchen was considered the room which needs the most improvement, followed by the garden and bathroom.

Bigger Home Improvements
However, when it comes down to the bigger projects where you involve professionals, you probably have no idea where to even start or which would be the best option for your family and/or bank balance.  Now that the government are starting to relax restrictions and are allowing more people back to work, the construction industry is springing back into life after building sites and house builds were abandoned up and down the country as brickie’s and plasterers laid down their tools.  After being stuck at home for weeks these trades along with architectural practices are now expecting to get very busy as households spring into action with the ideas and plans they have for their homes; but just what is the best option and value for money if you are hoping to add more space to your home?

Identifying the Current Issues
Firstly, you need to identify what the current issue is – do you need more downstairs living space or do you need an extra bedroom? These are all of course questions that an architectural practice like Building Tectonics will ask you but we thought we would help by giving you some advice on how much value the differing building works tend to add to your home.

Upsize or Improve?
With more people staying put due to the cost of upsizing to a bigger house and the extra stamp duty and moving costs it also incurs, homeowners are now looking at how to increase their existing house space the most cost-effectively.  Families with children also realise that they are now less likely to move out in their 20’s-30’s due to not being able to afford a deposit so are therefore, staying at home longer. This is especially a problem if you live in an average semi-detached house with 3 bedrooms as the small bedroom or box room is just not big enough for a young adult.  Alternatively you may need more living space downstairs; as the whole family is crammed into one small lounge or eating in a small dining room and would love an open-plan living space with zoned areas; but also one you can enjoy time in together.  

Loft Conversion – Potential Value Added: 15%
Everywhere you look loft conversions are springing up as people realise the benefit of converting their room space. This usually gives you the option of a master bedroom with an en-suite or office upstairs or alternatively two extra bedrooms upstairs.  Other uses include creating an extra lounge space or playroom/games room for your children or a bigger office space.

A loft conversion can be completed fairly quickly (5-8 weeks on average) and is not that disruptive as most of the actual work is done in the loft. The majority of lofts can be converted, but it’s worth measuring the loft space to ensure it meets building regulations; as you need a minimum height of 2.1 metres over 50% of the room after the new floor has been put in. You also need to check your landing can handle the extra staircase.

If you are looking to potentially go down this route, you’ll need to speak to an architect and a builder to look at the types of conversions available and what would work best for your home.  Options range from a roof light conversion, which needs the least amount of structural work and so is the most cost-effective, to a more expensive mansard conversion. This is where one or both slopes of the roof are replaced with a new structure with steeper sides and an almost flat roof.

Mansard conversions generally need planning permission, but the majority of loft conversions are included in your permitted development rights.  You may want to check with your local planning department as the rules can vary from one area to another; but generally if your neighbours have completed the work you should be fine.

Side or Rear Extension – Potential Value Added: 15%
There are several options when it comes to house extensions if you are looking to carry out a single or double storey extension. If you live in a typical terraced or semi-detached house a side return extension is often a cheaper solution.  A side return is usually classed as permitted development and is a narrow alley that runs adjacent to the kitchen and by extending the kitchen into the side return and to the full width of the rest of the house means you gain valuable space and can also improve the layout.  However, you could lose windows and the light they’d normally bring in but roof lights will fix this, or you could install a partially or fully glazed roof to keep the space light and airy.  

Although adding an extension involves adding extra square footage to the side or back of the house, it does come at a cost to your garden. Generally, the most popular room for extending is the kitchen, and converting a small galley-style kitchen into a much bigger one with dining space can make your living space much more flexible. You also have the option of building upwards as the same time to give you an extra bedroom which will add more value. If this is something you are considering bear in mind it is more cost effective to do at the same time as a single-storey as otherwise you may need to upgrade your foundations at a later date to take the extra weight. You will also already have the builders on site and machinery hire costs which means you will have this cost the next time.

Open Plan Living/Re-modelling Layout – Potential Value Added: 3 to 5%
Open plan living is still one of the most popular home improvement projects undertaken to maximise family space. You can save on the cost of an extension by knocking down the wall between the kitchen and living room which gives you a bigger area to eat and live together in whilst still creating zones for time on your own.

