Recent Posts

Permitted Development Class Q – Barn Conversions

If you have an agricultural barn, it is possible to convert it into a house without formal planning permission. This opportunity exists in an effort to bring unused redundant buildings into viable use. It can be argued that sometimes the ‘loophole’ is abused and unsuitable sheds are poorly converted to sub-standard homes. However as the …

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Planning portal fees to be introduced

When submitting a planning application, it is usual to submit all the drawings and written documentation online. The system to date has been through the website www.planningportal.com (a privatized entity) which has been convenient and straightforward. Application drawings and documents are submitted, and then the applicant calls the relevant council to make the application fee …

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Love Local!

Living and working within a small radius is a great feeling, Tom Spriggs Architect Ltd will very happily work further afield, but the nature of a compact city in a rural county means that a large number of clients’ homes are close by. Over the last few years some of these have been very close …

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How steep a roof? Roof pitches for different materials

When designing an extension, a new build house, or even a garden shed, the angle or pitch of the roof is an important consideration. Here in the UK, the roof primarily deals with rainwater (rather than massive snow loads, desert sun, forest fires or ridiculous wind speeds). They will have to cope with sunshine, fluctuating …

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Teaser gallery

20C society

Tom Spriggs Architect Ltd is proudly a member of the Twentieth Century Society. The Society, originally founded as the Thirties Society “…exists to safeguard the heritage of architecture and design in Britain from 1914 onwards.” Older buildings and urban areas have long been protected by Conservation Areas and Listed Building status’s (Even though some still …

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You must be pretty fed up of hearing about the GDPR by now?

  Firstly, The GDPR isn’t to be confused with the GPDO (The General Permitted Development Order) which is the part of planning legislation that allows certain work to be carried out without formal planning permission. The new (in force 25th May 2018) Data Protection rules (General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR for short) essentially help protect …

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How much does building work cost?

A recent purchase of a ‘Homes’ glossy magazine inspired me to write this post. An article within showed a series of elegant extensions with finely detailed designs under an ‘Extensions for every budget’ title. It also listed their building costs (varying with & without VAT). In my experience these were considerably lower than I would …

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Exeter Cycling Campaign

Tom Spriggs Architect Ltd has been a supporting member of the Exeter Cycling Campaign since its inception over a year ago. The Campaign does good work in promoting cycling infrastructure provision in Exeter’s growth. Many of our streets, parks and new development are very suitable for cycling and walking. Exeter is a compact city centre that can be navigated quickly without resorting to car use. 

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South West Planning authority regions

Planning applications are made to your local council, who are responsible for all the applications within their area. They follow national guidance covered by the National Planning Policy Framework, or NPPF but all have more local distinctiveness criteria, preferences, and regional requirements. Tom Spriggs Architect Limited is based in Exeter where projects are covered by …

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Planning application fees due to rise this January

  It’s been on the cards for a little while now, but the forecasted planning application fee rise of 20% to all applications is coming into effect on January 17th 2018. For homeowner applications this will amount to a £34.40 increase to £206.40 which is not a huge impact, but for larger or commercial schemes …

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New Arrival

Tom is celebrating the safe arrival of a new baby boy this week! The office is running skeleton hours and essentially closed down for a couple of weeks. Emails are the best way to get in touch with the practice as hours are pretty erratic.      

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Stripping out a fireplace and installing a woodburning stove

This was at my own home, a bit of a ‘doer-upper’. Built in 1864 it is a solid Victorian house with some nice features remaining.  We wanted to install a woodburning stove in an existing non-original fireplace and it needed thorough repair and enlargement to do so. Most Victorian fireplaces have what is known as …

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What is Permitted Development?

Permitted Development essentially allows someone to make alterations and additions to their buildings without needing Planning Permission. A set of criteria and typical alterations is considered being ‘pre-approved’ by planning. Typically this includes minor porches, satellite dishes, flues, certain rooflights etc. However, crucially, some fairly significant extensions also fall under the Permitted Development (PD) criteria. …

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The difference between ‘planning’ and ‘detailed’ drawings

There are two fundamental parts to architectural drawings. ‘Planning’ and ‘Detailed design’. The concept, appearance and layout design is undertaken en-route to producing ‘Planning’ drawings. The technical side of construction information is tackled in the ‘Detailed Design’ stage. The planning drawings are the primary output from the briefing, sketching, designing and developing stages. These drawings are …

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So I’ve got planning permission. What next?

Congratulations! A lot has been achieved by the time planning consent has been granted. A site/building survey has been undertaken, client briefing, sketch options and proposals, developing these, drawing up planning-ready drawings of a chosen scheme, preparing a planning application, including a supporting statement and going through the planning process that sometimes needs amendments to …

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Bespoke Kitchen Factory Visit

I had the pleasure of visiting Touch Design Group’s factory this morning to review the custom built kitchen going into one of my projects currently on-site. Everything is going to plan and the part-complete kitchen looks fantastic! It’s been carefully designed by Touch Design, myself and a very enthusiastic and knowledgable client. The design has evolved throughout the process and TDG’s attention to detail is unsurpassed.

