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AUG 2013





If you’re working on a particularly unusual design or using large amounts of specialist materials that will be unfamiliar to your builder, having an architect on hand to project manage is the best solution. However, for traditional brick block or even timber frame designs, you may think it unnecessary. Much of this decision lies with the level of experience of your builder - plus how up to scratch he is on rules, regs and new materials. You will need to make this decision as early as possible into the process, and the best person to help you with it is your architect. Many self builders end up somewhere in between the various options. Often, a kit house builder won’t tackle the groundworks, so this is managed by a separate subcontractor. Then after the structure is finished, the self builder may take on the last stages such as tiling, fitting the kitchen, and adding second-fix joinery, such as skirtings and the decorating. Timber frame homes at exhibitions may go up, and down, in a week but the real life self build is more likely to last between a year and 18 months. For the five per cent or so who tackle all the work themselves, this can stretch to several years. As a general guide, this breaks down into the follow-

ing timescales. Try to have the main building work finished in the summer so that the dry trades can move in and finish off over the autumn and winter. A skilled project manager can save you money as well as stress. It may be you need 20 or more different specialist contractors on a big project and they all have to be on site at exactly the right time for their part of the build. Get a delivery or start date wrong and the timescales will slip, costing you money. An experienced project manager is used to this and it’s their responsibility to get it right. An architect is dealing with the form and function of the building, and while s/he will be able to come up with ways of making the structural engineer’s recommendations fit into the plans, s/he doesn’t have the engineering know-how to assess the safety of the building. Take on any home improvement project and you are immediately set on a steep learning curve, during which you must master the niceties of the construction industry and the roles of the professionals that you rely on so deeply, whether it’s builders, plasterers or architects. Yet mention ‘structural engineer’ and even seasoned renovators struggle to say what it is they actually do, and why you might employ one.

“Whatever good things we Jim R

e build end up building us.� Rohn

In a new report, the pan-industry body said the government, house builders and estate agents must join forced to introduce ‘home performance lables’ detailing property size and energy consumption. Ben Derbyshire, chair of the Housing Forum, said: ‘Using technology this way would bring the housing industry into line with the digital age and allow consumers to make better decisions when purchasing homes. In turn, this would encourage housebuilders to raise standards.’ Mark Clare, chief executive of Barratt Developments Group, added: ‘I believe better design, improved construction and a much better overall customer experience will all be delivered by the greater use of technology, alongside much better communication of the benefits of what is being sold.’

SPACE FOR LIVING It also recommends the facilitation of custom-build housing by local authorities though the use of land supply and local development orders. The borough will appeal the Information Commissioner’s Office decision that it should release the financial viability assessment used by Lend Lease to slash the affordable housing from 35 to 25 per cent in its £1.5 billion regeneration of the Heygate Estate in Elephant and Castle. Local campaigners have been demanding to see details of the decision since the development agreement for the development of the estate, which once provided 1,200 affordable homes, was signed in 2010. But Southwark refused the order, warning it could lead to developers refusing to work with councils. Now it’s time to start living the dream and turning vague ideas of your ideal house into a reality. Whichever route you take, it’s worth noting down what you want from your new home, such as the approximate size, rooms needed, and how you want to use those spaces. Think about how you live now and how you’d like to improve on your current home. It may be helpful to have a go at designing the basic layout

yourself with a software package such as 3D architect (opens in a new window) - prices start from around £250 for the basic package. Failing that, pencil and paper will do the trick, if you have a good spatial awareness. If you do that, though, remember to give some of the smaller rooms in particular the benefit of the doubt. For example, that downstairs study you’re planning might also make a useful guest room. If you gave it an extra foot here and there, would it be big enough to fit in a single or sofabed? Equally, don’t forget to over-calculate how much storage space you’ll need to buildin - the temptation with newbuilds is to go very open-plan, very minimalist, and often storage space is the one thing that gets overlooked. Even the smaller kit companies usually offer a bespoke service as well. In this case, you can work with the company’s architect or draughtsman to draw up a unique design but based around the firm’s construction methods. For a large range of recommended companies, take a look at our kit homes section. If you are buying a kit house, it will often pay to use the craftsmen from the company itself to construct your build. Help is needed.

‘There is nothing I would like more than to publish this document and show the world what a fantastic deal we negotiated for the people of Elephant & Castle. However, we entered into those negotations with Lend Lease on a confidential basis, and I am not willing to break that agreement because a handful of people wrongly think the document contains something sinister.’

mediate housing provided to specified eligible households whose needs are not met by the market.” The council’s Housing Strategy and Development Team will determine the different types and sizes of units based on the nature of the development proposals and the identified housing need in the area. The Housing Strategy Team will nominate all the initial occupants.

The primary definition for affordable is provided within Planning Policy Statement 3 (Housing), which defines affordable housing as: “social rented and inter-

Depending on the needs at the time, a proportion of the units must be built to full mobility standards and therefore be accessible to wheelchair users.



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