Some Valid Reasons For Turning Your Loft Into Additional Living Space & How An Architect Can Help

Some Valid Reasons For Turning Your Loft Into Additional Living Space & How An Architect Can Help

Do you have a growing family that needs extra living space? Are you following the trend of working from home on a semi or full-time basis?

If the answer to either (or both!) of these questions is ‘Yes’ then a loft conversion makes perfect sense.

There are many reasons why this is the case. Below we highlight:

  • Some of the major benefits of converting your loft.
  • Consider potential planning permission requirements.
  • Explain why including a respected architectural firm in your project really does make sense.

Multiple use – What’s your choice:

The value of creating additional space in your home cannot be underestimated. Your unused loft or attic is the perfect place to achieve this.

Multiple use choice is yours. Think in terms of:

  • An additional bedroom: Go all the way and include an en-suite bathroom.
  • Home office: Perfect for working from home, studying or research.
  • Hobby room: If a family member(s) has a particular hobby they are keen on, then having a separate room for this activity is an excellent solution.
  • Den for the children: By creating a ‘cool’ space for the kids to relax in and entertain friends you are doing yourself and the children a big favour.
  • Home gym: A healthy lifestyle and fitness routines are something the whole family should be encouraged to embrace. By converting your loft into a home gym and workout room you are providing a highly useful room for all. (A shower room in this instance would also be a good addition).

Is planning permission required:

The general rule here is that if you do not plan to alter the exterior of your home, then planning permission is not required.

This is because under current UK regulations a ‘standard’ loft conversion is classed as permitted development.

However, there are exceptions to this general rule – Some examples being:

  • Converted houses.
  • Flats.
  • Maisonettes.
  • Listed buildings.
  • Property in “Designated Areas” – This includes conservation areas, areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and national parks.

The above is certainly not an exhaustive list. Checks with local authority planning departments MUST be carried out before any loft conversion work begins. Failure to do so could mean you fall foul of regulations and need to undo all conversion work that has been completed.

Do you need the assistance of an architect?

The strict answer here is “No”. However, there are many benefits to be gained from using the services of a respected, fully qualified architectural firm such as M P Architects LLP.

Here’s just 5 of the many reasons as to why using an architect for your loft conversion project will reap rewards:

  • Time saved on understanding exactly what is allowed and what is not relating to any planning permission and permitted development rights in your local area.
  • Expert advice: Not only will you receive expert advice on ‘best use’ of space dependent on your wishes, but a good architect has their finger on the pulse when it comes to the most appropriate materials to be used and modern trends of design.
  • Provision of architectural drawings. Please do not dismiss this highly important point. Skilled architects have a trained eye. They can help transform your needs and requirements into reality.

This is first seen in architectural drawings your chosen architect will provide. These will be based on the type of loft conversion you are looking for. Their highly detailed drawings and design will maximise available space and allow you to clearly visualise the finished conversion.

  • Tried & trusted trade professionals: If you do not have a trusted source in terms of loft conversion work, an architect does! They will have a list of trusted professionals that will see the project completed in a high-quality manner.
  • Overall project management: Having an architect on board and appointing them to project manage your loft conversion will mean less stress for you, timelines on each stage of work are clear, agreed work is adhered to and completed professionally, and those all-important, agreed budgets are met.

The value you add to your home will more than pay for the project

Loft conversions are not only a very sensible use of space, they will also add to the value of your home.

How much obviously depends on type of use, work carried out and quality of the conversion. By enlisting the assistance of M P Architects LLP, you will be maximizing potential in many more ways than one.

Architects Offer Huge Advantages When It Comes To Planning Permission For New Houses & Extensions

How Architects Can Save You Major Headaches When It Comes to Planning Permission on New Houses and extensions

Anyone planning a new house build or adding to their existing house will benefit from taking M P Architects from the very beginning of their project.

We are a RIBA and ARB registered practice meaning our staff are fully qualified and have spent years training to be experts in our field.

We offer services from initial consultation, through design and achieving planning consent to project managing your project for you. Therefore, taking the stress away and making sure it is built in accordance with the plans and compliant to the current regulations.

We will concentrate on the benefits you can receive by appointing M P Architects in terms of planning permission for new houses and extensions.

Do you need planning permission?

