Choosing the right materials can give you the best start………

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You will have often heard the saying, but does this apply to everything?

At Fibre we believe that design and planning correctly in the first place gives you a solid foundation to be creative and innovative with your designs and this opens up the doors (literally) to the use of an amazing range of materials currently being used in the architectural field.

Starting with a ‘fabric first” approach to building design concentrates on maximising the performance of the building’s components and materials that make up the building’s fabric, allowing you to achieve a well-built thermal and energy efficient build; once you have a solid foundation then you can focus on imaginative use of the many available materials available – elements that help reduce capital and operational costs and lower carbon emissions. The fabric first method can also reduce the need for maintenance during the building’s life.

Buildings designed and constructed using this method aim to minimise the need for energy consumption through their processes such as:

  • Maximising air-tightness.
  • Using super-high insulation.
  • Optimising solar gain through the provision of openings and shading.
  • Optimising natural ventilation.
  • Using the thermal mass of the building fabric.
  • Using energy from occupants, electronic devices, cookers and so on.

Concentrating on fabric first is considered to be more sustainable than installing energy saving technology or renewable energy generation later on; this can be expensive and often relies on you, the user being efficient in the way you use the technology.

Having energy efficient materials integrated into the building means that occupants are required to do less to operate their energy efficient building, creating fewer changes to their living habits.

Fabric first building systems can be constructed off site so they are likely to be higher quality and therefore have better performance, lower labour costs and increased speed of build.

Technology is changing the way architecture uses materials, from stronger concrete to nano enhanced plastics and the use of self-clean coatings; for example, researchers at the University of Missouri have developed a new way to control elastic waves—which can travel through materials without altering their composition—that could protect structures from seismic events.

At Fibre, we are constantly keeping abreast with the latest materials, so why not talk to us about your ideas and plans in a free consultation so you can get the best foundation for your next build.

 

Image source: www.pixabay.com

 

 

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Dreaming of a Grand Design that will make your dreams a reality

When you look out of your window into the sometimes grey British sky do you ever think I wish I could live in ….? Many coaches and successful people tell you to write it down, get your dreams in writing, on paper, make them real.

Take your idea and doodle it down, then think about the space you actually need for a functional purpose like the kitchen – how many hours do you spend in there? Are you a budding gourmet cook or a home baker? Is your special place the bedroom to relax and chill? Do you paint and need a room with natural light or do you want a home that supports your ethical and environmental values?

Fibre Architects can take the stress and worry out of your paper dreams and make them a reality. We can give you a free consultation to discuss your dream home. We don’t just draw up the plans, we can discuss material, planning permissions and work with you to create the ideal living space with the perfect outlook.

Considering all the above will make planning your dream space a reality because we can work with you on your timeline, budget and space planning.

Here are a few more tips to help you start the dream…

• Take a look at websites like Grand Designs and Houzz for inspirational ideas – don’t be put off by BIG IDEAS, we can help you adjust them to fit your space and budget

• Think materials – what would you love? What is out there now?

• Think space – what do you have now that can be adapted and used more effectively? Do you need to look at land purchase? Do you have a big garden that can be adapted, changed or used?

• Plan with expert advice, it could save you thousands of pounds

Don’t let the dream die from fear of asking a few questions, give us a call and we can help you with your project.

 

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Self and custom builds increasing annually

New figures have shown that the number of self and custom build homes being built in the UK is on the rise.

According to new research, 2016 saw the third consecutive annual increase in the UK’s self and custom build housing market.

This particular market is growing at 6.25 percent a year. This, if it continues at this pace, will lead to 16,500 homes being built in this way by 2020!

And experts don’t seem to think this trend will be slowing down anytime soon. The three-year forecast indicates an industry growth of 41 per cent, valuing the sector at £6 billion.

So why the recent shift, and why now?

There are many potential reasons behind this increase, with the most prominent being the shortage of good quality housing leading to people taking matters into their own hands in order to own their perfect home.

Here at Fibre Architects, we have seen first hand an increase in the number of self-build projects we that are approached to design. Our clients have often opted for a self or custom build because finding the right house in the right location at the right price is notoriously hard.

