The Green Homes Grant

The Green Homes Grant

The Gift of a Greener Home

Rishi Sunak’s announcement of the ‘Green Homes Grant’ has been applauded by Homeowners, Landlords and the Home Improvements Industry, alike.

This landmark grant aims to create better environmentally efficient homes, reduce the UK carbon footprint, lower energy bills, and boost the economy of the home improvements industry!

Energy-saving measures such as insulating your home are the key focus of the scheme. So if poor insulation has you reaching for an extra duvet during the winter months, it is quite probable that you could be eligible for the grant.

The ‘Green Homes Grant’ wants to support the on-going efforts to become a net-zero nation by helping homeowners upgrade their properties with energy-saving features, and the good news is mostly all Homeowners and Landlords will be eligible.

Understanding the Grant

In most cases, a voucher of up to £5,000 will be rewarded, whilst those on lower incomes can be eligible for up to £10,000. For those who aren’t categorised under a lower income, the vouchers will be worth up to a maximum of £5,000 but may only cover 2/3 of the total cost.

You must select one or more of the below primary measures under the scheme.

Primary measures

•          Air or ground source heat pumps

•          Solar thermal

•          Solid wall, under-floor, cavity wall, loft, flat roof, room in room, or roof insulation

To qualify for a secondary measure, you need to have one of the primary measures carried out and the cost of the secondary measures must not exceed that of the primary measure(s).

Secondary measures

•          Upgrading doors to energy-efficient alternatives (replacement of doors fitted before 2002)

•          Draught proofing

•          Double glazing, triple glazing, and secondary glazing

•          Hot water tank/appliance tank thermostats/heating controls, as well as thermostatic radiator valves, smart heating controls, or zone controls

This means that, if your application meets the above criteria, you are authorised to use the vouchers against the cost of:

•          Double glazed windows

•          Triple glazed windows

•          Secondary glazing (helpful if in a conservation area where rules don’t permit adjustments to the look and feel of a property)

•          Energy efficient doors

Time to Act

Applications for the ‘Green Homes Grant’ Scheme open at the end of September and are due to end in March 2021.  If you think you may be eligible for a claim as part of your next home renovation plan, you can apply via the Simple Energy Advice website.  https://www.simpleenergyadvice.org.uk

You need to include a quote from a local approved installer, listed on the SEA website and once the application is approved a voucher will be issued to you.

It’s not often you get given a financial helping hand to support some much-needed home renovations, so make the most of it and register your application.

For more information on how your ‘Green Home Grant’ can supplement your next home development project or for advice on local Trades that are supporting the scheme, please contact our team of expert RIBA accredited Architects.

The Power of Permitted Development

As of 1st of September, the UK Government has made some landmark changes to permitted development rights in England allowing us to enlarge our property without the need for planning permission.

The new permitted development rights to extend upwards have been in the pipeline for a long time and our team of RIBA accredited Architects have been building up their knowledge base to enable them to support our clients in understanding how to make the most of the new rules.

What is Permitted Development?

The General Permitted Development Order (GPDO) is a national grant of planning permission, which allows certain building works, and changes of use to be carried out without having to make an official planning application. The new policy has been rewritten to help speed up the planning process and create more homes by building upwards or altering the use of existing buildings.

What does Permitted Development mean to you?

The new rules were designed to help us all make better use of our existing housing infrastructure and to revive town centres and increase footfall. Homeowners are now able to add two more floors to their houses without needing full planning permission and commercial premises may now be demolished of changed for use in favour of residential development. 

The good news is that the red tape has finally been removed for a speedier process that opens up a number of possibilities for better living and financial gains for Homeowners, Developers and Landlords

Building Upwards

The new rules permit the construction of up to two additional storeys of residential accommodation on top of existing, purpose-built blocks of flats. Two additional storeys may be added where the existing dwelling house is two or more storeys tall, or one additional storey where the dwelling house consists of one storey, for example, in the case of a bungalow.  

Navigating the Criteria

In theory, the update to the Town and Country Planning Regulations 2020 sounds relatively simple but there are still several restrictions that need to be navigated and adhered to.  Upwards extensions need to meet a tight criteria taking into account height, natural light, neighbour privacy and the construction method you want to use.  All projects of this nature will be subject to prior approval and formal submission of application to the local planning authority to seek confirmation that specified parts of a development are acceptable before work can commence.

Personal Gains

With the flexibility to extend your home upwards, you may no longer need to move home to create the extra space needed for or a growing family or elderly parents.

