5 September 2022

Do you need planning permission for a swimming pool?

A swimming pool can be a wonderful addition to any home, adding relaxation and luxury while increasing the value of your property. But do you need planning permission to build a residential swimming pool?

Whether or not you need planning permission for your swimming pool will factor into the cost, design and lead time of the project, so it’s important to find this out before you get started on the process. This will help you to make sure that the pool of your dreams is viable, and highlight any issues that you may need to avoid.

In this article, we’ll take a look at a few different types of private swimming pools and the planning application requirements of each, giving you a better idea of what to expect for your own project.

Do indoor swimming pools need planning permission?

Planning permission for indoor pools is usually not necessary in the UK. However, as with all construction projects, there’s no black-and-white answer, and each case must be reviewed individually.

Here are some different types of indoor swimming pools and their planning permission requirements.

Pools in external buildings

Swimming pools housed in an external building, often known as a pool hall, are classed as an outbuilding. This is a Class E permitted development for householders and usually doesn’t require planning permission as long as the building adheres to certain restrictions.

Some of these building restrictions include:

  • The building must be a single storey
  • The building must not include verandas, balconies or raised platforms
  • The building must not cover more than half the area of land around your house

You can read the full guidance on the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government website.

Subterranean pools

Building an underground pool is a great way to expand and improve your home if you don’t have much available space. While some basement extension projects are classed as permitted developments, others are not. Your local authority will have the final say on planning permission for subterranean pools, so it’s best to check with them directly.

Pools within listed buildings

As with any major development within a listed building, any type of indoor pool in a listed building will require planning permission before the project can commence. This includes basement pools, which, although they may not be visible from outside, could still drastically change the design, structure and purpose of the building.

Do outdoor swimming pools need planning permission?

For the most part, properties in the UK don’t require planning permission for an outdoor swimming pool, as this is classed as a garden project and therefore a permitted development. An outdoor pool must be uncovered and not surrounded by heated air, which would otherwise classify them as an indoor pool.

Let’s look at a couple of different types of outside swimming pools and their planning permission requirements.

Pools on the site of a listed building

You will almost certainly need planning permission to build an outdoor pool on the site of a listed building. However, this doesn’t mean that you won’t be allowed to build one at all; you may simply have to change the design, size or location of the pool to meet your local authority’s requirements.

Pools within conservation areas

If your property lies within one of the following, there’s a good chance that you will require planning permission to build an outdoor swimming pool:

  • Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)
  • Conservation area
  • Designated land
  • Green belt land
  • National park

Natural swimming pools

Natural swimming pools are a great option for those looking to embrace the biodiversity of their garden and avoid the maintenance and chemicals associated with standard swimming pools. As with outdoor pools, planning permission is usually not required, unless your property lies within a conservation area. However, it may be easier to get permission for a natural swimming pool than a traditional pool in an AONB, as it will blend in better with the surroundings.

Need help getting planning permission for your swimming pool?

If you’re not sure whether your residential swimming pool project requires planning permission, take a look at the Planning Portal for the national online planning application process.

However, your best option is to partner with an experienced architect who understands the ins and outs of planning permission requirements, and is able to handle the application on your behalf. At Design Haus Architecture, we’ll support you throughout every step of the design and planning process, including working with your local authority to get your plans approved.

We are highly experienced in large residential projects and were recently nominated for Young Architect of the Year at the Building Design Architect of the Year Awards 2022. Take a look at our Newton House project as an example of one of our contemporary designs. We designed this new dwelling in rural Derbyshire to work around the natural path of the sun, with a bespoke swimming pool at the heart of the design.

Alongside luxury swimming pools, we can also assist with designing private spas and gyms, as well as any other bespoke architectural projects. If you’d like to discuss how Design Haus can support the design, planning permission and build of your new swimming pool, we’d love to hear from you. Please get in touch online, email studio@designhausarchitecture.co.uk, or call 0115 678 8917.

20 May 2021

How much does an architect cost?

If you’re looking to extend or renovate an existing building, or you’re planning a complete new-build project, you’ll know how important it is to keep on top of your budget.

