A Week in the Life… Wouter, Architectural Designer

Hi! My name is Wouter.

I am the owner/director of Maidenhead Planning, Senior surveyor and Architectural designer. I set up Maidenhead Planning after working in construction for many years and subsequently gaining a Building Surveying degree from Reading University.

At Maidenhead Planning, I work to provide a wide range of services to my clients including design and space planning, planning applications, technical drawings, design and build project and building surveying services.

What does my week entail?

To manage my time effectively, I try to work to a timetable during the week. I find this means that all aspects of my job get the time and attention they need. I’m a morning person so I like to start the working day early. This also means I can finish the day at a decent hour so I can spend time with my young family. 

I set aside Mondays and Tuesdays for measured surveys. I allow for two a day to ensure I have enough time to conduct the surveys accurately. Wednesdays and Thursdays are set aside for video chats throughout the day and architectural design draughting work. Fridays are set aside for webinars, working on accreditations (MRICS, MCIAT etc) and writing feasibility reports.

This is what last week looked like for me:

Monday

7am – 10am – Answer emails from queries over the weekend.

10am – 12 noon- Measured Survey on a Grade II listed cottage in Twyford.

The client wishes to remove part of the floor to create a larger room. The ceiling height on the ground floor is 1650mm!!, so I can see why!

2pm – 4pm – Measured Survey. Bungalow in Holyport.

The clients wish to create a two-storey rear extension. All the other homes are bungalows so careful consideration to the “street scene” so their newly refurbished home will be “in keeping with the surrounding area”.

My designs usually start off as a sketch so the clients can see what their new space could look like

The all important Morning Brew!
The all important Morning Brew!
My designs usually start off as a sketch so the clients can see what their new space could look like
My designs usually start off as a sketch so the clients can see what their new space could look like

Tuesday

7am – 10am – Emails and general admin tasks.

10am – 12 noon – Measured survey on a detached home in central Maidenhead.

The clients would like a single-storey rear extension added to an existing extension. This will need to be permitted development as the extension won’t be allowed under a householder planning application.

2pm – 3pm – Site visit to meet with a client who wishes to apply for planning for an outbuilding within the Green Belt.

Permitted development rights have been removed from the property so a full householder application is needed.

3pm – 5pm - Architectural Draughting.

Wednesday

7am – 10 am – Emails and general admin tasks.

10am – 12 noon – Pre-arranged video chats with clients.

This is my opportunity to meet and get to know my future clients or continue to build relationships with my existing clients. This is an important part of my week and allows me to be a better designer as I can really get to know my clients and their needs and wants on their projects.

1pm to 2pm – Send out fee proposals and update clients on planning applications.

Communication is key to a good client/designer relationship and I find that everybody appreciates a good update on how their project is going.

2pm – 5pm – Architectural Draughting

A photo of a poorly designed roof that we will redesign.
A photo of a poorly designed roof that we will redesign.
On my trip to London, I spotted a Mansard Roof design, similar to that planned for a client in Henley.  I took the opportunity to take a snap to show the client.
On my trip to London, I spotted a Mansard Roof design, similar to that planned for a client in Henley. I took the opportunity to take a snap to show the client.

Thursday

8am – 12 noon– Meet with interior designer in Harrods Department store to discuss the upcoming installation of a menswear brand that I have been looking after for the last few years.

On my trip to London, I spotted a Mansard Roof design, similar to that planned for a client in Henley. I took the opportunity to take a snap to show the client.

1 pm – 2pm – Conduct a condition survey as part of a Party Wall Award in Iver.

2pm – 5pm - Architectural Draughting

Friday

7am – 10 am – Emails and general admin tasks.

10am – 12 noon – Work on RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors) chartered membership application. To gain Chartership into the RICS, all surveyors must go through an Assessment of Professional Competence (the APC). A lot of work goes into evidencing the work I do and there is plenty of study to do for the interview stage of the assessment.

1pm – 2pm – Work on CIAT membership application (Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologist). Similar to the RICS membership, I work to evidence my experience through the work I carry out on a daily basis.

2pm – 5pm – Webinars and CPD (Continual Professional Development), this includes online lectures, researching new construction technologies or keeping up to date with new planning policies. It is important to me to keep up to date with new innovations in the world of construction.

3D Layouts help everybody visualise a proposed layout
3D Layouts help everybody visualise a proposed layout

Why I love my job?

I love my job as it is so varied. On a typical day where I have many video meetings, I could speak with 4-5 different people, from different walks of life, with different requirements. I am a problem solver and the challenge of meeting the requirement of the different clients is difficult to achieve. I find it very satisfying when I succeed in meeting a challenging brief.

What don’t I love about my job?

I often have to inform clients that the home development that they have been designing for years is outside of their reach. This may be because of planning restraints, budget constraints or for various other reasons. We really challenge the clients to give us an accurate design brief so we fully understand the requirements. We may have to let them know that their original idea is not feasible, whilst giving them alternative solutions to meet their requirements.

I sometimes advise clients not to progress with any designs as their requirements will not be met either way. Or the compromise would be too great in my opinion.

Ultimately, I enjoy helping people obtain the home they want and if I’m brutally honest, I like being the guy who is credited with solving the design puzzle. When those two things don’t happen, it’s not much fun.

Posted on April 8th 2021

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