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

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

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

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

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

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

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?

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!

Architectural Project Management Turns Dreams Into Reality

When it comes to major home remodelling projects, building the dream home, or an investment new build, many clients have ideas that develop, and thoughts that expand.  For those who actually get to challenging starting line of construction, it is worth investigating the value of architectural project management  before the starter’s gun is fired.

Making an early, positive decision:

Having the courage to turn ideas and thoughts into reality must be applauded, but unless you have extensive all-round building skills, a very clear understanding of planning laws and building regulations along with a substantial amount of free time throughout the project life-cycle there is an option that should be seriously considered, this is to appoint an architectural project manager whose brief will be full involvement from the first meeting to a final project sign-off that meets with your approval.

Here are some of the many reasons why:

The ‘picture’ is far bigger than many expect:

The actual scope, complexity and number of steps to be taken into account for a major project from day one are quite startling and need to be comprehensively understood.

An architect is professionally qualified and has been specifically trained for such projects. An intimate knowledge of the steps required and processes involved should ensure that your agreed requirements are met in the agreed timescales.

They also have vision and flair in terms of design as well as an eye for detail. This should be clearly seen once the initial meeting has seen you provide an outline in terms of your requirements, the project scope, specific features, and expectations in terms of its purpose and functionality.

Based on this information the architect will draw up initial plans. As the project progresses so will the number of drawings. Each new drawing will contain additional detail. You will also be given written specifications to back up these schematics.

Handling the dreaded paperwork:

An architect has an intimate understanding of the  specific rules and regulations that may apply and is aware when particular certification is required. Equally as important is their extensive knowledge of building materials.

This will ensure that the most appropriate materials are used and in the event of any structural problems being encountered they have the knowledge to resolve them by offering alternate solutions that will also require appropriate paperwork completion.

By handing over responsibility for the submission and approval of all necessary paperwork to your architect you are saving yourself time, money and avoiding any potential stress such demands may bring.

Initial workforce coordination:

An experienced architect will coordinate the construction professionals involved. Before the major work commences he will ensure everyone understands their responsibilities.

The plans drawn up by your architect are the masters. These should be followed by all concerned. Any deviation from the master plans shall be noted and it will then be the responsibility of the architect to take up such issues and find a solution that meets the master requirements.

Going the whole hog!

It is an accepted practice to contract the services of an architect up to and including the design phase. From there you would then seek the services of construction professionals for project completion.

However, there are architects who offer a complete project management service for an additional fee. Their responsibility will be the successful coordination and completion of all construction work. They will hire the necessary construction workers, be responsible for drawing up a detailed work schedule and sign off work as each task and stage is successfully completed.

Utilising this one-stop-shop service adds to the true value of architectural project management and is certainly worthy of serious investigation.

Please feel free to discuss our full project management services during our initial visit or before you start your project.

Top Tips for Planning a House Extension

Your home should be a comfortable retreat where you can live, unwind and have fun with your family and friends. When your house does not have sufficient space, this can be very limiting. To this end, many people will consider a house extension. This is a great way to optimize your current home. In addition to getting all the space and rooms you want, an extension will add value to your home. For any extension to be a success, proper planning is key. The following house extension tips shed more light.

Consider the design and type of extension needed

The first thing is to get professional help where extension design is concerned. An architect or a building designer should guide you in this respect. This is because an extension must be customized accordingly. The design professional has the expertise to inform you what is possible and what is not. The expert will plan on giving your home the most suitable extension after considering a variety of factors. One of the most important factors will be the purpose of the extension. You may need a larger living room, kitchen or a new room in the house with a designated purpose.

Factor in statutory requirements

House extensions of any kind are often subject to permission by local authorities. Therefore, you must make sure to comply with any provision. If you are not sure, contact your local municipality and find out what is required of you. Whether you are adding a new room, a new storey or just building a new wall, you have to adhere to the laid out rules. Your professional draughtsperson or designer will also help you with building plans that must be submitted to your local planning authorities.

Decide which direction the house extension will be constructed

This is one of the most important decisions to make. If you decide to utilize some backyard space for your extension, this will come with implications of having a smaller yard. If you do not want to interfere with your space, consider taking your extension upward, in form of a new story; this helps save space. When deciding where your extension will be, consider how your neighbors will be affected. Major projects can spill over and cause great inconvenience to those living around you. Some neighbors may object to certain projects and reasoning together can bring a way forward. Even though there is no legal requirement to have neighbors approve, it is good to observe good neighborliness while promoting a conducive environment for all.

Keep track of all costs and have a clear budget

A house extension may often require the demolition of walls. This will add to the overall cost. Extra expenses like plumbing, tiling and electrical work will all add to the cost. In the long run, you may need to hire painters, plasterboard specialists and carpenters. Therefore, as you create your initial budget, you have to factor in all the elements. This way, you will get a clearer picture on how much is needed for the entire project.

Choose the ideal builder

A good builder will deliver the perfect extension so that you can enjoy your dream home. Therefore, be diligent to look for a professional with proven experience and impeccable workmanship. Also, discuss on the finishing materials to be used to bring your extension to life. All the above steps will help you add comfort and value to your home through a suitable extension.


If you are currently considering a house extension and would like to talk to someone further, please contact one of our specialists who will be glad to help.