1. Brings the outdoors to even the smallest of spaces – Even if it is being added onto a flat, having a balcony could allow an owner to have their slice of paradise. Smaller balconies are usually seen with mini gardens that their owners have created, or even a small set of table and chairs so that they can sit outside and drink tea or coffee on a summer’s morning. Larger balconies, however, could have the potential to bring families together. If big enough, they can house barbeques and be the ideal location for get-togethers with family or friends.
2. Lets in air and sunlight – Another benefit of a balcony is that it gives a lot more air and sunshine to the adjacent room. If one side of your property doesn’t get that much sunlight, then a balcony would be perfect. Having doors instead of a small window would guarantee a lot more sunshine going into that room. It’s also sometimes hard to bring air into a particular area of the property too, especially if the room only has a small window. A balcony could additionally solve that problem as a more significant draught would be coming in from the open doors. It would also be beneficial in the summer as a natural breeze would help to make a room less hot and stuffy.
3. Enjoy the view – The most obvious benefit of having a balcony is the view. Instead of just looking at it from a window, you can embrace the scenery by stepping outdoors and see a broader panoramic landscape.
Do I Need Planning Permission?
If you are looking to change the use of a property, there are many things that you need to know before going ahead. One of these things is whether planning permission will be necessary.
Planners categorise all buildings by their use class, i.e. offices, dwellings, etc. Certain use classes can be converted to other certain use classes without needing planning permission. This is called permitted development. Please note that permitted development policies vary between England and Wales.
For example, if you wanted to change a restaurant into a hairdresser’s, planning this change of use class does not require planning permission as it is permitted development. However, if the hairdressers were going to be converted into a restaurant, planning permission would be required as there is no permitted development right for this conversion in Wales.
We recently worked on a project that required planning permission for a change of use. We were approached by our client to assist with the conversion of a doctor’s surgery into six apartments. The doctors’ surgery and the apartments needed planning permission from the local authority due to being in different use classes.
What Is Needed When Applying for Planning Permission?
The following documents have to be included within the application to apply for planning permission;
• Relevant plans of the site and elevations if there are any alterations to the facades.
• Supporting documentation.
• The Application Form.
• The correct fee. Learn how to calculate this for both Wales and England.
Wales: https://ecab.planningportal.co.uk/uploads/welsh_application_fees.pdf and for
The Local Planning Authority then decides whether to grant the planning and will usually make a decision within eight weeks.
What Influences the Local Planning Authority’s Decision?
They base their decision on the following criteria:
• The number, size, layout, siting and external appearance of buildings.
• The infrastructure available, e.g. roads and water supply.
• Any landscaping needs.
• What you want to use the development to be.
• How your development would affect the surrounding area, e.g. if it would create lots more traffic.
Do I need Building Regulations for my Project?
If your change of use does not require planning permission, it may mean that your project still needs building regulations.
Still Not Sure If Your Project Needs Planning Permission?
If you’re still not sure that your project requires planning permission, the best option is to chat with people who will know. Our architects can advise if your project needs planning permission or even building regulations.
If you are undertaking a project and would like to receive some advice regarding planning permissions or building regulations, please get in touch. Call the office on 01633 744144 or email email@example.com to arrange a free one-hour consultation.
Autumn is in full swing and that means many students around the country have returned to their desks at architecture school. For the majority, this time is a mixture of excitement and enthusiasm, but for others, it’s a mixture of anxiety and sleepless nights. Studying architecture is not an easy option, that’s for sure. Having said that, pursuing an architectural education, can be fulfilling, character building, and can set you on a path to a rewarding career.
Here are tips to help you succeed and excel in your architecture studies:
1. Time management
By starting to organise the life according to a specific system, it is possible to achieve a whole new level of productivity.
You may use time-saving apps, like IFTTT and Pocket if you have to handle too many tasks in a single day. Plan your assignment carefully by breaking it down on small sections in order to reach the end goal. To keep track of all daily tasks and set priorities, you may use a simple app like Clear . Do not put things off and start working on your assignments as soon as possible.
