Paul recently took a holiday in New York, check out his architectural highlights in this amazing city.

Empire State Building

The Empire State Building is New York’s most recognisable landmark and visiting the Empire State building is a must for anyone traveling in the city. If you want to visit the Empire State building it helps to know a little bit about it.

The building was designed in the Art Deco style by the architect William F. Lamb, who drew up plans for the building in just two weeks! The building rose incredibly fast as well – 410 days after construction began, the building was officially opened on May 1, 1931. Empire State Building rises 102 stories, there may be taller buildings, or more innovative ones, but this Art Deco beauty is perhaps New York City’s most beloved building. However, it was the tallest skyscraper in the world for 41 years.

Every evening, the building’s top 30 stories are illuminated with colours. These might reflect the season, celebrate a holiday, or commemorate local sporting teams or worthy causes.

The world-famous Empire State Building offers unobstructed panoramic views of New York City.


The World Trade Centre Transportation Hub in Lower Manhattan was officially opened to the public on 4 March 2016, replacing the PATH train station that was destroyed in the September 11 attacks.

The structure is formed by softly-curving, white, steel ribs that rise from below the ground to form an elliptical dome over a vast concourse. The transparency of the structure allows light to flood through onto the grey and white marble floors below, and a skylight that runs the length of the Oculus’ spine will open each September 11 to honour the memory of the victims.

Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge is one of the most well-known symbols of New York City. The Brooklyn Bridge was the world’s first steel-wire suspension bridge. More than mile-long span is notable for its suspension construction and its beautiful stone anchorages, with their elegant Gothic arches. At that time, the bridge was the only land passage between Brooklyn and Manhattan. Today, tens of thousands of people, vehicles, and bikes travel over the Brooklyn Bridge every single day.

The biggest question everyone asks, is: ‘Where do I start to walk the Brooklyn Bridge?’ You can walk from the Manhattan side or from the Brooklyn side and we recommend both. They are very different experiences, so we suggest walking across and then back. The walk is 1.3 miles each way, so that distance should take around 20-25 minutes.

Flatiron Building

Designed by architect Daniel Burn and built in 1902, the building is a historical significance to New York City. Today, it is purely an office building. At the time it was built, the Flatiron Building was one of the tallest structures in New York City. Although it’s lost that distinction and only its triangular shape helps it stay one of the city’s most recognizable buildings. It was originally named after George A. Fuller, founder of the Fuller Company. But New Yorkers gave this building a name of their own, the Flatiron Building, because of its similarity to the flat iron.

Getting inside the Flatiron building is not that easy. You can enter the lobby but cannot go upstairs into the offices. The views from the Flatiron onto Madison Square Park and Broadway are quite nice.

New York Architecture

Which is your favourite building in New York?

People often ask what is sustainability? What is sustainable construction? And why do we need this?

Why the need for change and sustainability?

The built environment shapes how we live our lives and is at the heart of our economy. The way we use natural resources, the effect that pollution from making these materials has on our environment and in the use of buildings once they are occupied is unsustainable. All of these influence our environment as well as traditional buildings that consume vast amounts of energy, thus burning more fossil fuels with inevitable damage to our climate.

However, the knowledge exists to create buildings that minimise these environmental effects and provide more healthy spaces for their occupants with lesser cost.

What is Sustainable Construction?

There is no strict definition of sustainable construction but the over view of this can be taken to mean “construction which has minimal impact on the environment”

Sustainable construction can include the following:

  • A building that is energy and carbon efficient, minimising energy consumption
  • A building that leaves the smallest environmental footprint as possible
  • A building constructed to use minimal waste in its construction or re-use of existing on-site materials
  • A building designed to use less water consumption through, for example, more efficient appliances
  • A building constructed with good access to public transport in mind
  • A building that harnesses the use of recycling and composting for ease of occupants

So How Can We Achieve This?

There are some simple rules that we can follow to achieve sustainable construction within most projects:

  • Make the building as efficient as possible
  • Use local labour and suppliers
  • Re-use existing buildings as much as possible
  • Use local natural non-toxic materials or products
  • Prioritise on quality both inside and out

What are the Benefits of Sustainable construction?

