The role of an architect for self-builders

Architects for self builders | Stephen Waldron Architects One of our regular client groups is ‘self-builders’.  These may be people who have deliberately bought a patch of land intending to build their own house.  Or they may have inherited some land.  Others have realised that they could build a house on part of their curtilage.

In each case we believe that our job it is not simply that of designing a wonderful house – there are many aspects to the services of an architect, including the real-life examples below:

Japanese Knotweed
A site was purchased before appointing us leaving us the sad task of demonstrating that the invasive Japanese Knotweed which they had not noticed was likely to prevent a mortgage offer or planning consent without considerable research and treatment plan, all of which we would organise.

Planning Consent

Boundary issues: Another plot lay outside the ‘settlement boundary’ of the village in which it seemed a key part; thus planning consent was immediately ruled out without a long-term strategy.

Flood risk: A plot lay in a high flood risk zone and planning consent would not be possible.

Survey and Mitigation

A badger sett lay within 50m of the plot and a full survey and mitigation strategy would need to be commissioned to resolve this challenge before a planning application could be made.

Stokes Vs Cambridge

Access to a site was only possible across a ‘ransom strip’ which under the Stokes vs Cambridge historic ruling meant that the owner of the strip could legitimately claim a value equal to around 1/3rd of the enhanced value of the land with development consent to provide access.


With a view was to the north and the sun to the south (something the client hadn’t noticed); a radical design solution would be required to gain the benefit of both.

These are just a few instances where the services of an Architect like Stephen Waldron Architects before you purchase land could be a sound investment!

Even if a site is ‘perfect’, we see so many self-builds resulting in a ‘standard house type’ with no regard to light, the sun’s path, view or impact of shadow, trees and noise.

A site demands a turnkey response; this should flow from a full grasp and analysis of the context of the site – and this is the role of your architect.

An architecture practice in South Wales, we are passionate about getting it right for you! We spend considerable time upfront exploring these contextual issues so that we may fully be able to unlock a site’s full potential.  And it’s because we do this that we have never, we’ll repeat that, never designed a house and then used it again on another site.

The relationship between client and architect has to be strong enough, with a build-up of trust, to enable a full and frank exploration of all that the client may consciously and subconsciously want out of their new home as well as propose possibilities they never dreamt of.  It’s a lifestyle choice, and that doesn’t just come from bricks and mortar, but rather from views in and out, space and light, texture and colour.

We architects need to be patient and explore through verbal and non-verbal means every aspect of our client to help them realise what is not apparent.  Stephen Waldron Architects proudly deliver this through our value of Serviced Design.

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