As architects, Building Tectonics are always looking for more sustainable construction methods to suggest to our clients. Here are some tips from David Knight fromRoof Windows 4 You for designing a Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) inspired loft conversion.
Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) has fast become a more common way to build. The construction industry is steering away from traditional methods and towards options that reduce delivery times, costs, and energy consumption. And, a lot of the principles of MMC can be applied to a loft conversion to produce a more sustainable design.
Not only are greener home improvements better for the
planet, but they can also add value to your home and make it more desirable.
Below, I’ll take you through three of the ways you can design a more
sustainable loft conversion inspired by MMC.
Use sustainably sourced materials If your loft conversion requires bricks, look for environmentally friendly alternatives to concrete and clay that are sourced responsibly. Some common options are made from ground-down waste that would otherwise be sent to landfill, such as glass or scrap.
You can also use sustainably sourced wood from low-impact
logging companies in your building work, as well as reclaimed or recycled metal.
Even roof insulation, which will help your loft conversion conserve heat, can
be made from recycled materials for a more sustainable loft design.
Embrace green energy Incorporating solar panels into your loft design is a tried and tested way to keep energy consumption (and bills) as low as possible, but there are other things you can do to save energy.
For example, roof windows are a must for an attractive loft
space, as they can let in a lot of mood-boosting natural light, as well as
provide you with the best views in the house. And, if you choose double,
triple, or even quadruple glazing for your roof windows, you can minimise heat
loss and increase the energy efficiency of your loft even further.
Consider a green roof Green or living cladding not only looks good, but it can also help protect homes from potentially damaging solar heat in the summer. It can minimise heat loss in winter just like insulation, too, so it’s worth considering if you want to create a more self-regulating home.
A green roof also deals with storms and heavy rain better
than other types of roofing, as it retains more water. This reduces and cleans
run-off that might otherwise put a strain on nearby drains and sewers. And, as
the waterproofing tends to last longer than average roofing, it can be more
cost effective too.
If you’re looking for ways to create a more sustainable
loft conversion, the tips in this guide can help. By using MMC as inspiration,
you can reduce the environmental impact of your design and make it more efficient.
Do you swell with pride when you drive up to your home or does the sight of it fill you with dread? Whilst many of us love our house interiors and have decorated them to our specific tastes, the same cannot always be said for the exterior of our homes and their kerb appeal. However, a not so attractive exterior is easily fixed and Building Tectonics has helped many homeowners in and around Milton Keynes to improve the exterior of their properties. We can help you learn to love the outside of your house as much as the inside whatever issues you may have.
With a recent HomeOwners Alliance study by YouGov finding 68% of homeowners felt that kerb appeal was important in their choice of home, it can often make the difference between buyers purchasing one house or another. The study found that the most important features for kerb appeal were windows and a roof that were both in good condition followed by a well-maintained front garden, pathways, fences and house frontage. Other features identified included clean gutters, concealed wheelie bins and a brightly-lit exterior.
However, whilst many of these features are fairly easy to change, many home owners don’t realise that there is so much more you can do to improve your home’s overall look and help you to start loving and not loathing your house exterior. With more and more people now staying put in their homes due to the cost of moving; it definitely pays to improve not move and in the majority of cases it will also add value to your home.
It is often the case that a homeowner will say that they didn’t buy their house for its exterior as it is dated or unattractive; but they tried to see past it to see the great potential inside. Whereas others are put off by an ugly exterior and would not even consider a house that wasn’t attractive on the outside. The good news is that there is plenty you can do to improve the kerb appeal of your home whilst keeping the benefits of the interior space.
This is often the case when it comes to older properties; and we are not talking your Victorian or Edwardian properties but more your 1950’s – 1980’s properties. Whilst this age of house benefit from larger rooms and have great potential to extend due to decent size gardens (unlike newer builds); they often don’t look the best from the front and can date very quickly.
Building Tectonics has helped many clients transform the exterior of their homes from smaller jobs like adding a welcoming porch; through to adding wood cladding and transforming bungalows into houses. It is very important though that any house facelift is carried out carefully and sympathetically in line with the existing house and its age; as inappropriate exterior finishes or out of place features can also ruin an older house.
