Hertfordshire Architects

Hertfordshire Architects

Hertfordshire Architects

Hertfordshire Architects About us

Scenario Architecture’s work in Hertfordshire began with an exciting brief from a young, St Albans-based family. They had purchased a detached house in poor condition and planned to replace it with a contemporary new-build. Our challenge was to design a sustainable, contemporary new-build home that respected and complemented the traditional residential architecture of the typical Hertfordshire streetscape.

We knew that securing planning permission in Hertfordshire for such an ambitious scheme would not be easy. However, our innovative design process helped us reinterpret the traditional house typology in a unique way. The contemporary new-build house strikes a fine balance within its traditional surroundings.

We submitted a robust planning application featuring advanced 3D visualisations of the proposed scheme and a strong planning statement. Our collaborative pre-planning strategy gained support from the St Albans City and District Council planning department – even before we’d submitted a full planning application.

More than just a commercial opportunity, we saw this contemporary new-build project as a chance to develop and refine our unique approach to residential architecture.

We established Scenario in 2007 with a vision to develop a uniquely collaborative form of architecture. We take a considered approach to our clients’ desires, placing their aspirations for a new, architect-designed home in high definition. The clients’ needs are the main drivers of our process.

Our experience with residential architecture in Hertfordshire shows that a beautiful, highly functional home is the product of a deep understanding and precise analysis of each client’s unique lifestyle. Our tailor-made homes tell the story of the owners – not the architects.

Hertfordshire Architects Your Hertfordshire project

If you’re considering a residential architectural project in Hertfordshire, we’re here to help, whether it’s a renovation, extension or new-build.

We’ve created a brief illustrated overview to help you understand each stage of the process, whether you’re planning a home extension, renovation or new-build in Hertfordshire.

Most architecture projects in Hertfordshire require planning permission from the relevant district council within Hertfordshire. With our successful record securing planning permission on behalf of our clients, we can claim home advantage across Hertfordshire and neighbouring Buckinghamshire.


Discover if your architect has had success steering planning applications through your local council. Visit the “planning applications” page of your council’s website and enter the architect’s name in the search box.

Hertfordshire Architects

Hertfordshire Architects

Scenario is an established architecture practice focusing on contemporary residential design. We take on projects of every scale and scope, from home refurbishment, renovation and expansions to new-builds.

Hertfordshire Architects Working with Scenario Architecture

Scenario is a boutique architecture studio focused on high-end residential projects in and around the greater London area. We tackle domestic projects of all scales and complexities, from interior alterations and refurbishments to full renovations and new-builds, through our bespoke architecture service.

Our experienced, highly skilled team can take you step-by-step through the challenge of designing your space. We’ll collaborate closely with you from the initial drawings, design and planning through tender and construction to the successful completion of your project. On time and on budget.

Scenario Architecture is a RIBA Chartered Practice. We comply with the criteria of the Royal Institute of Chartered Architects, covering insurance, health and safety and quality-management systems.

Early adopters of the latest technology, we use innovative 3D design and visualisation tools as a standard for all projects. Our experience shows that real-time visualisations and virtual reality are efficient tools for choosing finishes, fixtures and fittings, and simulating natural light.

We use 3D building information modelling (BIM) technology to produce reliable construction information, so all our project data comes from an accurate 3D model. Using this cutting-edge technology collaboratively with consultants and contractors is proven to save our clients time and money.

A Chartered Institute of Building case study featuring a project by Scenario demonstrates the great benefits of this advanced technology for domestic architecture.

Hertfordshire Architects

Hertfordshire Architects In our client's words

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Hertfordshire Architects Further Reading

The history of Hertfordshire architecture is really tantamount to the history of English architecture. Before there was even a London – or, rather, Londinium – the Romans had established Verulanium, near present-day St Albans. Verulanium was the third largest city in Britain. And settlers there branched out into a satellite village near today’s Welwyn, where the foundations of a Roman bathhouse still remain. Verulanium was so important to the Romans, Queen Boudicca’s army ambushed it in the year 60, after destroying Londinium.

Hertfordshire went quiet after that for a while. But in the second millennium, populations began to flourish there. And as London rebuilt itself and began to expand outward, the region benefitted. Hertfordshire architects, blessed with a constant stream of prosperous clients, boldly designed some amazingly prestigious infrastructure. Being close to the big city, accessed by the main roads out of town, was of great benefit. The illustrious St Albans Cathedral, originally built by the Normans, remains a destination in its own right. Some of Hertfordshire’s best-preserved Georgian homes wind their way out from the church tower. Imposing institutional buildings built hundreds of years back – Hertfordshire claimed some notorious asylums – survive as hotels, golf clubs or office blocks.

Yet some of the most stunning architectural treasures in Hertfordshire tend to be residential. And this being one of the so-called Home Counties, much domestic architecture has remained domestic. Hemel Hempstead, a desirable modern suburb nestled between Luton Airport and the Chiltern Hills, boasts a collection of half-timbered family houses around its old town centre; the high street in Old Stevenage has a choice few timber-framed homes.