Get some sleep! Continuous lack of sleep is a serious cause of stress that may even lead to mental health issues later in life as per this RIBA article .It should all be about a healthy work balance.
In some situations, you’ll need to say ‘no’ when you have tight deadline for an assignment. It is about learning what is important to you in order to get through your studies and do well.
2. Take care of yourself
Taking care of yourself is paramount to the success of your studies. Eat healthy food, Exercise regularly, Get enough sleep and Rest.
Taking care of all aspects of you will increase the likelihood that you achieve more. Being and feeling healthy will improve self-esteem and keep you confident. Your positive attitude will spread throughout your assignments and presentations demonstrating your enthusiasm for the subject.
3. Get some work experience
Internships, work experiences, work shadowing or anything that will help you to prepare for work and develop general business awareness. Start thinking ahead.
Try working at architectural practice, on construction site, engineering office and other places related to architecture or construction. It’s all useful, and should all go on your CV .
4. Learn to draw
Take your time to do lots of practice. It is a very useful skill and brainstorming tool that can help you develop ideas individually or as part of a team. Sketching helps you show a concept to a team or client, come up with potential solutions quickly, and help better understand a project yourself.
5. Learn how to speak well in public
With thorough preparation and practice, you can overcome your nervousness and preform exceptionally well. Being a good public speaker can enhance your reputation, boost your self-confidence, and open up countless opportunities.
To become a better speaker, use the following strategies – Plan appropriately, Practice, Engage with your audience, Pay attention to body language, Think positively, Cope with your nerves and Watch recordings of your speeches.
During your studies you will have a good opportunity to practice the presentation of your work to people. So, start planning your communication appropriately. Use tools like Rhetorical Triangle and The 7 Cs of Communication .
Networking is an essential part of advancing your career. You need to connect with others – whether by becoming member of an association or getting involved with local architectural events. It’s more likely you get help with some work experience or new job through who you know and at the same time meeting the array of new interesting people for you to learn from.
7. Embrace criticism
From time to time you may deal with your work being criticised. Try not to take it personally and not to overreact. Learn how to respond to your critics .
Learn from what people are saying and move on. Constructive criticism will allow you to improve and become a better architect.
8. Don’t give up
You knew it would not be easy. So, keep on going and do your best. You will eventually reach your goal.
‘Never give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about’. – Sir Winston Churchill
Architect: Richard Andrews Architects
Works Undertaken: Feasibility and planning, detailed design and tender plus contract and project overseeing.
Client: Private Domestic Client
Cost of Work: Undisclosed
Contractor: So Exclusive Developments
We were approached by our client and their family to help design a new build studio apartment within the grounds of their existing family home. As our client has a disability that affects mobility and is dependent upon using a wheelchair it was essential that we designed a fully level home, that allowed circulation paths for the wheelchair throughout all the rooms. We encorporated wide external and internal doorways and included a ramp leading from the rear decked terrace to a garden area below.
The large bedroom and ensuite was designed to give ample space for hoist access to the bed and bath with the addition of a wetroom style shower, lowered WC and stylish vanity units.
Another consideration we needed to address was that our client also required a team of carers present at all times. We wanted to design a home that not only allowed our client their privacy and living space but also gave sufficient space for visiting guests and carers. We proposed an upstairs wing, with private bedrooms, a small sitting/study area and a bathroom with shower enclosure.
Making someone's quality of life better truely is the passion behind our practice. If you have a project you'd like our help with call our team on 01633 744144 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
We are currently looking for an experienced administration / marketing assistant to join our friendly team, on a part time basis of 14 hours per week Thursday – Friday. To find out more about the role, please continue reading our candidate specification below.
OVERALL PURPOSE OF THE JOB
To provide all round administrative and marketing assistance to the Director and office.