Some homeowners may have the skills to undertake this but, in most cases, it is best to call in the professionals as it all depends on whether the wall is load bearing. If it is, taking it down yourself could prove disastrous. Alternatively, you could consider a rear or side extension instead as although this can be costly and time-consuming, it’ll give you exactly the space you want as well as adding potential value to your home.

Garage Conversion – Potential Value Added: 15%
If your garage isn’t being used for your car (as most are filled with junk), it can make sense to convert it into a living space; especially if you have parking space outside. Converting the garage into another room and then expanding upwards to include another bedroom can be a very good way of adding value to your home. Your first step is to check it is suitable for conversion and whether you need planning permission as although it is normally classed as permitted development, it is always best to check with your local planning authority.

Which is the best solution for you?
Whether you know you definitely require more downstairs living space or it’s an extra bedroom you need; the next step is to speak to a professional to see what your options are.  Building Tectonics has 35 years’ experience of re-designing, altering and extending houses across Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire; and we endeavour to exceed the aspirations and desires of our clients by generating innovative and intelligent ideas that often achieve much more than the original brief.

 To make sure that you have considered all possible options we provide a high-quality architectural design led by a careful feasibility planning process to make clients projects a reality, without suffering the pitfalls that many owners of properties face.

If you are ready to take the first step towards improving your home living space, please just either give us a call on 07548 884645, email us at email@building-tectonics.co.uk or message us via Facebook.

Building Tectonics Awarded ‘Best of Service 2020’ by Houzz

BUILDING TECTONICS LTD of MILTON KEYNES 

Awarded Best Of Houzz 2020

The Annual People’s Choice Award from the Houzz Community Highlights Home Renovation and Design Professionals with Most Popular Designs and Top Ratings

MILTON KEYNES, UK, 17 April, 2020Building Tectonics Ltd of Milton Keynes has won a “Best Of Houzz” award for Customer Service on Houzz®, the leading platform for home renovation and design. The 35-year old Architectural Practice was chosen by the millions of homeowners that comprise the Houzz community from among more than 2.5 million active home building, renovation and design industry professionals.

The Best Of Houzz badge is awarded annually, in three categories: Design, Customer Service and Photography. Design awards honour professionals whose work was the most popular among the Houzz community. Customer Service honours are based on several factors, including a pro’s overall rating on Houzz and client reviews submitted in 2019. Architecture and interior design photographers whose images were most popular are recognised with the Photography award.

A “Best Of Houzz 2020” badge will appear on winners’ profiles as a sign of their commitment to excellence. These badges help homeowners identify popular and top-rated home professionals in every metro area on Houzz.

Tony Keller, owner of Building Tectonics Ltd said “We are very pleased to receive this award again. We take customer service very seriously and will endeavour to continue to give our customers our very best. No sitting on our laurels here“.

“This year’s Best Of Houzz awards go to an incredibly talented and service-oriented group of home renovation and design professionals, and we’re proud to highlight the winners on the Houzz website and app,” said Inés Cid, Managing Director for Houzz UK. “This award is particularly meaningful as it reflects the sentiment of the millions of homeowners in the Houzz community who are hiring home professionals for their projects across the UK and around the world.”

Follow Building Tectonics Ltd on Houzz https://www.houzz.co.uk/pro/tonykeller/building-tectonics-ltd

About Building Tectonics Ltd

We are an architectural practice, with 35-years’ experience of re-designing, altering and extending houses across Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire. We endeavour to exceed the aspirations and desires of our clients, and do this by generating innovative and intelligent ideas that often achieve much more than the original brief.

About Houzz

Houzz is the leading platform for home renovation and design, providing people with everything they need to improve their homes from start to finish – online or from a mobile device. From decorating a small room to building a custom home and everything in between, Houzz connects millions of homeowners, home design enthusiasts and home improvement professionals across the country and around the world. With the largest residential design database in the world and a vibrant community empowered by technology, Houzz is the easiest way for people to find inspiration, get advice, discover products and hire the professionals they need to help turn their ideas into reality. Headquartered in Palo Alto, Calif., Houzz also has international offices in London, Berlin, Sydney, Moscow, Tel Aviv and Tokyo. Houzz is a registered trademark of Houzz Inc. worldwide. For more information, visit houzz.co.uk.