There are many potential benefits to gain from implementing sustainable construction

  • Low running costs and low energy and water usage
  • Local involvement
  • Potential to design for low future maintenance
  • Aesthetics – creating a building visually attractive
  • Innovation and interest from local people
  • Healthy living in your work and home environments
  • Financial injection into local communities’ economy

Implementing Green Energy

Green energy now plays a part in our energy consumption – so what is it? Green energy is energy that comes from renewable resources. Combined with energy efficiency improvements and sustainable construction this can help reduce our overall energy usage and aid climate change. These sources of energy can meet our future needs in a more sustainable manner.

Design Considerations for New or Refurbished Buildings

So how can we break these down in to smaller elements that we can implement in the construction or refurbishment of our buildings? These are some key sustainable and energy efficient design considerations to consider when designing your new or refurbished building:

  • Orientation – Taking advantage of the sun solar gains and ease of shading
  • Daylighting – Maximise the use of daylight
  • Insulation – Insulating above building regulations specification
  • Glazing – High performance glazing with higher U-values
  • Lighting – Dedicated energy efficient light fittings throughout the building
  • Heating Systems – Using highly efficient heating systems and heat recovery systems
  • Cooling – Adequate external shading or mixed mode air conditioning systems
  • Ventilation – Can the building be naturally ventilated partially or fully to reduce the need of cooling systems
  • Thermal Mass – Increased thermal mass to reduce the need for heating in a building
  • Energy Harvesting and Efficiency – Minimise total energy demand by using efficient devices
  • Water Harvesting and Efficiency – Re-using grey water and harvesting rainwater for other uses
  • Green Electricity – The use of green energy technology roof mounted solar panels (PV), wind turbines or consumers investing in renewable energy by purchasing “green electricity”
  • Solar Panels – Capture the suns energy by using photovoltaic cells solar panel electricity systems to run household appliances and lighting
  • Ground and Air Source Heat Pumps – Extract heat from either the ground or the air using electrically driven pumping systems to pass heat to radiators or underfloor pipes
  • Materials – Choosing sustainable, natural and locally sourced materials for your project
  • Acoustics – Improve the acoustic properties of the building
  • Health and Wellbeing – Provision of natural daylight and planting of native species to attract wildlife

These are the types of design consideration we try to incorporate here at LiteBox Architecture within our design stages to help create more sustainable building and help protect our environments future and reduce climate effects.

To discuss your project get in touch today on 02476 629192.

Visit our Instagram & Facebook pages to see some of our designs come to life.

Broken Plan Kitchens:

Open-plan kitchens have revolutionised the way we interact and entertain as a family, but they do have their cons. For example, where do you hide all the dirty pots and pans? So if you’re after a little more privacy, broken-plan might be for you.

The concept is simple, take an open-plan design but add in a freestanding shelf unit or raised breakfast bar to create separation without the need for a full-on wall. This creates the more zoned approach and is an evolution of open-planned living and allows for a more sociable experience for everyone.

Matt cabinet finishes are superseding high-gloss options. They reflect less light to give a more understated look and, on a practical level. Create contrast with rustic wood or stone surfaces and metallic fittings.

Luxury details such as smoked glass, warm metallics and deep colours are key to creating focal points. Heavily grained wood and dark veneers are also making a comeback. Bleached walnut, Oak and elm in graphite grey and black offer an on-trend look that moves away from pale woods


Black is definitely back both a leading kitchen or simply as a supporting cabinet. The use of contrast is used as a design and style element using deep and muted tones or a mix of cool and warm tones. Playing with contrasting interior and exterior finishes adds a fashionable touch. Painted cabinet colours will be popular with either soft medium blues, but bold blues and khakis are on trend this year. Matte black stainless appliances are happening now!


This marmite material was cool in the ‘70s, uncool in the ‘90s, cool in 2018. Yes, Terrazzo is back. The colourful floor tiles add an incredible edge to any room expect lots of more affordable options to appear on the market over the coming months as designers open their arms to the composite stone once again.

