News 2016-04-12

Are you planning a building project? Looking into the affordability of a home project? Wishing your budget stretched a little further?

Worried that the financial restrictions may impact on the finished space?

We raised this question with our team of Architects and designers. Though there was great debate and a review of many of the projects we completed in 2015 there were some main points of consensus among the group.

Firstly, smaller budgets actually have the result of challenge the design aspects of the project. Meaning the Architect or Designer needs to approach the project in a much more though provoking way in order to achieve the client brief with the space and budget provided.

The team agreed that these projects provide a challenge, allow them to explore possibilities with the client outside of the norm and are more rewarding for those involved.


Case Study

At the end of 2015 we completed a project in East London, for the Appleton’s. They live in a small 1 bedroom split house and wanted to extend there home rather than move to a larger property. They had 4 main requirements.

  •      The wanted to create 1 more bedroom for the new born child
  •      They wanted as much storage space as possible, without losing floor space
  •      The wanted to flood the home is as much natural light as possible
  •      They did not want to spend a penny more than their budget.

As their Architect went to work there were challenged with such a small property to come up with better more practical solutions that always worked back to the overall project budget. This is far more challenging than unlimited budget projects provide, which can result in lazy design and standard solutions to these sorts of problems.


Use of the space

With smaller houses like this one, we need to use space efficiently. Though with smaller homes small design changes can have a much larger impact than the it would in larger homes..

How we achieved this was by creating a loft conversion and raising the ridge of the roof to create more head height for the new space. As the home was small the cost of this was not as high as on a larger project. We added Vulux windows across the roof span in order to make this a light open space despite its size to gain on the benefit of the natural light throughout the day.


We also create a new staircase by attaching a new column to the outside of the home (by stealing some space from the garden) with sympathetic brickwork to house the new loft staircase. This left the floor space untouched, but gave convenient access to the newly formed 2nd floor. This column was also bathed in light by the addition of small but strategically position windows to capture light, but also save on the cost of brickwork.

We then designed pull-out storage into the eaves of the loft and the walls in the living room, built the entertainment unit into the side wall of the living room so that we gained even more floor space. We used the boxed in space under the stairs for more hidden storage and even boxed the tread of the steps to provide additional storage on soft opening draw runners.

It’s important to use your living area to its full potential. One way to do this is to ensure that all unused areas are utilized, smart solutions are easily achieved on a limited budget and in the case of small homes like this one it actually eliminates the need for additional expenditure on furniture once the projects complete, because the use of the space and the furnishings has already been factored in to the initial design

Another key change any property and creating more space knocking down a wall – In the case of the Appleton’s home we took out the wall between kitchen and living room. This created the impression of a larger home, but more importantly allowed more natural light to enter the entire ground floor, with light decoration this made the home extremely warm and light.


The construction

Typical designs use typical construction methods that usually require different trades: structural teams, roofers, bricklayers, carpenters, plasterer and painter. This isn’t efficient and it’s more expensive. By simplifying the construction process to reduce the number of trades that are needed you can make significant savings.

This is also true when it comes to the material that you use, if the material is easier to install, manipulate or finish you will make a saving in the labour cost involved, this is often true even if the initial material is more expensive than the standard one. Exposed materials that show the integrity of the product or structure is not only a design feature, popularized over the last 10 years and flooding restaurant design in London at the moment, but also means the product does not need to be decorated or finished. This has a massive impact on the overall budget.


The role of design

It must no cost you the earth! It must start early and factor all the uses into account and challenge itself and the client (sometimes) to explore more economical uses of materials and space whilst still inspiring a design that keeps surprising the homeowner every time they enter.

The design stage is a key phase of any project that, properly managed, can minimize waste and costs.

In the housing market at the moment it’s more important and indeed prudent to invest in more space and more light. Get the design and construction right and make sure it doesn’t break you bank….. because it doesn’t need to!

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