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Riverside Revival: A Family Dream Comes True in Starcross

Nestled along the picturesque banks of the River Exe lies Exeleigh Lodge, a hidden gem waiting to be rediscovered. What was once a charming but tired bungalow is about to undergo a remarkable transformation into a contemporary riverside haven for a young family. Join us on this captivating journey as we unveil the story behind this exciting first floor extension project that promises to breathe new life into Starcross.


Discovering Potential

Exeleigh Lodge captured the hearts of our clients with its idyllic location and breathtaking river views. Situated on the tranquil south coast of Devon, this sprawling property boasts a canopied garden and easy access to Exeter and the Torbay area. Despite its enchanting surroundings, the lodge required some TLC to fulfil its potential as a modern family home.


A Collaborative Vision

Enter Living Space Architects, entrusted with the task of retaining the lodge’s character while infusing it with contemporary flair. From the outset, collaboration was key as our clients shared their vision through Pinterest boards, paving the way for a truly bespoke design journey. Led by Ellen, our PassivHaus Designer and architect, and Kirsty, our conservation accredited architect, our team embarked on a creative exploration to marry tradition with innovation.


Navigating Challenges

The journey wasn’t without its hurdles, with the lodge’s proximity to listed building presenting a unique set of challenges. However, with expert guidance from a planning consultant, and input from ecologists and arboricultural surveyors, along with enthusiastic input from our clients, our proposals struck the perfect balance between preservation and progress.


Designing for Tomorrow

The culmination of our efforts is a sleek, pitched roof extension that seamlessly integrates with the existing structure. Featuring a spacious family room with panoramic estuary views, a cosy wood-burning stove, and eco-conscious elements such as solar shading, a PV array, and triple glazing, the design reflects our clients’ commitment to sustainability and comfort.


A Triumph in Planning

With bated breath, we awaited the outcome of our planning submission. To our delight, approval came swiftly and seamlessly. Thanks to our collaborative approach and meticulous attention to detail, Exeleigh Lodge’s transformation received the green light, paving the way for a bright future by the river.


Looking Ahead

As we eagerly prepare for the next chapter, our focus turns to bringing the design to life. Technical drawings are underway, signalling the start of construction this summer. Keep an eye out for our signboard as you wander along the riverside, and join us in celebrating the rebirth of Exeleigh Lodge – a testament to the power of vision, collaboration, and the unwavering dedication to creating home that capture the imagination and inspire generations to come.

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Designing your Dream Home: A Guide to Bespoke New Homes

Designing your dream home is an exciting journey, and bespoke architecture allows you to create a home that reflects your vision and lifestyle. Let’s delve into the process and explore the unique aspects of creating custom-designed homes in the South West of England.

1. The Bespoke Approach

Bespoke architecture is all about tailoring every detail to your own preferences. Here’s how it works:

  • Personalisation: Unlike cookie-cutter designs, bespoke homes are personalised. You have the freedom to choose layouts, materials, and finishes that match your taste and style.
  • Collaboration: By working closely with an architect you will have much more success in bringing your vision to life. An architect will listen to your needs, aspirations, and lifestyle requirements and help you work through the different stages of the process.
  • Unique Features: Bespoke homes often feature one-of-a-kind elements—whether it’s a stunning atrium, a hidden reading corner, or a custom-built kitchen island.

2. The South West : A Perfect Canvas

The southwest offers a picturesque backdrop for creating your dream home. Here are some key reasons why people love building here:

  • Stunning Landscapes: From rolling hills to rugged coastlines, the south west boasts diverse landscapes. Imagine waking up to panoramic views of the countryside or the sea.
  • Historic Towns and Villages: Places like Tavistock, Totnes and Chagford are steeped in history. Their charming architecture blends seamlessly with modern designs.
  • Coastal Living: Coastal towns like Salcombe, Dartmouth, and Topsham are popular for their relaxed lifestyle, fresh sea air, and proximity to beautiful beaches.
  • Rural Retreats: Escape to the tranquility of the countryside in areas like Devon and Somerset. Here, you can create a retreat surrounded by nature.

