Pros and Cons of Hiring an Architect to Design A Holiday Home Abroad

Pros and Cons of Hiring an Architect to Design A Holiday Home Abroad

Building your dream holiday home could mean you are also constructing your future home. These days there is no shortage of British citizens moving abroad for retirement and who could blame them?

Many of these people prefer to buy land and construct a newbuild while there are plenty of people that want to renovate an old-style Spanish or French villa or add an extension, swimming pool, or even a sunroom. This is all very well, but how do you hire an architect that you can communicate well with and that you can trust?

Most of the time people would rather hire an architect in their own country to come up with the design plans and take abroad for an estimate. However, before you decide which option is best for your circumstances, consider the advantages and disadvantages of using a home bred architect.

Advantages to Using an Architect at Home Rather Than Abroad

Some foreign countries do not have the safety standards that the UK has. One thing we can all appreciate about the British way of doing things is that we have strict constructions laws. These construction laws adhere to not just structural safety standards, but take into consideration the spread of fire, the likelihood of a fire, how close we can build to another property and so on.

A British architectural firm will be able to advise you on how to make the best of the space you have available to you. Room positions, pool placement, garden space and so on. You will also be able to get advice on plumbing and electrics.

Having a local architect will save you time and money going back forth with an architect abroad. You will also be able to turn up to the country you plan to build your holiday home with plans already in motion.

Disadvantages to Using an Architect at Home Rather Than Abroad

Some of the disadvantages are obvious, but they are not cause for major concern.

A British architect may not be savvy to the materials used in a foreign country to build a property. For example, most properties in hot countries do not use brickwork. That said, any good architect will be able to create design plans for an array of buildings no matter what the material being used is.

In general, a British architect will not know the building regulations and laws abroad. This could mean some parts of your original plan will need to change once presented to a construction company abroad. This could add additional expenses that you may not have had with if you used a local architect. However, instances such as these are rare and the changes that need to be made are usually very minor.

Using a British architect to design a holiday home abroad saves you having to travel abroad or communicate with an architect in a different time zone. You will also have peace of mind when it comes to adhering to British safety standards, which by and large have an excellent reputation.

In the end, hiring a British based architect is certainly more convenient than hiring one abroad if you are not already living in the country you plan to carry out your holiday construction project. That said, you may have to make some changes to your plans when you do come to hiring a construction firm in a foreign country, but on the whole these changes will be minor and can always be double checked by your architect.

Ugly House To Lovely House

Ugly House To Lovely House

Millions of viewers have witnessed the transformation of homes in the UK’s Channel 4 TV series ‘Ugly House To Lovely House’ and noted the inclusion of an architect in these projects.

Improve, not move!

The message behind the programme has certainly inspired many to improve their home rather than going through the expense of upping sticks and moving to a new one.

This should be viewed as a very viable proposition for those who are settled in a particular area and are reluctant to move lock, stock and barrel.

Considerations when deciding to renovate:

Deciding to go ahead with major renovation work will certainly transform your home, but such a project must be viewed realistically. It is not going to be achieved without cost, inconvenience, challenges and potential delays.

To ease stress and ensure you achieve that lovely house let’s list xx major considerations you need to take into account before starting such a transformation.

Hiring an architect:

This really is a key requirement. Of course, you may very well have your own redesign plans in mind and these visions should be explained to a reputable architect to allow them to take your requirements into account.

A good architect will also come up with potential alternatives based on exactly what you are looking for. The cost of such a service should be seen as an extremely worthwhile part of your investment and it should be noted that many architectural firms will also offer a complete project management role which means that while you will be consulted every step of the way, you do not have to become so involved in the renovation work and making important decisions when faced with renovation issues that are unseen at the outset but often come up during such work.

Understand costs and keep some cash in reserve!

As can be seen from the programme episodes, the initial budgets for these renovations were all exceeded.

What this should tell you is that your anticipated final cost for such work will be more than you expect.