- To co-ordinate an effective front line response to telephone calls to agreed service standards, passing on telephone calls to the appropriate person or taking messages;
- Carry out client invoicing and help with chasing up of invoices;
- Helping with company accounts – assisting our external Accountant with information;
- Administration of Internal/External Post system;
- Provide general office support and carry out general correspondence, filing and other administrative and office duties as required;
- To provide personal assistant duties to the Director including managing and maintaining the Director’s email account, diary management and ensuring correspondence is dealt with in a timely manner;
- Assist with the maintenance of computer files and databases and undertake data inputting as required;
- Keep Company’s WordPress website and social media accounts, mainly Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, up-to-date by posting project information, news, etc. on a regular basis as well as assisting in preparation of blog content;
- At the discretion of the Practice Manager, to prepare promotional literature on behalf of Richard Andrews Architects Ltd;
- To assist in the organisation of promotional events and meetings and as required;
-To occasionally attend networking events;
- Undertake any other duties as required commensurate with the post’s grading or general level of responsibility;
- Demonstrate informed commitment to equal opportunities, diversity and associated policies;
- To adhere to Health and Safety Legislation/relevant Policies and Procedures and to take reasonable care for the health and safety of yourself and other persons who may be adversely affected by your acts/omissions;
The above is not an exhaustive list of duties and you will be expected to perform different tasks as necessitated by your changing role within the organisation and the overall business objectives of the organisation.
A level standard or equivalent
Experience of working in an office environment
Experience of dealing with clients
High level of administrative ability
Good communicator, both written and oral
Good computer skills especially with Microsoft Office
Ability to work effectively with a wide range of people
Great attention to detail
Good at managing tasks and prioritising workload
Effective contributor to a team
A desire to show initiative
Ability to work with minimum supervision
Ability to stay calm under pressure
Previous Marketing experience
Experience of maintaining WordPress websites and other social media platforms
If you'd like to apply please send a CV and covering letter explaining why you think you're right for the role to email@example.com
One of the skills we pride ourselves on at RA Architects is our ability to help clients overcome planning constraints to gain a successful application outcome.
Each project we work on has individual planning considerations, however we thought it may provide an interesting insight to blog about one of our more contentious applications and the process undertaken by our colleague Cai to help secure planning approval for our private client.
The Vale of Glamorgan (Vale of Glamorgan Council.)
The Project Brief:
A change of use scheme where our client was looking to convert two retail units (one of which had lain dormant for several years) into a single residential dwelling.
Why did the Council recommend refusal?
The Vale of Glamorgan have a well-meaning policy (LDP policy MG15 as detailed below) which protects commercial units in local retail centres being converted to flats; however conversion to a residential dwelling is still permissible if it can be proven that the retail unit is no longer commercially viable.
For our client to be allowed to convert the property they needed to provide clear evidence that the shop units weren’t commercially viable. Our client submitted proof that they had tried to market the property for sale as retail units for several years but were unsuccessful.
One of the planners felt that the evidence submitted by our clients was not sufficient and suggested that the property could be rented or that our client could consider changing the use to other retail, commercial or community type services. The council questioned why there was not a ‘For Sale’ sign outside the property.
Our client responded that whilst every effort was made to market the building they did not agree to a ‘For Sale’ sign outside the property due to the potential negative impact it may have for the business of the client’s wife who ran a cake company from the larger unit.
Once the case officer confirmed that the evidence submitted by our client was deemed insufficient and the planners were going to recommend a refusal our clients called the application to planning committee.
What happens at a Vale of Glamorgan planning committee meeting?
The planning authority present the application and their recommendations and the applicant or agent (in this case Cai,) speak in favour of the scheme. The councillors then vote whether they wish to uphold the planners recommendation.
In this example, Cai explained the submitted evidence and also emphasised that the retail units were situated on the periphery of the retail centre, and were not a prominent frontage in the retail centre. As neighbouring retail units included a newsagents, pharmacy and Tesco express, Cai suggested that the change of use scheme would not affect the day to day needs of the local community.