More and more people are realising that if the perfect home isn’t available in your chosen area, finding the right plot of land to build on and creating your own home from scratch can harbour amazing results. At Fibre, we offer free evaluations of potential plots for building on, to advise on the initial viability of gaining planning permission for the projects you may have in mind.

That being said, the increase in the number of these types of projects may not purely be down to changes in personal preference. There may also be politics at play here, as it has been said that self and custom builds play a strategic role in contributing to government house building targets. The government recently implemented measures in order to make it easier for aspiring self-builders.

Whatever the reasons behind the increase, we’re very excited about this from a design perspective. Self and custom builds allow the client’s imagination to run wild and build an amazing new home from scratch. At Fibre, these are often our favourite types of projects as we can get our creative juices flowing and really bring each client’s dream home ideas to life!

We’re looking forward to seeing even more self and custom build homes being built in the future, and also to seeing what exciting and varied design opportunities will come with a continued shift towards this way of housebuilding.

 

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What changes can we expect to see in planning regulations this year and beyond?

It’s coming up to the midway point in 2017 and there are some exciting developments in the world of planning regulations that are either already underway or that lay ahead. We’re taking a look at a couple of the changes to the planning process that look set to affect the construction industry as a whole.

Residential approvals on the rise in 2017

Government statistics have shown that there has been an increase in the number of residential planning approvals in 2017 when compared to last year. According to the figures, there has been a total of 12,300 residential planning approvals in the first quarter of 2017 which is certainly encouraging.

According to statistics, of the 12,300 approvals, 1,700 (up 17 per cent year on year) were major developments and 10,600 (up by eight per cent) minor developments. With approvals on the rise, and with Fibre Architects’ growing involvement in development projects we’re happy to see this trend continuing to at least somewhat address the housing shortage.

Numbers show that the actual amount of planning applications have also increased. The number of district level planning applications increased by three percent between January and March this year, when compared to this period in 2016. While this may not seem like much, it again represents at least an increasing optimism in the UK housing market.

Raynsford Review

Earlier this year former housing and planning minister, Nick Raynsford, undertook a review of the English planning systems in an attempt to see how it can be made ‘fairer, better resourced and capable of tackling the major challenges which confront the nation’.

The review will look specifically at the shortage of housing and tackling climate change, and making sure that the planning process is able to deliver places that successfully balance the needs of economy, environment and community wellbeing.

The review will gather evidence into 2018, and we will be unlikely to see the results of the findings of this report until at least next year. At Fibre we pride ourselves on having a good knowledge of current planning regulations, and where possible only submitting proposals on behalf of our clients that are likely to achieve planning permission, but this is not always easy. With this review potentially a key factor in overhauling the English planning system we are again very encouraged – watch this space for more updates!

Planning ahead…

With all this considered, this seems like a good time to not only be an architecture firm, but also a housing developer or just someone who has an idea for a home they want to be built! It has long been the view of many that the planning system in England needs to change in order to get the high-quality, well thought-through homes that many people desperately need built. With evidence that more applications are being approved, and with potential changes to the system on the horizon, we’re very excited about what the future holds for residential development especially in the Yorkshire region. We will therefore be sure to keep you updated with all things housing and planning as they develop further.

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How important is the privacy of your garden?

With the weather being as wonderful as it has been in the UK recently, there’s no doubt many of you will have been out enjoying soaking up the rays in the garden. However, have you ever thought about how much you value the privacy of your garden space?

The truth is, we all know that having neighbours that can see over your fence, or having properties nearby that overlook your garden can be a bit of an obstacle to being able to truly unwind and relax.

It is important to make these considerations during the initial stages of designing or even when it comes to extending a home.

Unfortunately, not all architects will take the time and effort to consider just how their design choices will affect the privacy of each home’s garden area, despite the fact that most homeowners agree that it is important.

Fortunately, here at Fibre we pride ourselves on not being the same as most other architects as we have a strong commitment to what we like to call ‘considerate design’.

By this we mean design that is not just high quality but also thinks about the practicalities of the people who are going to live in the homes we help create.

We go the extra mile to ensure that conscious decisions are made not only with respect to the garden but also the size of each room and the layout of the home to make each home we design a series of spaces that will be a pleasure to live in day in, day out.

