Extension Helps to Improve Home Life

Tuesday, February 27th, 2018

A client in Buckinghamshire approached us to find out how they could make changes and improvements to their home, and in particular to the staircase which was located within a dark study at the rear of the house. Due to the age of the property there was a very steep and narrow winder stair which was becoming harder to use due to reduced mobility in the client.

The design brief was to create a small extension which was not only sympathetic to the surroundings, but also enabled a straight staircase at the correct pitch to be constructed. Within the design, it was requested to gain as much light as possible, due to the North facing aspect.

We designed a modest 6.5m2 extension which included a level access to the garden by the introduction of a ramp. To maximise the light to the study area, we introduced two Velux conservation grade rooflights. The effect of this has turned a dark area of the house into a bright and welcoming space. The staircase is constructed of oak and has a glass balustrade, again helping to create a sense of space and light. The space beneath the stairs has been turned into useful storage with two sliding drawers and a cupboard.

The external design carefully respects the 19th century rear elevation (the house was originally built as a pub in 1896), using reclaimed roof tiles and bricks to match the existing and window and door details which echo those of the original house.

Our client is thrilled with the result, and would recommend our design services: “Although modest in scale, the alterations have made an enormous difference to our lives. We are very pleased that PCMS Design advised us on how to improve our staircase in such an empathetic way, and we are extremely happy with the outcome, both inside and out.”


From Vision to Reality

Wednesday, February 21st, 2018

In the ever changing world of technology, architectural CAD software has moved on significantly since the days of the drawing board.

The most current software has revolutionised the way we work. State of the art software forms part of the Building Information Modelling (BIM) system, which allows the sharing of design information between all parties involved in the construction process.

We can work in 2D whilst the software builds the design into a three dimensional (3D) model, giving clients a clearer idea of the design concept.

Here in the office we have gone a step further. By using a 3D printer, we are able to bring to life the 3D model by producing a small scale building model. This gives clients the chance to pick up, turn around and inspect their concept design.

The pictures show how for one client the design concept has become a reality in 3D.


Residential Extension Gets Off the Ground

Thursday, February 15th, 2018

Work has recently begun on a new part two-storey, part single storey rear extension for a residential client in Buckinghamshire. The aspiration for this 3-bedroom semi-detached dwelling is to create a new first floor master bedroom and a larger open plan kitchen and dining area on the ground floor, which will be achieved by removing an outdated conservatory and replacing it with a modern, light extension.

The homeowners approached us to produce the construction drawings, specification and to administer the process of obtaining and evaluating quotes from suitably qualified local builders.

Materials such as roof tiles and bricks are to match the original dwelling and there will be a zinc roof on the single storey element. Party Wall matters have also been dealt with.

We anticipate that the extension will be completed by the end of May.


Timber Building is Awarded A-Rated EPC

Wednesday, January 24th, 2018

We were extremely pleased to learn last week that a recent project has been awarded an A-Rated Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). Our client was the National Trust; we recently completed the design and carried out project management for an extension to their Estate Office building at Ashridge Park near Tring. This included new offices and meeting room, and extensive alterations to the existing structure to create a new internal layout.

EPCs are awarded based upon the energy efficiency rating on a scale from G (less energy efficient) to A (more energy efficient). The refurbished and extended building saw a significant improvement due to higher levels of insulation, introduction of LED lighting and a new biomass boiler which has been installed.

Fewer than 1% of commercial premises achieve an A rating so this is a very positive result. To find out how we can help improve the energy performance of your building then please do get in touch.


Construction Begins at Henlow Academy

Tuesday, January 9th, 2018

We reached an important milestone last week when members of our team made the first site visit to a new development project at Henlow Academy in Bedfordshire. This is following our successful application to Central Bedfordshire Council for planning permission on behalf of the Academy, to a building design we had produced.

Construction has begun on a four-court sports hall and new classrooms, which will form the cornerstone of a larger site development project. We have already overseen the construction of a link extension and internal alterations to the main building in 2017, but the Academy will benefit still further from the latest increase in sports provision and additional teaching space.

