If you’re thinking of embarking on a home improvement project but don’t know where to start, Graham Chappell, co-founder of Your Architect, has answered your burning questions
HOW CAN I ESTIMATE HOW LONG MY PROJECT WILL TAKE?
A good architect should be able to estimate accurately how long a project should take. Likewise, an experienced builder should also be able to provide timeframes. Of course, adverse weather, additions or changes to the specification take extra time. The best advice for an on-time and on-budget project is to decide almost everything (where possible) before the project starts and try not to make too many changes.
WILL I NEED TO MOVE OUT WHILE THE WORK IS BEING DONE?
Depending on the scale of the project, you may decide to move out. This is not necessary for a loft conversion, but for a kitchen, basement or all three, we would certainly recommend moving out if possible. This would also make the project timeline shorter. You may want to consider renting a house for three to six months (budget depending), so that you can live in a clean, dust-free place whilst the works take place.
BUILDING PROJECTS NEVER SEEM TO KEEP WITHIN THE INITIAL BUDGET. WHAT SORT OF BUFFER SHOULD I ALLOW FOR UNEXPECTED INCREASES IN COST?
Estimates should be reasonably accurate, but allow for 10–15% to cover unforeseen circumstances and costs, such as professional fees, building control, party wall fees and structural engineers. All of these could add thousands of pounds to your project and most builders or architects would not include these in their costings.
SHOULD I DISCUSS PLANS WITH MY NEIGHBOURS BEFORE SEEKING PLANNING PERMISSION?
A professional architect should be able to give you all the advice that you need. We would always recommend talking to your direct neighbours to let them know your plans and check for any friction points. The worst situation would be if the first time that your neighbour hears about your project is when the planning application comes through.
HOW CAN I ENSURE THAT OUR PROJECT WILL WORK FOR OUR LIFESTYLE?
As architects, we like to fully understand how the client lives in the house, and what hobbies they have and enjoy, to gain an understanding of their personalities and make sure that the project is bespoke to the exact needs of the client.
Images: Adrian Vasquez Gonzalez