Building Regulation Updates

From 15th June 2022, new Building Regulations come into force in England which will help the built environment meet the net zero targets set by Government for 2050.

The changes are limited to Approved Document F (Ventilation) and L (Conservation of Fuel and Power), and also the creation of two new documents;

  • Approved Document O (Overheating)
  • Approved Document S (Infrastructure for the charging of electric vehicles).

The new regulations will have a transition period. If a building notice or full plan application has been submitted to a local authority prior to 15th June 2022, and the building work commences before the same date in 2023, the new regulations will not apply.

All applications beyond 15th June 2022 will be required to achieve the new standards.

Part F:

Requires the ventilation in existing buildings to be maintained or improved when energy efficiency work is carried out, and guidance is provided with all installations of mechanical extract ventilation.

Part L:

Improves the U value requirements for walls, windows, roof lights and doors to improve the thermal efficiency of domestic buildings and requires the SAP method of compliance for extensions to existing properties.

Part O:

Aims to reduce overheating in new residential buildings by minimising solar gain and removing excess heat from new developments. This will be achieved by considering cross-ventilation, orientation and the amount of glazing.

Large overhanging roofs to help prevent overheating

We have undertaken CPD to understand the technical changes of the Building Regulations and what it means for our practice and our clients.

First Steps to Self-build

How to Design & Build a new home

Many of us dream of designing and building our own home, but where should you start on your new build and what is the process you will go through?

Here at Living Space Architects, we have over 15 years experience of working with self-builders to help them create their own self-build homes.

In the following, we will give you top tips for success along with guidance on the steps you need to take along the way.

Most of the clients we work with at Living Space are looking to create a sustainable contemporary home often on a site in the beautiful countryside of the southwest. We work throughout the counties of Devon, Cornwall, Somerset, Gloucestershire, and Wiltshire and have had the pleasure of designing some amazing new build homes with our clients. 

The initial starting point is often a phone call or an email from a client that has seen our work online and likes our sustainable contemporary approach to new homes. Before they find us however our clients have usually been on a long journey looking for and finding their perfect plot.

Finding a Plot for your new build

You might be looking to buy a particular piece of land or perhaps you are looking at your own garden’s potential as a development opportunity. Whatever your starting point there is a lot to think about before you can decide if you have found the right site. 

One of the things we often do when analysing a site is to look at recent planning applications that have been made for other projects nearby. You can do this by searching for your local council’s website and looking up planning applications online. This will give you an idea of the potential local issues. 

Another issue to check for is if your site is within the settlement boundary of a town or village. Building a house in what planners term ‘the open countryside’ is enormously difficult (although not impossible if you have the time and money to spare). 

Example of a Class Q Barn Conversion to create a family home  in Devon.

If the site is within the settlement boundary it is much more likely to gain consent. Other approaches to consider are converting agricultural barns using the Class Q permitted development process, or knocking down an existing house to enable you to re-build your dream design.

You can find more details in our handy guide to assessing your plot.

The checklist can seem a bit daunting at first, but most plots will only have some of the restrictions listed – we also offer a plot assessment service if you would like us to go through that process for you.  By going through the checklist you will be aware of any potential issues from the start and be able to start your self-build with this in mind. No site is perfect but some sites have more difficult issues than others

Creating your Design Brief

Once you have your site your next step is to create a really good brief for your architect or designer. This should start with the types and sizes of spaces you would like to have in your house and your build budget. As well as this you should describe to your architect your priorities in terms of light and views, the things that drew you to the site, and how you like to live.

If there are projects you’ve seen that you love include the pictures and highlight what you like about them. It might be a material or a layout and the way the spaces link and flow.

brise soleil shading new house from over Looking naigboughs and the sun.jpg

Often clients don’t want to give their architects too much information at the start of a project as they are afraid it will curb the creative process.

We feel that the more information you can give us the better – ultimately this will be your home and it needs to work for the way you live and be somewhere you love to spend time in. If you want a kitchenette in your master bedroom let us know! Everyone is different and you probably have a really good reason for what you want to achieve.

Entrance hallway In class Q Barn Conversion in Devon

That said we will tell you if we think there is a better solution and often will suggest ideas that take you out of your comfort zone – that is all part of the design process.

You can get a template for creating your brief for your project below or complete our online enquiry form to get in touch with us:

Living_Space_Architects_breif_builder

Appointing an Architect

Armed with your site information and your brief you can start to approach architects to discuss your project. Obviously, we would love to be on your list! It is however a good idea to speak to several architects before making your final decision. Although the level of fees will be high on your list, you should make sure you consider these things before you sign on the dotted line.

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 from 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.

Chartered architects are also members of the RIBA in addition to the ARB, which gives you additional peace 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:

Things to ask your new build’s Architect or Designer:

  • Are you registered with the ARB, RIBA or CIAT?
  • Do you have Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII)?

All RIBA and CIAT registered professionals must have this in place and it means that if something does go wrong you have peace 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 builder’s 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 your details on 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.  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.

GET IN TOUCH

Request a meeting

 Southwest Home & Garden Show

On the 9th and 10th of April, we will be at the Southwest Home & Garden Show

The event will be held next weekend at Westpoint Arena, Exeter and we have 10 free tickets to give away.

If you would like one please email Studio@livingspacearchitects.com with the following:

We have a limited quantity of tickets although you can book a ticket below:

New Build Interview – Exeter Living

Building your own home?

