4 May 2022

The Feel Good Project, Nottingham

The Feel Good project is a modern extension of a house located on the edge of a nature reserve, which not only resulted in an outstanding design but also had a positive effect on the surrounding community.

The Brief

The property is set within an area of outstanding beauty. However, the owner felt he was unable to enjoy the views or access the garden easily due to its outdated design.

Working collaboratively, we designed a modern extension with floor to ceiling glazing, which would allow the family to pass effortlessly between the outdoor and indoor spaces. A sequence of terraces and roof gardens further enables the homeowners to enjoy different external spaces and zones at different times of day.

With all projects we are mindful that dwellings need to fit in fluidly with the properties surrounding them. We analysed the nature and buildings of the surrounding area and sourced local stone to match the original stone walls exposed around the site.

What We Did 

We designed contemporary additions of glass, canopies and an uninterrupted steel framework to create connectivity between the new, yet historically styled, walls. We made careful use of contrasting light and shade, texture and materials.

The rear of the property was completely transformed: originally a rather tall, overbearing, flat building, it is now an elevation of prominence and elegance which is pleasing on both horizontal and vertical axes.

We gathered design styles and ideas from all over the world, delivering a scheme that is nonetheless cohesive and at ease with its dramatic surroundings. The gradually diminishing width of form makes the property less dominating on the skyline, and the design creates a sense of the building flowing down into the garden and into the nature reserve below.

As a result, the house is now intrinsically connected to the outside through its roof terraces, balconies and stepped access.

Challenges

Access to the site was difficult because the property sits at nine metres below street level, surrounded by steep slopes and trees. We had to carefully plot and plan vehicular access along the winding, steep, private road of the estate; accurate schematic drawings were prepared to ensure cranes could deliver the large items such as steel and glass that were needed for construction.

Prior to work commencing we carried out test-runs to ensure that raw materials could be safely delivered. For certain fragile items we created a platform to bridge the half-metre gap between the bottom of the delivery truck boom and the ground level.

We agreed terms with Nottingham City Council for access to the project from across the park; we also involved the local community early on, engaging with neighbours on deliveries and crane movements to keep their inconvenience to a minimum. We also ensured regular maintenance of the road and removal of waste to further minimise disruption.

In addition, the COVID-19 outbreak meant we had to create additional health and safety protocols to ensure the project could continue and that the people working on it would feel safe.

Working Sustainably

As a south-facing property with a significant amount of glazing, the previous home would regularly overheat. The owners of the Feel Good project assumed they needed to invest in air conditioning; however, we were able to effectively reduce the average temperature of the house by using solar shading and strategically placed windows to create a natural stack ventilation system.

Furthermore, the creation of a sequence of terraces and roof gardens means the homeowners can now enjoy the external spaces and zones at different times of day.

Externally, the project also involved sculpting the lower part of the garden adjacent to the nature reserve. 19 houses are situated next to the nature reserve, but unfortunately the poor access meant that the community found it difficult to enjoy the nature on its doorstep. By resculpting the area next to the property we were able to enhance access to the nature reserve for the local community and the wider public. The owner of the property is also implementing a wildlife plan to further enhance this aspect of the local environment.

Feel Good All Round

Our clients were delighted with their re-modelled and extended home; it has made a significant difference to their lives and the way that they use the house. The surrounding community has also been very positively affected by the build, which has in turn improved their well-being.

See more of our Feel Good project

30 November 2020

Essential questions to ask your architect before starting a project

When you’re bringing an architect on board for a building project, no matter how big or small, there are a few essential questions that you should ask them before committing.

Make sure to speak to a few different architects before deciding who to go with. By asking them all the same questions, you’ll be better able to directly compare them and decide who’s best for the job at hand.

Do you have experience with this type of project?

Finding out whether an architect has worked on a similar type of project before is extremely beneficial when choosing who to go with.

While one architect’s fees may be lower, they may be less experienced in the required area than others. In this instance, you might benefit from paying more for the specialist expertise.

You should also ask to see examples from the architect’s portfolio of similar projects, and for references that you can follow up on.

How do you charge?

Not all architects charge the same way. Make sure you know what to expect from your architect’s fee structure.

Find out exactly what is included in the basic services, what would incur additional costs, and how the architect would deal with any unexpected costs.

It’s also worth clarifying whether the budget includes VAT, as this can make a huge difference in the quote.

What is the proposed timeline?

It’s always worth knowing roughly how long a project will take, though there should always be some leeway for unexpected issues.

Again, this is a good way to find out more about your architect. If you speak to one architect who quotes a much longer or shorter timeframe, ask for details as to why they think it will take this long. From the size of the team working on the project to the architect’s current workload, there are many reasons why you might receive a different answer from different practices, and these could inform your final decision.