The Councillors of the planning committee however upheld the planner’s recommendation and refused the application.
What can be done after planning has been refused?
Cai discussed the project with his clients and together they decided to appeal the planning decision. The case was passed to an independent, senior appointed planning inspectorate who would make a final decision. Cai wrote an appeal statement comprehensively explaining why he believed the application met the policy criteria.
What did the planning inspectorate find?
The planning inspectorate concluded that there was no evidence to suggest the marketing of the property had been insufficient and accepted our clients’ reasoning for the lack of a physical ‘For Sale’ board. The inspector also dismissed the council’s idea that the property could be tenanted if not sold. Commenting that ‘prolonging the period of vacancy of [the] retail units with no certainty that a sale could be achieved, would have a negative impact on the vibrancy of the centre.’
Finally, in consideration of all points raised by The Vale of Glamorgan council, alongside the evidence submitted by ourselves and our client the inspector approved the application.
If you are undertaking a project and would like to receive some advice regarding planning permissions, please do get in touch. Call the office on 01633 744144 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a free consultation.
We’ve blogged before about the many hats worn by an architect and spoken about how the role is much more varied than just drawing a few plans, so with that in mind we decided to record a ‘day in the life’ of Richard Andrews Architect’s Associate, Lewis, to help give a real understanding of what a typical day for an architectural professional looks like.
6.30am – The day starts early, I set a 5am alarm so that I can get to a 6.30am business networking event in Cardiff. The group is high energy, though I get a chance to talk to all the attendees and explain a little about the services we offer and the projects we’re currently working on, I then set follow up meetings with potential clients and business contacts over the next couple of weeks.
8am – Back at the office, I like to check through my inbox and respond to emails from the night before, plus double check my calendar and to –do list for the day ahead. The first job of the day is to explore a technical issue on an existing scheme – where we are converting an old surgery building into flats. The build is currently at stage 3 (contract and project overseeing of our design process) and I need to find a way to waterproof the floor between two buildings at different levels.
8.45 - The next task on my list is working on the detail specifications for a £1million pound plus meeting facility scheme. I read through the construction design installation and chase roofing contractors for further information.
9.15 - I check in with the rest of the technical team and sit with my colleague Seb to look over feasibility designs for a two storey house extension, satisfied the project is going to plan I then follow up with another of our architectural assistants Antonella who is working on value engineering a separate house extension project.
10.30 – I have a telephone meeting booked with our quantity surveyor to work on the final account for Cwmbran Village Surgery’s building works which totalled around £450k. We also discuss tender proposals regarding a second GP surgery project in Pontprennau, Cardiff. I will later relay our discussions back to the client so that they can make the most informed choice regarding the construction tender bids for their project.
11.45 – Time to grab a quick lunch at a cafe in Caerleon with practice director Richard, smoked salmon baguette, a slice of lemon cake and a chance to catch up!
12.30 - I start the afternoon by responding to some of the emails and telephone messages that have come in throughout the day, then I turn my attention to some drawing work using our 3D modelling software Revit. A few of my newer colleagues are also learning the software so I use this as an opportunity to help them improve their skills.
1.45 – 3D drawing completed, I finish costing and writing up a client fee proposal for a potential residential extension I had visited the previous day. The client had some great ideas for their home and having seen the space I have many thoughts on how we can improve their initial concept to further maximise the use of light and space and improve their quality of life.
2.10 - Email to the client sent, fingers crossed we get the commission. I check my to-do list, and start work on a pen and paper sketch for a 16 unit new house layout in the valleys, this is an enjoyable way to get some ideas down early in a project.
3.00 – Time for a Site visit for a local householder project in Newport regarding planning enforcement. The quality of works carried out by the appointed construction team is good and to our original design specification, I update our client and the rest of the team.
4.00 – I quickly pop back into the office to respond to some more emails emails and telephone messages before heading back out to a ‘snagging’ appointment for a new build house in Newport.
