Architects Essex

As London expands outward and its centre of gravity shifts eastward, it’s only natural that people looking to put their personal stamp on a home search beyond the city confines. Essex has become wildly popular – for families as well as young professionals. Connected to central London by a trusty motorway network and a thick web of public transit, Essex makes the commute extremely doable. And it doesn’t disappoint in terms of natural beauty. In Essex, you can have the best of both worlds: a cosmopolitan urban lifestyle and access to unspoilt outdoors.

Looking toward Essex give you access to all manner of property, from historic townhomes to suburban revival architecture to country estates. If you plan on renovating, expanding or building anew, however, you’ll need the wisdom of a local architect to help you navigate the local building regulations, wherever you land.

For a pool of architects, Essex based, search the database of your local council’s “planning and building controls” microsite; visit the RIBA website for a list of its member-architects; or contact Scenario. We’ve collaborated successfully with councils throughout London and Essex on period and modern homes. Our experience, along with our reputation converting historic homes with a compassionate eye, has made our boutique architecture practice one of the most sought-after in the UK.

Since launching Scenario in 2007, we’ve established a unique, collaborative style that fuses architectural heritage with modern silhouettes. That fine balance generates striking contrasts, and homes that are easy and enjoyable to live in. Our clients lead the design process, collaborating from drawing table to completion on personalised elements that enhance their way of life.

Our work speaks volumes. We were shortlisted for a RIBA London Award in 2018 for our residential project Scenario House, a showcase of our commitment to period properties with modern details. Elements of this project can be adapted to any homeowner, in any period or contemporary home in the UK.

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Architects Essex Your Essex project

Starting your Essex project

Undertaking a renovation, restoration, addition or new build in Essex? The architects at Scenario can help you understand the process. But first, take a look at this illustrated synopsis.

For most building work in Essex, you’ll need approval from your local council’s building department. Architects, Essex-based, can help you through the process, collaborating with officials to see your application through. We at Scenario have successfully secured planning permission for all our clients, so we can help, too.


Discover if your chosen architect is up to the task. Visit the building controls section of your council’s website, find the search engine for planning applications and enter your architect’s name.


We have created guides for homeowners to provide additional advice and help with your project. The following eBooks are currently available for you to download:

1. Planning in London and the home counties - A guide for homeowners
2. Self build - A guide to building your own new build home
Download eBooks

Architects Essex Your Essex project >> Scenario Architecture

Working with Scenario Architecture on your Essex project

Scenario specialises in residential architecture in all varieties and scales. Our London-based boutique studio offers bespoke services for refurbishments, home additions, renovations and new-builds.

We pride ourselves on being a RIBA Chartered Practice, which means we comply with the UK’s strict health and safety criteria for architecture. Though we are based in London, we practice across Southeast England and beyond, so visit our online portfolio if you’re seeking an architect, Essex-based. Our skilled architects collaborate closely with our clients on every stage of the process, from sketches through detailed designs, planning and construction. We deliver on time and on budget.

We work with the latest 3D design technology on all projects. We believe real-time digital visualisations and virtual reality are the most effective and efficient tools for seeing through our work, choosing fittings and simulating natural light.

Read this Chartered Institute of Building case study to find details of a recent Scenario project. It demonstrates the benefits of advanced technologies for our domestic work.

Full-width extension opens to the beautiful garden of this Victorian property
Complete renovation and extension of a family home
We are always investigating new, clever ways to bring light into your house

Architects Essex Your Essex project >> Further Reading

Where does London end and Essex begin? It’s hard to say. Over the years the borders between the city and counties to the north and east have shifted as neighbourhoods sought to be independent from or part of the capital. Suffice it to say: if you can take the Tube there, you’re not in Essex.