What will you require from the architect throughout the project?

Some architects are more hands-on than others, handling all aspects of admin and communication between contractors.

If you’re busy or simply happy to delegate the project admin, this is the perfect solution. However, if you’d like to be heavily involved in the process throughout, this type of architect might not be for you.

It’s also worth asking what input you will be required to make for design decisions, and when, so you can make yourself available.

Who will be working on the project team?

It’s often the case that when you first meet with an architect, they aren’t the person that will actually end up working on your project.

Find out exactly who you will be working with, including any third parties and contractors. Making sure that you like and trust the people on your team is extremely important, especially for long-term builds.

Work with James Brindley of Design Haus

I pride myself in being the sole point of contact for my clients, so they always know exactly who to talk to at any stage of the project. I’ll be there from day one right through to project completion, answering questions and providing solutions whenever you need them.

If you’d like to work with a conscientious, hands-on architect, get in touch with me today.

30 November 2020

Do I need an architect?

If you’re looking to make changes to your existing home, you may be wondering whether you need an architect.

While many people believe that architects are only necessary for large projects such as designing buildings from scratch, they’re extremely useful for smaller home improvements, too.

How do I know if I need an architect?

Strictly speaking, there’s no legal requirement to hire an architect for a project. However, an architect is able to create designs, optimise space, handle project admin, manage your budget and ensure that the final build meets all necessary regulations.

There are four main types of project that especially benefit from the input of an architect:

1. Ideas and big-picture thinking

If you’re not sure what you want, or you have ideas but don’t know how to implement them, working with an architect is invaluable.

Not only will an architect be able to give you some insight into how much your project should cost and how long it will take, they can provide practical, creative and unique solutions.

Tell your architect what you’re looking to achieve and they’ll give you options on how to do it. Whether that’s bringing more light into your home, creating more space or incorporating a particular material, an architect has the expertise to turn your vision into reality.

2. Extensions and conversions

As these are significant additions to your home, discussing an extension or conversion with an architect will help to ensure the best outcome.

Not only can an architect help you to design the new addition, they can advise where best to locate it to ensure the maximum amount of light or to provide the most natural flow from room to room.

In particular, if your addition offers challenges such as tight spaces, unusual shapes or changes in floor level, it’s best to bring an architect on board.

3. Changing layouts and removing walls

If you’re thinking about moving or removing interior walls to open up a space, or adding or moving doors and windows, you’ll want to work with an architect.

Changing the layout of your home isn’t as simple as knocking down walls and rebuilding them elsewhere; there are a lot of technical considerations to protect the structural integrity of the building.

As well as advising you which changes are safe and practical, an architect can help you to create a space that works. How doors and windows interact with a room, and how the space is utilised can make or break its function and enjoyability.

4. Obtaining planning permission

Architects know which projects require planning permission, and how to apply for it. This can be a complicated and time-consuming process to do by yourself, so handing it over to an expert will allow you to relax.

Your architect can fill out all the paperwork and liaise with the council on your behalf, handling any necessary changes quickly and efficiently. This will help you to complete your build project on time and minimise the chance of rejection.

when to hire an architect

Here are some common household remodelling projects that would benefit from the input of an architect:

  • Extensions

  • Conservatories

  • Loft conversions

  • Barn conversions

  • Moving the location of a bathroom or kitchen

  • Changing the position of or knocking down interior walls

  • Installing a swimming pool

  • Large projects with multiple contractors

  • Projects that require planning permission

While smaller jobs might not require an architect, they are often well worth their fees to ensure a smooth-running project.

Do you need an architect?

If your project does require an architect, then get in touch to discuss your project and turn it from a dream into reality.

9 October 2020

Building the connection between your home and garden

Traditionally, the home and garden are seen as two separate spaces, each serving a distinct purpose. However, creating a connection between them can unify the internal and external areas of your home, leading to a cleaner overall design concept and a more enjoyable living experience.

Here are some ways to build the connection between your home and garden.

Maximise your windows

One of the most obvious ways to connect the areas both physically and visually is through the considered use of windows and doors. This also has the added benefit of bringing light into the home and creating a more spacious, airy feel.

Floor-to-ceiling glass and large picture windows are perfect for allowing an uninterrupted view of the outdoors, bringing it into the indoor space. Sliding or bi-fold glass doors allow you to literally open up your home into the garden, creating a shared space between the inside and outside.

If your home’s layout doesn’t lend itself to sliding doors, consider placing a window that  enables a view of the garden or showcases a distinctive piece of outdoor feature. For example, you might wish to direct the eye towards a tree at the end of the garden or a beautiful pond. Using outdoor lighting to highlight these features will create a sense of connection to the garden that you can still enjoy at night.

