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Tea With an Architect Exeter

27 Jun 2013 / in News

TEA WITH AN ARCHITECT is a series of events around the country where you are invited to come and have a chat and a cup of tea with architects in your area.  Last night Kirsty Curnow Bayley opened the first Tea With an Architect event in Exeter  at the Magdalen Chapter Hotel, which was attended by founder and TV Apprentice star architect, Gabrielle Omar.  During the event money was raised for local disaster relief charity Shelterbox.

Whether you’re thinking about building something from scratch, trying to decide whether that house you’ve seen at the estate agent could realise its potential, or just thinking about extending your own home, one of our Tea with an Architect sessions are a great opportunity for you to bring in your ideas, designs and questions and benefit from a free consultation.  Further events will be taking place in Exeter later in the year.

Architects in Residence at The Maynard School Exeter

27 Jun 2013 / in News

Over the past year Kirsty Curnow Bayley has been working closely with architect Nick Gilbert Scott at The Maynard Girls School in Exeter as Architect in Residence.  The project involved a number of workshops with the year 8 students, where the girls tackled issues such as site planning, scale and sustainability as well as having fun drawing and making models.

The project culminated with a presentation of the girl’s ideas for a new Performing Arts Centre on their site in St Leonards, Exeter.  The girls showed an amazing level of thought and creativity during the project, choosing their own site and making an analysis of the factors that would influence the design.  It is hoped that some of the ideas will be taken forward in the future for a new building for the school.  Living Space are looking forward to working further with the school later this year.

Listed House Extension

06 Feb 2013 / in Uncategorized

As we prepare our exhibition stand for the Listed Property Show we can show here the first pictures of a recently completed Listed House refurbishment and modern extension to a thatched cottage.

Living Space Architects secured planning and listed building consent for this integrated light and modern extension. The form of the new building is a crescent shape which follows the afternoon sun and is positioned to enjoy far views from inside or sitting on the new terrace.

The interior of the new rooms are bright, modern and open plan, which provides a welcome relief from the low ceilings and darker interiors of the original house.

Electric Car for Living Space Architects

23 Jan 2013 / 0 Comments / in Uncategorized

electric carAfter deciding we should be practicing what we preach we now have a new electric company car.

We decided to purchase a Nissan Leaf which has a range of around 100 miles, but this does depend on how many hills you drive up. Thankfully the regenerative breaking helps restore the range on the way back down!

Office to become new homes

27 Sep 2012 / 0 Comments / in Uncategorized
Empty offices above shops could soon be converted into flats if proposed changes from the government come into force next month.
Currently planning permission is required for material changes of use of land or a building even if no building work is required. Converting an office above a shop to a residential use would therefore usually require planning permission but from October 1st this could all change.

After an announcement made by the government Permitted development rights look likely to be extended to include the conversion of parts of certain offices and shops to two residential flats.  There will still be exceptions as local authorities can remove permitted development rights where they think they may cause a problem – for example in conservation areas.

Under the 1995 Order, local authorities can remove permitted development rights in geographic areas where they think these new rights might cause a problem. They can do so by making an Article 4 direction, the effect of which is to a require a planning application which in other locations would not be necessary. Article 4 directions are commonly found in conservation areas.

Announcing the proposed changes Mr Pickles said:

“These are common sense planning reforms that will deliver more affordable homes in areas where there are good transport links whilst ensuring better use of existing developed land. Cutting this red tape should be a shot in the arm for the high street increasing footfall and providing a boost to regeneration.”

We look forward to finding out if the new permitted development rights will be as revolutionary as Mr Pickles hopes when they are brought into force in October.

Grand Designs Live Birmingham

18 Sep 2012 / 0 Comments / in Uncategorized

We’ve got a stand at the Grand Designs Live Exhibition at the NEC in Birmingham from the 12th -14th of October. At the show Living Space Directors, architects Kirsty Curnow Bayley and Stuart Bayley, will be on hand to talk to you about your project and give design and technical advice.

Whether your unsure about planning law, or want some tips about making sure your build comes in on budget, come along and see us for a chat.

You can find out more about the show by following this link to the website

Based on the Channel 4 TV show and presented by design guru Kevin McCloud, the event will be packed with over 500 exhibitors, across 6 different sections! Covering interiors, garden, home improvement, self build, renovations, technology and shopping.

Come along and get all the information and inspiration you nedd for your project in one place.


All in a name – Employing an architectural designer to work on your project may not be what you expect

10 Sep 2012 / 0 Comments / in News

Undertaking a building project, whatever its scale, can be a daunting experience. As the chair of the Exeter branch of the Royal Institute of British Architects I am often involved in dinner party discussions where I hear the story of someone’s bad experience with an architect. “But were they really an architect?” I ask; “I’m not sure they reply – I think so but I’m not totally sure”.

I met someone who had employed a designer they assumed was an architect to design their loft extension. When it was almost finished they went up to take a look and realised there wasn’t enough space for the double bed because the ceiling was sloping too much. Their designer hadn’t drawn plans showing furniture in the rooms, so they weren’t aware of the problem until it was too late. Another friend used a designer who again they thought was an architect to design and run their renovation project on site with his recommended builder. There was no contract and the project seemed to go on forever, the bills started increasing and without an agreed contract sum they felt that they didn’t have much choice but to continue paying until the project was finished.

The fact of the matter is that to call yourself an ‘architectural designer’ you don’t need any qualifications or experience, whereas the title ‘architect’ is protected by law and can only be used by people registered with the Architects Registration board (ARB) having gone through the relevant training. Unfortunately there is nothing to stop anyone setting themselves up as an ‘architectural designer’ with little or no experience. No wonder there is often confusion when it comes to choosing someone to work with you on your building project.

