My tips on extensions and remodelling can be found in April's edition of Self Build & Design.
EXTENSIONS & REMODELLING
LET THE LIGHT IN
To my mind the key to any successful architectural design is the manipulation of light. How and where light enters a space is pivotal to the success of that space. When it comes to house extensions it is all too easy to end up with dark gloomy internal spaces, which have been sacrificed for that bright light kitchen or garden room. Clever designs can overcome this through the use of lightwells, high level openings, rooflights, sun pipes and even transparent floors to bring light down through a dwelling.
MAKE SPACE WORK
I am a firm believer in considering the house as a whole when it comes to extensions and renovations. Think about how you are going to live in the house and what you are hoping to achieve from your project. It should be an opportunity to redesign the space you live in, to improve the flow between existing rooms as well as creating new spaces to work in harmony with the original areas.
By simply re-organising your existing layout it may be possible to limit your extension to within the bounds of what is considered permitted development to avoid the planning process. It is, however, important to remember that even if you do this you still need to consider party wall issues and neighbours rights to light.
Future proof your home by designing in flexible spaces which can evolve with changes in your lifestyle, and consider designing electrical and mechanical services which are ready to accept home automation systems or renewable energy sources.
Whilst you may be drawn to, or forced due to planning constraints, into matching existing materials on your house extension consider using contrasting materials to give your house a contemporary edge. Metal cladding such as copper and zinc can sit in harmony with traditional red brick or stone, whilst timber cladding can serve to soften the impact of an extension and provide a visual connection with the landscaping.
Use your extension to bring the outside in and vice versa by extending internal finishes into your outside space or installing sliding folding walls of glass to blur the line between interior and exterior.
In my opinion buildings should be honest with a clearly visible timeline, so I would recommend embracing the opportunity to introduce a new palette of materials to compliment your existing finishes. Why not look beyond the confines of materials typically used in housing and see what the latest cutting edge retail outlets are using?
SMALL PROJECT, BIG DESIGN
It is often the smaller projects that require the greatest amount of design input to achieve their real potential. Most architects are flexible in terms of the services they offer from conducting an initial feasibility study to running the project on site.
Rather than thinking of architects as an unnecessary expense on a small-scale extension or remodelling project consider the use of an architect to make the most of your budget by capitalising on their ability to design clever spaces which may actually save you money in the long term.