The principal contractor, Borras Construction, has made a start on foundation trenches with the first inspection completed by Central Bedfordshire Council Building Control. We are looking forward to seeing progress as we oversee the construction throughout the nine month build period.

Lawful Development Status Confirmed

Wednesday, December 20th, 2017

From time to time, we are asked to design residential extensions for clients which fall under permitted development (PD) rules. Householders are permitted to carry out a range of extension projects to their home without first obtaining planning permission, providing the proposed works satisfy a list of rules.

However, in certain cases we advise clients that in order to provide additional reassurance, that they should apply for and obtain a Certificate of Lawful Development from their local authority.

This is a simpler and cheaper process than applying for Planning Permission, and means that should the property be sold in the future, all of the paperwork confirming that the extension is permitted is readily available.

We achieved this recently for a client in Oxfordshire; the proposal involved demolishing a conservatory and replacing it with a single storey rear extension – see 3D visual impression. The local authority agreed and duly issued the Certificate. Our client can now go ahead with the project, reassured that everything complies with permitted development rules.

We can provide lots more advice on how to improve and extend your home.

Extra Parking for Residents

Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

Thame & District Housing Association is a Registered Social Landlord which provides rented accommodation for people over 60 years of age. Pearce Court in Thame is a very popular residential development with a number of flats and some recreational/shared space. However, over the years it became clear that there was insufficient parking for residents as more people run their own cars, or have visitors arriving by car.

As the Housing Association had already secured planning permission for enlarging the car park, our role was to procure suitable construction firms and then subsequently project manage the works. We also carried out the contract administration.

If you have a similar project that would benefit from some professional management, then we would be very happy to discuss it – you may be surprised at how we can add value and take away a lot of the stresses of construction projects of any kind, not just extensions and new builds

The National Trust Estate Office at Ashridge

Monday, December 4th, 2017

An office extension has just been completed at Ashridge Estate near Tring for our client The National Trust. The estate office is a busy hub for rangers, volunteers and managers engaged in taking care of estate which includes over 5,000 acres of woodlands. Our role was to design an extension for the timber framed building, apply for planning consent and produce the technical specification and construction drawings. We also took care of contract administration during the build.

A biomass boiler to provide heating and hot water was installed as part of the extension project, and the fuel will be supplied from the woodland which surrounds the estate. New offices, a team room and a changing area have all been provided, and staff can also enjoy an external decking area in the warmer months.

As the estate office is constantly in use – including at weekends – the improvements are being already appreciated by staff.

PCMS Design Welcomes new Architectural Technologist Kathleen Pratt

Monday, November 27th, 2017

We are delighted this month to welcome our new Chartered Architectural Technologist Kathleen Pratt to PCMS Design.

Kathleen has over 30 years’ experience of working within a multi-disciplinary practice, and honed her skills at an architectural firm based in Oxford where she worked on a wide range of health care and educational projects.

We are very pleased that she has joined our team, and look forward to working alongside her on public sector, commercial and residential schemes, where she will play a key role.

“I am delighted to be joining PCMS Design. I have a passion for creating beautiful and functional spaces which meet the needs of the client, and I am also looking forward to being able to contribute proactively, using all my experience to good effect.”

Science Laboratory Refurbished

Monday, November 6th, 2017

Henlow Academy undertook a number of improvements to their site over the summer. These included a link corridor extension to improve dining facilities, and also internal alterations to a couple of classrooms and the science laboratory.

We were brought in at the beginning of the project by the Academy’s Headteacher, Caren Earp. Our involvement included preparing drawings, administering the planning application and building control process with Central Bedfordshire Council, creating the technical design and specification, and subsequently the procurement and contract administration of the builders.

The first floor science room refurbishment presented some interesting technical and logistical challenges. A specialist laboratory furniture company was brought in to design and install a new bench configuration to increase the workstation capacity. The gas supply to the lab was also upgraded.

A new bright coat of paint has completed the refurbishment scheme, and the Academy is now well-equipped to cover the science part of the curriculum in the future.