What is Essex transcends its reputation as a cluster of bourgeois commuter towns. Take Saffron Walden in the north, as pretty as it sounds amid golden fields, half-timbered houses and a twice-weekly produce market. It connects to Stansted and the City and yet enjoys its own bubble of local theatre, design shops and proper gastro-pub fare. At the opposite end of Essex is Burnham, all frilly Victorian and leaded glass on a landscape of emerald lowlands. Two minutes outside town you can take your pick of deserted beaches with resident seals and skip stones in the breeze. From your converted farmhouse in Waltham Abbey, you can sail down the Lea River to your desk in London. Or you can hole up in Frinton, nab yourself a sherbet-coloured beach hut and get into golf.

Nobody much talks about the history in Essex, the fact that Colchester was the first Roman town (and thus the first target of the murderous Queen Boudicca). Or that Chipping Ongar still has an original Saxon wood church – and the feeling of a Medieval village less than an hour from London. The area is often overshadowed by Suffolk to the north and Kent below. But, of course, Essex was one of the first proper counties in the UK. It was the first route into the country for legions of explorers, invaders and immigrants. And still it boasts quite a bit of natural beauty.

For homes with period features and large gardens that still allow some alterations and expansions under the local codes, go to the outer borders of the county: villages like Dedham on the River Stour, with its Gothic parish church, or the seaside resort Walton-on-the-Naze, with its wind-swept maritime feel and waterfront that falls far short of kitsch. Or explore the tidy hedgerows of the little bedroom communities around Epping Green, from where you can commute into London through forests and marshlands.

Stick to the main centres of Chelmsford and Cheltenham for the amenities of a big city in a small-town environment. Wherever you do go, you’ll be able to find an architect with the talent and compassion to transform your house into a home with a sense of personality and place.

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Architects Essex In our clients words


Architects Essex

FAQWhat is the cost of building a new house?
If you are thinking about building a new house from scratch for which the term Self Build is often used, we currently recommend allowing between £2,500 and £3,500 per square metre for projects in and around London. This may sound like a very wide range initially, perhaps too wide to be useful? As soon as we can establish even a few of the basics of your requirements and aspirations for the project we can safely narrow it down and customise it to match your intentions. The key parameters that will help us to refine initial estimates are whether or not a basement is required to achieve your target floor area, the likely construction method and corresponding structural approach and of course your desired level of fixtures, fittings and material finishes. Another key parameter that we must consider right from the outset is the level of sustainability that we are aiming at, are you satisfied with the base line requirements as defined by current building regulations, or should we aim higher? Working together with sustainability experts we have created our own bespoke set of sustainability packages which allows you to place your sustainability target anywhere you wish. This can range from basic compliance to an extremely sustainable and energy efficient standard which comes with great savings on running costs, future proofing and wellbeing benefits such as improved air quality, thermal comfort, and considerate and healthier surface finishes.

Architects Essex

FAQWhat is Scenario’s approach to sustainability?
In the past, it was common practice for local authorities to impose sustainability standards on residential developments. However, the 2015 Deregulation Act removed the obligation on local authorities to require any standard at all, which means the only requirements having fallen back to those of the Building Regulations.  With no clear and improved targets to work towards, in collaboration with Envision (, we have created optional Sustainability ‘Levels’ to offer our clients the chance to drastically improve the sustainability credentials of their home. These ‘Levels’ encompassing Bronze, Silver, Gold and Diamond, traverse a clear and applicable route from basic compliance with current Building Regulations all the way to the full and rigorous HQM (Home Quality Mark) certification within Level Diamond. As the packages become more elaborate in terms of sustainability, analysis and implemented measures, they provide increasing tangible benefits. Ranging from thermal and acoustic comfort and wellbeing, to reduced carbon foot print, savings on running costs and significant advantages through the planning process.  The more elaborate packages obviously entail higher cost in terms of professional fees as well as impact on the construction cost, although each sustainability ‘Level’ will endeavour to not overly burden the construction budget.

