How to Find the Perfect Plot for your New Build

Whilst finding existing homes on the property market is easy – simply look in the window of any estate agent or on Right Move, finding plots of land on which to build a new home is not and you’ll have to do a decent amount of research to find the right plot for you. That being said, however, roughly 13,000 people build new homes every year, proving it is a realistic dream.

The ability to be flexible and focused will help you enormously in finding a plot of land for your building project. It can take years to find the right plot of land, especially if you’re looking for particular features or don’t want to compromise on various aspects of your plot. It may be that you have to revisit your specifications in order to build your own home.

Starting out

Before you do anything else, you need to find a specific geographic location where you want to construct your home. If the area or areas you’re looking at are too wide, you can easily become overwhelmed and find yourself with nothing.

 Once you’ve found your ideal area, walk around and visit any close-by villages or towns. If you plan to build in the middle of the countryside, this will be where you socialise and buy your groceries. But if you’re looking to live close by, you may find potential building plots at local infill sites, disused garage blocks or side gardens.

 If you identify a plot you’re interested in, don’t hesitate to speak to the owner, or write them a letter, to let them know who you are, and that you’re interested in buying the land from them. You may just find they’re willing and happy to sell it.

Another great place to regularly look at is the Local Authority’s planning applications websites, as a number of landowners will be looking to sell their land rather than build on it themselves. If you see a plot you like, get into contact with the owner and see if they’re interested in selling to you – you have nothing to lose at this point and they may want to discuss the matter with you in more detail.

Obstacles you’ll have to overcome

The UK has one of the highest amounts of protected land in Europe, with about 90% of land currently unable to be built on. Groups such as the National Custom & Self Build Association work hard to secure more plots for building on, but plots are still relatively scarce.

The majority of planning policies are designed to focus on developing existing properties, and whilst the government has released the Localism Bill in order to relax this, you will still find it extremely difficult to build a new dwelling on greenfield plots.

Mass developers have already bought plots in highly desirable areas, so you will probably have to look at purchasing a brownfield plot – land that has previously been developed. However, this also means you’ll have more opportunities to make your dream home a reality.

What is your budget?

You will most likely have the perfect plot of land in your head, along with a vision of your dream project, but being realistic about your budget will save you masses of time and disappointment. The perfect plot of land is going to be extremely expensive and rare, so you’ll need to compromise somewhere.

The plot will be the most expensive single purchase of your entire building project. If you’re set of finding a plot in an area where available land is rare, you can expect the plot to cost roughly 50% of the final amount you spend.

When you go to look at a plot of land, you can get a far better deal if you learn how to look past its current state. Whilst the plot may be covered in rubbish, shrubs and general undergrowth, it won’t look like that once it’s been cleared up and has a JCB preparing it. If you’re able to change the things you don’t like about a plot of land, you should go ahead but if you can’t, don’t waste time: simply go to look at the next one.

Brightman Architects are on hand to help you design your dream house once you have your plot of land. Simply call 0114 418 2480 or contact us online today.



Everything you need to know about reclaimed building materials

With an ever-increasing emphasis on using sustainable building materials, reclaiming construction materials is becoming an increasingly popular choice- especially if you’re extending a period property or need to ensure your new home is sympathetically built to the surrounding area. Reclaimed building materials are often altered in some way, such as being re-sized, adapted or re-finished to meet your requirements, but they keep their original form.

Common building materials to reclaim

A wide range of building materials can be reclaimed, including:

·         Bricks

·         Slate roofing tiles

·         Fireplaces

·         Ceramic tiles

·         Window frames

·         Doors

·         Glass panels

·         Stair cases

·         Metal fixtures and fittings

·         Timber

·         Steel sections

·         Cobbled stones

Often, these building materials can be re-purposed, such as using a roof beam for a mantelpiece to create a stunning look to your new building.

A quick guide to using re-claimed building materials

If you’ve decided that using reclaimed building materials, our quick and easy guide will make it easier for you, your architect and your builders to successfully achieve your project.

·         As early as possible, let your architect know that you want to use reclaimed materials, as this will help us and your other construction professionals to source the appropriate materials. Ordering reclaimed materials almost always takes longer than sourcing new materials.

·         Try and talk to salvage and reclaimed material dealers, as they can help you to find the materials you need in the right condition and quantity.

·         Try and find architects and builders who have good connections in the salvage trade, as reclaimed materials are sourced from different suppliers.

·         Find out if there are any planned demolition projects close to your building site, around the same time as your construction. You can usually select and take the materials you want, as you need them.

·         It’s essential to allow for some level of flexibility, as your project will need to allow for variations in the reclaimed materials used. Often, if a project uses reclaimed materials, the essential purpose and performance your require from every material.