Making sure the garden is a truly private and relaxing space is just one of the ways we make considerate design choices when designing homes or groups of houses, and rather than just looking to maximise number of houses on a plot we believe good considerate design can add additional value too, sometimes more so than mere numbers.

Over our many collective years’ experience, we have developed a unique approach to home design that goes above and beyond each client’s brief to develop something really special that can be truly enjoyed.

If you want to find out more about what makes Fibre a different kind of architect, get in touch!

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Think it’s time for you to move? Maybe you should think again…

So, you’ve decided you need to change your living arrangements. Either you need more space, or you just feel that your current home is tired and has lost that ‘spark’ that made you fall in love with it in the first place. This is something that adding a ‘lick of paint’ won’t solve, so where do you go from here?

The first thing you might do is look into relocating. This could be an opportunity for a new start somewhere that is entirely different. However, after doing some research you’ve decided that the cost and the disruption that’s involved is too much, and you may actually like the location of your house, and some of the features it already has.

So, what’s next? You’ve heard of people having home extensions built, but you’re worried that sometimes they can look like an ill-thought through add-on. What you need is an architect that really understands the importance of delivering exquisite, high-quality home design to help make an extension and remodelling the right choice for you.

Luckily, here at Fibre Architects we are experts in designing extensions that feel like they have always been a natural part of your home, and creating spaces that you won’t know how you lived without. Working together with you, the client, and talking extensively about your priorities and preferences in your updated home, we create designs that turns mere ideas into reality, and add value to your home at the same time.

So, what about design? We know people are different and as the home is a very personal thing, everyone will want something slightly different from their home extension project. For example, in the past we have built both ‘statement’ extensions (as shown in the photograph above) that modernise and contrast the existing property or ones that acts as a seamless addition to the home (see some examples below). Whatever it is you’re looking for, we can help.

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Building a home extension is a great opportunity to introduce not only space, but floods of natural light that just weren’t available to you before. By designing the right extension, we can transform your home in a way you didn’t think possible before. So, it turns out your dream home might not actually be on that property website, or in that Estate Agent’s office after all – with a little bit of help, it may have been right under your nose the whole time!

Getting the process of redesigning your home started isn’t always easy. It’s often accompanied by the question – “where do I begin?”. Here at Fibre, we can make achieving the home you want an easier and genuinely more enjoyable and exciting process. So get started today by contacting us here for a free consultation if your project has a construction budget in excess of £120k + VAT!

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Fibre’s sustainable design building tips

As time goes by, we are becoming increasingly conscious about issues like climate change and the impact that our lifestyles are having on the planet. Many of us are making choices to try and reduce the harmful effects we have on the environment, whether that is by using public transport instead of driving, recycling or using low energy light bulbs.

There are numerous options to live our lives in a more environmentally friendly way, and there’s also another great opportunity for you to help fight climate change with the way your home is designed too.

Sustainable architecture carefully considers design factors such as the materials used, energy efficiency and the location and orientation of the property to try and ensure the finished building is as eco-friendly as possible.

Here at Fibre Architects, sustainable home design is at the forefront of our minds when advising our clients, so we thought we’d put together a few tips on how to design an environmentally sustainable home.

Use sustainable materials

Locally sourced sustainable building materials should be a top priority wherever possible. and using reclaimed or recycled materials as well as more natural products that don’t require a lengthy manufacturing process can all reduce the environmental impact your home has on the environment.

East-facing homes are best

If possible, there is potential for energy to be saved by opting to build an east-facing rather than a west-facing home. This will maximise your home’s sun exposure and reduce the amount of time you have to have the heating on, saving you money and energy. South facing pitched roofs are usually preferable for solar renewable technologies though.

Install a rainwater harvesting system

Rainwater harvesting systems collect rainwater from your home’s roof and store it in a tank. This water can be used in sprinkler systems and toilets and can reduce your impact on the environment.

Smaller homes are better

The unfortunate truth is that the larger the home, the more money is spent trying to heat it, and the more resources and land it takes to build it on. Opt to keep your home a manageable size in order to maximise the sustainability potential, and keep your carbon footprint down.