Whatever your project, you’ll be looking to add value to the property. Working with a qualified architect is a great way to ensure that the end result is structurally sound, functional and aesthetically pleasing. But how much does an architect cost?

What affects the cost of an architect?

It’s impossible to give a blanket answer to the question of cost, as there are many variables that must be taken into account. Of course, a simple domestic extension will cost less than a complex new-build, and a London-based architect is likely to charge more than one in the Midlands.

Considerations that will affect the architect’s quote include:

  • Architect’s experience and qualifications

  • Build size

  • Project complexity

  • Project value

  • Location

  • Costs of materials, equipment and labour

Architects have different levels of qualifications and experience. For example, not all practitioners will consider the interior design of the space, so working with an architect who is also well versed in interior design will cost more.

Remember as well that you may not need an architect for your project, so you could avoid the cost altogether.

What do an architect’s fees include?

When appointing an architect, you’re not just paying for a design service. Not all architects offer the same services, but the fees may include:

Measuring and surveying the property or land

  • Drawing up 2D and 3D designs

  • Design revisions

  • Preparing and submitting planning applications

  • Managing the build project

  • Liaising with third-party contractors

When discussing quotes with different architectural practices, keep in mind which services are essential and which would simply be a waste of budget. You can keep fees down by making sure you’re only paying for the services you need.

How do architects charge?

Fee structures will vary between practices, but architects will usually charge on a percentage basis.

In the UK, you can expect your architect’s fees to be around 5–10% of the overall project cost. If your total project cost is £75,000, you can expect to pay anywhere from £3,750 to £7,500 for your architect’s services.

Practices that offer a variety of services may use different pricing models for each of these services. For example, architects may charge by the hour for project management on top of their standard design service.

Speak to a few different architects and make sure you understand the individual costs of each service before committing. You might think that one practice is much cheaper than the others, only to learn that many of the services you require require an additional cost.

Speak to Design Haus

If you’re looking to appoint an architect for a build project, get in touch with Design Haus. We’ll be happy to discuss your exact requirements and provide a quote for our architect-led design and build service.

3 April 2021

What’s the difference between an architect and an architectural designer?

When you’re looking to hire professionals to support a building or extension, you might be unsure of what exactly each different person’s role is.

One of the most common causes of confusion is the differences between an architect, chartered architect, and architectural designer. While these roles sound similar, there are some important differences that you should be aware of before appointing anyone.

What is an architect?

An architect is a person who is able to plan, design and oversee the construction of buildings. As well as dealing with the building itself, they will also assess and consider the building’s impact on the surrounding area, the environment and other key factors.

However, the term “architect” is protected, and a person can only call themselves an architect if they are registered on the Architects Registration Board (ARB). While other professionals may provide the same services, they cannot legally call themselves an architect unless they are ARB registered.

ARB is the UK’s regulatory board for architects and ensures that all registered members have the necessary qualifications and uphold relevant legislation. They work to ensure good standards within the profession.

View Design Haus’ James Brindley on ARB’s register.

What is a chartered architect?

A chartered architect is someone who is registered on both the ARB and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). They are therefore legally allowed to use the title “architect”, as well as being able to use the term “chartered” and the RIBA suffix.

RIBA chartered membership is voluntary and is not a legal requirement. However, it shows an additional dedication to the profession, working to ensure high-quality, environmentally friendly designs and excellent customer service.

View Design Haus’ James Brindley on RIBA’s member directory.

What is an architectural designer?

“Architectural designer” is a vague and broad title that covers the full range of architectural disciplines. They are able to provide some or all of the same services as an architect, but they are not a Registered Architect.

Unlike “architect”, the term is not protected or regulated, so there is no particular qualification that a person is required to have before using the title “architectural designer”. However, they are likely to have some architectural qualifications and often work alongside Registered Architects on design projects.

How to decide who to appoint

There is no legal requirement to use the services of an architect when expanding, renovating or constructing a building. Who you choose to work with will depend on the scope of the project and its particular challenges.

An architect’s job to manage the project for you and liaise with third parties. This includes managing contractors and obtaining planning permission from local authorities.

