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.

Building Tectonics Awarded ‘Best of Service 2019′ by Houzz’

Awarded by the community of over 40 million monthly users, annual BOH badge highlights home renovation & design professionals with Top ratings and most popular home designs


MILTON KEYNES, UK, March 25, 2019 –
Building Tectonics Ltd of Milton Keynes has won “Best of Service” on Houzz®, the leading platform for home renovation and design. The Architectural Practice that was established in 1985; was chosen by more than 40 million monthly unique users that comprise the Houzz community from among more than 2.1 million active home building, renovating and design industry professionals.

The Best of Houzz is awarded annually in three categories: Design, Customer Service and Photography. Design award winners’ work was the most popular among the more than 40 million monthly users on Houzz. Customer Service honours are based on several factors, including the number and quality of client reviews a professional received in 2018. Architecture and interior design photographers whose images were most popular are recognised with the Photography award.

A “Best of Houzz 2019” 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 were so pleased to achieve this award 4 years in a row. For us good service is normal service”.

“Best of Houzz is a true badge of honor as it is awarded by our community of homeowners, those who are hiring design, renovation and other home improvement professionals for their projects,” said Marcus Hartwall, Managing Director of Houzz UK and Ireland. “We are excited to celebrate the 2019 winners chosen by our community as their favourites for home design and customer experience, and to highlight those winners on the Houzz website and app.”

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 30-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, buy products and hire the professionals they need to help turn their ideas into reality. Headquartered in Palo Alto, CA, Houzz also has international offices in London, Berlin, Sydney, Moscow and Tokyo. Houzz is registered trademark of Houzz Inc. worldwide.  For more information, visit http://houzz.co.uk

How to Spring Clean Your Home to Bring it Back to Life

Spring is in the air; the clocks go forward at the end of this month; and we are all dreaming of longer sunny days and hoping that the winter we never had doesn’t suddenly appear with a vengeance.

When the sun comes out; our thoughts normally turn to starting to tidy up the garden, planting bulbs and cutting the grass for the first time since the Autumn. But what about the house?

Having an untidy house is very distracting and the constant need to tidy can get in the way of you being productive – therefore, a great big declutter and spring clean could be the answer! This is your chance to prepare your home ready for those long lazy summer days; when you don’t want to be wasting time on cleaning but instead be enjoying quality time with family and friends.

It’s also a great opportunity to learn to love your house again, to get it looking its best and make the most of your space to decide if it still works for you or you need to improve it in some way. This could be from adding additional space in the form of a conservatory, extension or loft conversion.  You could also re-jig your existing space to make it work more efficiently for you; or even make the decision to move to a new house. Spring and Summer are prime moving times and this is when the housing market springs into action. Therefore, now is the time to get your home looking great should you decide to put it on the market (and it also means less clutter to move).

But where do you even start? This is often the hardest part as you look at your house in despair and have absolutely no idea where to even begin tackling it…

Tackle it room-by-room
To stop you getting overwhelmed, try approaching your house room-by-room as this is the most effective way to clean your home. Draw up room checklists; so, you can focus on the parts of your home that have been neglected all winter.

Organise and clear the clutter
Now is a great opportunity to organise your belongings and get rid of clutter you don’t need; to make the cleaning process a lot easier. Start by sorting your belongings into three categories -rubbish, give it away/sell it or put it away. But don’t throw it all away as many of your old belongings will still have a good sale value; so you could either use a selling site like Shpock, Facebook or eBay or have a garage or car boot sale.

Don’t throw away old bed linen and towels; as you can either donate them to homeless shelters or refuges or to animal homes to help those in need. Alternatively, keep items like old sheets for protecting furniture and carpets/floors when you need to redecorate.

Get cleaning!
Once you have worked through all your clutter you can begin cleaning; so ensure you have all the products and tools you need like bin bags, dusters, sponges, hoover, mop and bucket and multi-purpose cleaning products. Avoid buying countless different cleaning products as you are better off with one good all-purpose cleaner and microfiber cloths – otherwise you will have yet more clutter. Remember to work in well-ventilated rooms when using any cleaning chemicals and wear protective clothing if needed; especially when it comes to the dreaded oven!

Get the whole family involved
If the state of your house is freaking you out; get the whole family involved as that will make it quicker and even the most unwilling helper can make a big difference to the task in hand. Put on some music or offer a family reward as an incentive to get the work done.

Tackle the seasonal jobs
There are some jobs that only need doing seasonally but don’t always get done at the end of the summer e.g. outdoor chores like cleaning BBQ’s, patios, and even windows; but if you tackle them now you will be ready when the summer comes.

