Sunday, 18 September 2011

Reasons to Bring in a Home Remodeling Designer Early

Buying a new home is not only an expensive venture, but it is also time consuming and stressful. Therefore, instead of purchasing a new home that will better suit the ever growing and changing needs of their families, many homeowners opt for a home remodel. To make this process go more smoothly, it's a good idea to get home remodeling designers involved as early on as possible.

Here are some of the benefits that go along with having your designers engaged in the project from the beginning:


Knowledge of Structural Codes and Architectural Styles

Your remodeling team will be able to tell you if your preliminary plans are possible, sound and able to fit in with the architectural style of your home. Not only will your designer have the ability to read architectural blueprints and have up-to-date knowledge regarding the latest structural codes, but they will be your advocate and will communicate your house remodel design vision to the contractor and team working on the project.

Anticipate Future Needs

House designers can help you plan for future needs and uses for your house, which in turn will save you money on remodeling costs later down the line. Home design should take into consideration accommodations for a growing family, potential guests, storage, space for entertaining and so forth. Remodel designer team will be able to give you suggestions on how to best achieve these future needs, as well as help you enhance and improve the energy efficiency and style of your home in order to save you money on energy and maintenance.

Make the Most out of Your Budget

Remodeling can become a pricey process, but the designers can often help reduce some of the costs while retaining the quality of materials with the industry discounts they receive. To stay within your budget, a designer can hunt for and transform low-cost or salvaged items into brand-new furnishings and accessories that look similar to the designer brand items.

Save Time

Months of research for your plans, product samples, the soundness of your plans, etc., can go into the home remodel process if you are doing it on your own. With all of the material options out there, it can be overwhelming and hard to know where to begin. A home remodeling designer can take the weight off your shoulders and do the research for you. Professional designers already possess the knowledge needed to aid you in figuring out which of your design ideas will work realistically. They can also purchase the materials you will need for your home and set up and oversee contractors working in your home. Designers will take a more hands-on role in the house remodel design process to make it go more smoothly for you.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

A Painless Planning Approvals Process

Here's a step by step description of an ideal end to end process a designer could follow to avoid client heart ache and misunderstandings along the planning approval journey.

Preliminary Steps

1. Designer visits client on site/ home.

2. Capture client's requirements.

3. Discuss client ideas and preferences.

4. Designer agrees with local planning officer that the proposal is feasible.

5. Designer supplies client confirmation of fees for the work required/ discussed.

Client Agreement of Terms

6. Client accepts the fees quoted, by email.

7. Client agrees initial measured survey visit date.

Designer Captures Dimensions & Begins Design Work

8. Visit site to capture building dimensions and assess the site in detail.

9. Create drawings describing current building (also required by planning office).

10. Design enhancements for the current building in line with client requirements.

Agreement on Design

11. Visit client and agree which option to move forward with.

12. Complete preferred design and confirm client satisfaction.

13. If possible designer offers a visit to another property having had a similar design built.

14. Designer submits design to Local Council Planning Office (a 6-8 week delay is possible where planning permission is required)

Designs Accepted/ Planning Permission Granted by Local Authority

Building Design & Technical Specification

15. Designer recommends a structural engineer to the client, (he makes expert contribution to the Building Tech Spec.)

16. Designer creates a detailed design including building specifications that meet current regulations for approval by local Building Control Dept.

17. Designer negotiates with and attends to queries received from Building Control Dept.

Building Design/Specification Approved by Building Control.

Additional post approval steps.

18. Designer recommends building contractors if required by the client.

19. Shares the approved building specification with minimum of 3 building companies.

20. Shares tender responses with the client.

21. Designer agrees with client their preferred company based on price and relationship fit.

22. Designer remains available to both client and builder through building works to resolve design queries/ technical building issues.

Here's how to tackle some of the questions designers encounter frequently.

When is planning permission required?

The UK government has attempted to make life easier for home owners and reduce the work-load for local council planning departments by producing a comprehensive set of property development descriptions/ limits that no longer require planning permission. If your project does not exceed these limits then work could be progressed after the award of a 'Permitted Development Certificate'.

How long will either option take to complete?

It usually between 6-8 weeks for both, if planning is approved on the first submission. Planning could take considerably longer if any objections are raised and the application has to be considered by one or more committees.

What is a building specification?

This is basically a detailed description of how the building will be put together which serves several purposes. It informs the bouncil's building control dept of how the building will comply with all the latest regulations, for example its thermal energy efficiency. The specification describes what materials to use and how the building is to be constructed which helps the contractor prepare an accurate quote for both materials and labour for the project.

Do I need a building specification?

In all cases "Yes", this will be reviewed before and during the progression of work to ensure the contractors are observing the regulations relating to building standards. If the building specification is not approved in full before work commences then there is a risk that the building work may have to be re-done, hence the term "building at risk". This may be okay if you know the contractor and have used his services previously without problems being raised by the council's building control inspectors, but we would always advise clients to have their building spec. fully approved before starting work to avoid possible re-work expenses.