This largely depends upon the project you are undertaking. If you do need planning permission, then you need to make sure this is in place prior to any building works being carried out.

Some extensions fall under ‘Permitted Development’ which we will cover in another article.

If you are looking at building a new house(s) or extension that does not fall into Permitted Development, then obtaining planning permission is essential.

This is where M P Architects can be of immediate benefit to you. With our free initial consultation, we are able to come and meet you, discuss your requirements, advise you whether planning permission is required and how we think we can help you make your dreams come true.

If your project does require planning permission and work commences without obtaining it, then it is possible that an enforcement notice will be served. This doesn’t mean you won’t be able to continue building, but you should stop and get M P Architects involved to advise you on the best way forward and achieve planning consent for you.

Different rules for designated areas/listed buildings:

Extending or building in the conservation area and altering a listed building can sometimes prove challenging, but it doesn’t mean you can’t do anything.  M P Architects have a very good working relationship with the local authorities, especially with the conservation officers to achieve permission for altering or extending your listed building.

Submitting a pre-application enquiry to the council prior to a planning application can save a lot of time and money. M P Architects often attend the pre-application meeting with our client at the Council’s office or on site, to discuss different design options with the planning officer and establish the principle of the development.

M P Architects can offer an invaluable service

When it comes to planning permission, experienced local architects such as M P Architects is key to gaining permission.

Here are some key reasons why:

  • Rules on planning permission vary depending on your location and the type of project you are undertaking. M P Architects can offer invaluable insight and service in this respect.
  • Experienced local architects are intimate with what is acceptable and what is not when it comes to your locality. M P Architects have extensive experience of how planning permission is viewed by the local authorities.
  • Professionally qualified local architects can advise on what (if any) changes to plans should be made before (or during) application. This advice will help greatly in terms of obtaining planning permission for new homes as well as extensions and outbuildings.
  • Timing of applying/amending (where necessary)/receiving of any planning permission is crucial to the success of start dates of any project. M P Architects can advise this at the beginning of your project.

Taking the weight off your shoulders – Carrying out a project related to the building of a new home involves many strands. If M P Architects have been appointed to carry out the full service of project managing on-site.  We will ensure your house will be built to a high standard, we will check all the construction details have been built to the correct design and specifications.  We will liaise with the builder for any queries so you don’t have to. Most importantly, we will ensure the project is completed on time and on budget.

Using a respected local architect like M P Architects makes eminent sense:

As we touched on at the beginning of the piece, availing of the services of a respected local architect will most certainly benefit your project.

In most cases, the more involved an architect is in a project, the more rewarding the outcome.  Visit our testimonial page to see what other people said about using our services.

 

 

A beautiful two-storey attached annexe completed

We have recently completed this beautiful two-storey attached annexe in Harlow, which M P Architects were involved from initial design to construction completion covering all the RIBA Stages 0-7.

We are very pleased with the final outcome.  One of our recommended builders Thornwood Construction Ltd won the project through the formal tender process, and they have worked closely with our client and Architect to build this annexe.

The attached annexe, which is the left-hand-side extension in the photo (taken on the 4th December 2019) has received a number of compliments from neighbours.  The extension feels like it has been part of the original house since the beginning; its size, style and materials matched the site perfectly.

Throughout the project, our goal is to achieve the best design and value for our client and keep the designs within their budget, while still delivering a high standard of finish to match the existing house.

The planning for this project was challenging at the beginning, as the Council refused our initial application due to the large size of the extension.  However, after our experienced Architect liaised with the Planning Officer and discussed the design with him, we then resubmitted the drawings without changing the size but with a 600mm set back from the main house and achieved consent for our client.

M P Architects is honoured to have carried out a full architectural service for this project, and we are delighted with the result.   We are also very pleased to have received the following compliment email/feedback from our client on our last day of site inspection:

 

“Dear Martyn,

I have mentioned on my emails in the past to you how grateful we were to have Dandi remain on our project. I do not think i am able to being to thank her enough for what she has done for us.
I emailed you about Thornwood, and the quality of the build, but please can you note how Dandi has gone above and beyond what I ever imagined an architect would be able to do; and ask that this email is to be held considerably higher in regard.

Being at the end of a phone, on WhatsApp, FaceTime, not only in office hours, but when a query or worry arose that we knew she could help with.

