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Barn conversion design top tips

Here at Fibre, we are taking part in an increasing number of conversion projects. One of our favourite types of conversion projects is barn conversions. We love the combination of maintaining the quirks and characteristics of the original building, whilst making the space a habitable, exciting and sustainable home.

However, finding the right balance between maintaining old features and making a modern, functional family home can be difficult. That’s why we’ve put together some tips on how to sensitively and successfully approach a barn conversion.

Embrace the functional beauty

The recent changes to planning rules for barns have opened up the possibility of residential conversion for many agricultural structures previously considered not worthy. Embracing what makes each barn conversion unique is the key to a successful conversion. Barns have a real beauty in their pragmatic simplicity, but you have to work with their core character and make the structure, form and materials work for you rather than forcing them to be what they’re not.

The barn form lends itself to so much of what we want in a modern home — space, height and massive openings for walls of glass. They allow for experimentation in affordable, interesting materials, too. Metal, timber, fibreboard, rubber can all be used and you can be bold with your barn conversion’s designs.

Getting the interior spaces right

Another challenge with barns is fitting in all the rooms and functions necessary in a modern home without subdividing the space too much. Large rooms and uncluttered space can create a kind of ‘drama’ to the architecture of barn conversion projects. It is important to maintain this unique quality that barns possess whilst still creating something that works as a home.

The interior and exterior should chime. This could be through simple, rustic, agricultural-inspired construction using traditional materials, or contrasting super-sleek modern minimalism. This creates an interesting take on the project

Don’t forget about introducing light…

When built, barns were not made for human habitation. As such, they usually have very few openings, but those openings which they do possess tend to be either very large or very small. Getting light into all the rooms without punching the building with too many new openings, is one of the single biggest challenges facing converters. Most barns are a simple rectangular shape, so roof lights are key to getting light into the middle of the building while maintaining the monolithic integrity of the walls. Here too anything domestic is the enemy so think large single roof lights rather than multiple small ones.

…and minimising energy use.

Thick stone walls can create lovely exposed internal features but remember to consider introducing good levels of insulation where possible in walls to reduce heat loss, and don’t forget the roof and floor too. Air tightness is also important and well installed high-performance windows, doors and glazing can all help in this respect.

Barn conversions can present challenges, however, the rewards of a barn conversion project far outweigh any of these. If you have a barn conversion project in mind, Fibre can help. We offer a free no obligation review of potential conversion projects, so get in touch!

 

 

artcle source: https://www.homebuilding.co.uk/barn-conversion-design-masterclass/

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Is pre-fab housing the answer to the UK’s housing crisis?

There has been a lot of discussion recently about pre-fab housing and its potential benefits to the UK housing market.

Pre-fab (or prefabricated) houses are specialist homes that are manufactured off-site in advance. These homes are made in small sections that can be easily transported and assembled when they arrive.

This type of building grew in popularity in the UK in the 1950s and ‘60s, and were hailed as the future of construction. However nowadays as few as one in six houses are made in this way. With the lack of housing in the UK reaching crisis point, it has been suggested a return to this type of construction could be a sustainable solution. Prefabs allow new homes to be built quickly and cheaply but are they really the answer?…

Just how quickly can pre-fab homes be built?

Although time frames are project dependent, most estimates are that off-site built homes can be produced in about half the time of traditional construction. Some modern-day prefab buildings can even be erected in as little as 24 hours and finished to look very similar to traditional brick or rendered buildings if required.

What about cost?

In our experience here at Fibre Architects, the cost saving benefits of pre-fab housing is entirely dependant on the type of project. Pre-fab housing works well for medium-sized or large projects that involve a lot of repetition. When homes are mass-produced in this way, costs come down and profits increase. Material waste is also minimised compared to traditional building techniques.

However, when using pre-fab methods for individual plots or projects with a large variety of house designs and plot sizes, pre-fab construction soon gets comparatively expensive.

Does quality suffer with pre-fab housing?

Historically pre-fab homes have a reputation for being lower quality than their traditionally built counterparts, but is this entirely fair? In recent years, the quality of pre-fabricated houses has increased considerably thanks to technological improvements in the industry. As with anything, some companies provide a higher quality ‘product’ than others, so do your research about the reputation of the developer and system before buying or considering a pre-fab home.

There are a number of benefits to pre-fab homes (in whole or part) and if you are looking for a new home or development, they are perhaps something you should explore. The quick turnaround on building pre-fab homes combined with their relative cheapness makes pre-fabs particularly attractive, for example, to developers who are looking to get their houses to market quicker and/or for first-time buyers who are looking to get on the housing ladder sooner – so they are certainly an option worth considering.

Pre-fab building certainly has its pros and cons, however, with the government setting out plans to build more of these types of houses in the coming years it looks like the pre-fab housing is here to stay, and systems and costs should continue to improve with time.

Fibre Architects

Meet Fibre’s new member of staff!

We’re thrilled to announce that we’ve hired Jess Wormald as our brand new Architectural Technology Assistant.

At Fibre, we always like to help out the next generation of architects and technologists and we love the fresh new ideas they bring to the table.

Jess is currently studying Architectural Technology at Sheffield Hallam University and will be completing her placement year here at Fibre Architects.

Her role will largely involve helping the architectural design team with the preparation of support drawings and technical information.

Jess shares our passion for high-quality, creative design and we’re really excited to watch her grow and develop her skills in her role here.

Jess explains she’s most excited about assisting with the old and listed buildings we often work on here at Fibre.

She says: “I’d heard a lot of good things about Fibre from growing up in Huddersfield. I really like their innovative approach to design and I look forward to gaining valuable hands-on experience in my time here.

We have lots of experience doing conversions and extensions for old buildings, read about our project working with listed building Cote Royd House here.

Our Managing Director Martin said about hiring Jess: “At Fibre, it’s really important to have the right staff on board and Jess has been a great asset to the team and we’re really impressed with her work so far!”

Jess will be with us until her placement year finishes in September, and we’ll be sure to keep you up-to-date with all the team’s updates on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

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Planning permissions are up but constraints remain

In our last blog, we talked about how more and more people are deciding to self-build in response to a lack of affordable housing. It is no surprise then, that recent numbers show that planning permissions are continuing to climb.

However, the planning system remains a major constraint to the housebuilding industry’s supply, according to the Home Builders Federation and Glenigan’s latest Housing Pipeline report.

The report shows that 76,242 homes were granted planning permission in England the third quarter of 2016 (July to September), 10% up on the second quarter, with the total number for the 12 months up to September reaching 289,011, the highest recorded since the survey began in 2006.

HBF, however, said that the number of sites these permissions are on decreased, suggesting that local authorities are approving permissions for an increasing number of large strategic sites instead of the mix of sizes that are needed to deliver more homes. It called for local authorities to allocate a range of site sizes and types as large sites inevitably take longer to build.

HBF also pointed out that many of these recently approved sites are not yet buildable, thanks to the various “pre-commencement” conditions attached to them. They must be all discharged before building can legally commence which HBF said could typically take months, “and is dependent on the ability and capacity of the authority to provide this service.”

Many pre-commencement conditions – such as a local authority needing to approve the design of a children’s play area – are delaying building work and could be agreed once work has begun via a “pre-occupation” condition, HBF added.

Stewart Baseley, HBF’s executive chairman, said: “The housebuilding industry is committed to building more homes but can only do so if it has the land on which to build them. It is encouraging that so many headline planning permissions are being granted but we simply have to find a way to unblock the system and reduce the time it takes to get a permission to the stage where builders can actually start building.”

“Construction work shouldn’t be held up by council officers getting round to approving designs for landscaping, playgrounds or ensuring developers are liaising with community artists. These could be agreed whilst infrastructure work gets started.”

At Fibre, having designed homes for many years we are confident that the homes we design will likely achieve planning approval. However, we know all too well that there would be major benefits to making changes to the planning permission system.

Moving forward, we hope that it is made easier for homes of all shapes and sizes to be built and we’re really excited by the fact that it appears there will be a larger variety in the types of homes being built in the UK in the future!

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Should your next home be a project?

The way people are approaching housing is changing quickly. A UK-wide lack of quality, affordable homes has forced people to think outside the box when thinking about accommodation.

Finding a house that is right for you is hard enough, but when you add into the mix other considerations such as location and cost it can become a seemingly impossible task. More and more people are taking matters into their own hands and getting creative with a self-build, extensions or building conversion projects.

Self-build

A self-build can be ideal if you’re struggling to find the ideal property and have a particular area in mind where you want to live. Instead of continuing on the house search it might be time to begin searching the market for plots of land to build on.

Alternatively, if you are lucky enough to already own land that would lend itself to a self-build site, this can be a great way of creating your perfect home from scratch, as opposed to trying to find the qualities you want in a pre-existing property.

Self-build projects can take patience and can at times it can be a difficult process, but the end result often more than justifies the means. However, if you’re not experienced with self-build projects, when looking for a potential site for your new home, it can be hard to know exactly what to look for. Fibre Architects offers a free, no obligation evaluation of plots of land to advise on their suitability for self-builds and on what type of properties would be suitable for them.

New government regulations have made it easier to get a self-build underway, just read our blog here for more info.

Conversions      

Lack of housing has lead to a rise in people turning to the conversion of old commercial properties into accommodation. Factories have become flats and warehouses have been split into homes. These kind of projects can provide additional character to your property with exposed brick and trendy, deliberately industrial interior design.

If you’re brave enough to take on a project of this kind, the reward can be great. Check out the market for some commercial properties if you fancy getting stuck into something a bit different, with the potential to make it your own. Again, Fibre Architects would be happy to review any potential sites and evaluate their scope for conversion into a domestic space.

Extensions

If you find a property that’s in the right location, but has a lack of space, the best idea may be to move into a smaller property and add an extension to it. We have seen an increasing number of people opting to extend smaller homes due to a lack of properties the right size in the area buyers want.

In a market where the choice for housing is coming increasing scarce, it’s important to explore all options for securing your perfect home. If you have a project in mind, and want advice from experienced and creative architects, Fibre Architects is here to help.

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Home extension – a beginner’s guide

It is common knowledge that if your home has a lack of space you need, it can often be less hassle and cost simply to build an extension to your property, rather than moving home. However, obviously there are some important considerations involved when thinking about extending your home, including some that might not immediately spring to mind, such as:

– car access;

– soil conditions on the site;

– services;

– surrounding trees

– any history of flooding;

– right of way

Once these are out of the way, naturally questions turn to cost. So exactly how much will a home extension set you back?

Cost

Figures vary hugely due to a variety of factors, such as location or design specification, but as a rule of thumb it is said you should allow around £1,000 – £2,000 m². Remember to balance the amount you are willing to spend on your extension with the estimated value it will add to your home.

In an ideal world we would all finance our projects using savings, however, if you need to borrow the money for an extension it is possible to finance them using a credit card, loan or by re-mortgaging your home. Each of these options has its own individual benefits. If in doubt, arrange a meeting with your bank to discuss your options and ask for advice.

Planning permission

Another thing to think about is the issue of planning permission, will your extension adhere to planning regulations? If you have an idea for a project, here are just a few aspects of planning you may want to consider before the design stage

– You can extend a detached dwelling by 8m to the rear if it’s single storey or 3m if it’s double.

– It must be built in the same or similar material to the existing dwelling.

– Extensions must not go forward of the building line of the original dwelling.

– Side extensions must be single storey, maximum height of 4m and a width no more than half of the original building.

– An extension must not result in more than half the garden being covered.

Design

The next step is where Fibre comes in. After considering and overcoming all of these practical considerations, it’s time to think about design. Choosing an architect that you have confidence in and that shares your values is so important.

At Fibre Architects, we’re passionate about providing high-quality home design that often does something a little bit different and has some creative flair, and we love working with clients who share that passion. With over 20 years’ experience designing residential extensions, we help make the process of helping create an extension you can be proud of run as smoothly as possible.

If you’re thinking about extending your home and think Fibre Architects is the right company for your project – get in touch!

(data and article source: https://www.homebuilding.co.uk/extension-beginners-guide/)

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Cote Royd Dental Practice

In 2014, Fibre Architects were commissioned by Cote Royd Dental Practice to investigate the feasibility of converting their large Grade 2 Listed building into luxury apartments.

This was due to the fact the property was simply too big for their needs at that time.

It was also deemed necessary as increasingly stringent regulations within the dental profession meant it was becoming more difficult to maintain hygiene standards whilst retaining the features of the listed building.

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We drew up plans to successfully and sensitively split the building into seven large self-contained apartments with generous rooms which maintained their original proportions and many of their existing features.

At the same time, we were asked to consider the extension of the former stable building to provide bespoke new accommodation for the practice, with a new separate entrance to the rear, accessed from the car park.

Planning Approval and Listed Building Consent for both projects was successfully granted in July 2015.

Cote Royd House was then sold with the planning approval which added considerable value to the property, and construction work began on the extension to the former stable building in early 2016.

Fibre worked closely with the contractors to ensure that careful attention to detail, together with considered specification and use of appropriate materials made the new extension a seamless continuation of the existing building.

The practice was very happy with the end result and moved into their new premises (seen below) in October 2016.

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Here at Fibre, we always enjoy working with beautiful old buildings such as Cote Royd House.

We are always proud to be able to work creatively whilst still maintaining the charm and character of the original building – and we look forward to many more projects of this kind in the future.

 

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How to Renovate for Profit

Even the most ambitious of renovations can turn a profit if you follow these basic rules. Property developer and author of Renovating for Profit, Michael Holmes, shares his top tips.

1. Buy the Worst House on the Best Street
You can’t influence an area or change the street, but you can completely transform the house and totally rebuild it if necessary. At this point the price you pay is absolutely critical.

2. Get the Essentials Right First
Prioritising your budget, always put money towards the essentials first, to make sure the building is warm, dry and free of damp, and is a secure property.

3. Don’t Get Carried Away
Think: Who is going to buy this? What are they looking for? Do your research, have a look at what other developers are doing in your area.

4. Add Central Heating
Updating the central heating system will always add more to the value and is a priority to buyers. Seal any draughts, replace windows with double glazing and adding insulation into the loft space. If the existing boiler is in reasonable working order, try to make use of it by adding new radiators, a heated towel rail, or underfloor heating.

5. Consider Remodelling While Renovating
After looking at the basics, focus on making the best use of your space. Add space in order of cost-effectiveness:
• First, remodel the space that you have already got.
• After that, convert spaces perhaps the loft, a garage, or a cellar.
• Next, think about the possibilities of extending up because that’s always cheaper than extending out, and you don’t lose garden space; if that’s not a possible extend backwards or sideways.
• Extend down and create a basement, but that is expensive.
• If nothing else works, you can usually add extra space at the bottom of the garden with an outbuilding.

6. Fix Superficial Defects
Small defects don’t directly affect the value of a property. However, together they will prevent it selling at the optimum price. Examples of typical defects:
• Peeling paint
• Squeaking or sticking doors and windows
• Door latches that don’t work
• Mouldy sealants in kitchens and bathrooms
• Dripping taps
• Loose tiles

7. Remember the ‘Ceiling Value’
There is a ‘ceiling value’ – a maximum value that any property can achieve. The best way to identify this is looking at what other people’s homes have sold as; look on Rightmove or Zoopla.

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Fibre Architects win bid to design new Huddersfield Community Church

Fibre Architects are pleased to announce that we have won a bid to design the re-development of a former local factory into a community hub and worship area; a space that all the community at Birkby will be able to enjoy.

The factory based at Willow Lane, Birkby, was formerly used to bottle Britvic drinks and was put up for sale when Britvic stopped production in January 2014. The Rivertree Trust, who now own the site, held a competition to determine which architecture firm would partner them in the redesign of the site. After a detailed and lengthy selection process, our proposals and approach wowed the Trust and we’re glad to say that we came out on top!

The new church and community hub is intended to be multi-purpose, hoping to offer not only a place to worship, but meeting rooms for charities and a place to offer support for families or those in need in the local community which is why we are so proud to be taking the lead on the design aspects of the re-development.

Our MD Martin Booker said; “We are really pleased to announce our appointment as architects by the Rivertree Trust and Community Church Huddersfield for the design of the exciting re-development of the former Britvic Factory on Willow Lane in Birkby into their new Community Hub Facility.”

“An application for full planning approval with more detailed proposals for the new facility should be submitted next year, and in the meantime we will be working hard with the client team to ensure the proposals are appropriate, deliverable and of a high quality design fitting for this important new community development for Birkby and Huddersfield as a whole.”

The Operations Manager of the Rivertree Trust Chris Haygarth also added; “We are very pleased to be partnering with Fibre Architects on the project. Out of 7 potential partners, Fibre, as a local company, really stood out to us as being passionate about Huddersfield. I am very thankful to have found a partner who understands us as an organisation and is willing to work with us to co-create this exciting Community Hub Venue in Huddersfield.”

We will keep you updated with news of this project as it develops next year.

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David McGrath Designs

As Architects, Fibre are probably one of the first people to be involved in a residential new build or renovation project, we know the buck doesn’t stop with us. What happens after we have helped design your new home’s exterior and structure is what helps complete the process of making a house a home.

That’s why we value the work of great interior designers and what they can bring to the projects we work on. One of our most favoured partner companies in this profession is David McGrath Designs, based in Mirfield. We have worked with him for several years now and we’re always extremely happy with what the team bring to our projects.

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Much like us at Fibre Architects, the staff at David McGrath Designs have been working in their field for over 20 years, creating and installing bespoke interiors all over Yorkshire. David is always very flexible and accommodating in his approach to creating designs with clients, and will work hard to deliver according to specific taste and budget.

We appreciate the way that David McGrath Designs share our contemporary approach to high-quality design and the way in which this adds tremendous value to any property. Whether it be in the kitchen or the bedroom – David delivers designs that are simultaneously modern and homely and that create a ‘ready to move into’ feel for the projects we work on.

 

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At Fibre, we realise the importance of working with the best people to make a home that not only we are proud to have helped design for you, but also a home you are really happy to live in yourself. That’s why we only work with the best possible people throughout every step of the designing and building process, and we look forward to continuing to work with David again in the near future.

If you want to learn more about David McGrath Designs and see more of the great design work he has done, take a look at the website: http://www.davidmcgrathdesigns.co.uk/