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"The UK & Irish Republic's Unique Residential Timber-Frame Design Specialists AND 'DIY' Self-Building Professionals!"

 

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There is ONE SIMPLE FACT that underlines everything we do ~ WE ADD VALUE!

 

 

  

We add value through the high-quality content of our publications, through the decades of extensive and intensive practical, commercial and professional experience that manifests itself through the quality of our professional services and; ultimately; through simply bearing in mind that our role as professional consultants is always to focus on using everything we know to help our clients achieve what they want as effectively and efficiently as possible!  And "everything" can include advice about potential* tax liabilities and avoidance; legal & financial problems and solutions, cash-flow forecasts and development valuations for 'spec' housing schemes, etc. as well as our 'core' expertise in providing alternative; cheaper and/or more profitable; ways to achieve the high-quality project or development that our clients want.

(*Such incidental 'tax' advice has saved at least one recent client from incurring an otherwise unavoidable five-figure tax bill that his professional accountants hadn't foreseen even existed ~ and the advice didn't cost him a penny ~ it was just part of our seemingly 'unique' client-orientated philosophy of professional service!)

However; we can only 'add value' if clients allow us to; it doesn't all happen automatically. 

  • For our own 'self-build' projects and commercial 'forays'; that has never been a problem as we have always enjoyed the 'freedom' to optimise everything ~ and we have reaped huge benefits accordingly; however, far too often, we see clients' projects 'suffer' from misplaced trust in some 'armchair-expert' spouting 'duff' advice in some book or magazine or based upon 'swallowing' some high-powered advertising 'hype', other projects have 'suffered' simply because of a client's unwillingness to recognise and accept the need to spend a little bit extra on fees in order to save substantially more on the 'build' cost of the project itself ~ it's almost inevitably false economy ~ especially as we always tell our clients if we don't feel that something they had asked us to do will be advantageous and/or beneficial to their project or development!

The point being that no matter how great our 'expertise'; clients can only benefit to the extent that they allow us to use it on their behalf!  Ultimately; it is always our clients' choices that will determine the relative success or otherwise of any project or development!

  • We pride ourselves on giving a complete service to our clients; i.e. we don't just do the minimum work necessary to get the job itself done!  We use all our own 'Hands-ON' self-building and commercial housing development experience to judge what level, type and depth of professional service and support we would expect and want if we were the client; rather than looking to just match and mirror what other professional consultants do!

That isn't an idle 'boast' either; nor can it be.  The law has (finally) been changed this year (2011) and it is now totally illegal to make any unsubstantiated 'claim' about any product, service or anything else for that matter on any website!  Against that background; we're also very happy to reassure you that we have an enviable record of never having had any claim whatsoever made against us for 'professional negligence' in over 38 years of professional practice ~ and that includes all the 'ad hoc' advice given on all sorts of sundry other matters that have arisen over the years!

One obvious reason for that unblemished record is that everything we do for clients is directly overseen and/or done by the 'Self-Build-Pro' himself; for instance he is the focal point of contact for all clients.  Being so 'hands-on' also ensures that every client has direct access to the full depth of his accumulated knowledge and experience across all areas of advice outlined above as well as the more obvious expertise in residential design and construction.

Another obvious difference is the way we treat our clients; for instance we guarantee that our 'all-in' fees really do cover everything necessary to carry out the stated services.

  • That means literally everything involved; i.e. our clients never see a list of extra 'charges', much beloved by so many professional firms, for all those sundry expenses that inevitably arise whilst undertaking the work on their projects; whether for travelling and subsistence, additional documentation, answering & sending correspondence, receiving & making phone calls, etc.  Our clients never find that something vitally important wasn't included in the agreed fees either!  Conversely; our clients always find that we provide a duplicate set of 'weather-proofed' drawings, etc. for use on site as part of our standard service; i.e. at no extra cost ~ something that stems directly from our own 'Hands-ON' building experience.  Such things seem very obvious to us; but we don't know of any other firm that does it!

Similarly; we also seek to protect our private 'self-build' clients against the cost of non-recoverable 'VAT' charges; i.e. 'VAT' levied on professional fees; by offering them the option of a 'VAT Exempt' service.  The fees and services provided stay exactly the same but; as no 'VAT' is added to them; it saves clients from wasting their money paying an extra 20% simply because of a tax-anomaly!

  • Commercial clients are inevitably 'VAT' registered and can reclaim such 'VAT' charges; however private clients cannot reclaim it, despite the fact that new 'build' houses are currently 'zero-rated' for 'VAT' purposes ~ allowing 'VAT' charges on everything else to be reclaimed in full!

Whilst our unique ProFrame design and construction methods for creating superb, high-quality timber-framed houses routinely slashes huge amounts off our clients' 'build' costs (with NO loss of performance, etc.) when compared to the costs arising from the use of 'SIPS' and 'packaged-kit' companies products to build the same houses; it is the simplicity and flexibility of using ProFrame that really delivers huge 'added value' to our clients!