Remember that whilst the majority of reclaimed materials are environmentally-friendly and will offer a direct saving to you, older reclaimed materials and antiques may be far more expensive due to the craftsmanship and quality.   

Build Architecture Awards 2016

Best House Extension Architectural Firm - Sheffield 

house extensions sheffield

We are very pleased to announce that Brightman Architects have been announced as the 'Best House Extension Architectural Firm - Sheffield' in the Build Architecture Awards 2016.  We are very proud to win this award and it is a testament to the hard work and attention to detail applied to all our projects since the business began in 2014.

Best house extension firm sheffield

5 Things You Need to Consider Before a Barn Conversion

Barn conversions are renowned for oozing character; with their interesting spaces- every barn conversion has a unique layout to enjoy. When making the most of modern architecture and building techniques, these magnificent homes offer a stylish, light and welcoming respite from the outside world.

If you’re looking to live the rural dream, a barn conversion can offer the space you’re unlikely to get with a cottage or other rural dwelling, along with a higher chance to obtain planning permission. They provide the perfect blank canvas, so you can either go for a rustic, traditional look or a chic, contemporary finish to your home.

Read More

You’ve Decided to Build a New Home- What Next?

Many people fail to recognise the amount of time it takes to complete a major construction project, such as a new home. At Brightman Architects, we’ve produced an insight into the key stages of your new build project and a guide to how they’ll influence your completion date.

Read More

7 things you need to know when planning your house extension

Your budget

Before planning anything to do with your house extension, you should consider the budget you’re willing to put towards the project. This can affect the size and details of the house extension massively, as well as the amount of time that can be put into it.

There’s no doubt that you want a quality job done, so you’re best to deal with recommended professionals – so be weary of architects or builders that are suspiciously cheap and refrain from the DIY!

If you’re unsure of how much you want to spend, call in your architect and they will be able to deliver sound advice on how much your idea would cost, or how to get an extension that fits to your budget in mind.

Once you’ve got that budget – stick to it! It’s easy to get carried away without realising, but make sure you keep an eye on it throughout the building process.

Your vision

Perhaps an obvious one, but you should have an idea of what you want to do with the extension. Is it going to be a bedroom, a living room or an office space?

All of these are entirely different concepts when it comes to building and room space. What you want to use the extension for will determine the kind of alteration to make to your home. Don’t just have an extension because you want an extension, have a plan in mind of what you’re going to transform it into!


There are a few things that you should research before planning the extension, including whether or not you need planning permission or if your property is in a conservation area.

For things like loft conversations or single storey extensions, you may not need planning permission, however it’s always best to double check. If you’re not sure how to do this, check with your local planning officer, or just your architect. Both can help find out the situation of your property and get you planning permission if required. Your architect will be sure to help you decide which option is the best for you, whatever the case.

At Brightman Architects, we offer a FREE design consultation to discuss and offer advice on your upcoming project plans.


Avoid any angry complaints or knocks on your front door by taking your neighbours into consideration before the works begin.

Making major alterations to your property may cause a lot of noise and, if not thought out properly, has the potential to damage their property. You should work out if this work will be manageable for them, and keep them fully informed about your intentions from the beginning.


The next big decision for your house extension is where to put it! Up, down or to the side? Converting your attic or cellar space can be worth considering, or if you know you are looking for a side extension specifically, work out where you’d have it. Consider its size and shape and see where it will fit best around your property.


Don’t go taking this task on yourself, unless you’re a professional builder yourself. If you want it done well, get some recommendations on a building firm to use and give them a call.

Before taking the plunge, have a look at some examples of their previous work and see if it’s what you’ve been thinking about for your house extension. If not, discuss it with them. A good, professional company should fill you with reassurance and the knowledge of your house being in safe hands with them.


As we’re sure you’re aware, house extensions don’t happen overnight, so it’s important for you to plan well in advance. Factor in things like the time of year, holidays and events that you might want to hold in your house because we’re not sure how much loud building work will help the ambience!

Once you’ve decided the best time to go ahead with the work, plan further. Create a timetable and let your builders know about it. There is the potential for any building work to over-run, particularly when it’s a big job and you want it done to the highest quality, but you don’t want to be living on a building site for months and months. Be strict and be prepared!

If you’re looking for a quality, reliable and highly recommended architecture service, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

T: 0114 4182480


Happy New Year from Brightman Architects

2015 was a very busy and exciting year for Brightman Architects.  Since being founded in 2014, the business has now grown to become a well-established architects practice in Sheffield and the surrounding areas. 

Architects in Sheffield

Appearing in the Sheffield Telegraph in April and being picked as one of the top three architects in Sheffield by are two acknowledgements of how successful the year has been for Brightman Architects.