Repainting or cladding your home exterior
There are a number of ways to change the look of your home from basic cosmetic changes like repainting it or adding cladding; through to changing the roof structure and replacing windows which can make a big architectural difference to the look of your home.
If your home has 1970s or 1980s stone cladding, pebbledash, mismatching bricks or a mixture of different external materials, you can remove or cover them with a different material to create a completely new look. The cheapest option is to simply paint the exterior of the house using masonry paint in a neutral shade such as white, to help unify the different materials.
Rendering and repainting can be a better option if the original brickwork has been damaged or alternatively if you want to give your home a brand new, contemporary appearance, cladding the exterior will make a dramatic difference.
Our clients in Milton Keynes engaged Building Tectonics to give their home a makeover to improve the outside appearance of their cottage. Having done the inside under a previous Building Tectonics scheme, they had a superb house but it was lacking in kerb appeal. The house also lacked an entrance hall space near the front door, big enough to accommodate shoes and coats. They were delighted with the finished result which gave them “Convenience, light, saleability, beauty all in one hit”.
Replacing your Roof or adding an Extension
Subject to planning permission, it may be possible to add a
second storey to a bungalow, transforming it into a house, or to replace a flat
roof to improve the exterior look of your property. Many smaller extensions can
be added under permitted development rights (PDRs), without applying for planning
permission, especially those at the back and sides of a property.
This was the case for our clients in Luton who wanted to enlarge their bungalow to create space for their growing family. They wanted a house that was on two levels, with at least three bedrooms, a family bathroom upstairs and a large kitchen family room downstairs with a study and separate lounge to give the full range of rooms required in a family home.
Sometimes a house just needs an overall makeover inside and outside to bring it up-to-date and to improve its overall efficiency. Our clients who owned this family home in Milton Keynes wanted to completely refurbish it to give them the space they wanted and to also create a brand new, fresher look externally. The ground floor was extended to provide more space and wrap the old 1970’s exterior with much better insulated, modern cavity walls. Cedar cladding was added upstairs not only to give the house a new appearance but to camouflage the new insulation applied to the exterior. A new sprocket roof with new roof tiles was also added. The triple glazing and whole house ventilation with heat recovery has also helped to reduce the energy costs to a much lower amount than the smaller, older house. The latest valuation has suggested that the cost of the refurbishment would be recovered if the house was sold.
For many home owners whether you are looking to potentially sell your home in the future or looking to stay long-term, kerb appeal is very important as to how you feel about your home. However, as we have shown there are many solutions out there from simple options like repainting, rendering and cladding through to refurbishment or remodelling of your property. Whichever route you decide to take it is always advisable to contact a professional to let you know what is and isn’t feasible before you start any work and be sure you get a few quotes before starting work.
If Building Tectonics can help you with any ideas of what could work for you and your property; please do not hesitate to contact us on 01908 366000.
Celebrating with the family at Christmas is when open-plan living really comes into its own, as the space lends itself to many layout options and allows for a big table to be the centrepiece of the celebrations. Our happy clients in Luton have just put the finishing touches to their open-plan living/breakfast/dining/kitchen area; created by a rear extension and are looking forward to celebrating Christmas in their new space.
Although our clients originally had lots of ideas, they needed us to help them decide what was economically feasible given their lifestyle, family needs and what was a sensible spend on their particular house. The scheme they chose resulted in a rear extension to create a stunning open-plan kitchen/breakfast/dining/living area that the whole family could “live” in, but also has individual zones to work unhindered.
During the festive period, although more formal dining is popular; open-plan dining is still the preference year-round of most homeowners; as separate dining rooms have yet to make a real comeback. Whilst some people still prefer the dining room set-up, if you have a big family it can be challenging to try and fit your own family around the table, let alone grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Therefore, an open-plan living/dining/kitchen space has this advantage.
In houses that still have separate dining rooms but also enjoy an open plan kitchen/diner/living area, it is often the case that the old dining room has been converted into a snug, playroom, office or sometimes even a downstairs guest bedroom.