If you have a project in mind, give us a call today to have a FREE 30 minute consultation to discuss your kitchen extension idea.

How long does an extension take?

We estimate on average most builders will take between 10 and 12 weeks to build a home extension, although depending on the size and specification of the project these timings can sometimes take slightly longer.

Depending on the size and complexity of your project, the length of time can vary considerably. A small extension may take only 3 months, a larger extension maybe 6 months. A full new build large house on a complex site could easily take 12-18 months.

Two of biggest things that can regularly add time onto the length of construction are; bad weather and changes to the design. The weather is a difficult one to predict, as building in the UK you can have lots of rain any time of year! It is advisable to avoid starting a build during the winter as cold frosty conditions are not good for building in.

Many clients make changes to the design once the construction has started. This is fine but you must be prepared for additional costs and a delayed completion if work has to be redone.

Another common delay is not having an architectural designer because this can lead to simple errors that result in delays further down the road.

We hope this has answered many of your initial questions and queries that you will experience when considering your proposed project.

Be sure to check our other blog posts in this series Architectural Designer feesPlanning Permission and Extension Fees.

“Had Paul design our extension, the builders were really impressed with the attention to detail and the design practicality. The extension is now complete and has vastly improved our home. Thanks, Paul, really good job! I would definitely recommend.”

Lee Smith
16th December 2017

If you would like to discuss your potential project in more detail please contact us at LiteBox Architecture on 02476 629192 or

We look forward to hearing from you.

Extension Cost

Projects can be designed and built to meet a specific financial budget. For instance, a domestic project from experience would cost in the region of £1,200 – £1,500 per m2. This reflects recent price increases over the last few years. If you’re developing an extension within London and some parts of the South East, these figures can increase to £1,500 – 2,000 per m2.

In addition to this, you will need to include approximately 10-15% for professional fees (architect, planning application, building regulations, structural engineer)

And let’s not forget to include 20% VAT that will need to be included on top of your total fees.

So how do the fees increase if you decide on a double storey extension? The general rule of thumb you can add 50% extra to the build cost of a single storey extension.

For instance

£30,000 for a single storey extension

Add 50% of the single storey fee for a double storey extension = £15,000

Double storey extension = £45,000

In addition to the fees would be specialist products ie bi-fold doors, roof lights or lanterns, underfloor heating etc.

What About my Kitchen and Bathroom? 

The above costs generally will not allow for your kitchen and bathroom costs or flooring and floor and walls finishes.

We would normally advise allowing between £3000 – £5,000 for a bathroom and £10,000 for a kitchen (again, completely depends on your specification, but this should get you a lower-midrange kitchen with appliances)

Looking for a FREE consultation? We offer 30 minutes at no cost to you. Call us today.

What is planning permission and will I need it?

Generally, most projects require Planning Permission and also Building Regulations approval before works can commence on site. Each project differs in requirements i.e, is your property in a conservation area or is your property Listed? If so Listed Building Consent will be required and in some cases, conservation area consent is required.

Permitted development rights are available however these are dependent on a number of factor such as location, size of the site, size of the proposal, has there been any other development on site

I always recommend Informal pre-application discussions with planning prior to any formal submissions, they greatly help a project in the initial stages of development. Planning are there to help and being aware of a forthcoming project is useful in that respect.

How long does it take to get planning permission?

Usually minor projects have a set timescale of 8 weeks from the date the local planning department have validated the application. For major developments, this can take 13 weeks. However, this also depends on the workload and staffing levels at the local authority.  Over recent years we have noticed various departments for planning requesting extensions of time to make decisions on applications.

What is building control and how long does it take?

The Building Regulations are concerned with the constructional details of buildings and set down minimum standards to safeguard the health and safety of persons in and around buildings; conserve fuel and power and provide facilities for disabled people. They are applied by all local authorities in England and Wales and therefore apply on a national basis. However, since recent changes in the law approved inspectors or private building control companies have taken over a large sector of the market providing a more customer-based efficient service.