While you are obviously not looking for this to happen it should be catered for and a sensible percentage of the initial budget should be kept in reserve for any additional costs.

Do not overstretch yourself financially. If the complete renovation plan cannot be achieved with the finances you have then prioritise and complete the work in stages. While this is obviously not ideal, it is far better than getting into debt. It will also mean that each stage of work will be completed rather than leaving a section unfinished and untidy.

Prepare for disruption:

Think “Pain before gain!”. By its very nature restoration will cause disruption to your daily life. This must be prepared for and patience is imperative.

One way to cope with such disruption is to understand from your architect exactly how long such work is expected to last. This way you have a clear goal in mind and can tick off the days. You should also arrange for regular updates on progress to help you understand how the work is proceeding, is it on schedule and whether any problems encountered will add to the expected completion schedule.

Having a clear picture of progress will help greatly in calming all members of your household while you view such an ugly house to lovely house transformation.

If you are looking for residential architects in london then please do not hesitate to contact us today.

Considering Solar Panel Installation? Include An Architect In Your Project

Considering Solar Panel Installation? Include An Architect In Your Project

Those looking to take advantage of solar power benefits in their existing home, or those planning a new-build property should involve an architect from the beginning of such a project.

We will explain the benefits this will bring, but first let’s explain the most popular type of solar installation and how they work.

Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels:

In terms of renewable technology, solar PV panels are the most popular type of installation.

Once installed they work by collecting the sun’s solar radiation and convert this energy into electricity.

In terms of placement, they are generally fitted to your roof, however it is possible to have column-mounted, ground-based installations. An interesting technology in the latter option is the fact that these systems use GPS to track and turn the panels as the sun moves on its daily journey. This maximises energy generation.

Solar design and installation:

One of the biggest barriers to solar panel installation has been in terms of design. Aesthetically we all want our home to look attractive from the exterior. This is one important area where the trained-eye and imaginative design qualities of an architect will certainly help.

Solar panels are designed to include a ‘grid-pattern’ of photovoltaic cells. Think of these as being similar to semiconductors. They absorb and then convert sunlight into useable energy.

A common solar panel misconception:

Given the vagaries of the UK’s weather and the variances in direct sunlight received there is a common misconception relating to solar panels.

Many people are led to believe that solar panels need a lot of direct sunlight in order to be effective. Obviously, the more direct sunlight the better, however they also produce energy on cloudy days as well as during the winter months.

No excess energy waste:

If the energy created is surplus to your immediate requirements you can either store it in a solar battery for future use or send it back to the National Grid for their distribution.

If the latter option is chosen then for every unit of energy generated or sent back to the National Grid you could benefit from government payments as part of the “Feed-in Tariff” (FIT) payment scheme. Again, your installer and architect can advise on this.

Benefits an architect will bring:

We have already touched on the design and aesthetic qualities an architect can provide. In terms of external appearance, they will ensure such an installation blends in with the house and your surroundings, but that is certainly not all:

Consider these other benefits:

  • Understanding how local and national authorities view solar PV panel installations and ensuring compliance.
  • Early involvement means optimal choice on siting of all solar PV components
  • Prior planning and recommendations can help reduce other refurbishment or construction costs.
  • Advice and application assistance can be offered to achieve higher green ratings for your property. This includes BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) as well as the Code for Sustainable Homes.

Let the sun shine on your solar panel project!

Those who are considering solar panel installation should include an architect at the early stages of their project. They can bring experience and benefits to your highly commendable renewable power plans.

Find the Right Residential Architect for Residential Extensions or New Build Houses

Find the Right Residential Architect for Residential Extensions or New Build Houses

While most of us would agree on the importance of hiring a professional architect to take care of a new construction, the first challenge for many is where to look and how to choose the right architectural practice to handle the project. After all, unless you are a property developer, building a new home is more often than not, a one-off experience.

