Changes to a Brentham home should accord with the intentions behind the original design, and should take into account the context of the house group. Important considerations are the scale of work, the constructional detail and the choice of matching materials.
Drawing up Plans
- Employ a professional such as architect or surveyor, or a company that produces bespoke plans, to prepare a set of drawings.
- Get a recommendation. Ask for personal recommendations or ask professional bodies for names of local practitioners.
- Check that the chosen professional or company understands the difference between an ordinary conservation area and one under an Article 4 direction, and that they are familiar with the requirements of building in Brentham.
Choosing a Builder
- Look out for builders working locally and get references. Ask builders for examples of work they have carried out. Where possible, talk to the owners to find out more.
- Take into account the size of the building firm. Some people prefer to engage small firms, as the owner usually works on site most of the time. However, bear in mind that the owner may need to visit other clients or carry out work elsewhere, and he may also subcontract part of the job. Medium-sized firm usually have a staffed, registered office, and employ a foreman to supervise each job. The foreman may need to refer major decisions, or disputes, to the directors.
- Check whether the builder operates under a recognised guarantee scheme. Weigh up whether it is worth your while paying for the benefits of this scheme. Find out about your builder’s insurance cover, and notify your house insurance company when work starts.
- Decide how the building work will be organised. Employing several firms for different elements suits some people, but can mean additional complications and conflicts of interest. One option is to engage a professional to supervise the works on your behalf, though this can be expensive. Bear in mind that with complicated work involving detailed drawings and specifications, having a supervisor can be worth paying for, as the builder will have someone to refer to when queries or problems arise.
- Find out who will be responsible for running the job. Find out whether the builder in charge will be able to take action when required, particularly when faced with a problem.
- Source materials at an early stage. It’s a good idea, before approaching a builder, for either you or your designer to source materials such as bricks, tiles, timber windows and doors. Your builder may not be aware that standard techniques may be not be appropriate in Brentham, and your builder’s idea of what constitutes a ‘good match’ may not meet conservation standards. Some builders are willing to source reclaimed materials without incurring extra expense, especially if given plenty of warning.
- Source materials with care. Most windows and doors will need to be purpose-made and exact copies of original Brentham designs. Ask the Brentham Society for the names of suitable joinery firms that can undertake this work. Some bricks and tiles, of the sort originally used for Brentham houses, are no longer manufactured – search for secondhand materials or find a satisfactory match from those manufactured today. Keep an eye out for tiles being removed from Brentham houses, as they may match your own. You will need to provide samples of materials for approval by the Planning Department.
Make sure your builder adheres to the details on the approved plan. Failure to do so can lead to costly changes and delays. Please ensure that your builder follows the approved plan.