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

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 or message us via Facebook.

Building Tectonics Awarded ‘Best of Service 2020’ by Houzz


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

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

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.

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.

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!

3 MMC inspired ideas for designing a sustainable loft conversion

As architects, Building Tectonics are always looking for more sustainable construction methods to suggest to our clients. Here are some tips from David Knight from Roof 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.

How to Improve the Kerb Appeal of your Home

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.

Home Refurbishment

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.

Open-Plan Living Brings the Family Together at Christmas

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!

Open-Plan Living in Luton

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”.