How much does it cost to build a house?

 

We’re often asked how much it costs to build a house. This is a difficult question to answer: every new build has its own requirements and new build costs depend on a range of factors. In reality, it is possible to have an accurate estimate of the price when all of the drawings and work schedules have been completed. However, there are a number of variables and issues that you can take into account to gain a sense of price before then. We’ve outlined these below.

New build london architect

Location and design

Construction costs vary depending on the location of the site in the country. Central London will be a lot more expensive than elsewhere. For a new build home designed by an architect in London or the South East, current minimum construction costs tend to be in the region of £1,750 per square metre, with land acquisition and professional fees on top of this. Where other issues apply (and we’ll come to these next), this figure is likely to increase to a minimum of £2,000 per square metre.

The design of the property can also have an impact on the cost. It is important to use an architect who has a track record of designing houses that are within your budget (see examples on our Projects page). Where the highest quality finishes are required, the cost per square metre may rise to £4,000 (and more).

Factors that increase costs

It is likely that several other factors will apply to the project which will lead to higher costs. Examples include: party walls; difficult site access; specialist foundation requirements; non-standard forms of construction (e.g. cross-laminated timber); large areas of glazing rather than walls; and high spec kitchens and bathrooms.

There are a number of fees that will also need to be taken into account:

– Purchase costs (price of the sale, solicitor’s fees, survey, Stamp Duty Land Tax);
– Finance costs (relating to any borrowing and associated interest rates); and
– Consultant costs (these will also vary depending on the size and nature of the project – architect, structural engineer, inspectors, etc.).

Factors that decrease costs

There are a number of tax benefits for new build houses which can offset some of the above costs. Stamp duty is calculated on the value of the land only, which is typically less than the value of the land with an existing home on it. Community Infrastructure Levies can be considerable (especially in London) but new self-build properties are usually exempt from this (in line with certain residency terms). VAT is also not payable on the construction costs of a new build house and, assuming the house will be the principle private residence, Capital Gains Tax is not payable if you make a profit at the point of sale.

If you are interested in exploring the cost of a new build project with RISE Design Studio, please get in touch.

Spotlight on Alvar Aalto

 

Finnish architect, Alvar Aalto, had an international reputation for a ‘distinctive blend of modernist refinement, indigenous materials, and personal expression in form and detail’. Born in 1898 when Finland was part of the Russian Empire, Aalto took a break from his architectural studies in Helsinki to fight in the Finnish war of independence. After graduating in 1921, he travelled around Europe before returning home to began practice. Over his career he achieved international acclaim for more than 200 buildings and projects and we take inspiration from his work.

Alvar Aalto

Uniquely modern

His became well-known in the late 1920s for the Turun Sanomat Building, a newspaper office in Turku and the tuberculosis sanatorium at Paimio. These buildings were designed in a straightforward and functional manner, without any historical stylistic references and incorporated smooth white surfaces, ‘ribbon windows’ and flat roofs. The sanitorium has been described as a work of both art and science: at the micro-scale the patients’ rooms received incredible attention to detail (lighting was never at sight lines and non-splash sinks allowed users to wash without disrupting others) while at the macro-scale the large, landmark building integrates perfectly with the densely forested landscape.

The Municipal Library at Viipuri (now Vyborg in Russia) was a departure from his earlier style, incorporating a spatially complex interior arranged on different levels. The library auditorium is particularly notable as it comprised an undulating ceiling of wooden strips, the warmth of which provided contrast to the whiteness of the building and appealed to both the public and professionals who were not enamoured with the ‘clinical severity’ of modern architecture at the time.

The horseshoe-shaped Jyväskylä University Building (1951) was nicknamed ‘the Athens of Finland’. An entire campus plan, the designs incorporated tree-lined paths with the inner part of the university closed off to traffic. Each building has two entrances to allow conduit from the city to the more ‘discreet court’. His Festival Hall is a combination of multiple lecture halls, a poetic gesture to create enticing and exciting spaces for everyday academic work.

