The Benefits of Choosing an Experienced Architect over a Cheap Drawings Company

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.

Spotlight on the Team – Josh Lockwood

Josh Lockwood – Design Technologist

Josh originally started with Building Tectonics 6 years ago on a week’s work experience; and after being made a job offer, he never left. However, as he had only just started his Sixth Form study, it was a tough decision as he was doing well at school but unsure what he wanted to do for a job. He realised the work experience suited his skill set, accepted the offer and has never looked back. After joining, he decided to attend college once a week to continue his education and achieved the grades needed to enrol at university. He is now in his 5th out of 6 years at university (due to being part-time), and will become qualified in 2020.

Having started off drawing surveys onto the computer by reading the measurements taken from Tony’s survey notes, it wasn’t long before Josh was trying his hand at producing schemes and submitting Planning Applications. As our Design Technologist, he prepares the Building Regulations drawings and has constant communication with our clients along with dealing with party wall issues, sewer build-overs and occasionally working on 3D models to help clients visualise proposals and buy into an idea.

Three things that inspire Josh:

Making a difference in people’s lives – I take great joy and pleasure out of helping people get what they want and achieve their goals and by designing extensions, I am fulfilling that passion. One day I hope to take it to the next level and design bigger and grander buildings or ideally, should my career prospects take me down the right path, work on redeveloping towns and cities to make a difference to whole communities.

Self-Improvement – There is always room for improvement and every day alters the way in which I view the world and myself, even if only slightly. Learning from other people, past mistakes and precedents keeps pushing me to strive for more.

Invention and Innovation – I thoroughly enjoy seeing new ideas come to life whether that be in terms of Architecture, Technology, Science, Music, or Sport. I have the utmost respect for talented people as it baffles me how people can create or achieve such things as mere human beings. Seeing the progression of various concepts throughout the decades to see how ideas have evolved over time is satisfying.

What is your favourite example of Architectural Design?
There are lots of architectural marvels that I could list such as: Sagrada Familia in Barcelona (still under construction), Milan Cathedral, and for more modern examples, The Scalpel in London (recently completed) and Aldar HQ in Abu Dhabi.

However, the one that has stood out the most and been with me the longest has to be the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao which was designed by Frank Gehry. I’ve covered this in a previous University blog, but in essence, not only was the design controversially wonderful at the time, it has also sparked regeneration in Bilbao. In an age where grand Cathedrals are rarely built, and clusters of skyscrapers are the new way to identify cities, Frank Gehry had tried something different and ambitious which has paid off massively. It has proven hard to replicate such an iconic building elsewhere as the recipe for success isn’t quite right for other projects, whereas the Guggenheim was somewhat of a perfect storm.

Don’t move, improve: Extending your home.

If you can extend a house to create more usable space then it is probably worth doing in the current market. This is especially true if you can create another bedroom, and even more so if you can create another bedroom whilst simultaneously making more living space to keep the house in balance.

So when our client came to us and asked if we could devise a way of creating a bedroom for the expected baby, we looked at how we could do this. However, we were not about to forget that the downstairs living space should be increased as well.  The obvious way to increase the living space on the ground floor was to convert some, or all of the garage; this is what actually happened. As I have blogged before, in my view garage conversions should be carried out, only if you have an overriding reason to convert. What I mean by this is that if you can create more usable space by extending then it must be better to do than converting a garage. When you lose garage space you probably lose storage space rather than a parking space, so you would need to find alternative storage space, unless of course you can dump the contents, and even if you can what about the next inhabitant. Garages do have a value and this should be considered when looking at the economics or converting the garage.

In the case of this house, extending was not an option because the garden was so small, but they would desperately need extra living area not only to keep the house in balance, but also because babies take up an inordinate amount of living space.  So we created a new kitchen and a utility room, again really useful when you have babies or young children because it becomes the laundry room effectively.

So the scheme was to convert the roof space over the garage and partly convert the garage leaving enough to act as a garden store. The bedroom produced was enhanced by the creation of a dormer window.  Even a small dormer window can make a big difference to a small bedroom as it increases the area that you can stand in, and of course it is a connection with the outside.

The main area of difficulty with projects like this is that we have to be able to make the floor plan work so that you do not have pass through one room to get to another. We were able to achieve this.

The extended house has enabled the family to live there for longer, and will easily recoup the cost of development when it is time to sell.  Of course some of the increased value would have happened anyway, with house price inflation, but they have had the benefit of the additional space in the meantime and they can move when they want instead of being forced into it at quite possibly, an unsuitable time.

When you are buying a small house it is worth asking if the house was designed so that it can be extended. It is government policy to encourage extendable homes and often architects are asked to consider this by developers. But not in the case of this house- but we did it anyway because that’s what we do at Building Tectonics.

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Written by Tony Keller – Building Tectonics Ltd.

The iron garage.

The client on this particular project wanted to have somewhere safe to park their cars and van, somewhere they could lock it up (which would vastly improve on their temporary ‘anti-theft’ precaution – putting a clamp on the front wheel every time they left it outside the house). Their current garage wasn’t large enough for all of their vehicles and so they wanted to expand.

We designed an interesting garage for them, which would improve the overall aesthetics of the property as well as being functional. This garage was a new building built next to their existing garage and had a specific space built especially for the van to park in – this was an area with brick and steel gates(but looked like iron), much like the sort you might find around stately homes, as well as additional space for two more cars to be stored there.

This new garage with its metal fencing and space for the van gave the clients peace of mind about the safety and security of their vehicles. It also gave a feeling of enclosure, as if they had their own courtyard. But it’s got to be better than putting a clamp on your van every day.

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Written by Jade Turney – Building Tectonics Ltd.

Somewhere to be loud.

Our client wanted a space to allow his growing family to relax and get away from it all. Somewhere they could go and potentially make some noise, or just make a mess, whatever they wanted to do, without disturbing the rest of the family. We had to create a room in which the adults could relax and the kids could play.

Before.

Before outside garage

As you can see from the photographs we agreed upon a garage conversion, the garage roof was lifted to create the room. With this type of project it is essential to plan the interior with care so that it links with the existing house in a satisfactory way.

After.

After outside garage     After inside garage

Over garage extensions can be ideal as music or games rooms. It’s just a nice place to go and relax. Although over garage conversions can be an ideal room to add a room away from the house for mess or noise, you won’t see many in Bedford as in Victorian times, cars weren’t really around yet, so what need would they have for a garage? However, you would probably have more of a chance of seeing a garage conversion in Milton Keynes.

Written by Tony Keller – Building Tectonics Ltd.