Restyle or refurbish

Having just been and fetched the company Land Rover back from the first phase what promises to be a very costly and time consuming refurbishment, I started considering the recent trend for renovating homes. With the Land Rover I wanted to give it a longer life span and remove a lot of future issues by undertaking the bulk of repair jobs in one big hit. By having the chassis, pipes, brakes, suspension and a load of small jobs all done together I’ve future proofed it for a few years. What I was conscious of was that I didn’t want to lose the aesthetics of the vehicle under a load of bolt on pieces of bling. What I wanted was my classic Land Rover in mint condition.

I can see a lot of similarities in how people approach a refurbishment of a house. Most people buy a house that they like the aesthetics of already. But sadly no house is ever lasting. So do you repair and replace as you go along? Or have you considered modernising?

Is it worth restyling the outside or should you settle for some repointing and new fascias? White rendered walls and timber panelling might be a nice feature, but is it practical and does it add value, or is it a fad that’s going to cost you the earth without a decent return. We recently visited a house where the brickwork had been mistreated with a masonry paint that was going to need a sandblasting technique to remove it. Unfortunately this was going to ruin the face of the bricks so a pre coloured render was suggested. There was also a requirement to provide a rear extension and a new porch, along with a side car port and new windows. So the opportunity to renovate the property and give it a new look presented itself.

But say you don’t want an extension, your house is in need of maintenance, the pointing is failing, windows are leaking/misted up, guttering is old and cracked, fascias are rotten or you just want a new look and to ensure the house is watertight and Maintenance free for the next few years. I’d always suggest starting with a good design. Unless your house is listed or in a conservation area there aren’t usually any restrictions on what you can do to the external appearance. But it’s worth seeking out someone who has experience to ensure you get the right materials and pallette. Most materials have something called an agrement certificate. This means they are tested and suitable for purpose.

Once you have a scheme the next step is to get good builder on board, be sure you see their previous work to make sure they have experience. Remember your looking for work that will last 30 years at least so going for the cheapest isn’t going to pay off. Once you have had a price from your builder (always try and get at least 3 prices from different contractors) then you can decide if you’re going to be able to afford it. At this point you can also contact your local estate agent and see what they suggest would be the result on your property values.

In my experience half measures rarely work when your considering renovation or restyling. If you’re re-styling to alter the look of your property it’s best to make sure you have a scheme you can afford and that covers all the repairs and maintenance issues that made you consider it to start with.

Enlarged Extensions currently available under UK Planning Law could bring courtyard styling to the UK.



A proposal for an 8 meter rear extension to a detached property above.

There is currently a scheme to allow larger single storey extensions to residential properties. Its not a full planning application and doesn’t take as long to go through. In fact it takes just 42 days and only requires the minimum of information.

This scheme only applies to larger single-storey rear extensions which are permitted until 30 May 2019. This means that extensions of between four and eight meters for detached houses and between three and six meters for all other houses, can go through this process.


Hiring a Design Professional

Are you thinking about employing an architectural consultant or building design professional?

Having been employed as a house designer and project supervisor for the last 15 years, I thought it might be useful to examine how clients can approached their project to achieve a successful outcome.

For this example I am going to look at one of my past projects. Mr & Mrs Jackson had purchased a very attractive cottage in South Yorkshire. The cottage had a two-story element with bedrooms and a lounge, the garage and some out buildings had been converted to form a long corridor of random rooms.


The Jackson’s had already started work on the two-story section, redecorating and renovating the bathrooms as well as opening up the ground floor with some beams. All pretty standard and fairly easy to undertake.

Where the Jackson’s needed help was with the redesign the out buildings to get the best use of space. They had a wish list of requirements, kitchen, utility, bathroom, storage rooms and a spare bedroom.

An architect had already been out and met the Jackson’s, unfortunately he had not presented ideas that the Jackson’s wanted to pursue and they felt they couldn’t communicate their ideas back across to him and things had come to a standstill. At this point it’s not wrong to walk away and rethink. Designers aren’t always going to translate your ideas on the first attempt, sometimes they might simply not be suited to the style you want to achieve.

The Jackson’s quite rightly cut ties and went back on-line to look for a new designer who had examples of work similar to their ideals.

I met the Jackson’s in late August 2014. We spent an hour discussing the project over a cup of tea, had a look around the work that the Jackson’s had already undertaken. It is always a useful way for a designer to get a feel for the style of clients if we can see something of your taste.

Mr & Mrs Jackson knew what they wanted in terms of spaces, and they knew what they wanted to spend. But I would say most importantly they knew what they didn’t want in terms of design. That might sound odd, but for me it’s great to know which lines of style not to pursue. The Jackson’s understood that the design of the outside of their cottage was just as important as the inside. Kitchens and bathrooms are changed every few years, the outside is there for a lot longer.

Sketch Scheme

What made this project work:-

A good brief – An understanding of what was required from the project in terms of size/rooms/costs. The brief whilst comprehensive wasn’t constrictive.