‘Organic’ design

Aalto’s furniture designs were a natural extension to his architectural thinking. The ‘human touch’ of the wooden library ceiling is recognisable in his curved laminated wood furniture. He saw furniture not simply as an isolated object in space and his functional furniture remains popular internationally, despite changing styles. He also created lighting and glassware that were described as works of art, embodying an expressionist style with a keen sense of purpose and practical function.

Legacy

Although Aalto passed away in 1976, his works continue to receive the care and attention they deserve. The Vyborg library was recently restored and the Finnish commission responsible for the work won the 2014 Modernism Prize for preservation of a modern landmark.The Finlandia Prize for Architecture was also awarded in 2017 for the overhaul of the Harald Herlin Learning Centre and several other Aalto University campus buildings that were originally designed by Aalto. The renovation included updating the library to suit the technological needs of the university while retaining the traditional elements of the original design.

Spotlight on Charles and Ray Eames

 

‘A chair that looks like a crisp’ or ‘a folding screen that ripples’ are descriptions that are likely to bring to mind North American husband-and-wife design team, Charles and Ray Eames. Revered as two of the ‘most important designers of the 20th century’, their ‘grand sense of adventure’ made significant contributions to modern architecture, furniture design, industrial design and the photographic arts. In our ‘spotlight’ series about architects and designers who inspire us here at RISE Design Studio, we share some of the distinct characteristics of the designs developed by the Eames, trying to capture their spirit of ‘way-it-should-be-ness’ (when an object, through hard work and meticulous process, is realised in the incarnation of its ideal state).

RayEames-plywood

Mass-produced furniture

In the early 1940s, the Eames developed designs with a unique synergy that led to a new phase in how furniture looked and how it could be produced. When knowledge of their moulded-plywood method spread at this stage of their careers, they were asked to design moulded-plywood splints, stretchers and even aeroplance parts for the military during World War Two. After exhibiting their experimental moulded furniture at the New York Museum of Modern Art in 1946, the Herman Miller Company in Michigan began to produce their furniture designs. The success of these initial designs of chairs with compound curves meant they went on to design and mass produce over 100 designs for these types of chairs over four decades, perhaps the most famous design being the moulded-plywood and leather lounge chair with matching footstool.

A mecca for modern architects

In 1949, the Eames switched their focus away from furniture, designing and building their own Californian home as part of a Case Study Home Program, sponsored at the time by an American architecture magazine. ‘The Eames House‘ (as it is known today) is where they lived for the rest of their lives and is considered a classic example of modern residential architecture, as well as a ‘must-see’ for today’s architectural students interested in this type of design. Intended as an experiment to realise the design of a house for a young married couple needing a place to live and work, the design of the house is perhaps as visionary today as it was all those decades ago.

From furniture to film and beyond

In the mid-1950s, the Eames began to focus more on their work as photographers and filmmakers. Charles Eames was an exceptional photographer and his photography work clearly permeated into their design work. The couple designed museum exhibitions, including the IBM Pavilion for the 1964-65 World’s Fair in New York and the Copernicus exhibition at the Smithsonian in the 1970s, both of which drew extensively on their photography and film work.

Looking forwards

Although Charles and Ray Eames are no longer with us (Charles died in 1978, Ray in 1988), members of their family run The Eames Office, which works on communicating, preserving and extending their work.

The Eames understood design as a solution rather than a luxury, and as something that is as much about industry as it is about art. Their vision of design that can get ‘the best to the greatest number of people for the least’ is perhaps one of the reasons why their designs are so timeless and why almost everyone recognises their work.

Spotlight on Sverre Fehn

 

Sverre Fehn (1924-2009) was a Norwegian architect who received worldwide recognition for his work. He is widely referred to as the leader of Scandinavian architecture in the postwar years and he was awarded both the Pritzker Architecture Prize and Heinrich Tessenow Gold Medal in 1997. Here at RISE Design Studio, Sverre Fehn is one of several architects who inspire our work. In this short post we share some detail about Fehn’s life, his well-known works, and reflect on how, like Peter Zumthor, his designs developed an aesthetic that drew on local culture and nature to create a unique experience of space.

