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The value of Architectural Design in the self-build process.

Craig Alexander one of our Chartered Architects outlines five of the key benefits of employing an Architect to help with your self-build journey.

Undertaking a self-build project is undoubtedly exciting, but can be daunting and at times challenging. Employing the services of an Architect or Architectural Designer can help to set your project on a great footing as it moves forward

It’s worth bearing in mind that, of all the decisions and choices you make along the process, the most difficult thing to change is the design! Kitchens may come in and out of fashion, and interior décor may be changed relatively regularly and inexpensively, but the overall concept, arrangement and layout of a house is more-or-less fixed for the lifetime of the building so it’s worth investing in the design stage so that you get a home that will compliment your way of life.


1. Right foot forward- The Brief.

Architects are good listeners. They are adept at absorbing your requirements and preferences, and bringing them to life in a 3D form. Often clients come to us with mood boards, images, a key view or feature they wish to include. Even before sketch-pen touches paper, an Architect can develop your brief and help to draw out and refine your requirements. You are likely to have dozens of ideas rushing around your head, which can be confusing or indeed contradictory. An architect can assist with ordering and structuring these to set a clear list of requirements and priorities for the project.

Your chosen Architect can also help to appraise your wish list in relation to your budget, and the opportunities presented by your site. Even at this early stage your Architect can investigate the local planning context and outline a strategy to deliver the most likely successful outcome at Planning Application stage. This helps to direct the brief, and the initial design work, to avoid the chance of abortive design work. They can also liaise with the planning department via a pre-application submission to further refine the initial design work to align with the requirements of the local Planning Authority.

2. Quality Design- An eye for detail.

Your Architect will help set the design intent and aspirations for your entire project. The best starting point is a well-considered, proportioned and attractive design. As mentioned above, it’s the one aspect of the project you are stuck with!

3. Smooth sailing- Navigating the Planning Process.

It is common knowledge that self-builds can be vulnerable to delay, however the stage most outside of your control is the Planning process.

Employing the services of an Architect can help to set the project on the smoothest path; from preparing attractive and compelling drawings, which are also compliant with the planning validation requirements, coupled with supporting documents such as a comprehensive Design and Access statement can help to streamline this stage.

Your planning approval may well come with Pre-Commencement conditions, requiring further approval before you can start on site. Your architect can assist with discharging these as quickly as possible to avoid holding you up when the project is ready to get going.

4. Coordination- A streamlined process.

Committing to a Self-build is a big decision as the bar is set high with the aim of creating a bespoke forever home. This is why it is so important to have a skilled and experienced team supporting you.

Working with an oak frame is a particular design consideration; by working with an Architect that considers the oak frame within the design from the start ensures that the principles of oak framing are integrated and your design aspirations are met

At Oakwrights, you will benefit from working with our experienced in-house Architectural Design team, that are located all under the same roof as our oak frame designers, project managers and the craftsmen responsible for producing and erecting your oak frame, making your oak frame self-build journey as smooth as possible.


5. Impartial Advice- Making the most of experience.

Along the path of a self-build, there are innumerate decisions to make; from external finishes, heating systems, levels of insulation to your kitchen layout, your Architect can provide an impartial and holistic recommendation based on their experience of self-build projects.  From day one of your self-build project your Architect can help direct you towards cost-effective solutions that will work for your unique project.

The Oakwrights Architectural team are available for site appraisals and initial design consultations; please contact us for further information and a discussion about your oak frame self-build aspirations.