Remember, your dream home is an expression of your lifestyle, values, and aspirations. Whether it’s by the sea, nestled in the countryside, or in a historic town, the South-west offers endless possibilities for bespoke living. Happy designing! 🏡✨

For more information, visit Living Space Architects.

3. Living Space Architects: Crafting Your Vision

When it comes to bespoke new homes, Living Space Architects in Exeter, Devon1 are experts. Their RIBA-chartered team specialises in sustainable, high-quality designs. Whether you’re renovating an existing property or starting from scratch, they’ll guide you through the process.

Class Q Barn Conversion: My favourite Living Space Architects project

Without a doubt, my favourite Living Space Architects project is this Class Q barn conversion in Dartington. The transformation this shell of a building underwent is miraculous and there is no denying my feeling of complete awe and enchantment. From a cavernous barn to a striking and beautiful family home, it is hard to comprehend how much potential this timber frame truly had stored within it. It poses the question: how much unlocked potential exists elsewhere? With countless unsuspecting barns scattered across the country, it seems a shame not to grant more the same beautification.

But what is it specifically, that makes this particular barn conversion so special and the top contender for my favourite LSA project ever?

After overcoming the initial shock of “WOW! What a transformation,” a more in-depth inspection reveals just how well-crafted the use of space, light and natural materials are, combining to create a pervasive sense of calm and balance. I think the architects’ ability to capitalise on the existing features of the structure, such as the sloping roof, the open plan space and the large mass of light through the front of the property is one of the most successful aspects of the project. The large windows not only help the exterior retain its open, barn-like appearance but they dually enrich the interior space with a seamless connection between the outside and in, framing the beautiful view and providing a degree of light that most could only dream of.

I also think the separation of interior space is particularly clever. The main living space contains an open-plan kitchen, dining area and living room, which echoes the feel of a spacious large barn. However, I feel that the addition of a beautiful curved wall separating this space and an entrance hall/ walkway elevates the sophistication of the building by subtly reinforcing the fact that this is no longer a barn but a functional and stylish family home.  

If you own an agricultural building that you want to convert, the Class Q legislation may enable this without full planning permission. However, it is important to note that there are a few requirements that your build must meet. For example, the new house must retain the existing external dimensions; it cannot be larger. Nevertheless, as proven by this beautiful home, a barn conversion will allow you to create a space that is unique to your surroundings. For more information on Class Q legislation or enquiries about a barn conversion, feel free to email us at studio@livingspacearchitects.com.

Sophie Batten

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New Build Interview – Exeter Living

Building your own new build 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.

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Turning historical character into modern living

Written by Cassidy Perkin


Agricultural buildings hold an important place in the history of the UK and hold a special place in my heart. Being able to protect, and future-proof these buildings is something that that I am passionate about. An incredible example of this can be found in a barn beautifully converted in Chagford. This barn shows modern, contemporary renovations and updates while still skilfully incorporating the historical features that give the barn character and historical qualities. I love how a balance and blend of modern living and functionality can be achieved be breathing new life into older barns that no longer have an agricultural use.

The barn is constructed of a gorgeous pale stone used locally on many other properties, and this stonework has been retained and restored as a clear attractive design feature, with exposure inside, and outside the building. This natural stone finish paired with the natural slate roofing pays homage to the heritage of the previously agricultural barn. Mixed sympathetically into the roofing are conservation rooflights that allow natural light into the first floor with modern fittings that still consider the setting and relationship with the local history. I love how the existing fabric of the barn is used as a strong feature rather than a constraint. These features combined set the barn as a harmonious aspect of the surrounding landscape and local area.