Sverre-Fehn-RISE Design Studio

His influences

A Norwegian, Fehn was described as always trying to ‘run away from the Nordic tradition’. After qualifying as an architect in Oslo in 1949, he went on to work with the French metal worker, architect and designer, Jean Prouvé. With a resulting interest in resolving complex problems of construction detail, he was simultaneously influenced by Le Corbusier, the Swiss-French architect, nurturing a passion for the modern design movement. Time spent in Morocco in the early 1950s also provided him inspiration from the simplicity of life in adobe vernacular houses, which are built from earth piled up in simple structures and respond to the surrounding natural environment by regulating heat and light.

Responsive architecture

After his time in Morocco, Fehn became acutely aware of the different characteristics that light can take, focussing his work on creating responsive architecture for different climates. He completed commissions for the Venice and Nordic pavilions at the 1958 World’s Fair in Brussels, the latter of which was reminiscent of the detailed construction work of Prouvé: intersecting blades of Perspex and glue-laminated wooden beams, all held together with only 48 bolts. Five decades later, the Nordic pavilion still stands with three plane trees growing up from the ground and out of the roof.

He then completed the rest of his life’s work in the cooler, damper and mistier climate of Scandinavia where he designed country villas, an ecohouse and several notable museums, including the Norwegian National Museum of Architecture in Oslo and the Hedmark Ethnographic Museum in Hamar. The Hedmark Museum, also known at the Storhamar Barn is one of his best known works and a space designed to speculate on human nature and material history.

Relationship with the surroundings

Many of Fehn’s buildings have a strong relation with the surrounding environment, blending modernity with regionalism. The private Oslo residence, Villa Schreiner, has been called a ‘hommage au Japon’ due to its sliding doors, large windows, and the way the wooden structure is intricately linked with the nature around it. In Bamble in Norway, Villa Busk straddles a ridge and follows the natural terrain to demonstrate the strength of nature and man’s subordination to it. His Eco House in Norrkoping (Sweden) took the relationship with nature even further, using natural ingredients in construction. A wooden structural frame is filled in with straw bales mixed with clay and finished inside and out with a clay plaster. Partitions of adobe (from his days in Morocco) also feature.

You can browse a selection of Sverre Fehn’s woks on Pinterest.

Spotlight on Peter Zumthor

 

One of our most respected architects here at RISE Design Studio is Peter Zumthor, the renowned Swiss architect. Winner of the 2009 Pritzker Architecture Prize and the 2013 RIBA Royal Gold Medal, Zumthor’s sensuous materiality and attention to place has inspired several of our architecture and design projects. Although he has only built around 20 projects worldwide, his work is widely acclaimed and sought after. In this short post, we reflect on the career of Peter Zumthor, the projects that he has designed, and how he wishes his work to be experienced.

RISE yoga retreat Norway

With inspiration from Zumthor: Lake Krøderen Yoga Retreat, Norway (RISE Design Studio)

Five decades of work

Peter Zumthor has been based in his studio, Atelier Peter Zumthor, since 1979. Situated in the Swiss mountain village of Haldenstein, Zumthor works with a small team of around 30 employees. In the past, Zumthor tried to protect himself from too many outside influences and gained a reputation in the media as being somewhat reclusive. Although he is quashing this image today, his practice remains somewhat rarefied as his clients are seen as ‘vehicles’ for him to realise his ideas and facilitate his works of art, rather than ‘clients’.

Poetic sensibility – mountain, stone, water

Zumthor is well-known for his preference for simple, unfinished materials. Perhaps the most well-known work of Zumthor is the Therme Vals in Switzerland, which was completed in 1996. Built over thermal springs, the building is a hotel and spa/baths which is created in the form of a cave or quarry-like structure. To complement and ‘fit-in’ with the surrounding environment, the baths are situated below a grass roof and partially buried in the hillside. The Valser Quartzite slabs used in the project were quarried locally and the respect for the stone became the inspiration for the design.

Zumthor is also celebrated for the Kunsthaus Bregenz, built in Austria in 1997. The museum’s minimalist design allows the space to be adapted to suit the art that is on display, redefining the relationship between art and architecture. Other notable works include the Swiss Pavilion at EXPO 2000 in Hanover (built of stacked beams of larch wood and Scots pine and held together by steel rods and springs) and the London Serpentine Gallery temporary summer pavilion in 2011 (at the heart of the pavilion was a specially created garden to allow the audience an emotional experience, with time to relax, observe and talk).