Bring the outdoors indoors

Adding greenery and natural materials to your interior will help to link the indoor and outdoor spaces on a conscious and subconscious level. In particular, focus on the areas around connective walkways or visual sight lines that lead into the garden.

Place some of the same plants and flowers inside, physically bringing the garden into your home and creating a multisensory bond between the two spaces. Make use of materials like wood, bamboo, terracotta and stone, and play with colours, textures and patterns to mimic natural elements like flowers, leaves and bark.

Create a physical connection as you cross the threshold between by using the same materials in both spaces. This could be natural stone, wooden decking, or colourful Mediterranean tiles. You could even incorporate garden ornaments, wind chimes or a water feature in your interior design to really emphasise the link to the outdoor space.

Create a room outdoors

Strengthen the connection between your home and garden by creating an outdoor space inspired by interior design. Instead of a traditional patio, opt for a kind of outdoor room, offering a blend of shelter and open space.

Combine a canopy or other cover with sliding doors that open out from the kitchen to create a zone that straddles the line of indoors and outdoors. Partial walling can provide protection from the elements and demarcate the area, while pendant lighting and a hardwearing floor will give it the feel of an indoor space.

This is a great option to increase the usable space in your home without the cost of a building extension.

Speak to an architect

Whether you’re looking to update your current space or you’re creating a bespoke architectural design for a new-build project, get in touch with me to discuss how you can make the most of your home and garden.

10 August 2020

Working with an architect to build a swimming pool

A swimming pool is one of the most popular items on the dream home checklist, with indoor pools being particularly popular with Brits—understandably!

If you’re considering adding a swimming pool to your home, partnering with an architect is a great way to ensure that your pool meets all your requirements, looks great and adds value to your property.

Swimming pool design and installation steps

Here’s a rough outline of the steps required to take your pool from a dream into a reality.

  • Concept

  • Design specification

  • Planning permission

  • Measurement

  • Excavation

  • Preparation of subsoil to settle the pool

  • Placing the pool structure

  • Installation of pumps, filters, heaters, lights, etc.

  • Tiling around the pool

Of course, each pool is different, so the process may differ slightly. Fortunately, an experienced architect knows exactly what needs to be done and when.

What to consider when designing your swimming pool

First of all, it’s important to figure out exactly what you want, and where you’re going to put it.

While you might already have an idea of what you’d like, hiring an architect to design your pool and oversee construction means that all necessary considerations will be taken into account from the very beginning of the project.

Here are some key considerations when deciding on the final design of your pool.

Intended use

Before getting bogged down in the details, you first need to consider the intended use of the pool. This will help to determine its size, shape, location, material and any additional features.

If you’re just looking for somewhere to take a quick dip or relax, you probably don’t need a full-size swimming pool. A plunge pool or even a hot tub may suit your needs.

In contrast, if you plan to use your pool for swimming and exercise, you should consider a larger pool or, where space is tight, a smaller pool with a water jet that allows you to swim in place against a current.

Indoor or outdoor

Your choice of an indoor or outdoor pool might be predetermined by the space you have available, the weather, or the landscape of your property. Whichever you choose, a south-facing pool is the best option to make the most of the sunshine.

Outdoor pools offer a wonderful place to relax and cool down in the summer but they can  require a lot of cleaning and maintenance. Indoor pools are much more versatile, as they can be used in any weather, but they have higher construction and running costs.

Planning permission

It’s highly likely that you will require planning permission for your pool, and these restrictions may determine the location and size of your pool.

It’s essential that you get the correct permissions before commencing construction, otherwise you could face a hefty fine. As the project lead, this is something that your architect will take care of for you, so you don’t need to worry about it.

Pool construction

Pools can be made from a variety of materials, each with their own benefits in terms of durability, aesthetics and price.

Tiled or ceramic pools are very durable and look great, but they can be costly. Block and liner pools are a cheaper alternative but they pose a puncture risk, while concrete pools are quick and easy to manufacture but require a lot of maintenance.

Whether you choose a sloped or flat-bottomed pool may also affect the choice of construction material, as they require different installation techniques.

See your pool design in virtual reality

If you choose to work with Design Haus on your swimming pool construction project, you will be able to see exactly what your pool will look like in situ using state-of-the-art virtual reality.

You can walk around with the environment to see how different materials and lighting solutions affect the final look and feel. I can even show you how your pool will look at different times of day and in changing weather conditions, so you can experience everything except the feel of the water on your skin.

To find out more about how I can support your swimming pool construction project, get in touch and I’ll be happy to discuss your ideas.

17 June 2020

4 quick ways to improve your home without needing an architect

My clients are often keen to increase their usable space and bring more natural light into their homes.

One of the most popular requests for this purpose is adding an extension. However, this might be a costly and disruptive option that doesn’t ultimately meet your goals. With any extension, you’re almost always going to reduce the amount of natural light entering the property by increasing the distance the light has to travel.