The budget. We agreed early on what architectural fee’s would be due and when. We also agree that because the builder was a family friend of the Jackson’s that full project management wouldn’t be required, but an hourly charge would suffice as and when site visits where required.

Sketch designs that showed a style and intention that worked for the client. You should never accept a scheme you aren’t happy with. A good designer should be able to maintain a favored style and amend drawings to suit your requirements. I produced several sketch schemes with different layouts and materials before the final scheme was agreed.

Be prepared to compromise, this advice is for everyone (myself included).

Work with someone who wants to get the best out of your project. If you don’t feel comfortable with your designer/builder/tradesman then your project won’t be the best it can be. Remember you’re spending a good amount of money on this. It needs to be right.

Once you have your team in place, make sure they talk to each other. This way everyone can be sure that the right information is provided. If a builder is unsure about how to use a product then the designer can make sure that the right information is available. If I’m involved in a bespoke design I like to work with the builders to ensure the project that gets built is the one that the clients approved.

The proposal is innovative in design and has a modern approach with the materials proposed. It is felt that this would be a positive feature to the street scene due to its modern design of cedar cladding and white render. There is a mix of properties on the street but the materials will still match with the area.The extension is minor in nature, is sympathetic in scale, materials and design and 
integrates well with the existing property and surrounding area and therefore accords with the guidance and the appropriate policies” —-Doncaster Planning Department.

Estimate or Quote. What’s right for you?

So you’re planning an extension or new construction project. Lets talk about how to get you started in the most efficient way to avoid problems later down the line.


Once you’ve decided it’s time to get started you will be inviting a whole army of people into your life.

Your first guest is going to be a builder or an architectural consultant. A lot of people like to start with a builder, but this is putting the cart before the horse. A knowledgeable builder might be able to offer an estimate cost, but they will always shy away from giving a full quotation without a set of drawings to work to.

Estimate: An educated but still rough guess as to the costs

Quote: A calculated and accurate price

Now its time to invite an Architectural Consultant into play. A good architectural consultant will help you develop your ideas into a magnificent architectural monument, one that will increase the value of your property and any others within a 2 mile radius through the judicious use of steel and glass combined with so many balconies you’ll never have a cup of coffee on them all in one lifetime. Or…they will help you keep it modest and cost effective by bringing knowledge of design and materials to help keep you on the right path. They will also bring a working knowledge of local planning rules and Building Control issues to ensure you don’t fall foul of your local council.

502 - 04.png

Lets say you’ve got your Planning Permission in place and now you need a Building Control Application. There’s a few options here. Building Control can now be undertaken by a private company. Your Building Control Officer will be calling into site several times and liaising with your Builder and your Architectural Consultant. So it’s worth getting one they both know and trust.

A Structural Engineer is a handy trade to have around. If there’s anything involving steelwork these are the people to help. Lets say you’ve got to have a raft foundation, you’ll need an engineer. You’re having a roof lantern and bi-fold doors, you’ll need an engineer. You want to take out that kitchen wall…well you get the idea.


A great example of a Structural Engineers worth happened on one of our sites a couple of years ago. The clients needed a 6m steel beam with a plate welded to the underneath to go over some bi fold doors. You can buy these direct from a lintel manufacturer for £3200. Our Engineer did a set of calculations for £60 and the builder had the steel manufactured by the steel worker for £450. Engineers, that’s a good saving!

Now its time for the Builder to come around again. You’ve got all your drawings, permissions and calculations. So the builder can come home from 8 hours of manual labor in all weathers, sit down and go through everything with his scale rule and call all his suppliers to price materials night after night. Of course he isn’t going to do that. He’ll send the drawings off to a Quantity Surveyor or Estimator. These are the professionals who will provide the builder with a fully costed and detailed quotation.  A bill of quantities allows a builder to know how many of each item he will need. Reducing waste and keeping the project running smoothly.

Most builders will work with other tradesmen, they could be bringing Electricians, Plumbers, Roofers, Tilers, Kitchen fitters, Bathroom Fitters, Plasterers, Decorators, Damp proofers and any other specialists you need for your project. But without a good set of working drawings it’s only ever going to be a best guess.


When they work well you’d never know how many people have been at your construction party. But like all good parties you have to plan for the appropriate number of guests or you’ll run out of cheese cubes on sticks.


Small extension – Do they have to be boring?

So your wanting a small extension. It needs to be cost effective and its only a single storey so it doesn’t need to be anything amazing….

Well, you can have a small but interesting extension without breaking the bank. There’s so many options with materials and colours that a little thought can go a long way in creating something fantastic.

Simple adjustments like a colour change the window frames, using two different coloured bricks or wall materials, Canopies and external lighting can all make a huge difference without busting the bank.

What we can do for you

Once you take the first step of contacting an architectural consultant, we can arrange a suitable time to meet at your property, discuss your project and provide a quote tailored to suit your needs.

We offer design ideas and advice as to which permissions you might need and the costs involved. Once we have a basis for a scheme we begin a drawing package to create your dream home.