So how to begin to look for the right residential architect in London? In the past, the first port of call would probably have been the local area Yellow Pages; today, it is now likely that a search on the internet will be the starting place to look for a qualified architect. Other than personal recommendations, a good starting point would be to visit the website of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) at  RIBA is the governing body for professional architects. It is here you will find a directory of qualified architects who work to the governing rules of the Institute, and you will be able to select an architectural practice from a list representing RIBA qualified practices all over the country.

Once you have identified a prospective architect’s practice in London, a visit to the website should mean you will see the images of past projects. Looking at these will give you an idea of the type of work the practice typically takes on and their design style. You will also be able to check if the practice specialises in the type of construction project you have in mind. This is an important factor to consider, for if a practice promotes that it is a specialist in the design of say, commercial office complexes, they will have less interest in taking on a residential design project.

Remember, you should also find a local architect. For they will have the local planning knowledge as well as contacts with the local planning authorities. This will help greatly in obtaining any planning permissions needed. You will also be paying for their time, and time and mileage will be charged for travelling. Thus, to narrow your search findings, be specific in your search criteria. For example, if you are searching for residential architects, don’t search for architects, but search for ‘residential architects’. This way, you will have quicker success in finding the right architect for you.

Roles and Responsibilities Of An Architect

Roles and Responsibilities Of An Architect

The roles and responsibilities of an architect are far more involved than many people may initially realise.

Below we will explain some of these to help those considering the appointment of an architect understand why they are an essential part of any building project.

Major considerations:

An automatic response to “what does an architect do” is that they design structures for the residential and commercial sectors.

While this is very true, there are lots of other things they are tasked with which involves the building(s) concerned. These include:

  • Style
  • Safety
  • Sustainability
  • Meeting the needs of its occupants
  • Ensuring building regulations are adhered to
  • Adhering to relevant planning regulations.

This is by no means an exhaustive list but should give you an idea that simply designing buildings is not an architect’s only role.

Close working relationships with clients:

From initial tender and first client meetings to completion of a project an architect needs to possess sound customer service skills.

They are required to work closely with clients, and this work starts immediately. Before drafting any plans there will be several meetings to understand the scope of the project, the client’s objectives, any specific requirements and their proposed budget.

Close working relationships with contractors:

An appointed architect also needs to work closely with other related professionals. Examples being:

  • Engineers
  • Urban planners
  • Landscape architects
  • Nominated construction personnel
  • Interior designers

These interactions require excellent written and oral skills as well as a fair dollop of patience!

Design, Plan, Develop:

The design, planning and development stages of any project are integral parts of an architect’s routine. They are tasked with providing predesign information relating to such things as:

  • Environmental impact
  • Feasibility studies
  • Land use studies
  • Analysis of costs involved and presented

Drawings and plans:

Depending on the type and size of the actual project there will be varying amount of drawings and plans which need producing. Ones that will always be completed are ‘Final Construction’ plans.

This is considered as the blueprint for the project and is a step-by-step guide relating to the finished building. It his highly detailed and will include installation and placement of such things as plumbing, heating, ventilation, communication, electrical and structural systems.


Advanced technology is playing an increasing part in an architect’s roles and responsibilities.

This means they must be technology-savvy and trained to use such things as CAD (Computer Aided Drafting) systems, building modelling methodology, software to simulate different types of construction approaches, and have knowledge of spreadsheet and accounting software packages.

Full project involvement:

An architect can be involved from beginning to completion of a project and as such they must have their finger firmly on the pulse.

An  architect’s responsibility extends to regular liaison with the client. This is to ensure they are kept fully informed of progress, informed of all planning and regulatory permissions required and of any modifications to the proposed design.

Architects can also take on the role and responsibility of full project management. When this happens they then become responsible for every aspect of the project including agreed schedule of works, meeting timescales for completion and constant cost analysis to ensure budgets are being maintained.

No easy task!