Although homes with open floor plans offer great light and views (often across the garden) and are very sociable for entertaining and bringing family and friends together; they can sometimes be tricky to decorate at Christmas. The high ceilings and minimal walls can make it hard to define areas, create transitions and get the scale right and can sometimes make the Christmas tree look too small for the area.
Therefore, whether you prefer a fresh-cut tree or
an artificial version, buy the tallest and fullest tree that will fit
comfortably in the spot you choose and upsize your Christmas decorations so you
can see them from anywhere; making sure your tree lights are bright enough to
make it dazzle as part of the overall décor. When your living room, dining room
and kitchen are all one big space, it helps to pick a spot to be the focal
point of the decorations which could be the fireplace if you still have one?
Whilst it is great to have all this space, it can sometimes not feel very cosy, which is why it is important to structure the space to give defined areas for eating, socialising and quiet time thereby, making it much more functional and useable. This is indeed what our clients have created by having a dining/breakfast area, kitchen space and then a cosy area with sofas so, all of the family can be together but they don’t need to be on top of each other all the time.
In properties where the original dining room is now
being used as a playroom or office, if you came to sell, the agents would more
than likely still refer to it as a dining room in the marketing literature.
However, by giving it an alternative description, such as calling it a
dining/family room, it shows potential buyers the flexibility of the space and
how it could work best for them.
All houses need to continuously evolve over time to suit the changing needs of their owners let alone a new buyer, so the use of the dining room will probably change a few times over the years. Although open-plan gives more options, it needs to be clear where people could easily put their table and chairs. The trend for staying in more and hosting dinner parties or gatherings in your home, does mean that open-plan living is a bonus, as it makes it more informal and guests can socialise with the host in the kitchen whilst they cook.
Whatever your preference; be it modern, open-plan dining or the traditional dining room for family get-togethers, the beautifully decorated dining table will always be the centre piece of your social gatherings over the Christmas and New Year period and where all your memories are made.
If you would love to have the benefit of an open-plan living space for next Christmas with your family; please do contact Building Tectonics Ltd to see how we can help you with ideas for how to achieve it.
We would like to wish all our clients
(past, present and future) a wonderful and prosperous Christmas and New Year!
Our client found us on the website called Houzz and, after reading all the positive reviews we had received from previous clients, contacted us regarding their 4-bedroom detached property in Luton. They had lots of ideas for potentially extending or remodelling their home including creating an open-plan living area; but needed our help to turn the ideas into workable schemes. Having read about our Feasibility Scheme on our website; they rightly assumed that this would be the way forward.
Our Feasibility Scheme involves us visiting a client, listening to what they feel is lacking in their current house or what they wish to achieve and then carrying out a survey of their property. We are then in a position to formulate workable ideas which we typically send to clients 3 to 5 weeks after our visit.
They were not short of ideas for what they hoped to achieve and the ideas ranged from an open-plan dining/breakfast/kitchen/living space which would become the ‘hub’ of their home to possibly adding another bedroom.
Discussions also revolved around a better designed kitchen, a utility room to hide away some of their appliances and the washing when it was drying indoors. Their existing dining room was also quite dark so they were looking at possible solutions to provide an area for working from home or for the kids to study in.
Once the process got going it was clear that they really only needed a single storey extension; which meant demolishing their current conservatory and then remodeling some of their existing space. Other ideas that had been considered included the possibility of a Loft Conversion but we soon established this would involve a new roof as the ridge was too low.
They needed us to help them decide what was economically feasible given their lifestyle, family needs and what was a sensible spend on their particular house. The scheme they chose resulted in a rear extension, creating a stunning open-plan kitchen/breakfast/dining/living area that the whole family could “live” in, but also has individual zones to work unhindered.
The build was finished this Summer and now they have just put the finishing touches to the interior; so it is now all ready for Christmas. Early in the new year they will also lay a patio area outside the new bi-fold doors; ready to make the most of the outdoors in the Summer. In the meantime they can also enjoy the view during the colder winter months.
