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.

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.

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.


Design Haus Architecture
5 Portland Road
West Bridgford 
Nottingham NG2 6DN




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