There are many reasons why people choose to convert barns and this project demonstrates many of these reasons through its location, character, attractive open plan living, and sustainability through avoiding making a completely new home. Seen in the below pictures, historical features can be skilfully weaved into the fabric of the building the conversion can become and provide eye-catching design features that leave clues into the buildings past, while clearly showing its future as a stylish family home.

If you own an agricultural building that you want to convert, the Class Q legislation may enable this without needing full planning permission. However, it is important to note that there are a few requirements that your build must meet. Nevertheless, as proven by this beautiful home, a barn conversion will allow you to create a space that is unique to your surroundings. For more information on Class Q legislation or enquiries about a barn conversion, feel free to email us at studio@livingspacearchitects.com.

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Amendments To the Class Q Permitted Development Right (May 2024)

The UK Government has introduced significant changes to the Class Q permitted development right, which facilitates the conversion of agricultural buildings into dwellings. These amendments will take effect from 21st May 2024. While the increase in the maximum allowable dwellings from five to ten has grabbed headlines, there are several other key points to consider. Let’s explore them:

1. Increased Allowance and Floorspace

  • The maximum number of dwellings that can be created within an agricultural unit has doubled, now allowing up to ten dwellings.
  • The maximum floorspace for new dwellings has been set at 1,000 sq.m.
  • However, individual dwellings cannot exceed 150 sq.m in size.

2. New Build Single-Storey Rear Extensions

  • You can now add a single-storey rear extension (up to 4m) to your converted barn, provided it is on an existing hardstanding.
  • This extension can enhance the functionality and living space of your dwelling.

3. Qualification Criteria for Barns

  • To take advantage of the permitted development right, your barn must meet specific criteria:
    • Land Use History: The site must have been part of an established agricultural unit on or before 24th July 2023. Even if the barn is no longer in agricultural use, it may still qualify if it remains part of an established agricultural unit.
    • Access and Space Standards: Barns must have suitable access to a public highway and comply with nationally prescribed minimum space standards.
    • Protected Areas: Certain barns, such as those in listed buildings, Conservation Areas, or National Landscapes (formerly AONBs), cannot benefit from Class Q.
    • Seek professional advice to determine if your barn qualifies under the new criteria.

4. Transitional Arrangements

  • If you’re considering a larger dwelling (exceeding 150 sq.m), there’s good news! The amended legislation provides a ‘window of opportunity’ until 21st May 2025 for those wishing to apply under the previous Class Q criteria.
  • This allows flexibility for specific circumstances.

In Summary

While the headlines focus on increased dwelling allowances, it’s essential to understand the nuances of the new legislation. If you’re planning a barn conversion, seek professional advice to navigate the process effectively.

For bespoke advice related to the Class Q changes and their implications for your development projects, feel free to get in touch with us at Living Space Architects. We’re here to assist you! 🌟

Remember, each barn has its unique story waiting to be transformed into a beautiful home! 🏡✨

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Starting your PassivHaus project

Wow! The end of 2023 and beginning of 2024 has been busy for us here at Living Space Architects, and despite our best intentions, we could not keep up with the Blog Posts recording Ellen’s progress through the training for the PassivHaus Designer course.

2024 has bought excellent news for Ellen and the team at Living Space Architects, passing the exam with flying colours and confirming Ellen’s status as a fully qualified PassivHaus Designer!

What is PassivHaus?

What does this mean for our clients?

Ellen is now qualified to provide the expertise required to realise your PassivHaus aspirations. Whether you are looking to uplift your project’s eco status, or take it to the next level of comfort with a PassivHaus, we are here to help you.

So are you dreaming of a low energy, high performance, comfortable home with low heating bills? Get in contact to start your PassivHaus journey!

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PassivHaus with Living Space Architects – Week 2

Week Two has focused on solar gains and internal gains.

Solar gains (using the sun to warm up) look at window placement, design, size, and shading. Getting these aspects right will help balance your solar gains (warming up the building) against your heat loss through the windows – windows do not insulate as well as walls.