Home improvements to do whilst self-isolating

Today marks a new period of uncertainty for the nation with many people now working from home due to the threat of COVID-19; along with the first day of school closures across England. As we are all advised to socially distance ourselves with the threat of lockdown on the horizon; it’s not surprising people are wondering what they will do in the upcoming weeks or months if they are stuck at home so, we thought we would help by sharing some ideas for home improvements.

However, worrying it is and with many people now having to also home school, being restricted to staying at home is also an opportunity to get all those jobs completed that that you started – but never quite got around to finishing. If you have kids at home it is good to get into a routine of home schooling (alongside potentially working from home if you are able to) and in-between and at weekends you can try and fit in those jobs that you never get the chance to do. It’s also a great way to get the kids more involved with household chores and projects to give then a different type of ‘learning’ experience alongside their academic work.

Painting
Whether you love painting your home or dread it; most people have a room in their house (or maybe the whole house) that could do with updating.  It is so simple to transform a room with a new lick of paint or sometimes even just painting a feature wall or chimney breast can freshen a room up. Be quick though as paint is flying off the shelves at the moment; as people up and down the country are deciding to make the most of their time self-isolating.

Start that DIY job you’ve been putting off
Everybody has a list of home improvements that we’ve been meaning to do and just never quite got around to doing. It may be simple jobs like replacing light bulbs or putting shelves up or bigger jobs like repainting the skirting boards or decluttering the garage or loft. Whatever the jobs are, big or small, start them now whilst you have the opportunity.

Upcycle
If you have always thought of starting an upcycling project, now is the time. You may have a chest of drawers you would like to renovate by repainting them or would maybe like to make a new seating area in the garden out of wooden pallets. Either way upcycling is a great way to repurpose something no longer fit or used for its original purpose and save it ending up in landfill.

Get cleaning
Again this is a task that you either love or hate but it is even more essential at this moment in time. Draw yourself up a daily schedule and try and clean a room a day giving it a really deep clean. It not only keeps the germs away but is great for your mental health; so, get on top of your cleaning schedule whilst you have the chance and get the kids involved too.

Get organised
We are now in the first few days of Spring and the weather is already improving, therefore, take this opportunity to organise your wardrobe (and the kid’s wardrobes).  Go through outfits and see if any are no longer worn or are outgrown and take them to the charity shops. Do the same with the kids toys and go through them to see which ones they have grown out of or no longer play with; and either sell them or donate them.

Tidy the garden
Although we are being advised to avoid public places this doesn’t mean our gardens are off limits. Whilst it’s warm get outside and start clearing up and getting ready for Summer. Cut the grass, tidy the flowerbeds and pressure wash any decking and paving so you are ready to make the most of being at home spending time together in the garden.

Grow some plants or start a vegetable garden
With more time on your hands you could try growing your own plants from cuttings from your existing plants. Find some jars and pop the cuttings in water, place them on your window sill and once the roots begin to sprout you can plant them in soil filled pots. The kids will love learning about and growing their own plants and vegetables and you could make it into a competition.

Rearrange a room
If you have a room at home that needs a refresh, just try moving the furniture around. It can give it a new lease of life and make you feel like you have a new room to enjoy spending time in when you are bored of looking at the same 4 walls.

Get the kids involved
If you do have kids at home and have to home school; make some of these tasks part of their daily learning to mix up their day and give them a break from their academic work. It also teaches them new skills that will better equip them for the future.

Whatever your situation put your family and their safety first and spend time together through this uncertain period, whilst using the time to make your home as comfortable and beautiful as possible. We all want to make the most of the outdoors once we can go out again and if you get all the jobs completed now; it means you can enjoy every minute of freedom once we have the opportunity again.

Please be safe everyone, stay at home and we will get through this!