Our clients said “You worked up many ideas before we chose one for our extension; which was at the end of last year and we finished the build late this Summer. Many thanks for the great variety of designs that really helped us get to where we wanted along with the help guiding us to what was structurally sensible, the Planning Process and Building Regulations too, of course. Thank you as it looks great and we are really pleased with the end result”.
Many of our clients contact us on recommendation from a builder; as was the case with this side extension project in Caldecott, Milton Keynes to create a new kitchen space, utility room and enlarged garage.
The builder had in turn also been highly recommended by friends of theirs. The design brief was relatively simple; but what set this project apart was the attention to detail and the finish achieved in the execution of this extension project.
Our goal with any house scheme we produce is to give the
client what they want; but without any unnecessary complications. We achieve
this by carefully listening to the clients wishes, interpreting these points
and bringing into the discussion other aspects that they would not necessarily
think about. This means we can produce the best possible scheme using our
expert technical knowledge.
Once we had produced the kitchen extension schemes, obtained planning permission and building regulation approval, we handed the project data over to the client. We were therefore, delighted 7 months later to be invited back to see the finished result and to be met by very happy clients and a proud builder.
If a project starts off on the right footing (no pun
intended); then it can progress to fruition without any drama for the client,
subject to them also appointing a good builder of course.
Our clients in Bedfordshire asked us to look at their modest 3 bedroom bungalow to see if it would benefit from remodelling. Although the bungalow had been previously extended a few times to give more space and to create a beautiful kitchen; they felt the layout still had outstanding issues that needed resolving.
Its main entrance was tucked away up a long path bounded on one side by the bedroom wing. This was awkward and far from an impressive visual introduction to the house. The lounge worked well as a cosy snug, but as a main lounge it was too small. Externally, the house did not connect with the garden and the garden itself being adjacent to a busy road, suffered from noise and a lack of privacy.
The key innovation we brought to the problem was switching the lounge to the bedroom wing and the bedrooms to where the lounge had been. Our plan recreated the bedrooms as a two storey wing to ensure no bedroom capacity was lost.
Bringing the lounge to the front of the site meant that a beautiful and spacious entrance lobby adjacent to the car spaces could be added. Remodelling the layout meant that it worked as a house should in terms of approach and connectivity with the garden and the interconnection of the rooms. The garage was moved and rebuild to act as a screen between the garden and the road. This created a private and beautiful lawn space that the lounge and bedrooms could overlook.
It must be noted that during the construction phase the builder and the client also had their own moments of inspiration. This not only enhanced our general concept but helped create a house and home that is a delight to live in.
At first glance, this superb house in the rolling hills of Buckinghamshire appears to have it all – a character building with generous rooms and plenty of land around it, perfect for a growing family. However, even a big house with lots of room and green space can still have its issues and need remodelling to make it work more efficiently for the people occupying it.
When our clients bought their current home; it suffered with some major problematical issues with the layout and headroom in certain rooms. Alongside this they desired a wow factor kitchen which you would normally come to expect in this size of house. Unfortunately, the existing kitchen space was just not suitable to make this a reality which was a shame.
Our first stage in visiting a client is normally to conduct a feasibility study to see just what is viable with the house. During this step we identified some old outbuildings that could potentially be connected to the house via a new extension.
Having shown our clients how this could work as an option for their new kitchen; they decided to take this opportunity to also look at other aspects of their house that they didn’t like. They left no stone unturned in their desire to create their perfect home.
Our clients possessed great attention to detail and working with us on the project resulted in the stairs being relocated. This created a beautiful spacious entrance hallway and corridors.
The overall end result is stunning and has given them a much more useable layout, along with the big kitchen they longed for. We think you will agree the new extension looks fantastic and blends seamlessly with the existing house.
Almost overnight the mornings now have a distinct chill, the evenings are already getting darker earlier; and the warmth of the summer sunshine is becoming a distant memory. As the evenings start to draw in, it’s time to start looking at your home and garden to see what needs organising before the chill sets in and how to make it cosier and work more efficiently for you.
