How Do You Select An Architect

Wednesday, 30 September 2009
I will readily admit that I'm not very good at selecting suppliers. Whether they are builders, architects, financial advisors, solictors, gardeners or mechanics. I'm pretty good at selecting laptops and cameras and toys and anything that doesn't have an emotional brain in it. But suppliers?

So, how does the average Joe go about selecting a supplier of a service? I need an architect and I have a problem. I want value for money and I want imagination. To re-use a well-worn phrase, SIMPLES. Except for two small issues:

  • I don't understand architects' costs
  • I don't know how to determine if an architect is imaginative enough

I've been given the names of a couple of architects and I've gathered the names of more from the "interweb". Would it be fair to send them a basic house plan, tell them there is a budget of £100,000 and ask them for a sketch of how they would approach the job? That seems pretty fair to me, to be honest. A "Proof Of Concept" if you will. But will they go for it?

And as for solicitors!!! Is there any such thing as a good solicitor? Should I just go with a recommendation? To be honest, I've had just one recommendation for a solicitor. ONE! You solicitors out there are not doing a good job when it comes to repeat business it would seem!

Anyway, I need to phone these "suppliers" this week and get the ball rolling. I hate engaging with these people. Wish me luck!

Our plans

Monday, 28 September 2009
Where to start.... the existing bungalow has downstairs - sitting room, 2 bedrooms, study, bathroom, kitchen and dining room. There are stairs in the dining room going up to the first floor where there are 3 more bedrooms and a bathroom. So it is a substantial house already. It was built by Stephen's father and mother in the 1980s and was their family home.

However it does have a few issues eg. you have to go through the sitting room and then dining room to get upstairs. So one basic thing we need to address it the siting of the stairs, they need to be in the hall ideally. To get the space to do that we need to remove the study and the upstairs small bedroom - that creates a nice big hall and also gets the light into the corridors. Might still need a wee extension out the front.

Overall we want to try to get some benefit from solar gain - our new extension which will house a kitchen diner will be south facing so this will be the main living area - provided we can get planning permission. I am hoping that there will be little overshadowing to our new neighbour.

This is all probably very hard to imagine - need S to publish the existing floor plan!

Size matters!

Monday, 28 September 2009
More discussion between S and myself last night. We want to make the house as "exciting" as possible but bearing in mind that we are not millionaires. There are very few existing features as the house is a 1980s chalet bungalow, so how do we get some features in there which wont cost the earth. Hmmm. I have decided that we will be using basic building materials eg. block work and simple plaster. There is also an issue with light - there's not enough! So - to kill 2 birds with 1 stone I'm going for lots of windows.

During our wee chat last nite it transpired that S would have liked a games room. It could either be bolted on as a single storey at end of the kitchen extension - or as part of the garage rebuild. Going to go cost it now.

The Paperwork

Sunday, 27 September 2009
Last week, the guest bedroom and living room were "emptied". There wasn't much in them, to be fair. Some lamps, curtains, old clothes, VHS tapes (remember those?) and other bits and bobs that nobody in their right mind would want.

Yesterday, I bought a Ryobi strimmer in order to tackle the overgrown lawn. That was good fun except for the sight of the frogs jumping out of the way. I've no doubt that some frogs met their end and I've only completed 10% of the garden thus far.

Today, it was the turn of the old study. It was difficult to even get into the study as it held that much "stuff". Seven bin-liner bags of "stuff" were removed and there's probably another three to go (as well as the furniture). Seven doesn't seem like a lot, but there was the added complication that there was a lot of paperwork to get through. What do you do with paperwork? Bin it? Or sift through it?

Unfortunately, the right answer is to sift through it. Just in case. I came across birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates, bank pass-books and wills. Thank goodness I sifted. However, the problem with sifting is it is VERY time-consuming. A one-hour job took three hours!

Anyway, the current clear-out process now reads as such:


  • Living Room
  • Bathroom
  • Guest Bedroom
  • Dining Room
  • Bedroom 1
Nearly Complete
  • Kitchen
  • Study
  • Bedroom 2
  • Lounge

So... progress is being made.

Next Steps
There are 4 more rooms to empty and a garage which is stuffed full of woodworking equipment. Outside, there are sheds filled with more "stuff". So, I need to get a skip. More importantly though, I need to arrange the following:
  • Speak to a solicitor
  • Arrange a mortgage
  • Get an architect on-board
  • Arrange for planning permission
  • Source a builder

This week, it will be the solicitor, mortgage lender and architect. Hopefully.

Blog Purpose

Sunday, 27 September 2009
This blog will be my online diary recording the details of the purchase and renovation of a house.

The house hasn't been bought and architectural drawings have not even been started. Planning permission hasn't been sought (yet) and the house, in it's current state, is a bit tired.

Some decisions have already been taken, though. The purchase will happen, the house will be renovated and we will move into it. Apparently.

Think of this as an online version of "Grand Designs". Think of me as your Kevin McCloud!