Before contacting an architect, take a look at some of these quick ways that you can create an amazing space within your home’s existing footprint.

1. Add and expand windows

Adding new windows or expanding the size of your existing windows invites more light into your home and makes the space feel bigger.

Take a look around your house. Are there enough windows? Could they be bigger? Do they let in enough light? Are there any rooms or spaces that always feel dark and unwelcoming?

French doors and sliding doors are a great option, allowing you to easily open up a kitchen, living room or dining room to your outside space. Bifold windows can be peeled back for beautiful views into the garden and a light, airy feel, and large picture windows or casement windows with no inner frames will bring in the maximum amount of light per square foot.

If there’s no scope to increase the size or number of windows in your home, you can make a huge impact by changing your existing windows. Swapping uPVC frames for slim aluminium frames can make windows appear much larger, letting in more light and creating a more spacious atmosphere.

2. Rethink your furniture

When people crave more space in their homes, it’s often the case that they’ve simply overfilled the space they’ve got.

Reconsider your furniture, especially large pieces, a. Do you need multiple sofas? How often do you use your dining room table? Are your stand-alone wardrobes an efficient use of space?

Opting for a single sofa, folding tables and chairs that can be easily stored, and built-in wardrobes can release loads of room in your home, allowing for more efficient use of the space.

3. Open up the box room

If you have a small box room, consider removing the partition wall and opening it up onto the landing. This will transform your landing from a dingy corridor into a wider, brighter space.

Whether you use this new area as an open office or a reading nook with a chair and a bookcase, removing the wall is a great way to bring life into a seldom-used room. If you’re concerned about resale value, you can always put the wall back in before you sell, as adding a partition wall isn’t a big job.

4. Make your rooms flow

Taking out the wall between the living room and dining room is a popular way to create more space, but this means that you lose all the benefits of having separate rooms.

Something much cheaper and easier to try is to replace single doors with double doors. This allows you to flow easily from one room to another but also retains the option to create individual spaces for privacy and relaxation.

Another trick to make small homes feel larger and more connected is to continue the same flooring throughout different rooms. For example, using the same flooring in your hallway, kitchen and dining room will add continuity and promote better flow throughout the house.

Expert architectural advice

If these tricks don’t work for you and you’d like to make some larger architectural improvements to your home, get in touch and I’ll be happy to discuss your project.

19 April 2020

Virtual reality really can help you to make your home perfect

If you’ve caught the recent BBC Two series Your Home Made Perfect, you’ll have seen architects using virtual reality and visual effects to show people first-hand how architectural changes can improve their existing homes before committing to any construction.

The idea of an architect using virtual reality might sound like something from Tomorrow’s World (If, like me, you’re old enough to remember that show!), but it’s actually a very real tool that architects are already using. In fact, the tech that they use on Your Home Made Perfect is a little simplistic compared to what I use here at Design Haus.

How do architects use virtual reality?

When trying to add space or build character in an existing building or creating entirely new homes, it can be hard for my clients to visualise how a familiar space can be transformed to produce the outcome that they’re looking for.

Instead of just giving them 2D or 3D architectural drawings, which people who aren’t used to them often struggle to visualise, I use VR. This makes it much easier for someone to completely understand the proposed design with no prior architectural knowledge.

By creating a complete virtual scene of the finished building in its existing environment, I give my clients the opportunity to walk around and see exactly how it will look from the inside and the exterior. They can then specify changes before committing to a design or budget, leading to better communication throughout the project, and a more satisfactory experience for everyone.

I also like to show the effects of various materials, lighting solutions and even weather to provide a truly realistic picture of the final outcome and how different conditions alter the atmosphere.

Can you hire a VR architect for a domestic project?

If watching Your Home Made Perfect has got you wondering whether you can hire an architect that uses VR for your own project, the answer is yes!

Many larger practices use VR for big, multi-million-pound projects, but more and more firms have begun to adopt it for smaller clients. As the technology has developed, it’s become cheaper and easier to implement, so virtual reality is no longer out of reach for domestic architectural clients.

Over the next couple of years, you can expect to see a rise in the number of practices offering this service, especially due to the attention and interest generated through shows such as Your Home Made Perfect.

VR architectural design from Design Haus

I am one of the first to offer virtual reality to all of my clients. It has become a standard and essential part of the design process for each and every one of my projects and I have refined this over time to ensure a high-quality service.

I know how important it is for you to feel in control of the project’s outcome, and giving you the best possible understanding of the proposal ensures that you are able to be involved from start to finish.

Read more about my virtual reality architectural design service, or get in touch with me to chat about your project. You can even pop into the studio to try out VR for yourself!

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Design Haus Architecture
2A Fleeman Grove
West Bridgford
Nottingham

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