Summer versus Winter In the Summer it’s all about connecting with our outside space and spending as much time outside enjoying our gardens, patios and decking. Blinds are used to keep rooms cool and we use air-conditioning and fans in the really hot weather. However, as it cools down the opposite is true with windows being closed (also to try and keep the many spiders out) and central heating and fires being lit to warm our homes.
Move your furniture In the warmer seasons; we tend to turn our furniture more towards the windows to enjoy the sunshine coming in, with our windows and doors all left open to let the fresh air in. However, in the winter months furniture is rearranged for a cosier feel centred around the fireplace or another central focal point. Make sure you move any furniture away from radiators to maximise the heat coming out.
Roof ventilation In the Summer months, the roof space can literally bake and if there is nowhere for that heat to go it will build a stack of hot air in the roof which will eventually force itself into your living space from the ceiling down. It is essential therefore, to install just enough ventilation to stop the stacking effect. In the winter months; you have the opposite problem of all your heat rising into the loft, so it is recommended to consider insulation in the loft to stop the heat rising and the cooler loft space impacting on your downstairs space.
Adjust your thermostat It is suggested that in some circumstances for each degree you turn down the thermostat towards the outside temperature you reduces your heating costs and greenhouse emissions by roughly 10%. Make sure though that your boiler is in tip-top condition and has been serviced within the last year to make sure it is not only safe to use but working as efficiently as possible. Bleed any radiators to make sure they are working properly.
Get snug with textiles and textures When it starts to get chilly; we dig out our jumpers and cosy socks but the other way to keep warm and make your home look cosy is through the use of textiles and textures. You can introduce more fleeces and fake fur throws into your home to put on the sofa; along with cushions in cosy fabrics like chenille to keep yourself snug of an evening and the heating down lower.
Check for any gaps It is a good idea to check around your doors and windows for any significant gaps and seal them to keep any drafts out (and spiders).
Close your doors Make sure you don’t leave all your doors open, so therefore, close the doors to rooms you do not use which thereby reduces the area to keep cool or warm.
Use Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFLs) These bulbs use 75% less energy and produce 75% less heat than incandescent light bulbs which will save you money as well on cooling. Also consider LED lights as they are often cheaper and easier to retrofit. It is a good idea to consider brighter bulbs for those darker days but make sure they are energy efficient where possible.
Clothing If you can get your family members into the habit of wearing a jumper and similar warm clothes; you will save a fortune in heating costs. You will be using your own body heat to help keep you warm, so allowing you to reduce the heating thermostat.
Use an electric blanket at night If you don’t like a hot bedroom but still get a bit chilly, why not use an electric blanket or go old school and bring out your hot water bottle which means not having to heat the whole bedroom.
Put your Summer clothing away Once the last of the sunshine has gone, put your summer clothing into the loft to make more room for warmer winter clothing.
Tidy your garden space When it comes to your outside space, make sure you put your garden furniture away that is susceptible to wet weather (or frost) and could potentially crack. Look at bringing any plants inside that can’t cope with winter or cover them with protective sleeves.
Give your windows one last clean Autumn is a good time to have one last clean of your windows before the bad weather sets in. It also gets rid of some of the many spider’s webs and nests that have appeared towards the end of the summer.
We hope some of these tips have been useful to help you organise and transform your home ready for the Winter 😊
Making your dream home a reality can be a costly process and understandably many people try to keep their costs as low as possible; and stick to a budget – whether this is £5,000 or £500,000. The first step in this process is to arrive at a scheme that gives you what you want. However, it also has to be possible structurally; so, you can then make the decision whether to go ahead with your project.
Therefore, the first point of call is making contact with either an architectural practice or alternatively, a drawings company that offer a fixed low-cost package. Whilst many people think that by choosing the low-cost package drawings firm, they are saving money this is often not the case. We wanted to show you why this is not always the cheapest option and the pitfalls to look out for when choosing a company to design your house alterations.
What are your requirements?
As an experienced architectural practice, once a potential client makes contact with us, we would always start with a Feasibility Scheme. This is a fixed fee service and involves visiting your home at a time that suits you, to listen to your requirements. The visit normally takes about two and a half to three and a half hours.
Which is the best scheme for you?