5.30pm - The meeting goes well, all parties are happy with only some minor items to rectify, so for me; it’s time to head home to rugby training this evening!
We hope you enjoyed reading this post and gained a better insight into what our team does on a daily basis. Feel free to contact us regarding your scheme – we'd love to help!
Architect: Richard Andrews Architects, project overseen by Associate Lewis Shaw
Works Undertaken: Feasibility and planning, detailed design and tender plus contract and project overseeing.
Client: Private Domestic Client
Cost of Work: £100,000+
Contactors: TLC Building Services
To create a contemporary single story rear extension, with enough room to accommodate a kitchen, dining space and family area. Also to add a side extension to make room for an office and library space.
Unique Design Features – Once finished the exterior to the property showcases a beautiful white render contrasted against timber cladding. A wrap around window on the corner of the office side extension enhance natural light. Crittall style doors frame the view from kitchen to garden and allow a smooth transition from inside to out and the addition of skylights and high placed windows spanning the width of the extension bring a bright and airy family space.
Our clients contracted TLC Building Services to complete the work with ourselves overseeing the contract administration and project management.
There is still a tiny bit more work to do before the propery is complete (namely applying the crisp white exterior.) However already we can see what an improvement the new living space has made for our clients. If you're thinking of embarking on a similar project, we'd love to get involved. Contact the team on 01633 744144 or email email@example.com.
Architect: Richard Andrews Architects, project overseen by Associate Lewis Shaw.
Works undertaken – Feasibility and planning, detailed design and tender plus contract and project overseeing.
Client: Practice Owners of Cwmbran Village Surgery, partly funded by Aneurin Bevan Health Board
Cost of Work: £450,000+
Contractors: White Brothers & Speed
The practice owners contacted us to help resolve several design challenges for their surgery, which opened 25 years prior and was long overdue an update. We quickly established that the surgery's main challenge was that the building was too small for the amount of patients registered – with a poor internal layout and a lack of consulting and treatment rooms. We proposed a single front extension to expand the reception and administration spaces, with a second two storey extension housing consulting rooms to the side. The heart of the design stemmed from creating a centralised waiting room with the treatment and consulting rooms arranged in wings to improve the patient flow around the building. An installation of a lift to the upstairs floor rendered the practice compliable with the Disability Acts Standards, whilst we improved patient experience through light, modern and airy rooms.
The 3D Render Design
The dual extension accomodates 4 new consultation rooms and two new treatment rooms, an enlarged waiting/ reception area plus a reconfiguration of the adminstration and staff spaces. This particular project required the use of all three of our stages of work. The first of which was feasibility, planning and design. We gave a number of design options for the practice and worked together to choose the most practical. We then prepared the final design to be put through Torfaen County Council planning department. We submitted the planning application on behalf of our clients (including all forms and administration) and liaised with the Torfaen council to achieve a positve result.
The next stage was to provide a detailed design. Using our extensive knowledge of constuction and regulations, we created detailed drawings for the builders to work from. Following which we consulted with engineers, building control and other professionals as necessary to ensure the project fully buildable and compliant. We then administered a tender package to a number of building contractors to assure the best price and quality for the build works.
Our clients choose White Brothers and Speed to complete the works, which took place from early summer 2017 to completion in April 2018. We administered a contract between White Brothers and Speed and Cwmbran Village Surgery, based on our detailed drawings, our understanding of construction laws and contact negotiation. We then throuh regular site visits checked the building work to ensure the work was being delivered in line with our drawings, regulations and was to the standard allowed for in the tender.
Testimonial from Practice Manager Sian Whitcombe
To Lewis and the team at RA Architects. A big thank you for all your hard work and dedication to this project. Your professionalism has been exemplary and we would not hesitate to recommend you to others.
We will be publishing a video documenting a behind the scenes look of the works undertaken to the surgery within the next couple of weeks. Make sure you follow us on social media to keep up to date!