This hard work has seen the number of enquiries we receive increase significantly, with clients waiting for us to have the capacity to start work on their project.  The business plans to grow with this popularity in 2016 and please watch this space for some exciting announcements coming soon.

Some notable projects in 2015 are a collection of large contemporary house extensions, which we will be adding to our projects pages very soon.  Many of the projects which we are working on look to completely transform the existing house to become the client's dream home.  These kind of renovations can provide the same result as a new build home, often with a lower construction cost.

Sheffield contemporary extension
Dronfield house extension

In addition to domestic house extensions, we have also worked on a number of residential housing developments for commercial clients in Sheffield and Chesterfield.  The residential developments seek to provide high quality, sustainable homes which stand out from the competition and should be completed by the end of this year.  

Residential Development Chesterfield

We are also working on a number of individual new building houses for private clients in Sheffield.  One notable new build house which we are currently working up the initial designs for is a sustainable four bedroom property in the heart of the greenbelt in North Sheffield.  This new home will be buried into the hillside with a green roof and a number of renewable energy features to create a stunning piece of contemporary architecture.  We will keep you updated on this and add the concept images to our projects page as soon as they are ready.

contemporary house sketch

We are very excited about the year ahead and how the business will continue to grow.  If you are planning a house extension or a new build home in 2016, January is the prefect time to contact an architect and get the design process started.  And whether you chose to contact Brightman Architects, or another architect, we wish you all the best with your exciting new project.

Happy New Year and all the best for 2016.


Home Improvements You Can Make Without Planning Permission

If you want to remodel, improve, extend or otherwise change your property, you may assume that you’ll always have to go through a lengthy planning permission application. However, Permitted Development rights mean that you can make many home improvements without planning permission. There are plenty of home improvement projects that fall under Permitted Development rights, making your life a lot easier. Here are some of the things you can do without planning permission.

Single storey extensions, including conservatories

You don’t need planning permission for various single storey extensions and conservatories, provided the extension or conservatory keeps within the following rules:

·         The materials are similar

·         The extension doesn’t sit forward of the principal elevation

·         If the extension is within 2 metres of a boundary, the eaves cannot be higher than 3 metres, and it can’t be higher than 4 metres in height otherwise

·         Rear extensions cannot be more than 4 metres in depth for a detached property or 3 metres for a semi-detached or terraced properties

·         The width of side extensions cannot be greater than half the width of the original building, and side extensions are not allowed in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) or conservation areas.

Using attached buildings

Provided you’re not increasing the overall footprint of the building, you can alter the internal space within an existing part of your property, such as your garage.


Whilst many developments forward of the principal elevation require planning permission, you can build a porch in front of your property as long as the following rules are observed.

·         The entire porch must be under 3 square metres

·         The ground area, which needs to be measured externally, must not exceed 3 square metres

·         The porch must not be within 2 metres of any boundary adjacent to a highway

Converting two dwellings into one

Whilst you need planning permission to split one dwelling into two, you can convert two dwellings into one. Whether it’s a pair of semi-detached houses or two apartments, you can usually complete this under Property Development rights. This is an option that vastly increased your available space, whilst allowing you to remain in a location you love.

New access

When creating new vehicular access onto an unclassified road, you do not need planning permission. If the road is classified, however, you will need planning permission. If you’re looking to create new access to a classified road, you will need to gain sufficient levels of visibility when leaving the site, as well as having enough space to allow you to both enter and exit in a forward gear.

Solar panels

Solar panels can be added to the roof of your property without the need for planning permission, provided that they don’t protrude more than 200mm beyond the plane of the roof, and the highest part of the panel is not higher than the highest part of the roof (this excludes the chimney). If you live in a listed building or conservation area, there are limitations to this. You can also develop free-standing panels, but these will be limited by size and proximity to the boundary of your property.


Please note that the above advice is general advice only and the limitations/requirements stated are by no means exhaustive.  There are many parameters which define whether construction work is classified as permitted development and you should always seek professional advice to confirm that your project falls under these rights before commencement of works.  There may be instances where a project falls within the criteria listed above and still requires planning approval.  Please feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss your project in more detail.  

Brightman Architects - 2015 so far...

Sheffield Telegraph - April 2015

Sheffield Telegraph - April 2015

It's been a few months since our last post as we have been very busy with a wide range of new and exciting projects.  

Since Brightman Architects was founded last year the business has continued to grow, with It's strong start was acknowledged in the Sheffield Telegraph in April.

Since the start of 2015, we have worked on projects across the north of England, covering Sheffield, Chesterfield, Dronfield, Rotherham, Bolsover, Bakewell, Creswell, Heckmondwike, West Lancashire and Lincolnshire.  