Sensation of the interior

The work of Peter Zumthor is all about how a person experiences the sensation of a building. With buildings ‘grown out of their place’, as if from the ground of forest, the orchestration of light and sound, as well as the touch and smell, are all vital, tactile qualities which create a minimalist feel. The focus on experience is embodied in the attention to detail paid to the interior of the building, on a par with the design of the exterior. When the exterior can ‘rule all’ in many contemporary architecture projects, this is a welcome reminder of the importance of considering the experience of detail and looking at things closely, something that we are currently researching in our own work.

The Search for Totality

 

We are researching a method of designing our projects ‘in totality’, an approach developed by Danish architect and designer Arne Jacobsen. Using this concept, we plan to research and design a range of ‘imperfect’ yet universally appealing products that would be handmade in London using raw materials like wood, metals and glass. Initial ideas include door handles, threshold details, light fittings, furniture, light switch plates and knobs, and plug sockets. As we undertake this exciting piece of research, this short blog post explains Arne Jacobsen’s approach in some more detail and reflects on how his unique Scandinavian architectural tradition has had a profound impact on international architecture.

totality interior design london

A life’s work

Arne Jacobsen (1902-1971) designed numerous notable buildings of the 20th century, ranging from theatres, sports halls and schools, to hotels, the Danish National Bank and St Catherine’s College, Oxford. Although first and foremost an architect, he is arguably most remembered since his death in 1971 as an interior design innovator, thanks to his prolific and diverse designs. He created a range of modernist chairs in the 1950s that are still widely seen today (examples include the ant chair, the tongue chair, the swan chair and the egg chair), and his collaboration in the late 1960s with VOLA led to the design of a customisable system of plumbing fittings meant for both kitchen and bathroom. The mechanical parts of the VOLA series are all hidden, leaving only the spout and handle visible to the user – a completely new concept at the time. This design is now recognised and found across the world and in many prestigious buildings such as the German Reichstag in Berlin, the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. In conjunction with specific building projects, he also designed a wide assortment of textiles, lighting fixtures, door handles, cutlery, tableware, clocks and other accessories that were awarded many prestigious accolades and can now be seen in design museums around the world.

The goal of totality

Arne Jacobsen’s goal was totality. He strived to create total concepts, whereby everything was designed with a common thread between the building, the furniture and other interior décor so that all parts were ‘in harmony’. As his portfolio of projects completed in this way grew, the quality of the products he designed became so highly regarded that, although they were developed for specific building projects, they had such universal application and appeal that they became part of standard production. The VOLA design is still popular today, inspiring bathroom and kitchen designs that ‘clean-up’ the aesthetics of these rooms.

As we continue to research and design our own range of interior design products that use local materials and complement our architectural projects, we will be inspired by the timeless, holistic approach that Jacobsen used so successfully.

Permitted Development Rights III: Other projects

 

Our last two posts have covered Permitted Development Rights (PDR) in general, and house extensions under PDR in particular. In the final post in this short series, we consider some other types of projects that fall under PDR and do not require planning permission, and provide you with some information about the rules that you should be aware of. Specifically, we cover additions/alterations to the roof of a house, porches and other outbuildings or structures that you may wish to add.

Permitted Development Rights III

Making changes to your roof

Unless you live in a protected area and/or your house is listed, you can add to or change the side and back of your roof without requiring planning permission. You may wish to convert the loft and add dormer windows, or carry out alterations such as re-roofing or installing roof lights and/or windows.

As far as practicable, additions to the roof need to be at least 20cm above the original eaves, and no higher than the highest part of your house. It is possible to add up to 50 cubic metres to the original roof space (although this figure falls to 40 cubic metres for terraced houses). It is not possible to add a veranda, balcony, or any other type of raised platform. Similar to house extensions under PDR, the materials you use should be ‘similar’ to the materials on your existing roof.

Adding a porch

You can add a porch to your property that is up to 3 metres high and with a maximum area of 3 square metres. If the porch faces the road (which is often the case), it should be at least 2 metres from the edge of your plot.