Hatfield House, over the railway tracks from Hatfield’s 20th-century town centre, is one of a handful of Jacobean manors in the country, serving as the setting for the film The Favourite, with Olivia Coleman. An rambling wonder to behold, built in 1612 on the site of Elizabeth I’s childhood home, it forms the centrepiece of a historic village peppered with Georgian properties.

Head southwest into Moor Park, Rickmansworth and Chorleywood for homes going back to Queen Anne radiating from pretty town centres with perfect art deco pubs. Then there are the Garden Cities, Welwyn and Letchworth. Here revolutionary town planners organised rows and crescents of Edwardian houses and Arts and Crafts treasures circling vast landscaped parks and community halls.

Hertfordshire architects will be well versed in the planning restrictions for historic properties and steer you toward a compassionate renovation or extension. Barring the availability of such listed properties, Hertfordshire has its fair share of well-designed mid-century developments, which are finally receiving some of the critical praise they are due for their practical layouts and vast banks of glazing. Though many of these properties will have architectural restrictions, structural changes could be less complicated. In the hands of Hertfordshire architects, a typical post war house will transform into a unique contemporary haven.

Hertfordshire Architects Frequently Asked Questions

    There is no doubt that choosing an architect is a big decision and there’s a huge amount of information to consider. As you may have already experienced, different firms and architectural practices across London tend to differ in terms of the language they use, which aspects they emphasise and in their fees and scope structures. We have compiled an essential guide to choosing an architect, which includes the three most important considerations to have on your list whilst you come to a decision. This guide is based on our fifteen years of experience as a top architectural practice in London and includes our expert recommendations to ensure you make the right choice and select the architect that is best suited to you and your project. Click here to read the full guide.

    Hertfordshire Architects

    FAQHow should I decide which architect to work with?
    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.

    Hertfordshire Architects

    FAQWhat is unique about the Scenario design process?
    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.

    Hertfordshire Architects

    FAQWho will be assigned to work on my project?
    A key aspect, absolutely necessary to ensure successful delivery of your project is appointing a suitable and competent professional team. If we work together on your project we would be appointed as your Architects and Lead Consultants and help you to assemble the rest of the professional team. Most projects in and around London will require at least four additional consultants, a Structural Engineer, a Quantity Surveyor for cost control, an Approved Inspector to ensure and certify compliance with building regulations and a Party Wall Surveyor if any work is to be done to a party wall or structure. For some projects, depending on scale, complexity and your specific aspirations it may be recommended/required to use the services of additional consultants. Including but not limited to: Planning, Heritage, Right of Light, Landscape Designer, Audio Visual and Building Services Engineer. When appropriate, we will discuss these options with you and obtain relevant quotes for all additional consultants for you to consider.

    Hertfordshire Architects

    FAQWhich additional consultants are required for my project?
    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. 

    Hertfordshire Architects

    FAQWhat is Scenario’s approach to planning?
    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.

    Hertfordshire Architects

    FAQHow long will it take to obtain planning permission for my project?
    Once we have an initial scheme designed for your project which you are happy to proceed with, we will advise whether we recommend obtaining pre-planning advice or proceeding directly to the submission of a full planning application. Most of our projects are submitted first to pre-planning when the following applies.
    • Our experience shows that planning officers respond better to projects when they feel consulted and collaborated with. We find that when we truly listen to their often helpful and valid feedback and treat them as consultants for the projects and not representative of an evil enforcing authority, they tend to collaborate well with us and demonstrate increased flexibility.
    • Although the council in theory have eight weeks to consider your application, in practice they are constantly overloaded. They will only look at your application in the last few days of the consideration period. If this is the first time that they come across a scheme that they were never consulted about, our chance to secure permission for you in a single attempt is significantly compromised.
    • The standard practice is for the council to consider the full planning application as submitted and then issue a yes or no decision. Case officers are not required or even encouraged to enter a discussion with us or accept resubmission of minor changes to the proposed scheme during the consideration period.
    In practice our established working relationships and long-standing experience working across Greater London and the Home Counties often enables us to have a meaningful discussion and even introduce minor tweaks to the submitted scheme within the consideration period and prevent the application from being rejected. The chances for this strategy to deliver the desired results increases significantly with projects which were submitted first for a pre-planning advice.

    Hertfordshire Architects

    FAQWhat is pre-planning and will it be required for my project?
    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 (www.envisioneco.com), 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.

    Hertfordshire Architects

    FAQWhat is Scenario’s approach to sustainability?
    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.

    Hertfordshire Architects

    FAQWhat is building control and is it required for my project?
    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.