That said you don’t always need an architect to draw up a set of simple planning drawings and there are also a lot of good architectural technicians that will give you value for money (although perhaps not the design flair), but again make sure they are registered with the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technicians (CIAT) to ensure you are getting the professional service you should expect.

Chartered architects are also members of the RIBA in addition to the ARB, which gives you additional piece of mind that they are adhering to a strict code of conduct and keeping up to date with the latest legislation and technical innovations.

To help you make the right decision about which professional to choose to design your building project and make sure you get value for money, we’ve set out the top questions to ask when you need to employ a design professional to help you with your project:

Things to ask your Architect or Designer:

Are you registered with the ARB, RIBA or CIAT?

Do you have Professional Indemnity Insurance (PI)?
All RIBA and CIAT registered professionals must have this in place and it means that if something does go wrong you have piece of mind. Some architectural designers may not hold this insurance, which means you will have to foot the bill for any mistakes they make even if it isn’t your builders fault.

Can I speak to some of your previous clients?
A good architect will have a long list of happy clients and they will be only too pleased to pass you their details so that you can have a chat about their experience.

What do you specialise in?
If a firm mostly designs schools or office buildings they may not be the right practice for your new house or extension (or it may get passed to the office junior). The best practices for residential projects are those that have a good track record of this type of project, and these are often the smaller practices.

Lastly don’t forget that you need to get on with your architect; everyone is different and you could be working with them for some time, so you need to make sure you click. Your architect should be able to explain things to you in a way that you understand and feel comfortable with. We don’t all wear black polar necks and wear silly glasses (well only some of us) and often a more sensitive approach can be helpful at the early stages of a project when you are trying to work out your brief.

To give you added reassurance make sure you use an RIBA chartered architect and you will be employing someone who has undertaken 7 years of training – no other building professional is trained to such a level of expertise.

If you need help choosing an architect you can contact the RIBA client services team who will match you with 3-4 local architects who specialise in the type of work you want to do, no matter how small your project.

For further information call the RIBA on 020 7307 3700
Or visit them at

Kirsty Curnow Bayley is the chair of the Exeter Branch of the RIBA and is a Director of Living Space Architects in Southernhay.

Living Space Architects were set up 8 years ago specialising in residential and domestic projects and can be contacted on 01392 267 213 or at

Self Build & Design Show Exeter

09 Sep 2012 / 0 Comments / in Uncategorized

We have enjoyed meeting new clients this weekend at the Self Build & Design Show at Westpoint in Exeter.

Visitors have been keen to discuss the proposed revisions to planning legislation announced  this week and to find out if they will be  able to take advantage of this.  Government proposals include increasing permitted development rights to enable extensions of up to 6-8m.

We have also been giving a lot of advice about the potential for achieving planning permission on particular sites across Devon, Cornwall and Somerset.  A high number of clients are looking at building and extending properties on Dartmoor, an area where we have a lot of experience.

We are pleased that there have been an increased number of people visiting the stand this year, which hopefully is a reflection of an increase in activity within the residential construction sector.

With exciting developments such as the new John Lewis store opening next month, Exeter is clearly the place to be in the southwest.  Here at Living Space Architects are have enjoyed watching the city centre changing and developing  over the last few years and feel that the success of the Self Build show this weekend reflects the optimism felt by the local community.

We’re looking forward to visiting all the potential new clients we have gained from the show from Dartmoor to Ottery and helping them all to achieve their property dreams.

Women In Property Cornwall

24 May 2012 / 0 Comments / in Uncategorized


Kirsty spent a very ejnoyable morning at Pentillie Castle yesterday where she had a first attempt at Clay Pigeon shooting with the Devon and Cornwall branch of  Women in Property.

Will Self Build become more popular in Exeter and the Southwest?

Will Self Buid projects become more common in the South West?
10 May 2012 / 0 Comments / in Uncategorized

We were excited to hear that MPs on the Communities and Local Government Committee share a similar enthusiasm for self-build homes as housing minister Grant Shapps. In their report on ‘financing of new housing supply’, they call on the government to establish a fund to incentivise local authorities to support pilot ‘volume self-build’ schemes by allocating sites and taking a flexible approach to planning.

The committee says that it sees no reason why the first pilots could not be up and running in two years’ time and has asked the government to report back.

The MPs have been to see large-scale self-build in action in Almere in the Netherlands where the local authority played an enabling role and adopted a relaxed approach to regulating design and construction (building regulations were still enforced) that has produced innovative designs.

So impressed were the MPs that they suggest that a similar, high-profile scheme in England could help to kick-start a new enthusiasm for self-build over here. They also call on the government to work with mortgage lenders to overcome barriers to lending to self builders, identified as one of the main obstacles facing the bespoke housing sector.  With Self Builds in Devon a fairly common occurance we would like to see Exeter City Council back a Self Build Scheme here in the South West.

Last month Shapps hosted a workshop at No 10 Downing Street to highlight new support measures for self-builders, including the launch of the Self Build Portal|, and pledged to double the volume of self-build homes.

The government is already promoting its plans to release surplus public sector land specifically for self-build and has said it will establish a £30 million revolving fund for multi-unit self build projects, as called for by the National Self Build Association.

Having seen some of the Self Build Schemes in the Netherlands first hand we are excited at the prospect of similar schemes taking shape here in the UK, we believe the demand is high for people who would like to build there own home but don’t have the finances to buy a plot.  Indeed plots of land for self builders in Devon, Cornwall and Somerset are rare, and those with planning permission sell for very high prices.

With any luck we will start to see some progress within the next few years.