• Neil Lambert

Do I really need an architect?

Updated: Jan 17

There's a common misconception that architects only get involved with the biggest, flashiest Grand Designs-type projects. But even relatively small home improvement jobs can benefit from our experience and expertise. A recent small project in Gullane shows how an architect can help when things aren't as straightforward as they first appear.

My client wanted to replace her front porch with something newer, nicer and more spacious. The existing structure had been added in the 1980s and as well as looking dated it was beginning to rot, so there was more than a little urgency! What made the job more complicated was the layout of the estate where she lived. Built in the 1960s, the distinctive raked-roofed bungalows are arranged along a series of pedestrian pathways around lush common green spaces, with private gardens tucked behind. The closeness of the public pathway to the front of the house meant that normal permitted development rights, which allow a certain amount of work without needing planning permission, did not apply, so a full planning application was going to be needed. The same issue also meant the project would need a Building Warrant - porches are usually exempt from this but again the distance to the boundary meant an application was necessary.

Having been approached to assist with both of these processes, I was able to help my client navigate the planning and building regulations to create something better tailored to her needs. A porch built under permitted development rights would have been limited to 3 square metres - fine but not a huge improvement on the existing structure. Going in for a full planning application, however, opened up the potential to create something bigger, with more room to manoeuvre and a dedicated space for coats and boots plus all the leads and kit needed for her two spaniels. It also gave her the chance to do something a little bit different from the standard porch designs offered by major suppliers, and to work with the distinctive style of her house and the estate as a starting point for the new design concept.

With the client's close involvement I took the design through several iterations, working with 2D sketches and 3D virtual models, until we reached a form that ticked all the boxes. This was then submitted for planning earlier in the year, with planning consent successfully granted in early autumn. Work is now well underway to take the design to a greater level of technical detail ready for submission for Building Warrant, with the input of a structural engineer and specialist glazing manufacturer.

Update 14.01.22 - Building Warrant has now been granted and the project is ready to move ahead to the next stage!

You can find out more about permitted development rights in Scotland, and what they allow you to do to your property here:

The rules for porches can be found here:

For properties in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the rules are different and you should contact your local planning authority for the latest guidance for where you live.

If you're thinking of a similar project and looking for advice, please do get in touch - I'd be very happy to see what I can do to help you.

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