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Vaulted ceilings with exposed beams – why do I have so many projects with them?

Above: Left: ‘Letterbox’ solution connects 3 rooflights without impacting too greatly on roof structure. Centre: New beams allow complete removal of flat ceiling. Right: not in a structural capacity, but these beams add sense of scale to a very tall space.   I love light. Daylight and sunlight both have a place in buildings. A soft …

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New website goes live!

Tom Spriggs Architect Ltd is very pleased to announce its new website!

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Heavitree Park Community Centre

Pairing up with Hilary Lawson of 5 Points Architecture again, Tom and Hilary prepared a submission for an invite-only competitive tender for a new community centre in the heart of Heavitree Park. The tender process was mainly fee-driven, but entrants were invited to submit initial designs and siting of the building based upon briefing documents …

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Spalled Bricks & the use of Lime

In this example spalled bricks refers to surfaces of bricks being damaged by improper pointing. It is a broad subject and there have been many books written about the correct use of Lime and repair of older buildings but below should serve as an introduction to the subject. As the use of lime in construction …

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Conversion of offices to dwellings secured

Planning consent has been achieved to convert and upgrade a courtyard scheme, converting some tired office space to new dwellings. Set within one of Exeter’s central residential streets, the owners were keen to see the return from residential use, rather than the limited office use. While the loss of office space within the city is …

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Rooflights: Daylight and ventilation

Rooflights, skylights, sun tubes/pipes, glass roofs and roof lanterns. They are all ways of bringing in daylight, sunlight and ventilation into buildings. They are necessary to provide natural light and ventilation rooms that do not have outside walls but are equally useful to bring a unique quality of light. A surprising amount of drama can …

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Japanese Knotweed

Whilst not an unattractive plant, Japanese Knotweed is an aggressive plant that has some particular impacts upon the building ownership and construction industry. If you suspect your property has Japanese Knotweed, or a property you are interested in purchasing may have it you should seek expert professional advice. (e.g. not me – this is a …

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Site location information

Finding out as much information about your site early can influence how a project develops. There are various freely available resources online that you can view before embarking upon a project. Before heading too far down the path into a project these websites and services are a good checkpoint. I routinely use them to gather …

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Do I need an Architect?

Need? Well, probably not. However…. Architects can carry out a range of services, that can bring a positive influence to many projects, and not always only buildings! Typically they are used to assess a user’s needs, through briefing and will develop design options and ideas with their client, leading on to more detail until construction …

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Clay Earth & Pizza Ovens

Pizza ovens, or earth ovens can be a great addition to any garden or terrace. They are a simple yet dramatic way to cook food and great for entertaining and parties. If you have a bit of space, they are much more interesting than a normal boring BBQ! Pizzas cooked in a wood-fired oven taste …

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Composting toilets, low impact living & renewables

A recent visit to mid-Wales allowed a first hand experience of composting toilets, living in a yurt and additional research into low-impact solutions at CAT. CAT is the Centre for Alternative Technology near Machynlleth. It has developed over the years from a place for pioneering spirits to call home, to a world recognised centre for …

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Exeter Cathedral Roof Tour

Right in the middle of Exeter is the magnificent Exeter Cathedral, a fine example of Gothic architecture. Its vaulted ceiling is the longest of it’s type in the world. The roof is formed in two layers; the decorated stone vaulted arches visible from below; and a timber lead-covered roof over this, all told adding up …

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Farm Shop Furniture

A small new farm shop needed some shop fittings. The inside of the barn has been lined with natural finished plywood, and the owners wanted some display furniture to complement this. Wanting to make the furniture themselves a design was required that was flexible, practical, matched the appearance of the surroundings and could be made …

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Green roofs

A planted or green roof can bring about many technical as well as aesthetic benefits to a project. The most apparent feature of a green roof is the appearance – they can vary from ground-hugging Sedums to taller and more wild flowery or grass roofs (or even a vegetable garden!). These different plants bring additional …

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Remedial Cavity Trays

A cavity tray is a barrier to water or moisture (usually formed of plastic) in a cavity wall. It slopes down and outwards crossing the cavity to protect whatever is below from any water that is running down the cavity. Today, preformed plastic ‘trays’ can be installed, however plastic damp proof courses (dpc) can be …

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New York City, NY

During some recent travels I visited New York. Partly built on reclaimed land from the natural harbour, surrounded by water and full of life that never sleeps, it is a great city to visit. The areas of high-rise (where the foundations allow) are subject to constant renewal, contrasting against the more historic low-rise areas such …

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