As can be seen from the above, the roles and responsibilities of an architect are wide and varied, and if truth be told, we have only really skimmed the surface of a very demanding profession.

Building A Granny Flat

Building A Granny Flat

There are some real benefits to be had when building a granny flat as an annex to your main property, but careful consideration is required before moving forward.

Here’s why it makes a lot of sense for many families, some things to be aware of, and who can assist with such a project.

Rising property prices & high care home fees:

Due to the ever-rising price in property and spiraling care home fees many families are turning to multigenerational living. This option allows families to join forces and either set up home with older relatives or invite them to live on land they own.

If any proof of this trend is required, one simply needs to look at the Valuation Office Agency statistics between 2014 & 2016. The provision of granny annexes in England and Wales increased by 39%.

Benefits of this type of arrangement:

There are a host of benefits from this type of arrangement. It ensures that elderly relatives are close at hand, they can integrate with the family, any medical or care requirements can be more easily tended to, and a far greater peace of mind for all concerned is generally achieved.

Building a self-contained annex on your property also gives those moving into it a secure feeling of independence while benefitting from comfort in the knowledge that their loved ones are close by.

This is surely far better than moving them to a care-home or worrying about how they are coping as a couple or individually.

While an ageing population is growing it also means that people in their old age are far more active than in the past. This means that many can also contribute to the well-being of the whole family in a host of different ways.

DIY construction is not a general recommendation:

Unless you or a family member are experienced in the home-building trade, and are aware of planning laws and regulations it is strongly recommended that you involve a well-respected architect in your plans.

They will have experience of what is required from start to finish of a newly built annex. They can also advise on, and apply for any necessary planning permission.

Different designs for a proposed annex will be professionally produced dependent upon your requirements and budgets, and where necessary, many architects offer project management expertise to see things through from beginning to end.

Whatever you do, do seek advice:

It is important to understand exactly where both parties stand when it comes to this type of arrangement, who is most suited to bearing costs, and to consider the requirements of your elders.

A simple example of requirements is the decision to build an annex on one-floor only; as in a bungalow style. While your elderly relatives may be agile and fit enough to bound up and down stairs when they move in, it is important to remember that this may not always be the case!

Organisations for the elderly are an excellent source of information when it comes to such practicalities and on giving general advice, but when it comes to the design and arranging relevant planning permissions for building a granny flat, an architect is certainly worthy of full inclusion.

Understanding Architectural Jargon

Understanding Architectural Jargon

Confused by Architectural Jargon? Find out What it all Means


Building a house is one of the most important investments in life. You may be looking to convert or extend your property as well. Whatever you plan to do, it is critical to have some architectural information. A residential architect will guide you through the design and planning process. Having said this, it is essential to have some prior insight regarding your project.

To this end, learning a few relevant architectural jargon is in order. This article expounds on some of the top jargon you will find in architecture.

Lawful development certificate

This is a certificate issued by the council to prove that you indeed have the requisite permission to carry on with your building work. Without this certificate, you might be forced to bring down your project. If you happen to get away, selling the building or house might be an uphill task. Every project must be development in a lawful manner and checking for approval with the council is pivotal.

CCTV surveys

In architecture, this refers to the checking of drains for blockages or damage. These problems might hold up construction if not addressed accordingly. Therefore, having them checked early is key to pacing the project as needed. There is also an entire checklist of things that must be done to avoid delays in your construction. A qualified architect should guide you step by step in this regard.

Party wall

This refers to any shared infrastructure with neighbors. When you are extending or converting, this element may be affected. To this end, you need to agree with your neighbors and reach an amicable solution. In law, your neighbors do not really have to give you persimmon. However, it is better to retain good rapport with those living around you. Party wall agreements should be reached after thorough consultations and every party should be happy.

Elevation drawings

These are floor plans for your walls. For plotting out kitchen cabinets, these drawings are particularly useful. The builders will be guided better through the building process with clear wall applications.

