FAQ

Coronavirus (COVID-19) | common questions

"Don't Panic"

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Living in the age of internet has some benefits.
Communication and easy access to information are the best ones.

If you purchased your house within the last 5 years, it is most likely possible to find a real estate plan on-line;
if the house had works before, there are chances to find a plan in some digital archive.

Just confirm some measures for us and show us around over a video-chat using our friendly WhatsApp Business service.
This could allow us to draft a sufficiently accurate preliminary design.

However, we will need to double check everything with a propert inspection and survey, at the earliest convenience.
We always use personal protecive equipment and sanitiser, mantaining the prescribed social distance.

Since May 10th the UK Government started allowing an ease in the lockdown (in place since March 23rd), inviting construction workers to return to work where possible but following additional Health and Safety procedures.
The latest guidelines can be found on the Government website here.

Tradesmen with any simptoms, no matter how mild, cannot work.
If the household is in self isolation, works can not be carried on.

Remember always to respect safety and hygienic procedures.

Read more from the Federation of Master Builders here.

With Stage 2 started in June, many sites are due to resume activity and many smaller construction companies and traders are getting an overwhelming number of enquiries.
We expect that on the short term this will reflect in no reduction of prices, until the overall re-shuffling of the job market is settled.

It would be best to engange with builders at the earliest but allow a couple of months for your works to start, unless your builder of choice proves to be available earlier.

Remeber that a professional contractor will commit to a job when they can allocate resources to it, not jumping from site to site leaving things incomplete.

Hell, yes.
The market fluctuation has been terribly intense since the beginning of the pandemic, the predictions of the experts change rapidly to adjust to the latest events.

We usually recap the latest news in our monthly Newsletter.

Once a planning application has been validated, the statutory time limits for a Local Planning Authority (LPA) to make a decision are usually 13 weeks for applications for major developments and 8 weeks for all other types of development (unless it is subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment).

If the application has not been determined within the relevant period, you have the right to appeal to the Secretary of State against non-determination.

Yes, we can do it for you.

HOWEVER, due to the current situation:

Each LPA is facing the emergency, cancelling face to face meetings and asking staff to work from home whenever possible.
We acknowledge all the efforts are being made to ensure continuity of the decision making process, nonetheless this is resulting in some delays.

England’s chief planner Steve Quartermain in the final letter of his mandate has written that an LPA “can, if necessary, seek to agree an extended approval date“.
Read more about it here.

Most of the Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) have restructured their way of work and arranged for staff to work from home whenever possible.
Surely there are some delays but they are doing their best to keep things moving.

Your planning application will be considered and a decision will be issued, it may just take more time than usual.

We keep regularly in contact with the planning officers following our applications, to ensure things are moving on and if any additional information is required, it will be provided promptly.


Please contact us for any other question.
A special thank you to everyone who helps us seeing what the most common doubts could be in these difficult times.

Architecture

Architects are accredited Professionals, trained and experienced in designing and realising buildings and environments on different scales.

In the UK the title “Architect” is protected by law under the Architects Act 1997 and its use is regulated by the ARB.
Only those who prove the required expertise and knowledge can be approved and use the title for themselves.

Doing otherwise is illegal. To check if someone is an Architect you can access the Architects’ Register here.

Interior Design is not a regulated profession because it is very low risk. An interior designer can propose alterations of a building but additional expertise may be required before the builders or fitters can do the job in complaince with the regulations.
Architects instead could be less prone to accessorise a space but have the competences to re-define the way it works.

We have both the skillsets due to the extensive experience and varied background of our team, being thus able to look at your project in different ways.

Architects are highly skilled and professionally trained to turn aspirations into reality.
We guide you through the design, planning and construction process, whether you are constructing a new building or adapting an existing property.

We protect our clients applying impartial and creative thinking.

Our services add value to your property, getting the best from the space, the light and achieving the best return of investment.

The long term benefits are healthier, optimised environments, lesser consumptions and higher property values.

This is never asked enough and we have our personal take on the answer.