Other buildings/structures

Under PDR, you can build any independent structure on your plot to the side and back of your house, as long as it is not another house or has more than one storey. For example, you may wish to add an outdoor office shed, a swimming pool, an animal pen or a heating tank.

The additional structure(s) may take up to half of the plot that is not taken up by the ‘original’ house (note that ‘original’ means the house as it was first built, or as it stood on 1 July 1948, if it was built prior to that date). The structure can be up to 3 metres in height. However, if the structure is within 2 metres of the house, the maximum height is reduced to 2.5 metres. If the structure has a double-pitched roof, a maximum of 4 metres in height is permitted.

As with roof alterations, your structure may not have a veranda, balcony or raised platform, and you will need planning permission if your house is listed or, in some cases, if you live in a protected area. Antennae are also not allowed on the structure.

You can read more detailed guidance about PDR for these types of projects (as well as adding hard surfaces to your plot and/or altering the chimneys and flues on your property) in the Householder Technical Guidance issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government. Note that the guidance applies to England and Wales and separate PDR guidance can be referred to for projects in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Permitted Development Rights II: House extensions

 

An extension or addition to your home is something that you can do under ‘Permitted Development Rights’ (PDR), meaning that you do not need to apply for planning permission to undertake the work (see the general introduction to PDR in our last post). There are, however, certain limits and conditions that you need to be aware of and we cover some of those in this post.

Permitted Development Rights II

For all types of extension, no more than 50% of the area of land around the ‘original house’ can be covered by the addition (bear in mind that ‘original house’ means the house as it was first built, or as it stood on 1 July 1948, if it was built before then). You will need to check whether a previous owner added an extension as this is included in the calculation, as are sheds and any other outbuildings.

Single-storey extensions

For single-storey extensions, if the project is completed by 30 May 2019, the rear wall of a detached home can be extended by up eight metres. If you live in a semi-detached or terraced house, this is reduced to six metres. These upper limits have been temporarily increased and if you extend more than four metres beyond the rear wall (detached) or three metres (semi-detached/terraced), you will need to go through the Neighbour Consultation Scheme to notify the local planning authority of your intention to use PDR in this case.

Under PDR, the extension must not be to the front or side of the building (if it is, it requires planning permission). The materials used in the extension should be similar in appearance to those on the exterior of the rest of the house, and the extension must not exceed four metres in height.

Double-storey extensions

For higher extensions of more than one storey, the addition can be no higher than the existing house and it may not extend more than three metres beyond the rear wall. You will also need seven metres between any boundary opposite the rear wall of the house. As with single-storey extensions under PDR, the materials you use must be similar to the existing house, and there are some additional rules about upper floor/roof windows.

Other points to bear in mind

The permitted development allowances that we have described in this post apply to houses in England only. If you are seeking to alter or extend a flat/maisonette, a converted house (or a house created through the PDR to change use), other buildings, or your house is in an area where there may be a planning condition (e.g. protected/designated area), you will need to check separate guidance and rules with your local authority. Some local authorities are able to confirm in writing (for a small fee) whether or not a planning application is necessary. Most extensions still require approval under Building Regulations.

You can read more detailed guidance on the Department for Communities and Local Government Planning Portal, or contact us for advice about a project you are considering.

Permitted Development Rights I: An overview

 

Not too long ago, the UK planning system was overloaded with minor applications for household extensions and other changes, causing a backlog of paperwork and considerable pressure on the limited resources of local planning authorities. The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order, most recently amended by the UK Government in 2016, includes a range of available ‘Permitted Development Rights’, which aim to reduce the number of minor applications by widening the definition of what can be built without requiring planning permission. In the first of a short series of posts explaining Permitted Development Rights in England, we look at the current legislation and give some examples of the types of projects that fall within Permitted Development Rights.

Permitted Development Rights I

What are Permitted Development Rights?