Friday, 26 August 2011

House Plans for Sloping Blocks - Build Your Own Retaining Wall

Sloping blocks or yards are aesthetically attractive and give a whole new look to your home. But the problem is that in spite of its good looks, it can pose several problems and in more ways than one. Constructing a house on such a block is a difficult job as the design has to match the slope to make the most of it. It is also difficult to create a garden, patio, pool or play area on land that is not level. Hence it is important that you hire an architect who is experienced in drawing house plans for sloping blocks.

One of the best house plans for sloping blocks is to build a retaining wall. A well constructed retaining wall can not only look aesthetic but also help you make your backyard useful once again. These walls can be made from different kinds of materials like concrete, natural stone, wood or even from old railway ties. If you would like to do this task yourself, then get the pre-cast concrete stones which are great for this. All the blocks have lips and hence you can interlock these easily without the need to put in any mortar. The only disadvantage is that you can use these only for walls where the height is three meters or less.


A concrete retaining wall is also great to control erosion which usually happens on a sloping block. This can lead to water logging which over time can damage the very foundation of your home. If you have used a lot of wooden structures for your house, then erosion can also cause rot to set in destroying these. Erosion also results in soil shifting which makes it difficult to create a beautiful garden. It is important that you choose the right material while constructing this type of wall. Compare the different materials like natural stone, wood and concrete and then choose one which is best for the slope of your block and also the climate of the area.

The popularity of wood retaining walls is diminishing but this is a good choice if your house has a very rustic and old world design. There are different types of timber that you can use; get the advice of your local timber dealer to find out which one is affordable and best suited for the region. It is also advisable to get treated wood as these are resistant to rot and fungus and last for a very long time. Keeping these tips in mind would be great while looking at house plans for sloping blocks.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

How to Choose the Best Contractor for Your Home Additions?

Is your family outgrowing your present home? What can you do to make your family more comfortable and accommodate all your valuable furnishings and other home accessories? The answer is simple; Make your home more spacious by adding rooms and renovating existing spaces. Home additions and renovations are the only intelligent and inexpensive solutions to expand your living spaces. Although remodeling a home is cheaper than buying a new home, there are certain things you should consider when planning renovating your home.

How to Plan Home Renovations?

Renovation is simply not about adding an extra bedroom or converting your attic, it is more than that. Any changes and additions to your existing house means, long-term changes that will affect your daily living. Therefore, home renovations should be planned and executed wisely. Here are some tips to help you

• Enlist the help of an expert contractor who has the experience of providing home additions and renovation services.

• Consider whether you want to renovate your home to increase its value or you intend to do it for your personal use.

• Determine what are the exact changes you want in your house, how many rooms you want to add, etc?

• Determine how much you are willing to spend or stretch your budget.

• Ask for home improvement ideas from your contractor.

How to Choose the Right Contractor?

Once you have determined and planned what to do, the next thing is to find the best contractor who can execute your home remodeling plan. There are different types of contractors who specialize in different disciplines. Therefore, you need to make sure to hire an expert in home additions rather than just a general building contractor. The best way to find one is to locate them online. Your choice of contractors should be based on the following aspects

• Quality: One way to verify the quality of your contractor is to read reviews of their customers, company profile and history, their recent projects, their track record, etc. If possible, pay a visit to the site where they are carrying out their current project.

• Work: Find out whether your contractor has the ability to provide customized services to meet your specific requirements.

• Delivery: Find out from their track record, how efficient they are in delivering timely and quality services. Check whether they deliver what they promise.

Important Things You Must Know About Home Additions:

Although remodeling of your home may not involve major constructions like a new house would need, yet there are four important things you need to know if you are planning home renovations

1. City Restrictions and building requirements

2. Foundation of your existing home

3. The new design for your home renovations

4. Materials Required

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Environmentally Friendly Architectural Home Plans

Building an environmentally friendly home is a must for many people these days, not only do we want to be kind to our environment during the building process but we also want that to continue after we move in. Including environmentally friendly items in your architectural home plans is far easier that you might initially think.

The siting and design of your home is key to the environmentally friendly home, ensuring your architectural home plans include climate sensitive design where the position of the home is maximised to benefit from heat absorption from direct sun and minimising exposure to harsh winds. These two things alone can have a major impact on the heating and cooling efficiency of your home.

Once you have the orientation set then the materials you will use to build your home come into play. Concrete and brick are known for their high thermal mass which means they absorb heat during the day and release it at night, having a concrete foundation and block walls will greatly ensure the climate control of your home, if you don't wish to build your entire house in block, perhaps include a few feature spaces that will benefit from maximum sun exposure in your architectural home plans.

Installing solar panels in your roof will also ensure you gain maximum benefit from the sun and this then flows through to savings in heating and power and if you team your solar panels with a heat recovery ventilation system you will maximise the climate control in your home.