    Hertfordshire Architects

    FAQWhat is the cost of building an extension?
    Currently we recommend allowing between £2,500 and £3,000 per square metre for areas which will undergo an extensive renovation. We designate an area of the project as extensive renovation if the planned works includes substantial changes to layouts, significant structural works, re-plumbing, re-wiring and full redecoration. For areas of lighter internal renovation which do not require significant changes to layout or substantial structural works but do require full redecoration, re-plumbing and rewiring, we recommend allowing between £2,000 and £2,500 as an estimated cost per square metre, we designate these areas as requiring medium renovation. If there areas in your project which only call for a light renovation such as re-plastering, and painting, installing new floor finishes and light modifications of electrics and plumbing fittings, we will designate these as areas of light renovation and recommend that you allow £1,500-£2,000 per square metre or even as low as between £1,000-£1,500 if you only have light touches in mind. The real cost for your project will depend on several different variables including the complexity of the design, extent of structural works and level of fixtures, fittings and material finishes. These estimated costs per square metre are for the build cost excluding VAT and professional fees.

    Hertfordshire Architects

    FAQWhat is the cost of an internal refurbishment?
    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.

    Hertfordshire Architects

    FAQWhat is the cost of building a new house?
    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.

    Hertfordshire Architects

    FAQWhat is the fee structure used by Scenario Architecture?

Hertfordshire Architects How To Find A Building Plot

When you are looking for a new home to live in, going down the self-build option can often be particularly exciting. After all, it means that you have the freedom and opportunity to create more or less whatever kind of property you like, and to design it exactly how you wish. This is tremendously exciting, but it is the kind of thing that is also going to be a lot more challenging than simply buying a home.

Unlike buying a property, with a self-build you are going to need to first find a plot of land to build upon, which is generally a much more difficult process than people first assume. Nonetheless, with the right process, you should be able to find the right building plot for your project, and get the ball rolling on creating your very own home from scratch.

The Value of Patience

The first thing to point out is that it is likely going to take you a while to find the right plot. For many people, it can take years to find the perfect building plot, so you should be prepared for that to be the case for you, even if you end up being able to find it faster in the end. The main thing to bear in mind is that you should not rush into buying a plot of land. You need to take time comparing them until you really know what you are going to need, and what a good price is. Patience is going to help you the whole way here.

That being said, if it is taking an inordinate amount of time and you are getting frustrated, you might want to consider revising your goals and ideas about what you need, just to try and speed up the process a little and make it more likely that you will actually find the right spot in the near future. Patience combined with flexibility is a wonderful approach to take.

Pick Your Area

Before you start to hone in specifically on the plots of land you might want to look into, you need to choose an overall area. It is very common for people to search over too wide an area at first. Not only does this mean you may burn out, it also takes a lot longer to get around and view all the plots. You should try to focus on a very specific area, one that you consider to be manageable and which is going to be simple enough to travel around. It is always better to thoroughly search a small area than sparsely search a wide one.

Go Exploring

In order to find the right building plots, you really do have to go exploring. When you are choosing building plots, just looking online really isn’t going to cut it. The best way is to put aside entire weekends where you can simply walk around the area that you are interested in, spotting any potential places where you might be able to buy some land. That might include a wide range of types of places, from infill sites to side gardens. Keep your mind open as you explore. You never know where the perfect building plot may be.

Gain and Use Local Knowledge

If you are not a local yourself, you are going to want to start talking to people who do live in the area. They will have a lot more local knowledge than you might assume, and you will be able to use this knowledge to ensure that you are going to the right places and uncovering all of those hidden areas that only locals know about. Even if you are a local yourself, you should still ask around, as you will be surprised at how much people can help you once you ask them for advice and tips. Using local knowledge in this way makes it so much easier to find the right plot faster.

Look Out for Planning Applications

One of the easier ways to find a building plot is to look out for planning applications in the local area. The local authorities usually publish these on their websites, so it is well worth keeping an eye out on those as best as you can. Often, applicants on those sites are looking to sell the plot on rather than build, so you can write to them to explore this possibility further with them. Many people find this to be a very simple and straightforward way to find the right building plot.

Explore Other Routes

There are so many ways to find a building plot, and a lot of it comes down to using your creativity and thinking outside of the box a little. One of the first places to look is always online – even though you will need to walk around and explore the area, looking online is nonetheless going to help you out and give you clues too.

You should also consider asking estate agents and land agents, who will be more than happy to add you to their contacts lists and let you know if anything comes in. There might also be some auctions that they can tell you about – it might be a property auction which you can buy and then raze in order to use the ground and materials, or auction for land.

Finally, make a point of integrating yourself into the community right away. Make it clear to people that you want to be a part of the community, not just live there. This will help to get people on your side, and that is something that could really pay off later on for you.

Once you have your building plot, you will need to start designing your home. That process in itself can be a real challenge. But it is a lot easier and simpler if you have the right help on board. That’s why you should always make sure to hire an architect before you start designing your new home.