In the past, moving home to accommodate family life may have been your only option. Now you can forget Estate Agents comissions, stamp duty, moving costs and Solicitor fees, vertically extending your home with up to 2 storeys can provide the perfect living solution whilst protecting your precious garden space. 

We understand the rules so you don’t have to

Permitted development rights come with their own restrictions and in some cases particular homes may not be subject to PD rules. A permitted development application needs to be accompanied by scaled architectural drawings, which outline the existing property and proposed development. 

Our experienced RIBA Architects can help you navigate the new PD rules, supply technical drawings, encompassing creative and practical design features whilst making the most of the space and providing maxim value of the investment at a relatively small cost.

And of course, in the case that you require more flexibility and freedom for your project, we can apply for planning permission on your behalf to ensure the right criteria for your proposal is met and help maximise fast approval for your plans from the local council. 

Please contact us to discuss the vision for your project and our highly skilled team will help you understand how to truly make the most of your home.

Fresh Laundry Goals

Yes, we can all be dazzled by a gorgeous en-suite bathroom and a beautiful dressing area, but the one room that really can make others gasp in pure envy is an all-singing, all-dancing utility room.

Any growing household can almost guarantee an expanding laundry pile to match and accumulation of some of the dirtiest and most disliked household chores.

A utility room may often be compact, but it can also be the perfect place for the jobs that are far too dirty for your kitchen sink, hence making them one of the most desirable rooms in your house and adding considerable market value.

Well functioning utility rooms are all about making life easier, tidier, and more efficient. A perfectly equipped zone to move dull chores away from the family kitchen and freeing up some precious living space.

When designing new dwellings or extending existing homes our Architects are often asked to include a utility room. Our team are experts at this type of home extension that often falls within the realms of Permitted Development allowing you to create your dream utility room without the need for planning permission.

What we consider when designing your utility room:

Laundry Chute – Deposit your dirty linen directly to the washing machine. You will never see an odd sock on the stairs that got dropped along the way to the washing machine again.

Pulley Maid – Make the most of the ceiling space with a pulley maid drying rack as a sustainable alternative to the tumble dryer.

Larger Integrated Appliances – A designated utility room can make way for large integrated appliances such as a tumble dryer and a washing machine, making laundry a far less laborious task.

Water Softener – The inclusion of a good quality water softener tackles the problem of lime-scale by eliminating harmful minerals from the water before it has a chance to reach your appliances making them sustain the test of time for much longer.

Shelving – A practical shelving solution will give you the perfect system to keep things tidy and a great place to store detergents and other harmful liquids away from young children and pets.

Hanging Racks – Foldaway racks are a space-saving alternative to the tumble dryer, drying your clothes in an environmentally friendly way and reducing the need for ‘Popeye’ arms when ironing.

Counter Space – A reasonable amount of counter space enables fuss-free folding of clothes. Try to include a pull-out version to make the most of smaller spaces.

Large Sink – An oversized sink is indeed a core luxury item, the best place to wash the dog, clean muddy football boots or to soak the team rugby kit!

A well-designed utility room really can deliver the wow factor! Any good Architect will design this space making sure you have more than enough storage for coats, bags and shoes, above and beyond the number of power points for all those appliances you have planned in, whilst considering the use of under-floor heating for practical use to help dry your washing faster.

MP Architects Appoint Marketing Consultant Jessica Parkes

MP Architects LLP has boosted its award-winning team with the appointment of Marketing Consultant Jessica Parkes.

With a wealth of experience and career history as an independent Marketing Consultant, Jessica has been appointed to assist MP Architects LLP with the planning and delivery of their Sales and Marketing strategy.

Jessica will be supporting the growth of the business with the development and implementation of Social Media, PR, Website Content Marketing, Branding, Marketing Materials, Search Engine Optimisation along with Digital and Direct Marketing Strategies across the practice as it continues to deliver top-class architectural services.

Parkes joins MP Architects LLP’s growing Essex based team who previously worked as a Marketing Consultant for a Property Tech Company said “I am delighted to join such an established business with a brilliant team that has the energy and drive to succeed, I am really looking forward to developing a focused marketing strategy and communications programme to increase our profile and win new business.

Martyn Pattie, said of the hiring:  “Jessica’s appointment represents part of our rapid growth and our need for a Marketing Specialist to support our future business plans. She comes with an abundance of relevant experience to help us move forward professionally and successfully.”