Insulation, insulation, insulation

Make sure the design of your home allows for it to be sufficiently insulated. Having a well-insulated home reduces the amount of energy that is used to heat it. Read more about the importance and regulations for home insulation here.

Air tightness within the building fabric is also important (with controlled and adequate ventilation) to reduce heat loss and therefore energy demand.

Have double or triple glazed windows fitted

As you have probably gathered by now, keeping heat inside your home is one of the key ways to save energy and reduce your home’s impact on the environment.

Make sure any design for a new home includes double or triple glazed windows as standard, and of course – if you live in an older home, you can still install more efficient replacement windows or consider secondary glazing options.

But remember you should also ensure that the house is not inadvertently designed to suffer from overheating due to excessive solar gains through too much glazing or heat generating appliances such as computers, so solar control glass, shading or mechanical ventilation may also need to be considered.

These are just a few ways that your home can be designed in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way, and we haven’t even mentioned Passivhaus design, all the renewable energy options, smart home technologies (including motion sensing lighting and heating), bio-diversity and sustainable drainage solutions amongst other things!

If sustainable home design is something you have been thinking about, here at Fibre Architects we are experts in this field! So why not get in touch to arrange a free telephone consultation today?

 

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Reasons to build an annexe

If you need more space in your home, building a home extension may naturally be the first option that springs to mind. But, if you haven’t already, why not consider a new-build annexe instead? An annexe can provide all the additional space you need, whilst having a few select advantages over other building options such as an extension.

To house a lodger or loved one

There is a reason that annexes are often referred to as ‘granny annexes’, and that’s because they are often built to house a loved one. With an annexe comes the opportunity to allow this person an increased level of privacy.  If you need more space to accommodate a family member or a lodger of some kind, it may be important to them to have a space which they feel is their own. An annexe can offer a space that allows a feeling of separation and independence, whilst still retaining easy access and strong links to the family home.

For a self-contained office space

Similarly, if the reason you’re looking for more space is because you need to work at home, your very own self-contained office annexe could be the perfect answer. An annexe offers a workspace of your own that is separate from the inevitable distractions of the family home, allowing you to work more efficiently and with a clearer head, and even a separate entrance for visiting clients. Also, when compared with work in a ‘normal’ office, walking across the back garden to get to work seems a lot less strenuous than the average commute!

To allow your design dreams to run wild!

For us here at Fibre Architects, the most exciting thing building an annexe can bring to the table is the opportunity for great design. As a separate entity from the main house, you can often go much further in terms of design than you would with an extension. Sometimes free from the constraints of having to match with the main house, you can often create something exciting and original on your property. Alternatively, you can create a self-contained building that has echoes of the main house, whilst having features that make it its own. The possibilities are endless (as long as they adhere to planning and building regulations of course).

An annexe can be the solution to space issues that you never even thought of! We have years of experience bringing clients’ annexe ideas to life for a variety of purposes. If you want more information on how we can make an annexe that is perfect for your property contact us here.

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Top 10 things to consider when choosing a self-build plot

With a lack of affordable housing in the UK, more and more people are deciding to self-build. However, when looking for a plot of land to build on, what are the most important things to think about?

Fibre Architects have put together a list of the Top 10 things to consider when choosing a plot of land for your self-build project…

Is the location desirable?

This may seem like an obvious thing to think about, but would you actually want to live where the plot is located? Ensure the location of the site is convenient and well connected, i.e. close to schools and/or local centres, if these are things that are important to you.

Is your project likely to achieve Planning Approval?

Does the style of house you are looking to build fit into the local area? There’s no point charging ahead with planning a project if it’s likely to get rejected. Looking around to see if the house you’re planning to build is in line with other local properties can increase your chances of gaining planning permission.

Are there barriers to building?

The plot being near a listed building, having protected trees on site or restrictive covenants in the deeds can all offer a restriction to development, so do your research. Remember, Planning Approval does not override any legal obligations that the site owner may have to adhere to.

Think about views

Are views to and from your new house or garden important to you? If so, are they acceptable for your future enjoyment and privacy and will the garden size and the views after development of the new property be acceptable too?

Another important thing to bear in mind is, views can change over time too. Consider current and proposed land uses around the plot – you can do this by consulting the Local Plan or UDP to assess future land uses if required.

