JDP Grand Designs 2014
Russ Cockburn

Member Article

Grand Designs in focus as architect announces £3.5m project haul

Homebuyers are turning their back on mainstream builders and instead focusing on ‘improving rather than moving’.

That’s the verdict of Shropshire architect Vic Johnson, who has seen his boutique practice take on over £3.5m of projects from families and couples keen to stamp their own style on houses across England.

The Johnson Design Partnership (JDP) boss believes more people are recognising the long-term value of creating distinctive properties and utilising the latest design techniques to tailor their homes to suit their lifestyles.

He feels what started as a trend in the South East has now spread to other parts of the country, partly fuelled by the Channel 4 show and a housing market that has been stagnant for the past five years.

“People have realised they don’t have to settle for the mainstream option anymore and that doing something different doesn’t have to be that expensive,” explained Vic, who is currently working on his own ‘grand designs’ project.

“If you explore more ambitious options you can turn an existing property into something that really makes a statement and is a fantastic long-term investment…on average a 30% increase.

“It takes away all the barriers and allows you to design the home you really want…that may be creating larger rooms, adding external decorative features or opening up the building so more natural light floods in.”

He continued: “You don’t have to know all the answers either. Architects are there to work with you on designing the vision, identifying the overall costs, taking care of project management and, importantly, in securing the vital planning permission.

“This is especially relevant when it comes to the technical aspect of enabling development, which involves bringing heritage benefits to the fore in order to justify planning applications.

“We have a lot of expertise of reinventing and uplifting ancient and medieval houses with modern techniques and contrasting design methodologies.”

Johnson Design Partnership has been involved in completing sixteen ‘grand designs’ projects in the last eighteen-months.

These have ranged from old cottages and modern homes to converting two concrete water towers into unique living spaces for families in Shropshire and the South East… one of which attracted compliments from TV star Kevin McCloud.

The firm’s reputation for cutting edge design, use of innovative materials and an ability to maximise space has attracted contracts from all over England and led to 15% growth and one new job at its Station Road offices in Bridgnorth.

Vic picked up the story: “One high profile example we’ve just completed is Eudon Burnell Cottages or, as they are known locally, Waggoners Cottage.

“This four-month contract involved knocking two cottages into one home, with a single-storey extension to the rear that linked the two existing kitchens into one.

“We’ve also had to build over an eight meter deep well, using a glass floor to make a feature out of it. Other unique features are four light tubes to bring natural light into deep rooms, underfloor heating and the possibility of converting to solar water heating at a later date.”

JDP is also currently working on a large extension and internal remodelling project in Harpenden.

Due to be started in Easter 2014, the six-month programme will see the ground floor lowered within the extension to give a feeling of openness and the opportunity to look onto the garden from various levels.

It will also be one of the first projects where the practice has installed retina access security.

Online Boost

Johnson Design Partnership celebrated its tenth birthday in style in 2013 with turnover hitting a record high of £330,000.

The company, which is ISO9000:2000 and ISO14001 accredited, offers a complete project management service from feasibility work and planning to detail design, monitoring and contract administration.

As part of its expansion, JDP has invested significantly into the development of its new website (www.johnsonltd.co.uk) to incorporate an interactive gallery and full usability on most smart phones and tablet devices.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Russ Cockburn .

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