Home extensions – think inside out

One of the first things most people consider when building, renovating or extending a home is what it looks like from the exterior. But what about thinking from the inside out?

Doug Hughes, principal architect and managing director of Hughes Architects, raises the question of what to consider when thinking about a new home or extension.

“When we watch television programmes about residential property development it’s often what the final property looks like from the outside that’s more important than what’s created within it.

“That’s not to say the exterior is the last part of the design jigsaw. Far from it. The type of material, its look, feel and impact on an existing structure or environment are crucial factors.

“But it’s important to prioritise the living space. After all, that’s where you or your family will spend most of the time while at the property.

“Clients will often guide us as to how they want a property to look from the exterior but when you start to talk about the interior they’ve only considered the number or type of rooms.

“For example, what space will you need and where. Do you intend to have a large master bedroom with an ensuite or more and smaller bedrooms with just a family bathroom.

“Is the living room separate to the dining area and kitchen, or connected and possibly open plan? These all might sound like simple things, but they can have an impact on the how the rest of the interior of the house works as well as its exterior, based on shape and space within it.

“Storage space can often be forgotten about. Some homes look and feel open and amazing inside, but then when the owners move in they realise there’s nowhere to store large and small items other than in the loft – if it has one.

“So what type of rooms and storage areas other than fitted cupboards and so on should be factored into the interior design.

“Other important aspects within the design are type of heating. Will it use renewables such as solar, photovoltaics, underfloor heating or conventional systems? If so, how will these fit into the design?

“Lighting is also an area that is left to the fit-out rather than considered part of the main plan. What sort of lighting, where and for what use? Will it be connected to a ‘smart” system for control of the lighting and heating remotely or through new technology? Again, how is it connected?

“The factors I’ve raised here need to be considered whether it’s a full new build property, the redevelopment of an existing home, a renovation or even just an extension. What’s the purpose and function of each area?

“When you discuss your project with an architect such as Hughes Architects, these are important areas of the project that should be considered early on. Factoring items later, or changing designs can have an impact on the process and time.”