Multigenerational home, St Albans



Our families grow and change all the time, wouldn’t be nice if our homes could adapt to these change?  This is just what our lovely Client did for her house, she asked us to adapt and extend her home to accommodate her enchanting elderly mum who was tired to live alone even if the family lived close by.  Not only did our Client manage to bring her family together, the extension and refurbishment of the house even increased the value of her home by 20% !

The extension and refurbishment was an extremely complicated project, but the results have been fantastic with the building finishing on budget and on time.

To ensure that everything would go well even on such a complex build, we went through a very detailed procedure.

How to select the right Contractor and get him to finish on time and within budget: The first thing to do when looking for a Contractor is prepare, prepare and more preparing.  We worked very hard with the Client in making decisions about even the smallest things like ‘what tiles to use in the cloakroom (colour, size, supplier)’ and prepared a 200 pages specification indicating what materials were to be used in every single room and sometimes often how these were going to be fitted.  The specification was accompanied to a Scope of Works, detailing every single item, wall, ceiling, that needed to be demolished, removed or simply decorated. We even indicated that the Contractor should be fitting the curtain poles, that is how detailed our specifications are!

Detail design: secondly, we prepared some very detailed drawings showing sections through roof, walls and floors and telling the contractor exactly what materials we wanted.  For example we specified that we did not want any cheap insulation (often contractor’s like to stuff cavity walls with the cheap, chemical emitting stuff with excuse that ‘you will never notice or see it’!) and we made sure the insulation was made of natural materials and non flammable!

Out for Tender: Once we had all the specification, scope of work and detailed drawings in place the next step was to select the Contractor!  The first thing we did is phone up a few contractors to make sure they would be interested in doing the work, after that we invited them to come to pick up the documentation on a selected day, but at different times.  Once the contractors collected the documentation they had a month to look at the drawings and read the documentation and come back with a price and time.  In this way we received five different quotes and time scales and this made the process of selection much easier.

Signing a Contract:  Once we selected the Contractor the next very important step, to ensure that the work is done within budget and on time, is to get the contractors to sign a Contract.  We made the contractor sign the contract and we added a penalty clause, so that if the work was not completed as per contract the contractor would have to pay a penalty of £500 per week!  Not every Architect will want to add such a clause, but we follow a policy where the Client comes first no matter what and despite the contractor’s complaints we got the clause signed and sealed!

Results:  The resulting house is a great thing of beauty!  The wonderful garden can now be seen as soon as you enter the home, which is bright and luminous.  The feeling you get when entering the house is that the garden is part of it now, even from the bedroom upstairs where a lovely balcony was fitted!  Our family is now living together in great harmony each with their own private space, but still able to come together in communal spaces designed for all kinds of activity, from parties to quite meals together.  What a great result!







New Barnes Avenue St Albans