James is the co-founder and design director of Create Ltd.
What should I look for when buying?
Good location, good current condition, and the potential for improvement. Look beyond what is current and imagine the spaces how you would like them to be.
And what should I avoid?
Restrictive or overdeveloped buildings. Poorly constructed and badly maintained properties that beyond economical repair. Having said that, don't overlook properties with potential.
At what point should I consult an architect?
From the outset of any project. An architect brings ideas you may have not considered and can guide you through the various design and construction stages.
Can I knock down walls without an architect's advice?
Making any changes to a property should always be carefully considered and relevant approvals sought before the work is carried out. An architect is qualified to guide you on this.
How do I bring more light into my house?
Glazing within either the walls or roof are good ways to bring natural light into a building. A carefully planned layout of internal spaces help to distribute natural light. Sun pipes are good for areas where normal glazing is not possible.
What's popular at the moment?
Open plan family orientated spaces and external living spaces (inside-outside living).
James Barker's golden rules:
*Plan your work carefully, do the research and get advice if you are not sure.
*Think creatively and aim high.
*Consider the environment - energy saving technology such as solar panels and ground source heat pumps will reduce your carbon footprint. Try to use renewable materials, such as with timber frame construction which is a good first step.