Don’t pay for more than you require. For smaller, simpler projects, an architectural designer may be adequate. However, the more complex the build, the more beneficial a chartered architect will be. A practitioner who has previously worked on similar projects will be worth their weight in gold.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that governing bodies like ARB will investigate complaints against a member should you have a problem, so this gives you greater protection against cowboys.

James Brindley, chartered architect

Design Haus’ James Brindley is a fully qualified chartered architect registered with ARB and BIID, and fully accredited by RIBA.

Read more about different architectural qualifications or get in touch to discuss your project.

30 December 2020

Architectural accreditations explained: RIBA, ARB and BIID

No matter how big or small your project, it’s important to ensure that you hire an architect that is fully qualified and capable for the task at hand.

When you’re dealing with the budgets and complexities associated with building and construction, hiring an accredited architect will give you peace of mind.

Architectural accreditations can be tricky, as they are not necessarily a legal requirement. Here’s a quick guide to the most common architectural accreditations, so you can be sure that your architect is up to the job.

RIBA: Royal Institute of British Architects

Dating all the way back to 1837, the Royal Institute of British Architects is the UK's chartered body for architecture. It was founded to promote the advancement of architecture and maintain high-quality design and customer service.

Led by an elected president, the RIBA comprises a 60-member council, predominantly of chartered architects, who are responsible for monitoring members and the institution as a whole. There are more than 28,000 chartered members of the RIBA.

RIBA chartered membership is voluntary and is not a legal requirement to practise as an architect. However, registering allows an architect to use the term “chartered” and the RIBA suffix.

View James Brindley on RIBA’s member directory.

ARB: Architects Registration Board

The Architects Registration Board is the UK’s regulatory authority for architects. It was established by Parliament in 1997 to regulate architects to ensure good standards within the profession.

Although it is not essential to use an architect to design a building, the term “architect” is protected, and anyone who wishes to use it must be registered with the ARB to legally do so.

ARB ensures that all registered architects meet the required standards and have the necessary qualifications to practise, as well as upholding relevant legislation and investigating any complaints made against a member.

View James Brindley on ARB’s register.

BIID: British Institute of Interior Design

The British Institute of Interior Design is the only professional institute for interior designers in the UK.

While it’s not an essential requirement for architects, it’s a great addition to their CV. The rigorous entry requirements assess a member’s training, experience and professionalism, and BIID encourages members to continue their professional development throughout their career.

Working with a BIID-registered architect means that you’re getting a truly holistic approach to the overall design of your building. It also helps to reduce costs and simplify your project team, enabling your architect to take care of all aspects of interior design as well.

View James Brindley on BIID’s registry.

Work with a fully accredited architect

If you’re looking for a qualified architect that you can rely on, you’ll find it in Design Haus. I’m registered with ARB and BIID, and fully accredited by RIBA, so you know you’re in good hands when you put me in charge of your 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.

30 November 2020

How to appoint an architect

Building design and construction projects can be expensive and complicated. Unless your project is very simple, you will benefit from the expertise of an architect.

An architect’s job is to help you to navigate the design and build process from start to finish, ensuring that the final build is functional, safe, and meets all legal requirements. However, many people have never hired an architect before, so the process can seem a little daunting.

Take a look at our guide to appointing an architect.

Finding an architect

The most important part of appointing an architect is finding the right person for the job.

Research architects in your area to determine their level of experience and areas of expertise, and meet with them to discuss your project in more detail. Most architects will provide a free consultation to assess the job, but you should expect to pay for more detailed advice or information.

Personal recommendations can be a useful way to find a trustworthy architect, but it’s worth bearing in mind whether the two projects are comparable; just because an architect was right for your friend’s job, doesn’t mean that their expertise is suitable for your requirements.

Architect accreditations

Make sure the architect offers what you’re looking for, but don’t pay for more than you need. For a relatively straightforward domestic extension, it doesn’t make sense to pay a premium for an architect that is highly experienced in renovating historic buildings.

The term ‘architect’ is a protected term, and anyone in the UK who refers to themselves as such must be registered with the ARB. It’s also a good idea to look for a RIBA registered architect to ensure that your chosen practitioner offers the highest level of service.

Architect fees

It’s extremely difficult to benchmark how much architects charge, as there are a huge number of factors behind pricing considerations.

