Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Is your loft suitable for conversion?

Conversion Assessment: The features that will decide the suitability of the roof space for conversion are the available head height, the pitch and the type of structure, as well as any obstacles such as water tanks or chimney stacks. An inspection of the roof space will reveal its structure and physical dimensions.

Head Height:
Take a measurement from the bottom of the ridge timber to the top of the ceiling joist; the useable part of the roof should be greater than 2.2m.

Pitch Angle: The higher the pitch angle, the higher the central head height is likely to be, and if dormers are used or the roof is redesigned, then the floor area can be increased.

Type of Structure: Two main structures are used for roof construction — namely traditional framed type and truss section type. The traditional framed type is typically found in pre-1960s houses where the rafters and ceiling joists, together with supporting timbers, are cut to size on site and assembled.

This type of structure has more structural input, so is often the most suitable type for conversion. The space can be easily, and relatively inexpensively, opened up by strengthening the rafters and adding supports as specified by a structural engineer. Post 1960s, the most popular form of construction used factory-made truss roof sections. These utilise thinner – and therefore cheaper timbers – but have structural integrity by the addition of braced diagonal timbers.   It is advisable to seek advice from a structural specialist in coordination with your architectural designer in this instance.

Low head height?
If the initial roof space inspection reveals a head height of less than 2.2m, there are two available – but costly – solutions that will require professional input.

Solution 1: Raise the Roof: Involves removing part or whole of the existing roof, and rebuilding to give the required height and structure. This is structurally feasible, but often costly. If the whole roof area needs removing, a covered scaffold structure, to protect the house from the weather during the works, would also be required.
Solution 2: Lower the Ceiling in the Room Below: The ceiling height in some rooms in older properties may be 3m or more, so if the roof space height is limited there is the option of lowering the ceilings below, providing it still allows at least 2.4m. This will require all the existing ceilings in question to be removed.  This is a mess undertaking indeed. With this method a plate will need to be bolted to the wall using shield anchors or rawl bolts, for the new floor joists to hang from. There is also a need for a suitable tie between the roof structure and the dwarf wall formed, to prevent the roof spreading.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Modern meets Traditional

Albion House
Refurbishment + Extension, London, 2007
Douglas Fir, sedum roof
Project cost: £320,000

A Grade 2 listed building in Islington that was divided up into flats in the 1970’s has been restored and reinstated as a family home. The original house has been refurbished throughout with finishes that are light in both tone and texture and new units and insertions are respectful to the restored fabric and period details of the building.

The newly reinstated staircase occupies the same shaft of space as the original at the rear of the house. Glass balustrades sandwiched between steel plates draw a bold zigzag between the ground floor and the attic. Here it is met by three large roof lights that filter natural light down between stair treads and landing plates that sit back slightly from the walls and balustrades.

The resulting structure is reminiscent of an exploded diagram, with each element expressed as an object floating within a tightly defined vertical space. The levels feel more connected than ever they were, with movement between the four rooms of the first floor becoming a vertical as well as a horizontal experience.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Home Renovations and the Impact on Property Value

In a recently published survey by The Nationwide Building Society, the most common types of home improvement have been rated in terms of the percentage value they are likely to add to a property. The results are as follows: 


Type of Improvement
Added Value to property
Extension - large kitchen / family room into garden area
Extension - adding floor space
Extension - extra bedroom by adding floor space (2 bed to 3 bed)
Extension - extra bedroom by adding floor space (3 bed to 4 bed)
Alterations - extra bedroom without adding floor space
Loft Conversion - extra bedroom and en-suite
Adding an extra bathroom or en-suite
Off-street parking space
Garage - detached or integrated
Double glazing
Central heating value added

 Our Top Tips 

Making the most of your home
Choose units that will not date and where-ever possible fit granite worktops. The kitchen should be of a generous size and preferably overlooking the rear garden.
White sanitary fittings are a must. A 4 bed house should have 1 bathroom and 1 ensuite, a 5/6 bedroom house should have 1 bathroom and 2/3 ensuites.
A downstairs toilet can be located almost anywhere. An external window and separate lobby are now not required. A downstairs WC is on most home-buyers wish-list. 
Reception Rooms
Preferably a house of over 4 beds should have at least two separate reception rooms. One of the reception rooms shoud have an outlook to the rear garden. 
An aspect often overlooked. The layout and circulation of a house should flow. Increase circulation space when adding extra rooms and avoid through-rooms. 

 If you are considering a major improvement to your home please contact Design Drawn Ltd for a Free and No-Obligation consultation.  www.designdrawn.com

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Building Regulations for Homeowner Extensions

Many homeowners who are interested in getting more information about extension projects can find the Building Regulations for extensions a little complicated. If you are considering building your own extension and are finding the building regulations difficult to get your head around, then read on for some of our most frequently asked questions about extensions.

What are Building Regulations?
Building Regulations are legislation detailing the methods and requirements for the construction of buildings. These regulations are primarily concerned with the safety of a building’s structure and its resistance to fire. 

