Architects give up their time for free to help raise money for homeless

The coldest months might be behind us, but life is far from cosy for those living on the streets or in bad quality housing across the UK. And while we may be officially out of recession, Michael Coogan, director general of The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) has said that it will be still be a “challenging year for many borrowers” whose finances will inevitably be squeezed if and when interest rates rise, leading to repossession in some cases.



It’s a frightening thought for all and a nasty reality for many, but, this month, a fundraising initiative, run annually by the housing charity Shelter and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), will aim to raise money for Shelter’s work with those left homeless or poorly housed in this country. Now in its 14th Year Architect in the House has raised over £1 million for Shelter, including over £100,000 in 2009 - when housing repossessions reached a 14 year high in wake of the economic crisis.

Each year, the initiative sees architects nationwide give up their time for free to offer hour-long consultations to members of the public in return for a £40 suggested donation to Shelter. The scheme provides homeowners with an opportunity to discuss changes to their home with a RIBA chartered architect and make improvements that add both value and space to the property. “Architects play a key role in any successful home improvement venture, ensuring your project is well designed and thought through,” says George Clarke, architect and presenter of Channel 4’s Home Show and forthcoming series, Restoration Man. “Only an architect can give you the big picture, offering insights in to the latest trends in property design and advising on everything from finding builders to choosing fixtures and fittings.”

Such a consultation made a huge difference to Simon Drew, who last year made a £40 plus donation to Shelter and was matched through Architect in the House to Zoe Lewis Architects in Reading. He wanted to add a new master bedroom, with en suite bathroom to his 1970s house in Bracknell, Berkshire, where he’s lived for 25 years, in order to add value to the property when he comes to sell it.

Following his consultation with Zoe, Simon engaged her to prepare drawings for an extension to his house and successfully obtained planning permission. Zoe is now preparing plans for submission to the local authority for Building Regulations. The proposed extension is novel in that it will be built over in part over an existing double garage and slightly forward, with the entire structure supported on a steel frame.

The plan finally agreed with Zoe was totally different from the initial ideas that Simon had conceived of initially, and he believes that her input will greatly add to overall success of the project. Architect in the House “is a great way to get people to use an architect,” says Simon, “so many people get put off using a professional because they are terrified of the price.” But an architect can really make a difference in the outcome of your home improvement, adding more long-term value to the property – even if the project is a small one. An architect, says Simon, “can give you advice on design and layout, and can really interpret what you want to do. You want somebody who can actually create ideas for you and also anticipate the technical problems that need to be overcome.”

The scheme, which officially launches on Monday 19 April 2010, “has helped over 50,000 homeowners maximize their property’s potential,” says Ruth Reed, President of the RIBA. “It is a great way for the profession to give something back to those in desperate housing need.”

Those who register for the scheme at www.architectinthehouse.org.uk will be matched with architects in early July with consultations taking place any time up to the end of November. Meanwhile, Shelter can expect to raise more valuable funds to help those still living in poor conditions across the country, and, says Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, “with more than a million children in England living in overcrowded accommodation, our help is need now more than ever.”

Emily Jenkinson is interiors writer for furniture and interior design website mydeco.com.

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Suggested Topics
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
PROMOTED VIDEO
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executives - Outbound & Inbound

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'