Architectural Drawings Ltd offer a comprehensive service from design development through to on site supervision and project management.

Whatever your required level of involvement we can tailor a package to suit your needs. Planning your project can be a difficult and confusing process there are numerous factors involved in the decision making process from the spaces to be created to respect for the original building and its surroundings, complying with your local Planning Authority guidelines and meeting Building Regulations, and of course the age old battle to stay within your budget.

From our initial meeting we offer advice and design ideas to create your visions. Throughout the design process we provide practical advice along side a working knowledge of the regulatory bodies in order to ensure your project runs as smoothly as possible. When it comes to getting out of the ground we can offer access to a wealth of specialist organisations and tradesmen.

We have a proven track record of working with engineers and other members of the construction team in order to ensure a comprehensive result. We offer a package to suit your needs, whether it’s a design and submission to the local authorities, Building Control submissions, a tender package for your builders or a full service of project management and on site supervision.

Building Designs – Fully illustrated
House design
Barn Conversion
Loft conversions
Planning permissions
Listed Buildings
Conservation area Consent
Building Regulations
Licensing Drawings
Remedial works
Conversion Works
Refurbishment works
Property for let refurbishment
Industrial and commercial works


Our working methods don’t tend to vary depending on the project, but the level of involvement you require from us does. All quotations are discussed at our initial meeting and tailored to suit your needs. If you decide you’d like to have more or less involvement from us we can always amend our package to accommodate you.

Initial meeting

Initial meetings with new clients are usually held on site. Your requirements and needs are discussed, at this stage we can offer design ideas, guidance on local authority regulations. It is useful at this stage to have an idea of your budget as this may have a bearing on the size and type of the direction your project needs to adopt in order to have it realised.

The initial meeting will enable us to provide a full written quotation prior to starting any work on your behalf.

Concept and design work

Subject to acceptance of our quotation we will undertake a full measured survey of your property, depending on the type of project we may be able to undertake this ourselves or we can advise on specialists to undertake topographical or structural surveys if necessary.

The first draft design is our understanding of the project. At this stage we like to work with our clients to tweak and redraft our initial schemes into the project that you really want.

Planning Permission

We normally submit planning permissions on-line on your behalf. Your local Authority has a statutory 8 weeks to deal with most types of applications.

The type and scale of your project may require a pre application meeting or discussions with the Planning authority. Some projects will require additional reports and information depending on the individual project, these might be required at the submission stage or may be conditioned as part of a planning approval notice. If specialist survey companies are required we can facilitate access to wealth of industry professionals.

Building Control

Once a Planning Approval has been achieved for your project a Building Control Application will usually be required. There are exemptions for certain types of buildings and small extensions.

The Building Control submission involves preparing a full specification of the works from the foundations upwards. Where the Planning office was interested in the size and scale of a project Building Control are there to ensure the building works are safe and robust.

The drawings that we prepare for at this stage can also be used as tender documents with contractors as they will contain all the necessary information for pricing. At this stage we will be required to include structural information, so if a Structural Engineer is required we can liaise with them to achieve the best solutions on site.

Tender Process

We recommend that at least three contractors are asked to provide a quotation for your project, this ensures that good selection of quotes.

Always take the time to view work done by your contractors, at least two schemes to be sure that the skills and quality are upto your standards.

If you have asked us to represent you in this process we would normally provide the following;

A package of contract documents.
A letter to each contractor explaining the works and giving a deadline for return of tenders.
Formal letter of acceptance to a contractor.
If you have decided to use our contract administration services we will also advise as to an appropriate contract type to use.

If a project comes back over budget we can sit down with your preferred contractor and look at ways to reduce the final cost.

Contract administration

Once the scheme is agreed, the prices are right, the contractor is chosen then a contract can be signed between all parties.

In brief our role as contract administrator will include the following;

  • Provision of a suitable contract for you project size and type.
  • Pre contract meeting to agree the general procedures for the contract period.
  • Production of meeting minutes throughout the project as a record of changes, additions and omissions and general progression.
  • Provision of additional information such as room content information, Local Authority requests etc.
  • Liaison between design team parties such as Engineers, Local Authority bodies and any other specialist required.
    Overseeing of the contract budget including payments to contractors, retention money and any extra’s that may occur while works are ongoing. Including interim payment schedules.
  • Final accounts at practical completion stage.
  • Production of a ‘user manual’ for your new property. Typically this includes things such as manuals, maintenance booklets etc for items installed under the contract.
    A six months defects snagging survey prior to releasing of final retention money to the contractor. Normally 5% of the interim payments are retained by yourselves. Half of this is released at practical completion with the rest being held until any defects have been rectified at the 6 month defect liability period.

Once the contract has been completed we are always keen to hear from you if there are any issues with your project. It is always worth knowing that under UK law a Latent Defects policy is enforced. This means that the contractor is still responsible for your project for 5 years and 11 months after the defects liability period. Claims under this rule must be due to poor workmanship or negligence on the part of the contractor.