It's difficult times for everyone at the moment, we sincerely hope that the current circumstances aren't affecting you too much. We at Croft hope that the situation eases and we can start to return to normal, in a safe manner.
In light of this, we wanted to provide an update, as to how we have found that these circumstances are affecting the Architecture and Construction industry. And how we can adapt to do what we can in the current situation.
Croft Design Collective
First off, we are still working, there are a few challenges but we are pressing ahead full steam, to progress our current projects in the best way that we can. Unfortunately we cannot currently come and meet you, carry out face to face meetings, or conduct site visits. But we can do a lot from home!
For those of you at home, dreaming of changes to make to your home or perhaps a bigger project, a silver lining can be taken. Building projects take a lot of time and thought, and the best outcomes come from projects that are considered and not rushed.
We always recommend planning 18 months before you will be looking to build a project, to allow for a period of consideration and development, along with the relevant periods for statutory approvals. This is the way to achieve the most worthwhile projects. Now could be a good opportunity to get some thoughts down onto paper.
We can also say, that in putting some of these initial thoughts down onto paper, there isn't ever any commitment to follow through. Plans and situations always change, nothing has to be set in stone, until construction starts! We also know that the future economic situation is a little uncertain, so we may all need to be a little more tentative than normal.
We at Croft always offer our First Steps meeting completely free of charge, whereas normally we like to come out to you, have a cuppa and a relaxed chat about your aspirations. Now we can offer this over video call..
More than ever, we are just keen to help, so if there is anything you have in mind that you would like to chat about, let us know!
Usually the first outside party involved in a project will be the Planning Department. Most projects will go through a Planning Application process to determine if the project is acceptable and in line with national and local policy.
Planning departments are still open, but depending on location, are working in a slightly limited capacity.
This means that any application is likely to take a little longer than usual. Whilst a standard 'Full' Planning application will usually have a decision period of 8 weeks. We are hearing from most planning departments that this timeframe has been lifted. Essentially meaning there is no specific limit on the timeframe for an application. This will however depend on your local council.
There is absolutely no reason to delay submitting a planning application, we are just working with the assumption that it may take a little longer than normal to reach a decision.
The construction industry has been affected. Some of our projects on site have been suspended, with staff Furloughed, whilst other sites are carrying on. We are working with those carrying on to give any support we can to ensure that the projects continue as smoothly as possible.
The main issue for contractors, is the supply of materials, with alot of materials facing supply chain issues and variable prices. Additionally to this, the issues around social distancing are difficult to deal with on a building site.
Generally our advice to you would be to avoid starting construction on a project at the moment. The risk is elevated, with issues with materials and generally a few different trades and sub-contractors involved. We feel it is better to use the time to make sure a project is planned out fully, and all the administrative procedures met, so that as soon as the situation allows, construction can press ahead.
We are also seeing that as some contractors are not on site, it is a good time to get a project priced and booked in for a future date. We expect there to be a bit of a rush once things get back to normal. So if you are thinking of a building project within the next year or 2, our advise would be to start planning early!
As always, we are here to do anything we can to help you to put your ideas into reality, so please get in touch if you need any further advise!
Our Best Wishes
James, Laurence, Gwyn and Sion
Croft Design Collective
This week, James was invited back to the Centre for Alternative Technology, to spend a few days teaching some practical timber workshops with a visiting group of Architecture students from Notting Trent University
We had a good few days talking about the possibilities in timber construction and running a group competition to build bridges out of small section timber, testing the students understanding of the forces at work, how to get the most out of low grade timber and testing my sense of balance trying to walk across them!
This all made me reflect on the key factors that we use in specifying timber:
Technology, through history.
Knowing your species
As you may well know, at Croft we do our fair share of building work ourselves! Through this, in the past couple of weeks, we have again become very aware of a massive issue in our industry - Construction Waste.
In an age when we are all aware of using less plastic and trying to recycle our household waste, construction waste is a massive issue.
In the past 2 weeks, without specifically looking, we have picked up over £500 worth of insulation, that will go a long way towards insulating the ground floor slab on one of our self-build projects!
This material, which is all of a chemical composition which would take at least 500 years to degrade and is extremely harmful to wildlife, for a material that would have never have fulfilled its purpose. Not only is this very damaging environmentally, but it is also a waste of money for the client who will have paid for it!
This kind of construction waste is happening on a huge scale, on most building projects.
To minimise this impact there are 3 ways which can help.
At Croft, we always pay great attention to the details in our projects, the choice of materials and products can make or break a building.
For one of our recent new build projects, we took a trip with our client to York Handmade Bricks to assess the options, for the most prominent material on this project.
We were looking for a brick that brings a sense of craftsmanship to the appearence as well as a varience in texture and tone that is rarely seen in modern buildings. The way that brickwork is produced here, makes all of this possible, and we settled on a choice with their 'Old Clamp Blend'.
York handmade also specialise in various different sizes, shapes and configuration and they will pretty much make anything you can imagine in clay!
This gave us an opportunity to look at the form factor of a brick.
We have chosen to use a brick that harks back to tudor construction, a 2x10 inch or 50 x 250mm size. This a wider and shorter varient that appealed as it will visually help the building to tie into the expansive landscape, giving the simple form factor a more linear appearence in detail. Interestingly we also all felt that this size felt proportionally more pleasing, and in comparison, a standard brick appeared a bit dumpy!
We also love that all the clay is from their site in yorkshire and we are only 40 minutes from Sheffield, its great to support local producers and lower the embodied energy of our materials as much as we can!
It will be great to start exploring the detail junctions and patterns possible with this brick selection!