With Sheffield being our primary area, we have worked on a great range of projects across the City covering Dore, Totley, Fulwood, Millhouses, Abbeydale, Woodseats, Crookes, Whirlow and the City Centre.

We are also based very close to Chesterfield, which has seen us successfully win a number of projects across Chesterfield and the North East of Derbyshire.  Within the area we are currently working on a number of residential projects, as well as an office conversion to an existing industrial unit, a green car park extension to Ashgate Hospice and a retail store extension to the south of Chesterfield.

One of our biggest projects at the moment is a new build farm house and barn within the greenbelt of Lincolnshire.  This is progressing very well on site and will be completed later this summer.  We have also successfully achieved planning approval for a new swimming pool extension to this property which will start on site very shortly, we will bring you work in progress photos very soon!

We have got a number of exciting projects lined up for this summer and we will keep you updated via our Facebook page with regular images and site construction photos.

Also, please keep visiting our website, the services page in particular, as we have more free information and guidance lined up to add later this summer.  We will also be updating and adding to our projects page with more proposals as we progress.

Brightman Architects are on Pinterest!

Looking for inspiration for your new project?

Brightman Architects are now on Pinterest and have created a collection of images and projects that we like.  So whether it be a large new build home, an extension, or just a decoration project, visit our page to explore a number of different categories with images to help inspire you!

Merry Christmas from Brightman Architects in Sheffield!

It's been an exciting start for Brightman Architects this year and as we come towards the end of 2014, it's time to reflect on our progress so far. 

This year has seen the start of Brightman Architects as a full time business due to high demand and an increasing level of workload after many years of running the business on a part-time basis in Sheffield. Since then, we have seen the launch our fantastic new website, our Facebook page and our Google+ page as the business has grown. It's certainly been an exciting start, with a wide range of different projects located across the north of England, from Lincoln to Wigan.

We have an exciting new build 5 bedroom farmhouse, timber barn and quadruple garage currently on site, with the house due to complete early in the new year and the barn shortly after.  This new green belt property will sit on fantastic grounds with stunning views over the Lincolnshire countryside.  We also have a number of great house extensions and refurbishments that are on site, or currently being developed, that we hope to add to our website soon!

Notable new projects this year include a number of large transformation projects to existing houses. In particular, we have two projects, one currently under construction and one going through the planning system, which both increase their existing floor space by around 50-60%, extending on two sides and totally redesigning the layout of the house.  Creating open plan areas and large amounts of glazing to really improve their property.  We are also in the initial design stages of an exciting project which is to extend and transform an existing chalet-style house which is set into the hillside.  Looking at ways to open up the space, using the topography and cutting into the hillside to increase natural light levels and create a fantastic property for a young family.  Watch this space for more details!

We are currently progressing and adding more useful information to our website, providing new introductory guides to the key stages and aspects of extending or building your new home.  The core areas of planning permissions, building regulations and permitted development rights have been added to the website as part of a new look services page. We hope to add even more information to our site in the new year, looking at different aspects of residential design and project situations that may help you on your next project.

As the year has progressed, we have received more and more projects and enquiries and now we are busier than ever!  We hope to be able to bring you more project photos, including an exciting new office design and a small convenience store as we take on more commercial projects in the new year!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Brightman Architects!


Google+ page goes live!

After a lot of work behind the scenes, our brand new Google+ page is up and running!

This site will run along side our website to keep you regularly updated with news posts, practice progress, design tips and examples of great residential architecture we find interesting. We hope that the Google+ page will become a tool for potential clients to inspire and help get their new project, large or small, up and running. 


In addition, our Google+ page has the facility to host reviews and feedback of our architect services from past and present clients.  All in all, we hope that this page can support our website, Facebook page and Twitter account to be a helpful source of information for present and future clients.

Please have a look at our page and add us to your circles to receive regular updates and design inspiration!

Looking to extend your home?

This guide is a helpful read and will provide inspiration, add unique character to your property and help you take into account aspects of your extension that you may not have already considered before you speak with an architect.

This article covers aspects of designing an extension which many people overlook and could be used to transform your home and the way you use it.

Sometimes reconfiguring your existing layout can be as good as, if not better than, adding a traditional extension. To maximise the potential of your home you need to also consider all aspects of alterations, extending up, down and out sideways.  The size of each space will have an impact on how you use it, opening up existing ceilings or creating vaulted ceilings with roof lights can create the feeling of much larger, lighter spaces. 

Other aspects and/or features to consider touched upon by the article are outdoor rooms, sunrooms, maximising natural light, framed views, privacy glazing, pocket doors, fireplaces, contemporary kitchens, feature staircases, building with oak, noises issues and many more...