Water efficiency can also be taken into account when you are designing your house, installing a water tank is a great idea if you are able to accommodate this on your property and there are many stylish designs available so you don't have to be stuck with an eye sore. Installing water efficient appliances and fittings will also greatly benefit the environment. Ask about low-flow showers and ultra-low flush toilets and the use of grey water for irrigation.

Power is something that is not often thought of during the building process however including energy efficient ideas in your architectural home plans will ensure that when you are living your home you are not having to turn lights on unnecessarily due to an area not having enough natural light because of poor planning. Installing energy efficient lighting will also help and with the progress in design there are some stylish options to choose from.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Consider a Garden House Instead of an Extension

If you like the idea of the extra space a conservatory can bring but don't want to extend your home then a garden house is worth considering. There are many reasons why some of us can't have or don't want a conservatory, yet we could all do with some extra space. Many of us want that space to either utilise a large back garden or allow us to enjoy it more. A conservatory can be a lovely addition, providing natural light and allowing us to reach out into the garden, but it can lack flexibility as a room and it can also spoil the room to which it is attached. A garden house is a free-standing building that can be built anywhere in the garden where you have space. It allows an alternative view on the garden and more flexibility than a conservatory. This article takes a brief look at these advantages and offers some suggestions on what you could do.

What is a Garden House?
Simply put, a garden house is a small building often made from wood, but insulated with double-glazed windows and an electrical supply connected to the main house. They are often like miniature timber-frame houses with good quality windows and doors.

The cost of pre-fabricated sheds and summer houses in the major DIY superstores is quite high, particularly when you look at the quality of the materials used. In comparison, a garden house built by a reputable conservatory builder may cost more but it is better value for money because it's much more flexible in its possibilities for use. From those of a conservatory to that of a home office, there is the opportunity for a space away from the home. Then, as your family grows there is room for them to leave home, although only as far the garden.

The Garden House as a Home Office
A use that is becoming increasingly popular as the world goes digital is that of the home office. More and more of us are working from home and whilst this is a blessed escape from commuting, our homes can be difficult places to find the peace and quiet to actually get the job done. Travelling to work can be enjoyable, so long as the commute only involves a two-minute stroll outside and this is what a garden house can offer. By thinking through the location and use of materials an office in the garden can provide an affordable means by which to have your cake and still get to eat it. A reputable conservatory builder will be able to advise you on the necessary plans so that you will have an insulated space with an electrical supply and plenty of natural light. The space could even be designed to be dual purpose, still allowing other members of the family to enjoy it.

Garden House as Gardener's Retreat
As most gardeners can testify there is a well-earned pleasure in simply looking at the results of your gardening labours at the end of a busy day. For many, the conservatory is fit for this purpose, but a garden house offers the chance to see the results from an entirely different viewpoint. It needn't be a shed, it can be a little summer-house retreat furnished with comfortable seating perfect for a cup of tea or evening meal.

For the British barbecue lover there would also be a refuge from the Summer weather, because a garden house can be designed as a barbecue cabin. This would allow you to invite friends and family and not be so worried as to what the weather does, as you'll have a warm, dry place to go even if it turns against you. There's also the advantage of a safe, insulated room to store your barbecue and supplies, as well as an electrical supply for the extras like music, lights or a hotplate.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

What Your Home Builders Can Do for You

Building a new home is one of the major steps that a person does in his life. Although celebrities could buy houses from a single paycheck, for most of us, it may require our entire life savings. Because of this, it is very essential that we choose home builders that are highly skilled and has a vast experience in this field. You do want your dream house to come out perfect, right? Here is a list of what your home builders can do for you in planning your house.

#1: Home builders can help you adhere to local requirements

Different locations have different requirements, make sure you do your research and find out the requirements in your chosen location. Your home builders can help you plan out your house so it would adhere to your local area requirements. The requirements may range from types of building materials, fences, fa├žade style, hot water systems, and many more. There are often referred as "design guidelines" or the "covenants" for the estate.

#2 Choosing the floor plan

Most people want a big house with big garden, however if your space and finances only allows you less than what you expect, don't feel bad about it because bigger is not always better. Think of what matters to you most, a garden where you can relax or more house space where your family lives in.

Check your home builders' floor plans and have him help you decide what's best for your space. Remember that a good design feels great to live in, holds value better, and doesn't waste space.

#3 Find your house's perfect fit

Your house should fit well on your block; this means that the distances that you have to leave between your site boundaries and your home should be prnportionate. Don't worry because your home builders can help you and do this work for you.

Work with your home builders on choosing the floor plan that can make your home more comfortable and you won't have to splurge extra dollars for heating, lighting, and cooling.

# 4 Getting warranties

Your home builders can help you get the most value from your money by giving you an advice regarding the warranties of the materials and services you paid for. Warranties are very important because this can ensure you that your dream house is built with quality in mind. Materials and services with warranty may cost more, but this could save you a lot of money in the future.

Your dream house could materialize with the help of your home builders, tell them how you want your house built but do keep an open mind for their suggestions as well. After all, they know more about building houses than everybody else.