Permitted Development Rights are a national grant of planning permission which allow certain building works and changes of use to be carried out without making a planning application (Government Planning Practice Guidance). It is likely that your home will benefit from Permitted Development Rights, unless you live in a protected area (e.g. conservation area, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, National Parks, etc.). In London, where homeowners can be hesitant to move, and more and more people are working from home, Permitted Development Rights have led to lots of self-build extensions popping up across the capital. A common example in Victorian and Edwardian properties is the L-shaped dormer, which does not require planning permission if designed within certain parameters.

Are there limits to what can be done using Permitted Development Rights?

In order to carry out work on your property under Permitted Development Rights, you must ensure that the work conforms to the current criteria, which are not always easy to decipher. The rules can be unclear, difficult to understand and open to interpretation. For example, the Permitted Development Rights that apply to many common projects for houses do not apply to flats, maisonettes and other dwellings. It is also worth bearing in mind that commercial properties have different rights to residential properties. Checking details with the planning department of your local authority before carrying out the works, or working with a qualified surveyor or architect can be a wise investment of time and money. They will be able to advise you of any reason why your proposed project may not be permitted, and if you need to apply for planning permission for all/part of the work. At times, the local authority may have removed one or more of your Permitted Development Rights (issuing an ‘Article 4′ direction), in which case you may need to submit a planning application for a project that, in other areas, may not require it. There may also be the need to carry out neighbour consultation, if you are in an area where this applies.

What sort of projects can I undertake using Permitted Development Rights?

There are a range of home improvements that you can make using Permitted Development Rights. More simple examples include: building a porch, carrying out internal alterations, installing micro-generation equipment such as solar panels, and installing satellite dishes. More complex projects include: converting the loft space, inserting rooflights or dormer extensions, installing new doors and/or windows on the rear elevation of your home, and extending the back of your home.

All of these projects would be subject to design rules and we will look at the rules surrounding Permitted Development Rights and home extensions in our next post.

Restaurant design: Oklava, London

 

We recently designed the critically acclaimed Oklava restaurant in Shoreditch, East London. Chef Selin Kiazim serves contemporary Turkish cuisine and was widely praised for her ‘pop-ups’ at Carousel London in November 2014 and before that a residency at Trip Kitchen in Haggerston. We worked with Selin and Oklava Director Laura Christie in 2015 to remodel the ground floor of the existing former four-storey mill building on Luke Street to house a new restaurant, bar and private dining facilities.

Oklava restaurant design

Frontage

Oklava (the word in Turkish for a traditional rolling pin used to make bread, pastries and pides) is situated in the South Shoreditch Conservation Area. The materials, colour and configuration of the outside of the restaurant were designed to match the colour and shape of the existing windows on the upper floors and remain in keeping with the character of the building. Awnings over the external windows make the street a part of the restaurant and create a space for outdoor eating on warmer days.

Style

The restaurant is focussed around communal eating and encouraging conversations about food by sharing dishes between diners. With this in mind, the unique, trapezoidal space has a central focus of an under-lit bar table, one of which allows diners to feel part of the drama of watching their meals being prepared as they socialise and sample the delicacies on offer. Movable tables are placed in the space between the bars, allowing for flexibility for different table configurations.

Materials

The concept was to create a contemporary, timeless aesthetic. A stone oven and a real charcoal grill, known in Turkish as a ‘mangal’, are the two key cooking elements of the open kitchen. The drama of the open kitchen is framed by a under-lit heavyweight concrete clad bar with walnut worktop and lightweight suspended Black Mild Steel shelving. On entering you are greeted with a Black Mild Steel screen designed to restrict views through reclaimed copper-framed windows housed within, creating a sense of intrigue of the activity beyond. The reflectivity of the polished concrete floor animates the restaurant, reflecting the light from the bespoke designed copper pendant and black mild steel wall lights.

Bespoke features

Aiming to “pull Turkish cuisine out of the kebab shop and onto the London restaurant scene“, the restaurant has subtle lighting and an “aura of smart taste” (Tim Hayward, Financial Times). Bespoke lighting was designed, including Christie pendant lights made from brazed copper pipe to light up the movable tables.

Bespoke lighting design LondonOklava lighting London

Read more about the remodelling of Oklava and see more images on the Oklava project page. We are currently working on other restaurant projects and welcome new enquiries.