There are lots of things to consider here – do we want solar shading, where should the shading be, do we want openable windows, do we want blinds, where do we want our windows? Openable windows are desirable, but security, external noise or even just stopping the pets from escaping could stop you! Blinds are helpful in reducing glare and increasing privacy, but internal blinds will not stop the glass itself from heating up, and maybe we want to maximise our views out.

Internal gains refer to everything else inside the building (apart from the heating system) that can warm the building up. This will include how many people are in the building, what type, and the number of appliances in use. The internal gains will change dramatically based on how the building is being used – is it a home, a school, or an office building?

We make assumptions about occupancy and build these into our calculations with a generous buffer to ensure that the comfort of the occupants is maximised while reducing reliance on space heating.

Lessons Learnt

The lesson from this week has been the need to talk to our clients really early to understand how they want to live and work in their homes and PassivHaus projects. Everybody lives in slightly different ways; some people sleep with the window open, some people need complete silence; some have vegetable plots and want extra freezers to store their produce; some families work from home with extensive office setups; some people bought their home for the view, and don’t want to spoil these with blinds and curtains.

So tell us how you want to live, because every detail is important to us and will help ensure your PassivHaus will reflect you.

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RIBA Journal’s Time to Reflect Competition

Kirsty’s creative writing bringing to light stories of her female friends and colleagues reflecting on their careers in architecture made her one of the winners of the @ribajournal Time to Reflect competition.

The competition invited the winners to a week’s stay at Shangri-La The Shard, London. During her stay, she had time to reflect on her career and meet up with old friends and like-minded individuals with the hope to share their stories. 

To read Kirsty’s entry click
here

“My time to reflect in the Shard was a very special experience. It was the perfect place to meet others to hear about their experiences as mid-career architects – being up in the clouds gave us the perspective to think about our journeys and future plans. I am enormously grateful to the staff for their warm welcome and for looking after us so well” 

Kirsty Curnow-Bayley
Kirsty’s illustration produced during her stay

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Heat Pumps

What are the costs of air source heat pumps and their current availability?

I am beginning to believe that eco-technologies are becoming a luxury item for the wealthy as the supply and instal costs are enormous and the availability is very scarce.

Over the last 10 years, nearly every project on our books has involved installing an air or ground source heat pump.

With the increasing public awareness and changing building regulations, we have recently had problems with the supply & installation of the heat pump equipment on our projects. We are now seeing a race to get the equipment installed ahead of further supply issues.

Costing:

For a refurbishment of a 100-year-old 5-bedroom house, I am coordinating, our client started with the priority of upgrading the heating system to an energy-efficient – heat pump replacing all the radiators with underfloor heating.

The quote I received for the air source heat pump – and a second backup boiler for the top floor which would enable the occasional use of the loft rooms – was £18,264 This includes programable thermostats and wiring, and the commissioning of the system. The supply and instal of the hot water cylinder was £2,746

The underfloor heating for the ground floor of the house was £11,572, with a further £6,144 for underfloor heating to the 1st-floor bathroom and ensuite rooms. That’s a total of £17,716 for the underfloor heating.

And that doesn’t cover everything upstairs. The new central heating network needs to circulate at a lower temperature so we needed a new heating network of pipes and oversized radiators (to offset the lower circulated temperature of water) to the remaining bedrooms on the 1st and second floors of the house added up to £13,795

If we also include the decommissioning of the heating system at a further £2,112, the total quoted amount to replace the heating system on this project is £54,624 (including VAT)

is it ok to suggest a £50,000 saving is available if we replace the boiler with a new efficient gas boiler (with the option of hydrogen source as a future upgrade) or should I encourage my client to persist along the route of the air source heat pump and low-temperature radiator / underfloor heating strategy?

I note the new building regulations released this year are asking for all new heating systems to circulate at a maximum of 55 degrees. So I imagine these prohibitive costs and supply problems will only worsen over the next few years.

Stuart Bayley