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Beginners Guide Residential Advice

Guide to: The Architectural Process

We all want to live in a home we love, but sometimes we need to make improvements, adaptions and create a little extra space. Building projects begin with a want or need, maybe you’re outgrowing your family home or need some home office space, whatever it is we’ll work with you to turn your ideas into the perfect space. Building, extending or altering a property can be stressful, but using years of experience and heads brimming with creativity, we’ll guide you through every step of the architectural process to bring your vision to life.

So, what does the architectural design process involve?

  • Initial Consultation & Design Brief;

We’ll always begin with a design brief meeting, be that over the phone or in person, to discuss your project, what you’re wanting to achieve, any ideas you already have, and how we can help you. We’ll then issue you with a bespoke quote so you can understand the costs at every step of the architectural design journey.

  • Measured Survey;

Once we’ve had our initial design brief, we’ll come to the site to conduct a full measured survey. This is a comprehensive survey of the site which involves taking measurements ready for initial drawings. We’ll be on-site for a number of hours ensuring we fully understand your property, any issues which may arise, and to discuss our initial ideas in person. We won’t say no to a coffee whilst we’re there!

  • Drawings;

This is when the fun part really begins as we start creating the initial drawings for your project. Don’t worry, we can do lots of iterations until it’s perfect for you. We’’ll produce existing plans of the property and issue design options as per your initial brief, this may include alternative options of the internal layout or external appearance, where discussed as part of your brief.This isn’t just lines on a page, we’ll bring your project to life.

  • Planning submitted;

Once you are completely happy with the designs, we’ll submit them for planning permission, liaising with the council’s planning officer as we wait for approval. It can take 2 months plus for planning to be granted on a residential property, with larger and more complex plans sometimes taking longer, and if the planning office requests changes we’ll need to discuss these with them and potentially make some amendments. Where a proposal doesn’t require a planning application and falls within Permitted Development Rights, we typically advise our clients to submit a Lawful Development Certificate Application to the Planning Department. Permitted Development Rights are always changing  and this verifies the proposed works meet the requirements at the time, preventing any issues when you come to sell your property.

  • Technical drawings;

Once your planning application has been approved, feel free to pop some champagne whilst we create your technical drawings and specifications, working with a structural engineer to achieve approval from building control. These drawings include key elements of the construction, such as the foundations, supporting steels, and electrics, and can be used to gather quotes from tradespeople ready for construction to begin. They are also used to ensure that safety regulations are met and give clear guidance to your builders on how the project is being constructed.

  • Party Wall;

If your project is going to affect the boundary wall with a neighbouring property, you’ll need a party wall certificate. It’s important to start thinking about Party Wall requirements several months before you want to start work and ideally ensure your designer is working with a Party Wall Surveyor during the design process to ensure there are less issues during the party wall process. Making changes to the design can be difficult, particularly post planning stage, where alterations to the external appearance may require further consultation with the planning department.

  • Construction begins.

It is finally time to start the construction and turn your ideas into reality. We’ll always be here if you need to ask any questions. Here’s where we may step away for a less complex build. However, we can be on hand to ensure your work is competitively tendered to achieve the best price, contracts are administered to ensure you’re protected, and works are managed on site to ensure you get the best quality and finish.

So whether your renovating, creating more room or building from scratch, at Fourth Wall we will always put you at the heart of the design process and be with you from start to finish. Get in touch if you’ve got an idea, whether you know if it’s feasible or not, we’re always happy to schedule a call.

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Adding value to your home

We’ll start with extensions. If you do have access to a chunk of savings, or home improvement finance options, an extension is a great option. We have a full guide to extensions here, as there are so many options. From single storey to double storey, side, back or wraparound, the key to consider is what the extension will add to your home. Desirable features for buyers are often multiple bedrooms, an open plan kitchen-diner, and particularly in the current climate, office space. Think about why an extension would be appealing to your buyers. For example, if you live in a great school catchment, look at adding bedrooms to appeal to growing families.

If you don’t have the space to extend outwards, you may well have unused space ready and waiting above or below you. Loft and basement conversions are great options to use the empty space you have available and turn it into a functional extension of the home. Attic bedrooms are a great addition, adding thousands in value to your home, and extending the pool of potential buyers from couples looking for a 2 bed to growing families needing a good 3 bed home. There are of course considerations, such as roof height, access and light, but that’s where the experts come in. As with any alteration, it can be costly, but if you have a good sized space you think can turn from unused to functional, loft and basement conversions are definitely something to consider.

We’ll go down to some smaller, but still very impactful, updates you can make. Quality kitchens and bathrooms are pretty much always of interest to buyers. The kitchen to us is the heart of the home, and bringing it up to a better standard can seriously pay when it comes to the value of your home. According to the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) a new kitchen or bathroom can add around 4% to the value of a property. As key areas of the home, a modern yet functional kitchen and bathroom is a key factor new buyers will look for, and can be done on a whole range of budgets.

This may seem simple, or may even be something you’ve overlooked, but if you don’t have double or triple glazing then get it done! Thermal upgrades are important for a significant number of homeowners, with double or triple glazed windows and doors seen as essential items, and not having these could really lower the value of your property. If you haven’t added these, along with roof and wall insulation, it’s something we’d definitely recommend looking into to add value to your home. Not only are they desirable features, but they’re key to reducing ever growing household bills.

Along with basic thermal upgrades to reduce bills, we believe more environmentally friendly choices will continue to soar in popularity among homeowners and prospective buyers. Solar panels and ground source heat pumps are just some of the improvements you can make, and whilst initially appearing costly, they can significantly reduce the costs associated with your home and increase the value of the property when you come to sell. There are a number of environmentally conscious materials coming to the fore in property and it’s definitely something for sellers and buyers to consider moving forward.  

As always, get in touch if you want to discuss your options. We’re brimming with ideas and offer a range of services from surveying to architectural design to really help you get the most out of your space.