Life After Lockdown | Architecture with a capital A

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The Thoughts of a Self Employed Architect in Edinburgh

Life After Lockdown

What impact will the Covid19 lockdown have on the design and construction of our homes?

In The Short Term:


I had numerous discussions with clients, contractors, suppliers and consultants over the past two months of lockdown. These are some issues to consider; 


Supply Chain: In the short term projects like those Capital A specialise in will face delays in the supply chain. Materials come from all over the world and we will be dependant on a long and fractured logistics chain for the foreseeable future. If you are about to start a domestic scale project it might be worth ordering all the materials up front and storing them on site, rather than getting deliveries just in time, as has been usual up until now. Doing this may hedge against a future lockdown, allowing individual trades to continue working. Remember, never pay for materials to be stored off-site by a builder or sub-contractor. If they go into liquidation the materials can be seized by their creditors. Store materials on your property.


Alternative Accommodation: It isn't pleasant living on a building site. I always advise my clients against it but some feel they have no alternative. With the possibility of a future lockdown and supply chain disruptions, projects could drag on for months longer than expected. Given the difficulties the tourism industry faces, getting a 6 month lease to live elsewhere is easier than it used to be. Living in your house during construction is a false economy, the builders have to work around your life. This means starting later and finishing earlier every day. This can add weeks to the project, even in regular times. While the financial cost is easy to calculate, the psychological cost is high and difficult to quantify. If you are considering work to your home, find a nice place to rent until work is finished.


Insolvencies: Every downturn has its casualties and some building firm won't survive without cash flow. If you are choosing a contractor for your project check them out on Companies House first. If you have already begun work and are concerned your builder may go bust, its a good idea to get the contact details for their trades and sub-contractors. These guys will want to continue working if their employer goes out of business and they should be best placed to finish your project. Remember, don't pay sub-contractors money already owed to them by the main contractor. If you have paid the main contractor, it is their responsibility to pay sub-contractors. 


 

In The Long Term:


Predicting the future is never easy, the crystal ball is notoriously difficult to read. That said, one trend is beginning to emerge. Working From Home:


I have worked from my home for over a decade and I love it. Most of my clients are in the knowledge economy and many could work from home. It always amazes me how little thought people give to the space they work in. IMG_4765Here are some tips;


Don't work from your kitchen table / living room sofa / stair landing. Get a room with a lockable door. The door works both ways. You need privacy but also the ability to walk away at the end of the day and re-join family life. It is hard to switch off if your files and laptop are sitting in full view. 


If you commandeer a spare bedroom, it is no longer a bedroom. Don't call it the bed / office, psychologically this is a halfway house. Commit to the space being your full-time workspace. 


Put something of value in the space which isn't related to your work. I have a great Hi Fi in my home office, it helps me relax. It also sets the space apart from other rooms in my house. 


Natural Light. Don't work in the dark. Also, ventilation, your brain needs oxygen. 


Remember, if your work pays for your home then your workspace should reflect that fact.

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