For many of my clients one of their first questions, after they explain what they want to achieve is,
"Can I afford this?"
Before I answer this question I want to share with you a story about one of my clients.
Recently I caught up with my client and she told me how her extension was working out. When I worked with her and her husband on their family home I developed a few options including a fit-easily-within-budget option and a spend-to-the-maximum option.
She was really keen on the spend-to-the-maximum option. This was her dream home option. It included a large new kitchen diner that would overlook and open up to the garden.
In the end the fit-easily-within-budget option was their chosen way forward. This option met all their needs from their home, leaving the kitchen, dining and living room untouched, and giving them a new guest suite / hobby room, with a shower room and utility.
I asked her if she felt that they had made the right decision going with a project that met their needs but not necessarily all her dreams. She told me that, although they could have afforded the bigger project, they are happy that they decided not to stretch their budget and to keep a financial buffer that they could use in other ways.
Since the work has been completed my clients, have traveled extensively and enjoyed many evenings out indulging their passion for music at concerts around the country. She told me that she was really pleased that they had chosen not to spend to their maximum budget as if they had then they wouldn't have been able to live the same lifestyle, with as many exciting holidays or rock-n-roll gigs.
I was so pleased to hear that they are enjoying their life, that their home works well for them, and that they were really satisfied with the choices they had made.
This high level of satisfaction and enjoyment of life is what I hope for all of my clients.
So back to the frequently asked question, Can I afford this?
In truth the simple answer is that I can not answer this for you. Only you know what your finances look like and what your priorities in your life are. But there is a more important question, that I can help you answer.
What you should be asking yourself is...
Is it worth doing this work?
Featured in Ideal Home, Dream Homes Edition
Another highlight of 2017 was a beautiful editorial piece published in Ideal Home, August edition. This piece showcases one of our completed projects in Chorlton-cum-Hardy, South Manchester. It is a lovely example of a Victorian Terrace for which we designed the extension, reconfigured rooms and refurbishment throughout to create a striking and comfortable modern family home. Cheers to warm, energy-efficient and characterful homes that meet the needs of modern families!
If you'd like to read about this project you can still get a digital copy of Ideal Home August 2017 edition:
Read about our project on page 100, August 2017 edition.
and every day...
We are expanding
While travelling this summer I was reminded of the beautifully subtle but relatively rare use of marble for windows. Examples of marble panes for windows can be found in historic ecclesiastical architecture (churches, monasteries, etc), particularly in Mediterranean countries. Although I had heard about this use whilst at university and proposed it in one of my student projects for a museum, I had never seen any real life examples before this summer.
Jaca, in the Spanish Pyrenees and the heart of the Aragonese kingdom, has several examples of buildings with marble windows. Two of these examples really stood out to me, one modern and one historic. I then did some research into marble windows and found a few more examples to share. As the images in this blog piece show, marble windows, create a gentle light source and striking patterned visual effect which can be breathtakingly beautiful.
The external aspect during the daytime of an historic marble window is like looking at an area of marble wall. They look the same as a much thicker piece of marble until you can see light falling through it. At night the effect seen internally during the daytime in sunlight is reversed as electric lighting will create a glow seen outside.
Away from the med in northern europe the light levels are not as strong, so using thin-cut marble is most effective orientated so that sunlight can fall on it. In spaces where a lot of light is not needed, such as those for prayer or meditation, or is undesirable such as for storing and displaying light sensitive objects such as books and art works, marble can be used to both control the daylight while creating a striking decorative interior.
There are some particularly striking mid-century examples of marble windows and two that I'd love to visit are the Yale University's rare book library and the Pius Church in Meggan, Switzerland.
The marble used is white, grey-veined, Vermont marble cut to a thickness of approximately 3cm.
The marble used is Penthelian Dionysos marble cut to 2.8cm thick and in panels of 1.5x1.02m. To create an effect of columns of marble, the panels were carefully selected and cut from the same block for consistent veining. This marble appears as white with grey veins until seen with light shining through, when more depth and colour is revealed.
Did you see any beautiful architecture during your summer trips? Have you used marble or seen it used in any interesting ways? Would you like to use marble as a light source in your project? Let us know in the comments below.
It has been filled with many achievements including:
- a successful application to the War Memorial Trust, funding works to Northenden War Memorial
- several successful planning and building control applications for homeowners and businesses
- opening of the first Sultan Ahmet restaurant - an exciting new UK franchise
- helping worthwhile causes with Landaid though their pro-bono programme
This year has also had many memorable moments such as:
- meeting the latest in voice controlled technology with Steve and Siobhan
- many Home Design Consultations during which I have loved getting to know homeowners and their homes
- chasing around after a toddler whilst discussing bandstands with Joy and the ups and downs of projects with Julie
- behind the scenes in photoshoots for completed projects
- catching up with past colleagues starting new adventures like Sally
It's been a fantastic year and I hope it has been for all of you too. Lets hope that 2017 brings more of the same.
Best Christmas wishes to everyone.
Part 1: Which Architect?
1. Is an architect really what you need?
- Where you want a single structural opening, or a wall removing, perhaps to create a more open plan space. While it is beneficial to get an architects input to decide the positioning of an opening or which wall to remove, to create the space the best suits you, once these are decided then what you really need is a structural engineer to check structural stability and provide calculations for building regulations. It's important to note that any structural alterations require building control approval.
2. What kind of architect do you want?
- Form: strong sculptural approaches to design often using unusual shapes. Think Zaha Hadid and Frank Gehry. “Less is a bore.”
- Function: clear to understand spaces that are easy to use and move around in. Think Mies Van de Rohe and Luis Kahn. “Form follows function.”
- Technology: cutting edge use of materials that push them to their limits or integrate the latest technological advances. Think Norman Foster and Santiago Calatrava. “Machine for living in”
3. How involved do you want your architect to be?
4. What have they done before?
5. Do you feel relaxed, comfortable and confident with your potential architect?
Has this been helpful? What criteria will you use to select your architect? Comment below.
"I needed some professional drawings for a small extension to my kitchen and advice on building regs, etc. I had a rough plan with my initial ideas and someone to build it but needed some more accurate plans that my builder could build from. The house is 300 years old so nothing is straight!"
- new downstairs loo
- larger dining area off the kitchen
- new entrance hall
- covered unheated porch
- to feel like sitting in the garden
- maintain maximum light into the kitchen
As this was a small project, not requiring planning permission, of traditional build and our client had a competent builder in place, it was possible for the project to progress with only our sketch design. The client and builder made all decisions on detailed design, although we were available should our support be required during construction. Building regulations were dealt with on notice by the builder.
- new downstairs loo, with easy access giving more privacy upstairs
- new front door position, visible from the road making it easier to find especially for deliveries
- larger space for dining, with better light and direct views and access into the garden
- cloakroom area with dedicated space for coats and storage in the new hall
- gallery space
"I really enjoyed our discussions and solutions and everyone was really excited by the plans. The extension took 5 months but it is now finished and we have the final sign off certificate."
"It is gorgeous, really gorgeous and has made a massive difference to our lives. Thank you so much for the design - you did a fab job."
Lime is the mortar recommended both by architecture conservationists and eco builders for bonding masonry walls. Why lime? There are several reasons, including:
We're looking forward to getting hands on at this lime practical course on Saturday 14th May. The Pendle Heritage Centre is a beautiful setting for a course and the Heritage Trust for the North West is a great cause to support. The perfect CPD!
The benefit of working with an architect is that we carry out regular training to update our skills and knowledge. At iarchitect this CPD (continuing professional development) is used to make sure we are up to speed with best practice and latest technologies.
Jane Leach, principal architect at i-architect