Architects are:
DESIGNERS, turning an idea into something achievable and complying with the local regulations;
COUNSELORS, helping clients to broaden their views and help having a better life and lifestyle;
BUROCRATS, checking the latest regulations, restrictions and guidances;
BOOKKEEPERS, managing your budget in order to realise your dreams;
ARTISTS, turning a vision into a drawing;
HUMANIST, aware of mankind’s past and using it to shape the future;
MODELERS, crafting physical models or computer generated ones, to best display the design;
HS&E COORDINATOR, to prevend accidents on site taking care of Health & Safety;
STRUCTURAL DESIGNER, understanding the engineering of a project to integrate it harmoniously.
SITE MANAGERS, managing the contractors, following the construction and fixing the problems that pop up unexpectedly.

We put together a wide expertise to make things happen, this demands knowledge and real passion for our job.

When it’s about open spaces and vegetation, using a professional service will make a difference on the long term.

You could ask your gardener, true, but a professional has academic education on horticulture.

An expert of landscape design and landscape architecture knows how to improve the durability of the design and the materials used, how much the plants are growing, when do they blossom, how densely shall be planted to achieve a specific look.

Landscape is about designing with time and we love doing it.

A Holistic Architect is not something officially defined, or easily definible.

First of all it is an Architect (hence eligible for this title, see above) which applies the prefix Holistic to the main title.
Holistic means “believing that the parts of something are intimately interconnected and this influences the whole”.
By definitions all Architects should be “a bit holistic” in their approach, because every part of a building participates in the function of the whole of it.

Nonetheless, few individuals worldwide have taken this to a higher level.

Holistic Architecture is a discipline that embodies modern knowledge and traditional, state-of-the-art principles, providing design solutions focused on wellbeing and promoting the interconnection of all the beings in anthropised enviroments with the Entirety, in a philosophical meaning.

Its roots are nurtured by bioarchitecture, sacred geometry, feng shui, pollution control and sustainability, permaculture, epicurean principles, holistic medicine and more.

 


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Home improvements

If your property does not have planning restrictions and your project is for sure feasible under Permitted Development Rights, you are not obliged to obtain a LDC.
Before taking this decision lightly, consider that it is impossible to foresee when you will sell the property and what the current regulations will be.

Having a Certificate of Lawfulness is a reassurance against the works, certifying in fact that there is no planning breach at the time of the works.

This kind of supporting documents validate the increase of property value and can be extremely useful when selling the house or if you wish to remortgage.

We recommend our Clients to obtain a Lawful Development Certificate most of the times to avoid losing value on the property and facing potentially unexpected consequences in the future.

Once a planning application has been validated, the statutory time limits for a Local Planning Authority (LPA) to make a decision are usually 13 weeks for applications for major developments and 8 weeks for all other types of development (unless it is subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment).

If the application has not been determined within the relevant period, you have the right to appeal to the Secretary of State against non-determination.

Yes, we can do it for you.

Once planning permission has been granted, by law it is required that it expires after a certain period.

Such period is stated on the Decision Letter issued by the LPA (Local Planning Authority) together with all the given Conditions that you shall respect;
the period is generally 3 years from the letter’s date.

You can start the works anytime during this period.
If at the end of the given period the works are not started, you may need to re-apply.

According to the source of existing drawings, we may assume the measurements have been taken professionally and reported correctly by the author.
Nonetheless it is our duty to ensure the measurements are correct, especially for the most accurate design stages.
 
In general real estate plans alone are not sufficiently accurate for design purpose.
They require to be cross checked with further plans from more reliable sources, resulting in a complex research and comparison that can be avoided using a measured site survey.
 
Also, for a good project awareness we need to know all the heights and irregular volumes, doors, windows, beams and so on.

We recommend a survey not only for the measurements but also to get acquainted with the building and inspect it.
There are many features we must consider to complete succesfully the design.
 

The planning system is very complex and no one can promise to get planning approval.

Nonetheless, with our extensive experience dealing with the planning system and our negotiation skills, we can help you go through the process and advice on how to achieve home improvements, increasing the property value.

If you wish to buy a property and invest in improving the house before moving in, we can be of quick help.

Let’s have a chat about your requirements and the property you wish to buy, we will help you understand if you need planning approval and how likely it is for the property to have it granted.

The planning system is very complex and no one can promise to get planning approval.

With properties in Conservation Areas, the quality of the design must be superior in order to obtain planning permission.

