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
Sport
Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank contract to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWERollins wins the WWE World Heavyweight title in one of the greatest WrestleMania's ever seen
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Jay Z has placed a bet on streaming being the future for music and videos
music
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
News
(David Sandison)
newsHow living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
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: 3rd Line IT Support / Senior Engineer / Support Analyst

£24000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Executive - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Recognised as one of the fastes...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager - Refrigeration

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of refrigeration, mechan...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Finance Manager - Central London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor