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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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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.

 

Our top 3 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.

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Top 6 questions to ask your architect to make sure they’re the right match

Choosing the right architect for your project is key to creating a home that you are proud of. Here at Fibre Architects, we are passionate about listening to exactly what each of our clients wants, and going above and beyond the brief every time.

In order to be able to do this, we’ve put together a list of questions for you to ask us, or any potential architect, in order to ensure you find the perfect match for the design of your project.

  1. How would you approach this project?

Every architect will approach each project in a slightly different way. Don’t be afraid to ask each architect how they would tackle your project.

  1. Can I see some examples of your work?

The best way to judge an architect’s work is by looking at the projects they have worked on in the past. Architects should be proud and want to show off their work, take a look at some examples of Fibre’s previous work here.

  1. Can you refer contractors that you like?

One of the biggest advantages of using an architect can be the connections they have to builders and contractors in the local area, so ask if they are able to make recommendations.

  1. What are going to be the largest obstacles with this project?

A good architect should be honest with you about the challenges you may face with your project, and how they will help you overcome them.

  1. What are your fees?

It goes without saying that costs are going to be a consideration for any project, be clear right from the start what kind of fees you will be expecting from an architect’s work.

  1. How long would you expect the Planning Application, Building Regulations Approval and construction to take?

Although there are a number of factors that can alter this as the project develops, architects should be able to give an estimated time frame for each aspect of your project. Then you have to decide whether this fits in with your own desired time scale.

If you want a local, reliable architecture firm with a passion for high-quality design we’re sure that Fibre Architects will be the perfect match for you. Contact us to arrange a free consultation – and an opportunity to ask us any of the questions above and more.

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The Fibre team is expanding!

Fibre is delighted to reveal that we’re expanding and will be hiring a brand new member of staff over the next few weeks. This is in addition to taking on our latest recruit, Architectural Technology Assistant Jess, who began working at Fibre only a few months ago (read our blog about Jess here).

 

Thanks to Fibre’s ongoing success, our team is set to grow again as we are recruiting a new Architect or Architectural Technologist. This is following the successful progression of a number of projects to detailed design and construction stage, and therefore we felt it was the right time to make this exciting new addition to the team. As a practice, we’re looking forward to being able to provide our great service to even more clients with another new member of staff on board!

 

At Fibre, our work is very diverse. We provide high-quality design for both residential and commercial projects, so the search is on for someone who has a diverse skill set, with plenty of experience working in a variety of sectors. In order to maintain our impressive record of successful and deliverable planning approvals, we’re also looking for someone with a good knowledge of building regulations and construction detailing and specifications. Take a look at the exciting range of both commercial and residential projects we have reaching completion in the next year in our blog here.

 

Our Managing Director Martin said about the new recruitment drive: “We’re so excited to be in a position to be hiring yet another member of staff, after hiring Jess recently too. The growth that Fibre has seen over the last few years has been phenomenal and we couldn’t be happier! We can’t wait to welcome another member of staff to the Fibre team.”

 

Here at Fibre Architects, we take a lot of consideration into our decisions about hiring new staff, as a high level of customer satisfaction and the great relationships we make with our clients are one of our most important priorities as a company. We’re confident we’ll find the right person to help us achieve our ambitious goals for the future and continue providing the best possible service for all our clients.

 

If you would like to apply for this position please email your CV with some examples of your work to info@fibrearchitects.co.uk

 

We’ll be sure to keep you updated with more blog posts on how the recruitment process goes, so stay tuned!

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Fibre Architects has won the Best of Houzz Award 2017!

We’re delighted to announce that Fibre has won the Best of Houzz Award 2017! This national award is presented to the best-reviewed firms on the popular architecture, interior design and decorating website Houzz.co.uk.

We’ve won the award for Customer Service due to a number of high ratings for client satisfaction on the website. We focus on providing high-quality building design, and offering a unique take on architecture, and we’re glad to see that has been well received by our clients. We are also a helpful and friendly firm that are there to help our clients with any queries or issues that may arise throughout the design and construction process.

Our Managing Director Martin Booker enthused about winning the award: “We’re so thrilled to have won the Houzz award here at Fibre. We always strive to impress our clients by going above and beyond their brief, so getting such a great response from them is really encouraging.”

Andrew Small, Managing Director of Houzz UK and Ireland said: “we’re so pleased to award the Best of Houzz 2017 to this incredible group of talented and customer-focused professionals, including Fibre Architects,”“Each of these businesses was singled out for recognition by our community of homeowners and design enthusiasts for helping them turn their home improvement dreams into reality.”

“Each of these businesses was singled out for recognition by our community of homeowners and design enthusiasts for helping them turn their home improvement dreams into reality.”

Here at Fibre, we always keep the customer and their brief at the heart of our designs. We’re proud to have a reputation for being attentive to our clients and taking their vision and using it to create some truly exciting and creative home designs.

We have an exciting year ahead, with some big projects reaching completion, winning this award is the perfect start to an exciting year for Fibre Architects!

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Fibre’s top 3 projects with Planning Approval being built in 2017

At Fibre Architects, we’re confident in our ability to secure planning approvals across a variety of different types of residential project. We’ve got a number of exciting projects that have successfully received planning approval that will be built this year. We’ve chosen three of our favourites to make our top three planning approved projects due for completion in 2017:

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Stanley Road, Liverpool

Fibre worked closely with property developer New Regen Ltd to design a proposal for 30 new-build houses. Our design team worked hard to create high-quality homes that were both affordable and cost effective, using clever design techniques in order to maximise living space and keep construction costs down.

The homes were a hit with both the local authority and potential buyers. Our proposals were deemed “excellent” by the Liverpool City Council Planning Committee and over half of the properties have sold already despite being several months from completion. The projects should be completed just before the end of this year and we can’t wait to see the finished product!

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Listed Building extension, Quarmby

Following the successful implementation of a modern garden room in the grounds of the Grade 2 Listed house in 2014, Fibre successfully obtained Planning Approval for a modern “glass-box” style extension to the house in 2015.  This private client has decided to build out this exciting addition to the property this year, with construction work starting in April.

The new extension will bring abundant natural light and more much-needed family space into the heart of this impressive Georgian home.

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Extension in Scholes, Holmfirth

It’s not only old buildings that can benefit from a modern and exciting extension and remodelling project. Traditional, more recent house-builder type dwellings can also benefit from a fresh approach and this is exactly what Fibre designed for another private client for a property in Scholes, Holmfirth.

Planning approval was granted last year for a predominantly timber clad rear extension with large areas of sliding folding glass doors at ground floor opening up the remodelled house to an improved garden terrace area, including a brand new external pizza oven! Construction work has just started on site for this project, with an eagerly awaited completion due in around 4 months’ time.

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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.

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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.