Try to establish new cleaning habits
To make spring cleaning easier the next time around; it helps to establish new on-going cleaning habits; as simple 15-minute clean-up routines and decluttering every few days can make it a lot easier to keep your home clean and tidy all year long.

We hope this has helped you get ready to attack the decluttering and spring-cleaning and learn to love your home again. Happy Spring-cleaning!

A Day in the Life of an Architectural Practice

Have you ever wondered what it is like to work in an Architectural Practice for the day and envisaged all the dreaming and designing that goes on? Well now is your chance as we get inside the head of our Chief Designer, Tony Keller to find out what a normal day entails for him and the Building Tectonics team from start to finish.

Tony says “A normal day at Building Tectonics encompasses a number of different tasks but generally starts with a team briefing (accompanied by a cup of tea) to run through which stage we are at with each of our client jobs; to make sure everyone is up to speed and we know where our focus is for the day.

We make sure that any emails, telephone or Facebook messages that have come in overnight are responded to immediately; as we always try to reply within 24 hours where possible. If it is a new enquiry, I will ring the customer to find out more about them and what they are looking to achieve; and we arrange a time to meet them to see how we can help with their project.

Depending on what stage we are at with a particular job, one of the team may go out to a client’s house to get the accurate measurements of their home and also to measure their land boundaries.  It is vital these measurements are correct; as they are entered into our online system and used to draw up the existing plans, elevations and sections that will eventually be submitted to the Council Planning Department and thereafter the client’s builders. These measurements also start the process of drawing up the client design options and from time to time we also use them to produce 3D models for certain projects.

As a team we need to familiarise ourselves with Permitted Development Guidance, Planning Policies and Building Regulations for specific projects and a member of the team will fill in the Planning Application forms and deal with the queries from Planning Officers and third parties.  Detailed Building Regulations drawings will need to be drawn up and the site evaluated to look for any potential hindrances such as sewers, trees, flood risk areas, radon prevalence etc.  As part of this we will purchase and download Ordnance Survey mapping data for Planning Applications and other uses along with Drainage & Water Enquiry maps.

There is obviously a great deal of administration involved for the Building Tectonics team on a daily basis; as we respond to multiple emails and phone calls every day, scan all our client documentation onto our computer system and file all paper copies of projects as part of our audit trail. This then acts as our own Project Management tool to see where a particular project is at any time; and we conduct quarterly job reviews where we check the current status of every live project to make sure nothing gets missed at any stage.

With us being a hectic office, we need to make sure we don’t ever run out of any office stationary including printer ink, plotter rolls and paper as these are essentials for our office to run like clockwork (along with cups of tea!!).

It is very important that all of the team are up to date with the latest developments in the industry and any new changes to legislation, so we all attend regular CPD Seminars (Continued Professional Development) both during and outside of work hours and keep up-to-date on relevant industry news.

There is a great deal of research involved in design projects relating to anything from Planning, Building Regulations, construction problems, product information, Party Walls, Sewer build-overs to just general questions that we get on a daily basis from our clients.

Marketing is essential to all businesses to thrive and we try to regularly blog and share content that is of interest both to our current clients and potential new clients to update them on the industry and jobs we are currently working on.

Working in an Architectural practice, no single day is the same; but I really love working for myself.  I enjoy the variety of work it brings, the opportunities to meet new people and work with other professionals but most importantly seeing the happy faces of our clients when a job is finished. I always meet face-to-face to go through design drawings with my clients; as this is essential to ensure everything is covered to avoid any hiccups at a later stage of the project.  I thrive on being busy but obviously could not do it without the support of my committed team”.

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.

Remodelling of Bletchley Bungalow Interior

Having purchased this bungalow in Tavistock Street, Bletchley with the intention of renovating it by enlarging its footprint and remodelling the interior; our clients contacted us for help with the design and planning of the project.

The main aim of the remodelling exercise was to open up the bungalow roof space to create a usable first floor which would then house a new bedroom; in addition to creating ‘drop lighting’ into darker areas of the ground floor where a new kitchen area would be situated.

When it comes to loft conversions, they can be quite tricky at the best of times, but providing the shafts for the drop lighting added an extra structural difficulty we needed to plan for.

Our clients have worked very hard to project manage and, in some cases, even provided the labour for this project with the end result being a stunning kitchen/diner with lots of natural light flooding in and a new light and airy bedroom upstairs.

If you are embarking on a project like this it is essential to have a thorough set of good detailed plans; and a pre-requisite to this is a good scheme where all of the fundamental difficulties have been considered and preferably designed away. This means that even a quite large design change is easier to manage if thorough plans have been produced beforehand, and in our client’s case we are now tying up some changes initiated during the building work.