For further press information please contact Jessica Parkes, MP Architects LLP  

E: jessica@mparchitectsllp.co.uk

 T: 01277321214

Make Working from Home Work for You

Millions of people have been forced to work from home since the coronavirus outbreak in what could be described as the biggest remote working experiment in history. 

It is without a doubt that working from home can have a positive effect on both your work and life balance, and in a ‘post-crisis’ world you may want to continue this way of living.

Studies have proved that the most common benefit of home working is the elimination of the unrelenting commute. By not traveling to work you can save time and money all whilst having a positive impact on the environment. 

As well as making far better business sense, the extra time may also  provide more you with opportunities to see your family, exercise, cook healthier meals, complete household chores or simply just catch up on an extra hour of sleep.

The technology capability to support valuable working from home is solid and available, however, you do need to be in the right ‘zone’ to be happy and productive. Slouching on the sofa with a laptop or hunched over the kitchen table is far from an ideal work environment. 

By creating a separate office environment you can retain a professional and productive workspace whilst ensuring privacy and less opportunity to be distracted.

Have you considered setting up a home office as a separate structure from your home? This will create a clear distinction between home and work life, especially if your work demands a quiet space away from family life and a barking dog!

Could it be a possibility that you may need to invite colleagues or clients to your home office in the future?  A light and airy garden office, stylish garage conversion, or beautiful home extension could be the perfect place to create the professional arena you may need. 

MP Architects can support you with identifying the best position to situate your home office and create the perfect professional working environment that will retain your privacy and increase productivity.  Also, where necessary we will obtain quick and simple planning permission if your outbuilding falls outside the boundaries of permitted development.

We are here to help you to commit and define this new way of working life.   Your new home office will help you focus and increase efficiency, whilst also giving you the opportunity for mid-morning coffee breaks with your partner, walking the dog at lunchtime, or just clocking off at 5pm to relax in the evening sunshine with a delicious G&T.

G & T
G & T

Furlough Fruition, Baking and Beyond….

March 2020 and the nation tuned in to listen to Chancellor, Rishi Sunak announce unprecedented measures supporting businesses and their employees through the COVID-19 pandemic.

For many of us, the term ‘Furlough’ was an unknown phrase and a new concept.  Fast forward a few months and Furlough has certainly become a widely used word that over 9 million UK workers can now fully understand.

Like others, part of our team was temporarily “furloughed” as we adjusted our workforce to meet staff and business needs. 

As tempting as it may sound, binge-watching Netflix in their PJ’s was something that none of our furloughed staff wanted to do.  They made the most of the opportunity to engage in training and learning new skills, so that upon their return to work they will be more prepared and informed than ever before! 

And they didn’t disappoint….

One of our Senior Architects, Kate Murray spent many hours educating and improving her knowledge of Revit, the leading BIM modelling software tool that is used by architects all over the world. Revit enables the design of structures that, when built, should look exactly like the digital view.  Kate also managed to decorate no less than five rooms in her home and perfected her baking skills of delicious sourdough ‘lockdown’ loaves!

Dandi Passerini is another multi-talented member of our team.  Along with learning the art of ‘parent home schooling’ Dandi also continued to fulfil her annual RIBA CPD obligations, whilst studying very hard to become a qualified BREEAM AP.  

BREEAM is the world’s leading sustainability assessment method for master planning projects, infrastructure, and buildings, which means that Dandi will be able to provide a professional BREEAM consultancy service to clients, designing buildings that achieve the accredited BREEAM sustainable rating.  

Our Architectural Assistant, Navid Hamzeheinejad has definitely made the most of this great opportunity too.  Navid has been working tirelessly on his studies for his RIBA Part 3 examinations. This is the final stage of the qualification process, that will see Navid’s passion and dream of becoming a qualified Architect develop into a reality.   And…as if that wasn’t enough to keep him busy, Navid has also given himself a huge skills boost, engaging in Rhino 3D design software tutorials and allocating any spare time to becoming a multilingual mastermind and taking steps to learn German. Gute Arbeit Navid!

Upon reflection, as businesses start to reopen and staff begin to return, the furlough scheme has allowed us to adapt to the challenges that came hand in hand with pandemic and the global economic slowdown, but it has also lent itself to allowing our passionate team to up-skill and educate themselves, making ‘furlough’ work for their careers, our customers and to support the longevity of our successful Architect Practice.

Stay Healthy.

Martyn Pattie