Building envelope

This refers to all the physical separators between the interior and exterior of a building. Also called a building skin, it refers to separators like roofs, walls, floors, doors and fenestration.

Green/sustainable building

This term is becoming more and more popular in the architectural circles. Indeed, more people are looking for sustained living made possible by green buildings. The term refers to the structure and processes that go to promote energy efficiency. To erect such a building, many environmental factors will be taken into account; from the initial design, construction all the way to completion. Also, these green elements will apply to any future maintenance, renovations or demolition.

Built environment

Any spatial and cultural environment built by man is basically referred to as a built environment. These are the spaces where people work, recreate and even play. Nature or natural settings are the opposite of build environments. There are many other architectural jargon to learn about; the above terms are just some of the most common ones.

Listed Home Renovations – Why You Need an Architect’s Insight

Listed Home Renovations – Why You Need an Architect’s Insight

Owning a listed building is amazing to say the least. However, there comes a time when you find changes in your lifestyle or the condition of the building means that you may need to consider renovation. Unlike other homes, a listed building renovation must be done with a degree of caution. This is because you want to retain the historic fibre and unique elements and whilst renovation is also supposed to add modern components to provide better comfort work is  governed by statutory restrictions. it is  certainly a good idea to have an experience architect to help you successfully carry out your project. This article shows you why you need some architectural insights from an architect.

An architect will help plan the project in greater detail

Planning a listed building renovation should be done to near perfection. Every detail must be captured in the scope of work. This planning must happen in the initial stage to help the contractors know what to expect. In addition to making the renovation work easier, detailed planning will make project management much easier.  A qualified and experienced architect in listed building renovations will know what to expect and as far as is reasonably possible help avoid unexpected surprises when work begins. Keep in mind that unforeseen conditions will end up costing you much more than you had anticipated. Therefore, employing an experienced listed buildings architect will certainly help you with planning, and  possibly save you on costs as the project continues.

An experienced architect will conduct forensic evaluations before drawing the plans

Forensic evaluation on your historical home is important. This way, the architect is better able to consider the original design and how it can be improved to add more value; for ultimately, you want your home to have better value after the process is complete. After evaluations, the architect can advise on restoration and reconfiguration along side other issues that may have surfaced. This expert advice will be given keeping your budget needs in mind. With such evaluations, the contractors or builders will have a better idea on how the home was built in the first place.

An expert will advice on building rules and regulations and statutory requirements.

Many times, renovations of  listed buildings will be guided by the local building codes as well as historic designations. A goood architect is able to provide guidance on the best way forward. In some cases, there may be a conflict with your wishes and needs and the building rules and regulations; your architect will greatly help in finding the right solution. Architects will advice on the best modern renovation trends.

There are renovation trends that do always listed buildings.  An architect is able to give you the most sound advice on the best direction to take with renovation. All this is to uphold comfort level as well as to maintain the historical elements therein. Therefore, when you have a historic home, it is best to take time and look for a good and experienced architect. Rushing into the renovation process could cost you more. When you have a better understanding on the best approach to take, renovation will not only be budget-friendly; but it will have the outcome that you desire.

5 Questions to Ask a Potential Architect Company When Hiring

5 Questions to Ask a Potential Architect Company When Hiring

When you have a building project, looking for an architect is the first thing you do. This expert helps you put your vision on paper. After some due diligence, you may come up with a list of potential architectural practices to hire. Before you rush into making any decision, the following is a list of five important questions that you should ask. This way, you will be in a position to choose the most suitable architect firm for your project.

1. What is your overall experience in the sector?

This question will seek to learn several things, First, you want to know the design philosophy of the firm. Then, you want to know why the company is better than other companies that have similar experience. You will also seek to find out whether the company has relevant experience to tackle your project. Still on experience, ask for their portfolio so that you can confirm whether indeed they have the capacity and skill to tackle your project. Find out who the contact person is for the company.