This requires very skilled professionals, who can face this challenge.
Just some of the criteria to be considered in a Conservation Area are:
– the respect for the existing character,
– the relationship between the addition and the surroundings and the amenities (not only visual),
– how subordinate and proportionate the addition will be,
– how the intervention relates to the specific guidelines of the Conservation Area, general planning guide, supplementary design guide of the LPA.

Our extensive experience and our negotiation skills will help you go through the process and advice on how to increase the property value.

If you wish to buy a property in conservation area, it would be better to tell us about your requirements and the house conditions, we will help you understand what you could achieve and how.

Are you considering to buy a house and they told you the property has potential to extend STPP?
 
In this case it means Subject To Planning Permission.
This wording may be used when Planning Permission has not been sought or (more unfrequently) the application is under consideration.
 
You should check with a professional experienced in planning process.
With our preliminary consultation we can assess your project and talk about how likely it is for an improvement to be granted


Some other question?
Ask directly, you can contact us.

Interior Design

There are many possible answers to explain what an Interior Designer does.
Their task is to think, design and plan how to fit and decorate a “shell” that is the room, whatever the function.

With our international interior design and fit out experience, we can think beautifully balanced spaces and accessorise them according to your style and budget.

We propose inspirational images to understand your preferences, design interior packages to describe technically what is the fit out job required, including custom features, allowing fitters and decorators to price precisely for the makeover.
We prepare a “shopping list” to keep furniture and accessories in one place and control the costs.
And if you wish to visualise the proposal in 3D before the project is finalised, we make CGI images or Virtual Reality 360° views with hyper realistic definition.

Our approach to interior design backed by our technical experience and professional accountability aims to deliver the best interior design results and a hassle-free experience for our clients.

If you heard stories of interior designers wasting time and money, improvising the direction of works or changing the project when it was almost complete…
That is NOT the professional way and you should always ask to see the project drawings.

For a professional interior design service you can contact us today and ask your free quote.

In short, no.

If there exists something as “orthodox” minimalistic design, it derives from the philosophy of having a very small amount of worldly possessions, rid of decorations and frippery.
This implies very low need for storage and reflects into undecorated, often purely geometrical features and furniture around the house.

Pets’ lives are focused on the interaction with the surrounding and a minimalistic environment would have a negative influence on their wellbeing.

For example, dogs like to hoard toys, cats like to hide and walk at a high level, ferrets like hiding too.
Reptiles and cold blooded species require special environments.
While an aquarium could fit in the look of a minimalistic design, it’s presence could be criticised by the purists of this lifestyle.

As a pet owner you should always consider the needs of your pets and make sure they can live happily, in a house that thinks about their well-being too.

We design considering the needs of the whole family including pets, so don’t keep them out of the equation and tell us about them too!


Some other question?
Ask directly, you can contact us.

Sport Facilities


Some other question?
Ask directly, you can contact us.

Sustainability

Environmental assessment of buildings is the practice to give a score to a project based on how the design takes care of the environmental impact.

This practice started in the 1990s with the birth of BREEAM (in UK), Passivhaus (Germany), LEED (US), then Green Star (2003, Australia) and Estidama (2011, UAE). The BREEAM and LEED systems have a large international influence and many building projects refer to their worldwide-recognized methodologies.

In addition, the Royal Institute of British Architects has recently published a Sustainable Outcomes Guide to provide “guidance on targeting, designing and evaluating sustainable outcomes for buildings of all scales”. This is in support of the initiative “RIBA 2013 Climate Challenge”, which invites all of its members to take part.

More information on Environmental Assessment systems here.
More information on RIBA Sustainable Outcomes Guide here.

These terms can refer to the whole lifecycle of a building.

Net Zero means that all the carbon dioxide produced to manufacture, build and run (and dismantle in the future) a building shall be compensated removing an equal amount of carbon from the environment.

Zero Carbon means that no carbon was produced in first place.

Absolutely not!

Carbon Negative means that a process (or a product / building) absorb more carbon than what has been emitted in first place.

A much nicer way to say Carbon-Negative is Future-Positive or Climate-Positive.


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hello [at] tholos-architects.com 4 Billington Rd, London SE14 5QQ
hello [at] tholos-architects.com 4 Billington Rd, London SE14 5QQ