Why it Pays to Plan Ahead on Home Improvements

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

The shift in family life

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

Working from home – the new norm?

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

Improve don’t move

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

What are my options?

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

Look to the roof

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

Re-modelling your living space

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

Improving kerb appeal

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

Future proofing your home

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

Make sure you plan ahead

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

How Building Tectonics can help


With over 30 years’ experience of re-designing, altering and extending houses; Building Tectonics aim to generate innovative and intelligent ideas that often achieve much more than the original brief. Our Chief Designer, Tony has extensive knowledge of what works design and build wise and often finds solutions to issues that builders may have with a client’s design thereby, finding a compromise that both parties are happy with.

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

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.

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!

Kitchen Extension in Caldecott, Milton Keynes

Many of our clients contact us on recommendation from a builder; as was the case with this side extension project in Caldecott, Milton Keynes to create a new kitchen space, utility room and enlarged garage.

The builder had in turn also been highly recommended by friends of theirs. The design brief was relatively simple; but what set this project apart was the attention to detail and the finish achieved in the execution of this extension project.

Our goal with any house scheme we produce is to give the client what they want; but without any unnecessary complications. We achieve this by carefully listening to the clients wishes, interpreting these points and bringing into the discussion other aspects that they would not necessarily think about. This means we can produce the best possible scheme using our expert technical knowledge.

Once we had produced the kitchen extension schemes, obtained planning permission and building regulation approval, we handed the project data over to the client.  We were therefore, delighted 7 months later to be invited back to see the finished result and to be met by very happy clients and a proud builder.

If a project starts off on the right footing (no pun intended); then it can progress to fruition without any drama for the client, subject to them also appointing a good builder of course.

Victorian extension – Bringing new things to an old classic

Like many Victorian houses, what this home offered in charm and atmosphere it lacked in living & family space adjacent to the kitchen. This was a problem which needed resolving via an applicable extension.

Before

We designed an extension that included folding sliding doors to open the interior space to the garden a little, as well as adding light to the rooms. A small utility space was also provided to hide away the less visually attractive clutter.

DSC03521  DSC03523

 

Written by Tony Keller – Building Tectonics Ltd.