Is it accessible?

Is there adequate access to the property for vehicles and pedestrians (and wheelchair users, if necessary) without major obstacles? The likelihood is people will need to gain access the both on foot and by car at some point. And don’t forget access for maintenance!

Be flexible

Don’t always just look for a vacant plot of land, a small house or commercial building ripe for extension and/or conversion is sometimes much easier to find and work with, especially in much sought after locations.

Do the maths

For most people, the last thing they want from a self-build project is to be out of pocket. Does the purchase price when added to development costs create a property that is equal to or worth more than the amount spent? If in doubt, consult a Local Estate Agent for their guidance on this.

Consider amenities

Take into account the availability of statutory services, electric, water, gas, and broadband. If your site doesn’t have some of these, maybe it’s time to think about a backup plan, e. g renewable energy sources.

Think about the topography of the site

Are levels an issue and are there means of dealing with foul and surface water drainage from the new property, or is the plot in an area with a risk of flooding? If so can these be overcome by design?

Are the ground conditions suitable for building with traditional foundations and is there little or no contamination from any previous site uses or activities?

Is sustainability important to you?

At Fibre Architects we are working on an increasing number of projects where sustainable design is important to our clients. This may consist of low energy, low impact design or incorporation of renewable technologies and sometimes only certain plots of land can accommodate this. If sustainability is a key concern for you, make sure to think about whether the plot is appropriate for your desired approach in this respect.

Fibre Architects have a great deal of experience assessing plots for their self-build viability, taking all of the above into consideration and more. We offer a free assessment and consultation on any plot you have in mind. If you think you could benefit from our expert help, contact us.

 

Top 3 Fibre refurbishment projects!

Breathing new life into tired old properties is one of the most satisfying things you can do as an architect. Whilst there’s no doubt that designing a new building from scratch allows for an enjoyable amount of creative freedom, refurbishment projects present the unique challenge of maintaining the attractive original features of the property with creating modern and up-to-date internal spaces.

This makes refurbs so exciting to work on and at Fibre, we’ve been lucky enough to be involved with a variety of these types of projects with some stunning results. We’ve put together a list of three of our favourite current refurb projects, so check them out below…

Cote Royd Dental Practice

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In 2014, Fibre were tasked with designing a conversion of Cote Royd Dental Practice’s Grade 2 Listed building into luxury apartments. The building was simply too big for the practice’s needs, and due to its age was struggling to keep up with ever-tightening hygiene standards within the dental profession. We put together plans that sensitively split the building into seven large self-contained apartments that maintained many of the original features of the building, which you can see above.

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In addition to this, we were also asked to design an extension and refurbishment of the former stable building to provide bespoke new accommodation for the practice, which is where the team happily reside today.

Huddersfield Community Church

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Last year we announced that we had won a bid to design the re-development of the former Britvic factory in Birkby, Huddersfield. Fibre have begun to draw up plans to convert the building into a church and community hub for the whole of Birkby and its local community to enjoy.

The large existing spaces provide more than enough opportunity to create a variety of spacious accommodation for all of the client’s needs, including events spaces, meeting rooms for charities and support for local families, and those in need in the local community. This exciting project will be moving forward significantly in 2017 and we can’t wait to see the final results!

Brendon Drive, Birkby

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Our clients had lived in Birkby for many years and loved the area but not their existing tired house that had too many poorly proportioned rooms, little open plan space and insufficient natural light in its heart. After many unsuccessful attempts to find a more appropriate house locally, they turned to us to see whether we could help.

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Following consideration of a number of options, the preferred solution was to carry out a major refurbishment, effectively gutting the existing house and giving it a new lease of life with open plan internal living, kitchen and dining spaces, larger rooms, new (and more) windows and a new central feature staircase. Together with refreshing new external cladding and render truly makes this feel like a totally new house, for a fraction of the price of one and in the best possible location for our clients! A very successful refurbishment project indeed…

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If you have a refurbishment project in mind, Fibre Architects are here to help. We are proud to have designed a number of high-quality refurbishment solutions and conversions for some very happy clients. If you want some more information, or simply want to discuss the feasibility of a project you have in mind, get in touch with Fibre Architects here.