We sat down with our friend and Architect Luca Maldacea to ask him a few questions that we thought both buyers and homeowners would find useful before purchasing a new home or considering work on their current homes. Here is what he had to say:
- Tell us about your Architecture practice?
I work for WH architects which is an established group of experienced designers. We are a RIBA Chartered Architectural Practice based in Bristol that provide both domestic and commercial services in and around the South West.
- What do you most enjoy about your job?
There are many satisfying parts to the job - finding a solution to a tricky problem, obtaining planning approval for a difficult site, or finishing a big project - but most of all I would say it is receiving the clients delight at the end of a project!
- When would a homeowner need to instruct an Architect?
Often we would recommend initiating early discussions with an Architect if you are considering any significant alteration or extension to a property. Certain alterations may need advice on planning or listed buildings and could require necessary consents to be granted before work is started. Certain work may also raise technical issues controlled by Building Regulations such as access, fire safety, energy assessment etc. We often look at sites or properties that a client is considering purchasing to give some initial advice.
- What is your best advice for choosing an Architect to work with?
Do some initial research. Review their experience of similar jobs and see examples of other projects they’ve completed. We obtain the majority of our work through repeat business or word of mouth, so I would recommend obtaining references from previous clients if possible. Finally an initial meeting to ascertain if the architect is able to convey your requirements and brief well. It is really important that you get on with your Architect, as work to your home is a very personal journey.
- Can you outline some expectations for homeowners on what they should expect to receive from an Architect? (is this just drawing or planning advice etc)
Architects are able to provide initial advice on layout and design options that achieve the desired outcome whilst advising on contracts and possibilities. We can look at feasibility and viability of design and implementation along with associated budget costing of what is required. When the designs are agreed we will then proceed to obtain the necessary planning consents and can obtain tenders from builders. For smaller work and if the client is comfortable with their builder then our involvement may end but we can also remain involved and administer the contract, hold site meetings and keep a check on the work as it progresses.
- How might a homeowner add value to their home in the current market?
In a general sense this can be optimisation of the site and location with improved accommodation and appearance. In the current market the ability to alter and extend existing dwellings is a simple way to increase the value of your property. Additional sleeping and living accommodation has a value and utilising unused rooms or superfluous loft space can be an easy way to improve the configuration of your home. Currently the addition of self-contained garden rooms and loft conversions are popular to achieve suitable home offices.
- How can a homeowner best prepare for work to be done on their property? (budget/timelines/contingencies)
We would always try to recommend being realistic with timings and budget. Getting a good understanding of how much your aspirations will cost and how long they may take could dramatically affect what is achievable early in the design stage. A difficult decision to make is always do I stay or do I go? Our advice on more extensive schemes is to move out if possible while the work is being done, it will save time, effort and often money in the long run. Finally chose a reputable builder. Looking for contractors to carry out the work can be a minefield and word of mouth or experience working with a company is invaluable. Extras and changes are to be expected throughout a build however with a good team around you these can be mitigated or highlighted early on and planned for.
- Any other advice you would have for homeowners in 2021?
Plan well and employ a good architect.
Luca Maldacea is a Director at WH Architects. Since graduating from the University of the West of England with a degree in Architectural Technology and Design in 2007, Luca has gained a wealth of knowledge and experience over a broad range of projects from sensitive listed building alterations to high rise apartments.
Luca takes a particular interest in detailed design ensuring a meticulous approach to projects and their appearance. He also enjoys working through difficult design solutions for maximising tight sites and spaces, ensuring each project is optimised to its full potential.