Opinder Liddar, one director at lapd Architects, talks us through five key topics that you should be thinking about if you are embarking on a self-build project in the near future.

1. Think lifestyle first
Great design doesn’t start with ratios and angles, it starts with your life and how you actually function week in and week out. You should be thinking about your self-build project from the inside out – how will you move through the space and what habits of daily life need to be taken into account?

What are the busiest times in your schedule? What gets in the way of you having that valuable family time? Do you relax in the kitchen or in the living room? Do you value personal space in the house, or are you the kind of person who lives more communally? Self-build means that you can design your home entirely around your life.

2. Think unique
Mass produced developer housing is the opposite of the self-build ideal. Self-build should offer the opportunity to see your own traits and personality emerging through every design decision that is made. Your build is about you.
Begin thinking about how you can communicate who you are and what your life looks like to the architect that will be helping you to realise your dream home. Here at lapd we encourage our clients to fill in a collage book full of things they love and things they don’t: selections from magazines, Pinterest images, holiday pictures, colour palettes, your favourite car – anything that will give a more rounded and complete representation of your personality.

3. Think plot context
Where is your home going to be built? Many of our clients have bought plots with buildings that have dwellings already on the plot, with a view to knocking it down and starting again. Others have found a standalone plot in a beautiful location. We also have clients at the Graven Hill [link to graven hill website] site in Bicester who are adhering to a design code and a certain position in their neighbourhood. Wherever your build is situated there a few key things to consider.

– Typography. Does your plot slope and will this affect your build?
– Sun path. Where will the sun rise and where will it set, and how can you make the most of this natural daylight?
– Exposure. Are you nestled between houses or will you find windy days particularly affect you?
– Surroundings. Where are your nicest focus points/ features for a view?

4. Think ‘must-haves’ and ‘would-likes’
There is often a saturation point when you are thinking about your self-build, especially as things begin to fall into place and everything begins to seem that bit more real. That’s why having a simple structure to put your thoughts in order is a surprisingly powerful tool.
An easy way to do this is to separate your ideas into ‘must-haves’ and ‘would-likes’. Think about how important something is for the identity of your dream home, and also think about how realistic any given feature is in terms of construction method, planning and finance.

We often find that people’s ‘would likes’ are a lot more doable than they think, or there might be a good reason that a ‘must have’ might not work. This is all part of working towards a finished design that delivers the vision that is at the core of why you are self-building in the first place.

5. Think about who could understand you
You need to make sure the architect you work with understands you. Your architect should be your guide through the whole process, making sure your dream home is delivered on time and on budget.

At lapd Architects we listen to you before we do anything else so that we can understand your dream home. We don’t just blindly reflect your ideas back at you in the form of a drawing or two; we bring unexpected and intelligent design ideas that find their source in your life and your dreams. We are realistic but also make sure your home will be designed around your life.

If you would like to meet with to talk about how we can guide you along your journey to your dream self-build home, then do not hesitate to get in touch with us. We offer a free initial consultation with our directors. Call us on 01865 407 722, or email us on enquiry@lapdarchitects.co.uk

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