Architects Essex

FAQWhat is unique about the Scenario design process?
The scenario design process was developed, tested and perfected through over a decade of extensive delivery of residential projects within and around London, some of its key features are listed below:   
  • Scenario based design – We start each and every project with a meticulous analysis of our client’s vision, requirements and aspirations. We do this by asking our clients to imagine their everyday scenarios living in the completed house and describe their desired interaction with it. 
We then translate the resulting high definition brief into an informative and revealing 3-dimensional simulation, illuminating aspirations, requirements and patterns of habitation. 
  • Uniquely interactive - Our client’s deep involvement in the process does not stop with completion of the brief. Our design meetings are highly interactive, informal and fun. 
Sitting together in front of a real time 3D model of the proposed design with realistic materials, lighting and textures we push and pull the proposed scheme together to explore its full potential and drag and drop different materials to explore various options. hen we invite our clients to take a virtual reality tour through advanced equipment that is always available in our practice for our clients to explore their projects at different stages of development. 
  • Designed to reflect you – Based purely on your lifestyle, aspirations and requirements and free from externally imposed concepts, metaphors and pre-conceptions, a completely fresh and unique design will gradually emerge and it will tell your story not ours. 
It will not look like an image cut out of a trendy architecture magazine and not designed to intentionally impress anyone. It will feel familiar, warm and inviting and you will recognise yourself in it because it will be a genuine expression of the unique way in which you and your family wish to interact with it and enjoy it for many years to come.

Architects Essex

FAQWho will be assigned to work on my project?
Any architectural project comprises three main aspects, Creative design, Technical design and Project Management. A successful architectural project can only be achieved when all three aspects are properly performed and harmoniously integrated by an experienced professional. But can we really except a single person to specialise and shine in all three aspects and furthermore skilfully negotiate and balance the often contradictory challenges these aspects present? The basic assumption underlying the common structure of almost all other architectural practices today is that it is possible and this is precisely what is expected from the lone and often junior Architect that would typically be assigned to run your project start to finish. Scenario works in a completely different and new way, we believe in specialism and teamwork and therefore assign three experienced specialists for each and every project. A project team in Scenario is composed of a Project Director, a Designer and a Technical Designer, seamlessly collaborating to deliver results, which are noticeably superior to anything that a single person, skilful as they may be, could ever produce.

Architects Essex

FAQWhat is the fee structure used by Scenario Architecture?
The fee structure that we will offer will depend on the type and scale of your project as well as the scope required from us. The vast majority of the projects we take on are what we call ‘full projects’, these are projects for which we will provide full Architectural services from inception to completion, covering the standard scope of services offered by most RIBA Chartered Architects and more. For these full projects our fees will be calculated on the basis of an agreed percentage of the final cost of the building works exclusive of VAT and professional fees. At any given time, we will calculate our fees based on the latest construction cost estimates available until the final cost of the building works has been ascertained. Our fees will be adjusted both forward and retrospectively to reflect any increase in budget and scope of the project, and forward only (due to work already completed) to reflect any decrease in budget/scope. During early stages, our fees will be calculated based on our in-house estimation tool and once available, on estimates by the appointed Quantity Surveyor, followed by actual prices of returned tenders and finally, the contract sum reflecting any changes during construction. Under unusual circumstances we may agree to take on projects only up to a certain stage, for example up to planning, and sometimes from a certain stage if we are taking over from another Architect. For these ‘partial scope projects’ we will normally put forward a simple fixed lump sum proposal.

Architects Essex

FAQWhat is the cost of building an extension?
Currently we recommend allowing between £2,500 and £3,000 per square metre for side extensions, rear extensions or front extensions. For basement extensions, which are most expensive way to add space to your home, we recommend that you allow between £3,000 and £3,500 per square metre. When it comes to roof extensions, our experience shows that it is better to allow a lump sum of £40,000-£60,000 for loft conversions with dormer windows and between £80,000 and £120,000 for mansard roof extensions. These ranges are based on averages from numerous actual projects that we have completed in and around London since we established Scenario in 2007. We only use these rough costs per square metre during the early stages of design to maintain awareness of your target budget until a cost professional is appointed and more accurate methods of estimation are employed. The actual cost for your project will depend on many factors, including the complexity of the design, level of structural support required, and selection of fixtures, fittings material finishes. Using these rough ranges as a guide we will work together with you in an interactive process to optimise budget and scope and find the balance that works best for you. The estimated costs per square metre mentioned above are for the build costs only and exclude VAT and professional fees.