Building regulation approval will normally take between 2-4 weeks depending on the type and size of project. Once your plans have been approved by building control they will carry out a series of site visits to check the completion of works at various stages. On completion of the works building control will carry out their final check and issue a final completion certificate providing all the works comply and the necessary certificates have been completed such as Gas Safe and Electrical installation.

If you’re planning a project this Spring / Summer call us today for a FREE 30-minute consultation 02476 629192 or email

Architectural Designer Fees

Architectural designer fees are calculated in three ways: a percentage basis; a lump-sum basis; or time charged by agreement. Expenses may be included in the agreed fee or charged separately.

Percentage basis

In this method, fees are conveyed as a percentage of the total construction cost. Both client and architectural designer need to establish the services to be provided before fees can be estimated including the approximate construction budget and the nature of the work.

Lump-sum basis

Best used where the scope of the work proposed can be clearly defined from the outset. It is important to define the parameters of Architectural designer services including time, project size and cost where applicable, so that if these are varied more than an agreed amount, the lump sum itself may be varied.

Time-charged basis

This basis is best used where the scope of work cannot be reasonably foreseen or where services cannot be related to the amount of construction. It may be wise to set an upper limit on fees to be incurred, perhaps on a staged basis.

As a very rough guideline, architectural designer fees for a domestic project could be anywhere in the region of 5-15% of the overall project budget, dependant on the factors set out above. The following figures are taken from independent annual fee survey, showing average fees relative to the whole project budget and include all of the project stages listed above:

  • £25K – 10.7%
  • £50K – 9.9%
  • £75K – 9.5%
  • £150K – 8.7%
  • £500K – 7.3%
  • £1M – 6.5%

If you’re planning a project this Spring / Summer call us today for a FREE 30-minute consultation 02476 629192 or email

A Client-Focused Service:

At LiteBox Architecture we focus on providing a service that extends well beyond producing a set of drawings. We aim to listen and identifying the needs and aspirations of our clients, we bring our specialist skills, knowledge and experience to your project.

Value for Money:

Not only can we provide value for money, but professional attention to detail that will achieve value through the most efficient use of space and careful selection of materials and finishes. Environmental sensitivity, energy efficiency and low running and maintenance costs can bring extra benefits to your project and long-term savings!

Freedom from Worry:

LiteBox Architecture can guide you through the complex procedures of planning permission and building regulations and monitor the builder’s programme of works through to completion of your project. We are also obliged to carry professional indemnity insurance – giving you peace of mind.


Whether you’re looking for tradition or innovation, boldness or understatement, we can lift your project out of the ordinary. Many people will offer to alter your building. It takes an architect to maximise its potential and to do it with flair, imagination and style.

A building project, whatever its scale, can be daunting, but the same basic criteria apply, be it a simple house extension or a large office development. When you use our services you are employing someone who has years of professional training and experience.


When you employ a designer, you’re paying for their knowledge, skill and experience – not just a set of drawings. Usually, the final drawings are produced relatively quickly at the end of a design process that involves discussion between client and professional. Sketch plans are drafted along the way and the ideas generated are either kept or rejected as the design progresses.

Whilst imagining a design, we are thinking about how it will be built, the structural implications, the Building Regulations that apply and the likely cost. If these things are not considered during the initial design they may present problems later on.

Most people appreciate that an architect’s ‘unique selling point’ is good design. But what does this mean? The role involves a lot more than simply ensuring that the end result looks great. A truly good design by an architect does a lot more than this. It means that the new rooms and spaces fit the lifestyle of the family living in the space, the detail of the construction has been well thought out, and the project is broadly within the budget that was agreed.

To achieve all these wonderful things requires expertise and skill, but also adequate time has to be spent by the designer on all stages of the project. This attention to detail is just as important for a house or extension as it is for a posh office development – arguably more important since there is an intimate relationship between a dwelling and its occupants that doesn’t apply to other types of building.

Let’s start your inspiring design today.

The long-anticipated 20% increase in planning fees on applications submitted in England has now come in to effect from 17thJanuary 2018.

