Horror Mistakes When Designing Your Home

With Halloween just around the corner, our minds here at Maidenhead Planning are turning to horror (stories).  Designing your own home, or even extending it, can lead into many nightmare scenarios, from the mildly annoying to the darn right scary.  Here are some common pitfalls to avoid.

1. No Research into your Design Professional

Sometimes it’s feels easier to just pick the first architectural designer that comes your way!  But just because he or she is first on a list or your friend recommended them, does not mean they’re the best choice for you!  A poor fit with your designer can lead to all sort of nightmare design issues.  Who wants their ideas to be ignored or railroaded into choices that are not for you?  When looking for a design professional, choose a designer who you get on with and who you can imagine working through a problem with.  Spend some time with a few designers, talk to them, find out who “gets” you.

Here is a good article on choosing your architectural designer. https://www.homebuilding.co.uk/advice/how-to-choose-an-architect

2. No Research on Planning Policy

A design that has been carried out without research into the planning policy is a design that will fail.  You may end up paying for a design that won’t be given planning permission.  You may spend a lot of extra time and money wrangling with the planning authority, working out ways to get the design passed.

 The outcome might well be so far away from the design you fell in love with, that your disappointment will rule your view of you new-not-as good-as-it-could-have-been home. 

To combat this nightmare scenario look up your local planning policy at https://www.planningportal.co.uk/ for national policy.  Check out your local plans on your local council website.  Make sure you choose a designer with experience with your local authority.  They will be able to advise you of what is and is not possible in your area.

3. No Research into Build Cost before you Commit to Design Fees

It’s easy to want the biggest, bestest extension you can possible get on your plot. 

Loft extension?  Yes! 

6 metre rear kitchen/living extension?  Yes!

Two storey side extension? Yes, Yes, Yes! 

Bigger can most definitely be better, but there is no point is wanting it all if your budget will just not cover everything.  Before talking to a designer, have an honest conversation with yourselves and your bank as to how much you can afford.  Choose a designer who will have an open and honest discussion about projected costs of a build and your budget before you pay for full design fees.  This is where a feasibility study will pay for itself.  A feasibility study will ensure you don’t end up with full designs for your dream house that you just can afford to build!

The House You Want
The House You Want
The House You Can Afford
The House You Can Afford

4. Stuck with a Design you Don't Want

Nobody wants a full design with technical drawings  and planning permission for a house you don’t want, don’t like and can’t afford!  Make sure you discuss what you want with your family (or anyone else who’ll be sharing your new space).   Talk through design ideas with each other regularly.  Measure out space in the garden so you can visualise what the space will be like.  Talk about where you want the kitchen to be, or if you prefer open plan or individual rooms.  Don’t be led by fashion or what others want – this is your home.  Be honest and open with your designer.  Question their decisions on the design so you understand why there can’t be a window there, or why the bathroom must be located in that spot or whatever little niggle you might have.  It is the designer’s job to create designs of your vision within the parameters of planning and structural requirements. A good designer wants to know your opinion.  Give it to them – Get the house of your DREAMS, not NIGHTMARES.

Posted on October 30th 2020

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