Planning home improvements: what to expect when working with an architect

Planning a scheme design for home improvements 

When you start working with an architect you might wonder what you’re letting yourself in for, particularly if you’ve never done this sort of thing before. You should approach the relationship as the start of a collaborative partnership; one that will allow healthy discussions and that will continue throughout the project at every stage. 

Whether you’re planning an extension, loft conversion or other home improvements, you’ll first need to make sure your architect is clear about what it is you want. You will find that they ask you plenty of questions. 

Here we’ve covered some of the key ones that we, at Apex Architecture, tend to ask:

What do you want to build? 

Firstly, we will want to know the area you are in and the type of property you wish to improve, as different locations and authorities have different planning rules. We will then either visit you at the property or discuss the project with you over the phone to get an understanding of what you would like to achieve. 

What are your space requirements? What improvements would you like to make? 

Tell us a bit about the end result you’re hoping for. Are you after more living space, a large open plan area, a garden room, extension, rebuild, loft extension, 2-storey extension or a barn conversion? The possibilities are endless when you are planning home improvements.

What is your budget? 

It will help us if we know what your budget is early on so we can make sure we get the best value for your money, prioritise correctly and direct your finances accordingly so that you can achieve your most important goals. For instance, after discussion and our advice, you may decide to scale back on your initial ideas in order to ensure you have the funds for a top-notch kitchen if that’s what is important to you. 

Is it more space you need, or can we just reconfigure what you have? 

Sometimes it can be useful to look at things from another angle, perhaps simply improving how you use the space you have rather than building on. This can generate some interesting ideas and discussions. We have extensive experience of making the most of space and have the knowledge to help you work out what will work best. 

It is important, right from the start, to know why you are making changes and how you wish to use the space, this will impact on the advice we will give. At Apex Architecture we want to make sure you have enough funds left for the finishing and the personal touches that really matter to you. 

Is your property in a conservation area? Or is your property listed? 

This will have implications regarding what you will be permitted to do; usually local authorities are mostly concerned with the view from the street. If you are not sure we can advise on this and help you find out. 

Will your project fall under permitted development rights? 

Did you know that if you are planning to build an extension you may not need planning permission? Check out this link for more information: 

Planning Portal 

We can also talk this though with you as we keep abreast of all policy. 

What’s the next step?

Apex Architecture offer a free consultation and will meet at your property or plot to discuss your ideas. 

We will look at your requirements in more detail and help Identify factors that may affect the project. Budget and context are the main things we look at and talk through with you. We will be able to give you some estimates on the overall cost of the project, based on cost per sq m, and will then be able to judge if you have any issues with your neighbours and surrounding areas that you will need to consider. 

We’ll then work out fee proposal for our services based on our discussions, your ideas and our experience and we’ll provide a detailed quotation provided so that you will have all the information in front of you to decide whether you’d like to go ahead with the project.