We asked Stuart Bayley for his top tips…

What ‘homework’ should a person have already done before they approach an architecture firm like yours?

It is helpful to have created a scrapbook or Pinterest board of houses and projects that you like – including their materials.

What is a really important thing to think about before proceeding?

Consider the orientation of the house to the sunshine and views – ideally, combine the two together so the house can open up to the landscape whilst still benefitting from an ideal solar orientation for natural/passive design.

What are the main pitfalls? 
Rising material prices and construction costs are increasing the contingency that builders are having to apply to their tender / fixed prices – making the overall projects more expensive.


When it comes to design how much do you do and how much does the customer do? How does that relationship work?  
We like to create a few alternative layouts at an early stage for our clients which can then lead to a strong element of client-guided development and working together in developing a suitable design. Many of our clients are families and couples – rather than developers – so they engage us to help them create their unique dream house.


Any new trends we should be paying attention to? 
the increasing need to incorporate renewable technologies to heat our houses in the future and the need to create our own PV for electrical supply – often in conjunction with a large storage battery for the home.


Is there an increased demand at the moment for new builds/ extensions? How has Covid affected your company? 

land with planning permission and that is suitable for new houses in short supply – so consider barn conversions or replacement dwellings as a fall-back position for a new contemporary home.

The brief was to create an eco-friendly family home. The client’s vision was rather unusual though they wanted an upsidedown house. Stuart Bayley, co-director at living space architects, tells us how they did it…

As anyone who loves their property programs will know connecting with nature is currently a big thing for those designing and producing a new home, especially in these parts. few pull off the development which immerses itself so unequivocally in the surrounding landscape as this family home though.

Located in Dunsford, just outside of Exeter nestled into lush greenness the smooth curved roof is the first thing you notice it sets the tone for the property and conveys that this is a place of calm; a gentle space where there is something of a free flow between the inside and outside.

“The roof was originally concived to replicate the form of local dutch barns which sit around the lower edges of Dartmoor,” says Stuart Bayley, co-director at Living Space Architects, the local architecture firm who designed the house.”

“Our client is a big surfer and loved the idea of a natural wave form

The green roof sits on a highly insulated roof with a rubber membrane waterproof finish so the green roof is a significant visual improvement. The natural environment benefit for birds and insects form a green roof is significant and enjoyable.”

The house split level is a quirky design; all the bedrooms are on the ground floor, the living spaces on the first floor (hence being called an ‘upside-down’ house); and amazingly, all rooms in this property have access to the outside garden.

“As you enter the house, the light and staircase draw you up to the first floor living accommodation.” adds, Stuart.

“The open plan first floor configuration creates the sense of open space with no internal walls to disrupt the light across the space from all four sides of the building.”

Stuart tells us that his favorite space are the windows of the ground floor bedrooms as these are designed to avoid any potential overlooking off the neighboring land and house.

“They create a unique character to both the inside of the rooms as they draw your eye to a different view, whilst the north-facing elevation glazing is reduced to keep down the heat loss and an intriguing rear elevation is created.”

What are the other eco-friendly credentials of the property?

“The house is a timber framed, highly insulated and air-tight building which helps to reduce the overall heating requirements. the heating its self is provided by the air-sorce heat-pump which is an increasingly popular method of heating our homes.”

Read the full latest edition of Exeter living here.

Our Latest Eco-Homes

Planning Win: New House In Exminster

Image

We have received planning permission for this exciting new house design just outside Exeter.  A replacement dwelling, the home will be constructed using ICF insulated blocks to a high level of insulation and airtightness.  
The heating will be supplied via an air-source heat pump and use mechanical ventilation and heat recovery meaning it will reach near Passive energy standards.  The broken form was designed to respond to views, light, and the prevailing winds, with large overhands offering shade and reducing glare. 

On-Site: Modern English Farmhouse, 

This is a contemporary single-storey new house with local stone and timber external details. The house has a low profile and will sit comfortably within the site and agricultural surroundings. 

On-Site: New Family Farm House, Dunkeswell

The design of the proposed dwelling is a two-storey farmhouse with local flint stone details and a timber oak frame kitchen and sunroom. 

Planning Win: Listed House Extension in Exeter

We have received planning permission for a replacement extension to a Grade II listed detached townhouse, situated on a private road in St Leonards. The replacement extension features crittal doors and a section of glass flooring to allow natural lighting into the basement.

Our RIBA Work Stage Videos

We are in the process of creating videos to explain our Architectural Design stages from start to finish. Here are the first two:

Stage 1 – we complete a measured survey of the project and or site. The laser scanner produces a 360º image and laser scan data for each room, we then align the scans from each room with the last. When we are back in the office we use the point cloud data to draw a 3D model in Revit bim software, based on the existing plans elevation and site.

Stage 2 we illustrate the basic concept of the designs. We do this by creating a series of sketch designs or design options for you, looking at how to make the most of your site, existing building, or interior. This stage is essential to help you make the most of your brief and budget. In the second half of stage 2, we draw up the sketch designs in Revit and provide 3D views to our clients. 

This phase also includes developing the designs based on client feedback.

Featured in Self Build And Design

We are pleased to see our ‘Origami’ Project featured in the September 2021 edition of Self Build & Design!

Restoring traditional farm buildings