I have searched endlessly with RIBA and ARB and then spoke to them to how to officially compliment her as an architect but sadly, I have been informed there is only a complaints procedure and there is no formal route to comment on her excellence.

I am emailing you today ahead of our meeting as I wanted to personally say thank you.
I am very happy to recommend you as an architectural firm but also Dandi for her individuality.
Her kindness, support, personality and sense of humour has added a valuable layer to her architectural experience and skill.

Once again, thank you.

Kind regards”

 

I wish our clients all the best in the future and we hope they are enjoying living in the new spaces.

If you have a residential project in mind and don’t know where to start, at M P Architects LLP we offer a free initial site visit to discuss your goals and aspirations and we will provide a free quotation for our work.  Please feel free to drop us an email or a phone call.  Click the text to see our Testimonial page and our Portfolio of some complected projects.

 

Why Do I Need An Architect?

Whatever type of newbuild or home improvement project you are planning there is a serious, early decision to be made.

This relates to whether or not you should use the services of an architect.

With this in mind, here are some important reasons as to why an architect can be of huge value. This is regardless of how small or large your project is.

Fully trained to see the bigger picture:

Architects are highly trained professionals.  To become a registered Architect in the UK, a minimum of 7 years of full time higher education and 2 years of work experience or equivalent is required.  

It is only natural that due to their training and experience they will see things that many of us will miss.  One of the many assets they possess is the ability to see the “bigger picture” of any project.

An architect’s expert eye will help in such things as:

  • Making the best use of the space you have available
  • Ensure the best value for your investment
  • Coming up with unique, individual and interesting designs that suit your individual needs – They can offer a different ‘take’ on your original thoughts and proposed designs. These ideas will often be far more appealing once they are understood
  • Lighting is a crucial aspect of any project, but is one that is very often overlooked! Architects can advise on natural and artificial lighting options that will best suit the type of project and space available. Well-lit areas can make the world of difference in terms of appeal and the finished project.
  • Balance – An architect’s ability to look at the project as a whole from start to finish means the completed project will exude balance and style.
  • Help your project to finish within budget and on time.

Spotting those small issues that can become major bugbears!

Don’t underestimate this benefit. Many do to their cost! Even the smallest building projects involve a lot of planning and design.

To the inexperienced eye, it is very easy to overlook what initially appear to be small issues. Unfortunately, these can turn into major bugbears that will cost to put right.

Just 3 examples of the many that an untrained eye can miss are:

  • What are the planning constraints on your site? 
  • Where is the best, least conspicuous place for any outlet pipes?
  • How to build an extension that looks and works like it has always been part of the existing house?

Planning permission and overseeing the whole project:

Unless you have a great deal of time to spare when it comes to establishing and then running a project to satisfactory completion then an architect will add real value.

If planning permission is required (or you even think it may be!) then an architect can be an invaluable asset.

They are fully experienced in successfully navigating local planning authority laws and will ensure your application is processed in the correct manner.

By appointing an architect as the Contract Admin and Project Manager you are taking a real weight off your shoulders. Benefits of their assistance will be seen in such things as:

  • Recommending the most appropriate builders and qualified tradesmen
  • Managing the work schedule
  • Ensuring the quality of work meets required standards
  • Work carried out meets building control requirements
  • Liaising with local authorities
  • Keep the total project cost within agreed budgets


What to look for when appointing an architect

The architect you appoint should be fully qualified. In this sense, your architect should be members of, and governed by:

  • The ARB – Architects Registration Board – This is a body which has been established by Parliament and acts as the independent UK regulator of architects. If checks need to be made you can access a publicly available database.
  • RIBA – Royal Institute of British Architects – This is an association of architects and comprises of individuals who are licensed to practice architecture in the UK.

For additional peace of mind, it should be noted that all architects are subject to a statutory code of practice. They also have Professional Indemnity Insurance which is in place to protect clients.

Vastly increase your chances of a successful project outcome

The straight fact is that by engaging an architect to assist in your overall project you are taking an important step.

This decision will help to ensure a far more satisfactory project outcome than would otherwise be the case. A final factor that should not be overlooked; your stress factor will also be greatly reduced!