2. What is your professional take on my project?

Ask the architect company relevant questions regarding your project. First, find out whether they will make it a priority if granted the job. Also, ask about the challenges the firm might foresee regarding your project. Know whether there are special considerations or issues that should be made a priority. Here, ask about the timelines for the project. Inquire about the means that will be used to get all needed information about the project goals and needs. Also, find out how they intend to break down the project and execute it. Will there be models, animations or drawings? All these pertain to your project.

3. What does the designing process entail?

Here, learn about the process of designing that the company intends to use. Know whether there will be priorities for design decisions and what you are expected to provide. In this regard, establish whether the construction will be disruptive and find out whether you will work with the contractor directly or the architects during construction.

4. Do you accommodate ‘green’ or sustainable design?

These days, green designs are becoming more and more popular. This is in an effort to have a more sustainable life. Ask the company whether they have any provision for green designs and how they implement the same. Learn whether this option will affect the overall budget. This way, you can weigh your options and make a decision to go green, how far you can ‘go green’, or not. Above all, the firm should give you details on the best practices in this regard.

5. What are the costs?

First, find out the overall fees for the services to be provided. Also, inquire whether there are additional fees that are incurred and under what circumstances. Find out how the fees will be affected if the project was to deviate from an earlier plan. Know how the fees will be justified and how the communication will be made. At this point, ask about their experience in completing projects with the original budget.

As you can see, there are key considerations to take into account. The practice that is happy to discuss  these questions with you should be one to add to your ‘to hire’ list.  M P Architects is always pleased to include these issues during our initial visit discussions.  Please feel free to contact our office on 01277 364979.

What do Residential Architects do?

What do Residential Architects do?

If you are like most people, one of your dreams is to live in the perfect house. If you are still striving towards this goal, you will have to contract the services of a professional residential architect. This expert will not only design residential homes, they also design apartment buildings and other residential properties. In essence, their work is to ensure that they deliver suitable homes for occupation.

Residential architecture explained

A residential architect is trained in residential architecture. This is a branch in architecture that specializes in designing residential houses and buildings as alluded to above. In addition to designing residential buildings and houses, these experts will execute the projects accordingly.

The professional will undertake a general architecture course before they branch out. They study the art and history of architecture alongside training on how to draft suitable houses for residential use. They have technical skills to deliver custom houses. They are also trained on how to interpret the vision of their clients in the most accurate manner possible. They also have skill-sets in interacting with other service providers like engineers, interior designers, contractors and builders.

It is critical to use a residential architect who is duly qualified and licensed. Once they study and pass the relevant exams, they will be licensed by the suitable government agency to offer their services. Keep in mind that those who are certified are likely to perform their roles better and more professionally. Also, choose a professional who has good experience in the field. Consider their previous work and assess their reviews. Due diligence will help you find the most suitable expert to design your house.

Roles played by this expert

Designing custom homes

When you do not want a generic design or style for your house or residential building, a good architect will help you customize the plan. They will follow specific requirements so that they can capture the needs of the clients. Therefore, after meeting a client, these experts will come up with ideas regarding designs to match the needs.

They advise on best practices in residential architecture

Residential architects are professionals who can give expert advice on the best design plans to execute. They will take into account factors like budget, style needs and even the location to give the most accurate direction regarding the house designs. Also, they provide information on the latest trends in architecture to keep their customers updated.

They help incorporate safety guidelines and codes

These experts are great at delivering beautiful buildings. However, it is not all about the beauty; these experts will incorporate safety codes and guidelines. The professional will provide for electrical, cooling and heating, plumbing and other elements into the floor plans.

They supervise projects as they interact with other professionals

A good residential architect will be there every step of the way until the project is complete. In this regard, they will interact with other service providers like contractors, interior designers and builders. All these experts are part of a team that delivers the larger vision of the residential building.

If you are in need of residential architects in London, please do not hesitate to contact one of our friendly advisers today!