Architects Essex

FAQWhat is building control and is it required for my project?
In a nutshell building control is the means by which Local Authorities enforce compliance with current Building Regulations.  In practice there are two main ways to go about obtaining the required advice and certification for your project, via your Local Council’s Building Control Department or via direct appointment of an Approved Inspector who is authorised to carry out the inspection and certification on behalf of any local authority.   The role of either the Council’s Building Control Officer or an Approved Inspector is to verify that your project meets all current Building Regulations. They will review and approve all the drawings, inspect the actual work carried out on site and once the project is completed, issue the final compliance certificate. Due to an open market, healthy competition between local councils and approved inspectors, the process and associated costs are almost identical. Having said that, our experience is that the private inspectors still feel and behave more as your appointed consultants and the council’s service still feels more like a statutory inspection and it is often slower and less responsive.  While it is always good to be informed and understand the process well, as your appointed architects we will take care of this aspect of the project for you and save you considering comparable quotes that we will obtain on your behalf and appointing the selected provider. You can leave this aspect of your project entirely with us.  Building control is required for almost all projects, and for all the projects we ever worked on as only minor renovation works may be exempt.

Architects Essex

FAQWhat is Scenario’s approach to planning?
Planning in the U.K in general and in Greater London in particular is admittedly a tricky business. It is a complex maze of policies, standards and regulations that requires specialised and up to date knowledge and skills to navigate successfully.  Over the years we developed a strong approach and an effective methodology, allowing us to maintain an outstanding track record stretching over more than a decade. Successfully securing planning permission for our clients across Greater London and the Home Counties.  The key aspects of our approach to planning are listed below: 
  • Collaborative – We start the conversation with planners early and advise most of our clients to seek pre-planning advice prior to submission of a full planning application. Our experience shows that when properly consulted and liaised with, most planning case officers will be receptive to conduct a professional dialogue, increasing chances of successes. 
  • Strategic – We tailor a custom planning strategy for each project based on its circumstances such as planning history, local context and specific challenging elements. We sometimes split applications or introduce minor tweaks to the scheme during the consideration period in conversation with the officers to prevent one contentious element from jeopardising approval of the main scheme.
  • Professional – Our experience shows that the quality and clarity of the submission in terms of background research, planning history of the property and context, precedent and of course the arguments presented to support the case has a tremendous effect on success rate. 

Architects Essex

FAQHow long will it take to obtain planning permission for my project?
The standard consideration period for a residential project is eight weeks, this is the official time frame for your local council to carry out consultation with the neighbours and reach a decision.  We recommend allowing for a minimum of ten weeks from submission to decision as in practice the process always takes slightly longer for the following reasons: 
  • The decision period clock only starts ticking once the application is validated by the Council, This requires then to check that the forms are completed correctly and that the submission contains all the necessary drawings, statements and reports.
Validation can take anything from a few days to couple of weeks when the council is very busy, which is most of the time…
  • Although required by law to provide a decision within the statutory eight weeks period, it is not uncommon for councils to miss the deadline of the consideration period, normally only by a few days, sometimes longer. 
While there are some effective measures to apply pressure, which we do not hesitate to use when appropriate, it is generally beneficial for the project to bear with the council a little longer. 
  • In some cases the council may ask us as your agent for an extension of time, this may be requested due to internal reasons or as an acceptable result of a professional discussion that we are conducting with them about certain aspects of the application that they are not sure about.