As they have evolved over the centuries, Building Regulations have focused upon a wider range of issues including the most recent requirements as regards to energy efficiency and ensuring that buildings are more environmentally friendly. By complying with building regulations when building extensions, you are ensuring that you will end up with a building which is safe to work and live in.   

When do Building Regulations apply?
Building Regulations apply to most new building works and extensions and any other structural work which may be carried out on a building. Building Regulations will apply in a range of differing situations.
You should always investigate which regulations apply if you are in the following situations:
  • building a new building
  • building an extension on an existing building
  • altering or changing an existing building
  • providing fittings
  • underpinning foundations

When are building works exempt from Building Regulations? 

How do I apply for Building Regulation approval?

If you are interested in building an extension then you will first need to make sure that you have Planning Permission and have acquired Building Regulations approval.  You can either do this through Full Plans Submission or Building Notice. At Design Drawn Ltd we would be pleased to provide all of the design, drawing and local authority services required to bring your dreams HOME to reality.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Featured Project: Shandon

This is the first in a series of posts which will highlight projects that we think can serve as inspiration to the homeowner considering an extension. 
Location: London
Completed: 2003
Cost: £137,000
Architect: studio octopi
This is a beautiful modern kitchen/dining extension which reminds us of some of the great minimalist designs of John Pawson.  It successfully blurs the boundary between the ground floor and the garden of this traditional terraced house. The interior and exterior are treated as a continuous space, a single room formed in plan by three equal zones that balance and unify the ground floor. In order to achieve this the division between the house and the garden is made indistinct by a minimally framed sliding door that allows natural light to stream back deep inside the building. Beneath it the sandstone kitchen floor extends seamlessly outwards to form a terrace between the rear elevation and the timber deck at the end of the garden.

What sets us in mind of Pawson is the clever use of the kitchen units and countertop. They form a block that stretches out through the rear elevation, the exposed section of storage echoing the proportions of the kitchen island. These dimensions are repeated once more, as a negative in the void of the roof-light, positioned in parallel with the kitchen island to allow light to fall in on the internal dining area.  This is simply beautiful.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Permitted Development Rights – You may already have Planning Permission!

In the UK, you can make certain types of minor changes to your house without needing to apply for planning permission. These are called "permitted development rights". They derive from a general planning permission granted not by the local authority but by Parliament. These rules governing the size of any additions you can make to your property without going through Planning Process were modified significantly in 2008 making generating the additional space you desire far simpler.


• Permitted Development Rights are not subjective.
• You either have them or you don't.
• You can either add space or you can't
• Neighbours do not have the right to object
• Planners cannot influence your project

With a little bit of expert advice you may discover that you already have the ability to move forward with that Loft Conversion, Garden Office or Extension project without enduring the cost, time and hassle of going through the full Householder Planning Process. Many projects qualify for such permitted development rights, enabling the homeowner to avoid the conventional planning procedures. They are completely legal; do not require any consultation with your neighbours or local planners. However you must obtain a Certificate of Lawful Development by the Council.
Are there any Restrictions to Permitted Development?
In certain cases there are restrictions on properties Permitted Development Rights, for example with listed properties or homes situated within Designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. If you are a homeowner in the Southeast of England and are considering a home project please contact us for a no obligation consultation. We can explore your Permitted Development Rights, and of course, if planning permission is needed, we are experts at getting it for you. Leave all the paperwork to us and we will do our utmost to get you permission as swiftly as possible. . 
For more information please visit our website:Design Drawn Ltd

Rear Infill Extensions

Many older terraced houses (row houses) were designed in an “L” shape, often mirrored with the adjacent property. The shape invites daylight into central living space. Rear infill extensions enclose this space and often take on corresponding “L” shape. A clear example of this is shown in the image included in the introductory post to this blog, “And so it begins”. It is important to consider the implications of infill in the design. The loss of daylight could destroy the quality of the internal spaces in the new deep footprint. 

Note the roof lights in the previously mentioned image? In this case these are designed to maintain a good level of natural light. There can sometimes be planning difficulty with these sorts of developments particularly if they risk restricting daylight to a neighbouring property. If the existing party wall is already high enough, this should be easily overcome. One distinct advantage to this type of extension is often the ease at which the new construction can be tied back into the existing building. This image is good example of a simple glass infill extension which makes the most of the existing party wall and creates a dynamic new interior with views onto the rear courtyard garden.

And so it begins…

This blog will be a place for inspiration and advice for the homeowner who would rather make the most of the home they currently own rather than move to a larger one.  It’s also a place for those who are looking to buy a new property to renovate into that dream home. If you have any ideas for topics please send a message.

I happen to be based on the Southeast coast of England but much of the information (aside from local regulations) should be useful to enthusiasts regardless of geography.  The main idea is to bring practical information as well as inspired design ideas to everyone – even if you can’t afford to splash out on architects’ fees!