The fee will depend on the appointed architect, whether that’s a signature architect, lead architect or junior architect, the size, complexity and type of building required, the location of the project, the level of service required, and many other factors.

When choosing between architects, make sure that you are comparing like-for-like services. Some architects may offer a complete service, from measuring and drawing up designs through to liaising with all contractors on your behalf. This will naturally make their fees higher than an architect offering pure consultancy.

There are three standard ways that architects charge for projects:

  • Percentage of the total build cost

  • Lump sum fee

  • Hourly rate

It’s important to discuss these options with your architect to determine which works best for your project before proceeding with the appointment.

Forms of appointment

Once you and your architect agree to work together, you will need to draw up an appointment to agree the work to be undertaken. This means setting out in writing the scope of the services required, as well as the fees that will be charged.

There are several standard forms appointment available through bodies such as RIBA, ACA and the CIC for more straightforward projects. These options have the benefit of being cheaper and more convenient than bespoke agreements, while providing clarity and legal backing for both parties.

Where a bespoke agreement is used, you should be careful to ensure that all relevant points are covered to ensure protection of both parties, including  warranties, payment provisions, copyright, termination and disputes.

If an architect is required for a very minor commission where a full contract may be seen as too much, a letter of appointment may be used. This should cover the same issues as a full appointment contract, outlining the project scope, fees, terms and agreements between the two parties. This less formal method may also be used while a full contract is being drawn up where a client wishes to get the project started quickly.

Looking to appoint an architect?

If you have an architectural project in mind and you’re looking for support, simply get in touch to discuss your requirements. We offer a free consultation, during which we will discuss the scope of the build and address any questions or concerns that you may have.

9 October 2020

The benefits of appointing a sole practitioner over a large architectural agency

When it comes to a large, complex job like architectural design, it’s important to make sure that the person or practice that you’re hiring is experienced and reliable.

Some people believe that the larger a company is, the more trustworthy it is. While it’s easy to understand the reasoning behind this assumption, you shouldn’t discount sole practitioners simply because they are a single person and not a large organisation.

In fact, there are many benefits to appointing a sole practitioner such as Design Haus over a large architectural agency.

Build a strong working relationship

Large projects may be ongoing for a year or more, so it’s essential that you are able to build a strong working relationship with your architect. Appointing a sole practitioner makes it much easier to get an idea of how well suited an architect is to working with you.

In a large agency, you might meet with a charismatic designer who wows you with their passion and expertise, only to have the project passed on to a more junior person within the company. At Design Haus, you work directly with the senior designer throughout the entire process, from initial concepts through to the finishing touches on a completed build.

Like who you work with

An important consideration that often gets overlooked is ensuring that you are working with someone that you like who is passionate about your project.

Architectural projects can be stressful at the best of times, and when your architect is overseeing all aspects of the design and build process, it really helps if you actually like them as a person. Otherwise, six months into a year-long build, you might find yourself dreading every interaction with them.

Bespoke team for your project

One of the greatest benefits of hiring a sole practitioner is their ability to create a bespoke team based on your project’s requirements.

As there are no in-house structural engineers, technologists, surveyors or builders to fall back on, this means that each one is sourced specifically for the design at hand. This flexible approach gives you access to experts in their respective industries that may not have been accessible through a large organisation.

Single point of contact

Even the simplest of architectural projects requires the insights and skills of a range of different experts. Appointing a sole practitioner gives you a single point of contact throughout the entire project, so you never have to worry about figuring out who to call for a status update or to specify a design alteration.

By choosing an architect that you trust and who truly cares about your project, you can be sure that everything is well managed from start to finish without you having to lift a finger.

Design Haus Architecture

If you’re interested in the benefits of working with a sole practitioner rather than a large architectural agency, get in touch with me and I’ll be happy to discuss your project.

20 May 2019

Working with Small vs. Large Architecture Companies

Having an idea of what you’re looking for is a great place to start, but who do you ask to design it? Who can you trust to best interpret your vision and turn it into bricks and mortar, glass and stone? The big, well-established firm, or the one-man band who’ll be just as emotionally invested as you?

Read more


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