The increase is the first since 2012 and will affect all applications where a fee is currently required to be paid to Local Planning Authorities (LPAs). In addition, the regulations introduce a fee of £96 for prior approval applications to permitted development rights that were introduced in April 2015 and April 2017. These include the rights for the installation of solar PV equipment on non-domestic buildings, the erection of click-and-collect facilities within the land area of a shop and the provision of temporary school buildings on vacant commercial land for state-funded schools. The new regulations also include provisions for LPAs to charge a fee in instances where permitted development rights have been removed either through Article 4 directions or conditions.

Mayoral development corporations and urban development corporations will also be able to charge for giving pre-application advice on relevant developments within their jurisdictive areas.

The increase comes at a potentially challenging time for both private and public sectors. With increasing planning and development costs, including CIL and S.106, as well as wider uncertainty over Brexit, front-end increases will place an added financial burden on developments, especially on larger schemes. Equally, many planning departments have suffered from cuts to service and are struggling to determine applications within the statutory 8 and 13-week deadlines, as well as dealing with pre-application requests.

The increase in fees is intended that the additional monies will help LPAs to improve planning resources and service delivery, which many applicants will welcome, especially if this helps deliver more certainty over decisions and the time taken to make them.

How the Fee’s have Increased?

The increase covers all current LPA fee’s this is just a highlight of the main fees:

  • Creation of a dwelling house: £462 (currently £385)
  • Creation of non-residential floor space (retail, leisure, commercial, office, etc): 75sqm >     3,750sqm: £462 per 0.75 sqm (currently £385)
  • Maximum OUTLINE: £150,000 (currently £125,000)
  • Maximum residential FULL: £300,000 (currently £250,000)
  • Change of Use: £462 (currently £385)
  • Householder Extensions and alterations: £206 (currently £172)

At LiteBox Architecture we feel communication is key, we aim to keep our clients up to date on important changes given the direct impact they will have. For further clarification of fees check out

For more information on this matter, or how it could affect you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch on 02476 629192 or

What exactly can you expect from our initial free meeting, how can you use the time wisely and what questions should you ask?

Let’s get started and find out more about what to expect and how to prepare for a free home consultation with LiteBox Architecture.


1: What will you achieve from a 30-minute consultation?

Firstly, this gives us a chance to digest two things, your property type and your style of living. From here we can guide you on what we feel is the best outcome, taking into consideration space and your budget.


2: What questions should you ask?

  • What can be achieved for my budget?
  • How will my project affect my neighbours?
  • What materials will be used?

Having some ideas and questions written down to discuss regarding your project is a great idea. Make sure you talk to your partner or family before our visit to understand everyone’s expectations and requirements.

We will listen to your ideas, needs and desires for the planned space you wish to create before we make any suggestions or recommendations.

We will look at the existing style and layout of your home and how this relates to your proposed project. This will also give us the opportunity to assess how your project could affect your neighbours and any other potential issues that could arise.

We will also be looking at how your project can be constructed, thinking of all the construction details and specifications required that meet with your approval and to ensure any building regulations are fulfilled.

Discussing budget is incredibly important and we recognise that it can be a sensitive conversation but it’s always best if you are honest from the beginning with how much you have or can afford to spend on the project. We will always be honest when it comes to telling you if this is in-line with your project’s size and requirements.

We will discuss with you our process of working, from conception to completion, and what would be involved in the work we produce. We will indicate the approximate cost to provide our service, which will be followed up within two days with a written estimate confirming our overall fees to work with you on your project.


3: What questions will we ask you?

To gain a better understanding of how we can add value to your project we will ask you some questions.

  • Do you have the funds in place to carry out the project?
  • Do you have a builder on board or would you like us to recommend someone?
  • Is your home listed, within a conservation area or a green belt?
  • What are you trying to achieve from your project? Additional space, another room etc. We might be able to suggest an alternative approach to gain the same space that could reduce timescales or cost.
  • When would you like to start construction and when do you want it completed by?


4: If you decide to use our services what happens next?

We help to turn your dreams into reality.


LiteBox Architecture
50 High St,
B95 5AN

T: 02476 629192

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