We always recommend to clients that once the work starts it is best not to change the design, but sometimes it is inevitable, especially with old buildings and this was the situation here. However, because we had plans to work from, it made the process much easier and I am sure you will agree that they have done a fantastic job project managing it and we have thoroughly enjoyed working with them to create their dream living space.

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Velux and Dormer Windows

Following the subject of loft conversions from last week’s blog post, we thought we’d discuss a particular aspect which clients need to think about when getting a loft conversion, and having a room in the loft space. Should you get a skylight or a dormer window installed?

Velux being built into roof

Skylights

You can buy various types of skylights, or velux windows, in a wide variety of designs. They’re angled towards the sky which means that they allow much more light into a room than you might get with a dormer window because, unlike a dormer window, there are no extra walls or a roof to exclude any light from entering the room (but sometimes a velux can let too much light into the space). Although if you’re 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, and usually don’t need planning dependant on the size of the window, the external aesthetics and a few other points. If you have young children around then a velux might be safer than a dormer window because it is higher and therefore not as easily accessible to young curious minds.

Dormer window being built.

Dormer

One of the major positives of having dormer windows installed is that they maximise headroom in the loft space. Dependent on the surroundings your property has around it, it may also facilitate a nice view out of the window. As stated earlier, one of the downfalls of the dormer window is the lower amount of light being allowed into the space as you would get by having a skylight. Dormer windows are usually more expensive than skylight windows, and most also require planning permission as they alter the exterior of the house.

Both have their advantages and disadvantages, if you’re currently trying to make this decision and are unsure about which to go for, then why not ask your designer/architect for their opinion?

Written by Jade Turney – Building Tectonics Ltd.

Loft conversions in small spaces.

Okay, so loft conversions are the most difficult work we do but even so, some people, honestly. I have just crawled, yes crawled around a roof space whilst a client shouted up at me through the loft hatch “see there’s plenty of space!”.  Well, the customer is always right and this client was rather short but even so, we would not be able to get Building Regulation Approval for this loft conversion. Still, they desperately need another bedroom and I have a couple of ideas.

I hate being defeated though. Building Tectonics prides itself on being inventive and coming up with ideas. That’s what we do and I believe that is what sets us apart from most of our competitors. We don’t just draw, we design. And in this context, design means we listen to what the client wants, look at what they currently have, and come up with ideas that meet all of the relevant criteria. It’s sometimes very hard to do this. One criteria often overlooked by design companies is the building process, in particular; how does the builder get the steel work usually required into the loft. We try to make this as easy as possible but it must not jeopardize the end results. It’s about lifestyle not “linestyle”.

Written by Tony Keller – Building Tectonics Ltd.

Living like a bird

As pigeons and doves were an important food source throughout history, dovecotes were erected to house the birds. These were kept for their eggs and meat and owning a dovecote was a sign of privilege – for this reason many stately homes and manor houses have dovecotes on their lands.

willington dovecote

In the Bedford area, Ickwell Bury’s dovecote survived the fire that burnt down the original Georgian mansion and is renowned for its revolving mechanism that allowed ease of access to the nests. The vast outstanding 16th century stone dovecote at Willington is all that remains from the Tudor structure. With two rooms and space for 1,500 nesting birds, the dovecote would have provided about 20,000 chicks each year. It’s now owned by the National Trust and a great spot for bird watching.

Lofts are like dovecotes, small loft spaces underneath pitched roofs can be transformed into cozy spaces, it’s like sleeping in a bird’s nest. Living in Bedford, you may dream up the concept of converting your loft into a bedroom. It’s a great idea, the ideal opportunity to create a fun room and the most cost-effective way to add extra living space to a home without building over the garden, unlike most extensions. The new room within the roof can benefit from sunlight for much of the day, make the most of any views and can have tremendous character due to the interesting roof shape.

When it comes to designing your loft conversion, it’s key to choose a designer such as an architectural technologist who will discuss your requirements, measure your house, produce some workable schemes for you to consider, deal with planning permission if required and building regulations approval from Bedford Council and recommends builders for competitive tenders.

See loft conversion case studies at www.building-tectonics.co.uk and if you live in Bedford, you may want to think of creating a dovecote and feel snug and privileged.

Written by Emmanuelle Clement – Building Tectonics Ltd.

Even the smallest of places…

Building Tectonics were asked to create a bedroom in the roof space of a very small bed sit bungalow in Milton Keynes. Because of it’s size and the attatchment to the surrounding houses, this particular project proved to be a real challenge.

The building side of things was carried out by our clients brother, who has carried out and completed many successful loft conversions before.

It has proved to be very successful and is likely to be one of the main models for many similar projects in the future.

Before, during and after…

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After…

nicholls1

 

Written by Tony Keller – Building Tectonics Ltd.