Following the visit and survey we will produce a number of schemes for you to consider and will work with you until you are happy that you have the best possible scheme for you. It also needs to have the best chance of being approved by planning. Once you have a chance to evaluate our schemes and give us your thoughts, we can then further explore a particular idea and alter it as necessary.
The Planning Application Stage
The second stage is the Scheme Acceptance which is where we proceed with your chosen scheme. A Planning Application is then submitted to the Planning Authority, preparing the Building Regulations Application and then Project Managing your scheme to completion.
How do we save you Money in the Long Run?
Whilst this may sound fairly simple and you would think that any company could offer this service; it is rarely an easy transition. There are always queries and issues that pop up along the way and this is where an experienced architectural practice has the advantage over a fixed fee drawings company. They know every detail of your agreed scheme and can tweak it and liaise with the different bodies along the way from planning through to building control/regulations.
As an architectural practice, Building Tectonics have close relationships spanning over 30 years with the local planning authorities. We therefore, know what is likely to be approved and where you may run into problems; therefore, saving you time and money in the long run.
Over the years, many clients have come to us after choosing the cheaper option and then later regretted it. They have found that the company in question just didn’t have the knowledge or expertise when they ran into problems or they simply didn’t like their design concepts. They therefore, end up coming to us to try to sort it out. We are always happy to take a client on at any stage but it can sometimes take a while to rectify what has been undertaken already by the previous company.
Many of these package drawings companies may also say that they include all fees; but often further down the line you will find areas crop up that are not included. The fees may also not include you making any design changes at a later date. Whilst they can do the basic drawings they won’t think outside the box and give you alternative options that you may not have considered and find a solution that really suits you, your family and your lifestyle.
These services tend to focus on speedy transactions and quick turnover as this is how they keep their costs so low. They just don’t offer the personal architect/client relationship that architectural practices have, where we aim to find the best solution for our clients whatever it takes.
Building Tectonics will design and develop your ideas and work with you to guide you through the whole process step by step. We always go the extra mile to find a scheme that gives our clients the best possible fit with what they desire. Not all clients know exactly what they want and during the exchange of ideas and two or three different schemes, the brief can often get altered several times until the perfect solution is reached.
If you would like to know more about the services we offer and how to take the first step towards achieving your dream home; please do give us a call on 01908 366000 to see how we can help.
With Milton Keynes being a relatively new city; it includes amongst its housing stock a large number of townhouses. They are a popular choice for many housing developers due to them still offering 3-4 bedrooms to potential customers but on a considerably smaller footprint. Therefore, more houses can be packed into housing developments.
Whilst they are popular with the younger generation who find the living space works for them sufficiently, further down the line it can became more difficult when growing families struggle to make the space work for them.
Many clients are now contacting us because they either already owned one of these townhouses or have recently purchased one and want to know what their options are. They are desperate for more downstairs living space to accommodate the children’s toys and other belongings that they have built up over the years.
Back in 2014 we were asked by a kitchen design company, that we worked with to make contact with the owners of a house in Broughton. The townhouse was built in 2009 and like so many houses built now, suffered from not enough family space on the ground floor. With it being a 3 storey; it benefitted from plenty of bedroom space. It also featured a reasonable sized garden but on the downside the kitchen/dining space was relativity cramped for everyday family life.
The obvious solution was to extend the kitchen area and create a family open plan area that could be used all year round with plenty of light coming in. Whilst we knew what needed to be done to improve the house; it is always the extra care and attention to the design that can really make the end result special for the client.
Given the window configuration to the upstairs, which the clients did not wish to alter, we had to choose a roof shape that would be compatible with their existing design. This in turn facilitated a double aspect skylight configuration, which really does make this room space special.
Our clients have dressed the room beautifully and the kitchen designers have really made the most of the new space. They have given them a stunning open plan eating/living area that they can really enjoy spending time in.
As an architectural practice; it gives us a real thrill to know that we have been instrumental in achieving such a lovely space and knowing that without any exaggeration, how this can transform people’s lives.
If you have a townhouse and would like to know more how you can benefit from extra downstairs living space; please do give Building Tectonics a call on 01908 366000 to see how we can help.