From Work Experience to Apprentice

M P Architects LLP are proud to support local schools and colleges and are happy for young aspiring Architects and Interior Designers to spend time with us carrying out work experience.

Some of these young people enjoy it so much we have invited them back to spend more time with us during their holidays. At our Practice, students get the opportunity to use AutoCAD and Revit as well as joining Architects on-site visits and surveys to get an insight into life as an Architect.

Martyn Pattie visits local schools to give career talks about the life of an Architect and what it is like to work in the industry.

Last year M P Architects LLP were joined by a work experience student called Ellie-Mae. She was confident, enthusiastic and keen to learn the ins and outs of what is involved in being an Architect. Ellie-Mae had previously used photoshop but had no architectural experience. After her week shadowing the team Ellie-Mae was able to comfortably navigate AutoCAD at a basic level and produce a drawing as specified.

Following Ellie-Mae’s work experience, she saw an open day advertised at London South Bank University (LSBU) – she went to enquire to find out more. One of the courses they were offering was an Architectural Assistant Apprenticeship – Architecture BA (Hons).

The main appeal was that the course was accredited by the Architects Registration Board (ARB) and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). This accreditation means you satisfy the criteria for RIBA Part 1 exemption when you complete your apprenticeship, putting you one step closer to becoming registered as an architect.

Ellie-Mae approached M P Architects LLP to consider if it would be possible for the Practice to sponsor her. Martyn Pattie (Practice Partner) was delighted to offer Ellie-Mae a position at the Practice as a Junior Architectural Assistant and to sponsor her on the apprentice scheme as London South Bank University.

Ellie-Mae joined the practice in September 2019. Over the last 8 weeks Ellie-Mae has hit the ground running. She is determined, driven and not afraid of hard work or to ask questions to learn and get involved.

We are delighted to have her as part of the team and are keen to support her through her studies over the next few years as she settles into her role and is committed to working toward becoming a qualified architect.

 

Claudia Gregory

B.Sc. (Hons) Social Sciences, MA in Personnel and Development

Practice Manager

Loft conversions – The Ideal Way To Extend Your Existing Home

House owners in need of more space do have the option of moving to a larger property, but there is an option that offers additional space in an existing property without the upheaval of moving home.

That option is a loft conversion.

Here are some major benefits and reasons why an increasing number of households are finding such a conversion to be an excellent alternative.

Far less upheaval all round:

Finding a new home to suit your space requirements can be time-consuming and stressful.

Costs incurred will include the value of the new property, stamp duty, solicitor fees and the actual cost of moving from one house to another.

Packing your worldly goods and then unpacking them is another consideration that adds to the challenge of moving home.

You then need to take into account facts such as:

  • Unless you find a property in reasonably close proximity to your existing one it may mean additional commute time to your place of work (or finding new employment).
  • Arranging a new school for the children.
  • Settling in to a brand-new environment with the social challenges this brings for the whole family.

When all of these factors and many more are taken into account it is easy to understand that moving home is quite rightly viewed as a huge project, one that cannot be taken lightly.

Gain space without losing any!

A major reason for considering moving home is that your growing family now require more space.

Yes, you can consider building an extension on your existing home, but unless your property is situated in ample grounds you will certainly loose outside space and the freedom which goes with it.

By taking the advice and ideas of a well-respected architect you will find that the conversion of your loft will add additional, very function space such as an office, a children’s den, or the most popular choice; an additional bedroom with en-suite bathroom.

A light, airy addition to your property:

By definition a loft conversion can be designed to make the most of natural light. Being at the top of the house means natural light is far less restricted from surrounding properties or trees.

Window styles can be far more expansive and a roof-window really can make the most of sunshine and daylight. You will also find views from a loft conversion far more elevated than from other rooms in your home.

Added value to your home:

We must make this point because a loft conversion is seen as one of the most cost-effective and valuable home improvements you can make.

The fact that the external structure is already in place reduces the overall cost, inclement weather does little to reduce the progression of work as the majority of this will be carried out from the inside (unlike building an extension), and in many cases planning permission is not required.

A well-designed loft conversion can add up to 20% on the value of your existing home.

A final point to ponder:

In many cases the cost of converting your loft as opposed to moving home is equivalent to the stamp duty you will pay if taking the latter option.

This means that by deciding on a loft conversion you are gaining more living space while paying less for it.