  • The first house designed and built by the 'Self-Build-Pro' himself in 1976; using the original ProFrame methods; was the prototype project that proved beyond any shadow of doubt that virtually anybody; physically able to do manual work; could single-handedly build a high-quality house in their 'spare-time' for less than half-price within twelve months start-to-finish without needing any special skills or prior knowledge to do it!   Further details ... Under 1/2 Price!

  • The first time ProFrame was used for a commercial 'spec. housing' development (1983) proved that the ProFrame system could also deliver a huge cost advantage for the foundations as well; when the 'Self-Build-Pro' successfully turned a 'doomed' bungalow development into a real 'money-spinner'.  Further details ... The Great Escape!

  • Builders rarely turn down the chance to profit from building on land so there is usually a very good reason why that highly desirable 'infill' plot was left undeveloped and that reason is generally to be found beneath the surface!  So it isn't really surprising that the opportunity to help a client capitalise on the acquisition of a cheap 'infill' plot keeps cropping up!  A typical case involved one of our DIY 'Hands-ON' self-building clients who came to us having just bought a very cheap 'infill' plot that contained the 'filled-in' former village pond!  We adopted a similar design approach for the proposed house as had proved so successful when 'rescuing' the bungalow development which; coupled with using a 'DIY' (Hands-ON) approach; led to a very cost-effective 'build' and project!  Further details ... Save, Then Save Again!

  • How did ProFrame cope when the planners required changes to the client's roof design and the client insisted on keeping the internal floor layout exactly as designed; leaving the new roof structure virtually unsupported!?  Further details ... Defying Gravity!

'SIPS' and 'packaged-kit' companies' products are so hugely over-priced for what they actually provide that; quite apart from their respective design limitations and restrictions; it is relatively easy to deliver substantial added (financial) value to our clients by using the ProFrame approach for the design and construction of timber-framed houses.  However; it's the unexpected situations and challenges that can often give the greatest satisfaction and create surprisingly good 'added value'.  Unlike 'SIPS' and 'packaged-kit' companies; trussed rafter manufacturers can offer very genuine cost and efficiency savings to customers due to the very efficient nature of producing roof-trusses using factory machinery.   It is virtually impossible to replicate or produce such roof trusses on-site; however that doesn't mean that truss manufacturers necessarily understand how to use the full potential of the patented trussed rafter design programmes that they are using!

  • Several years ago; an Irish client approached us with a set of architect-designed house plans; for which he already had planning permission; featuring lowered first-floor eaves and multiple dormer windows to both the main elevations.  Having quoted fees for doing the Building Regulations application; which naturally included the structural timber-frame design work, etc.; he sent us copies of three quotations that he had obtained from trussed rafter companies.  All three quotations were very expensive ~ primarily because of the nature of the roof (lowered eaves) and the fact that none of the dormer windows on the opposing elevations aligned with the dormer windows on the opposite elevation; i.e. they were all 'offset'.  Our analysis of the roof structure revealed that a radically different approach to how the roof trusses were designed to be used; should prove to be much cheaper!  We didn't alter the appearance, style or layout of the roof but we forwarded our suggested truss types and layout and requested revised quotations from the same three companies; the result was three revised quotations all showing a bigger reduction in cost than our total fees for doing the entire project!

Planning however is where the greatest added (financial) value can and has occurred.  Many years ago; we 'inherited' the job of getting planning permission for a prospective 'up-market' housing development site in a Shropshire village.  The local chartered architects had been trying (unsuccessfully) to gain planning permission for their development proposals for the previous 2.1/2 years; so it wasn't expected that we would be successful either!  In the event; it took the 'Self-Build-Pro' nearly ten months before he finally secured the coveted full detailed planning permission for six large detached 'executive' houses on the client's land.  The instant 'added value' benefit to the client was such that the land's 'open-market' value shot up by two hundred thousand pounds ~ equivalent to 1M+ in today's money; which was successfully 'released' when he sold the land to a Shrewsbury based house-building company!


Our Guiding Philosophy ~

To appreciate what our clients want and to provide an unique response that will create great 'added value' for them.


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"There is and always has been a dearth of genuine 'experts' in this country ready to help house-buyers and self-builders get real value for money; that's why building houses is so expensive!  The people who are striving to get houses built efficiently and cheaply do so purely to maximise the profit-margins of the speculative house-builders and package-kit companies that they work for ~ not to make houses cheaper for you or me!  That was equally true in the 1970's; when I decided to research the building methods in use around the World and used my professional knowledge as a chartered quantity surveyor to find a way to build houses efficiently and cheaply myself! 

The outcome was truly astonishing ~ I designed a four-bedroom, two bathroom family home and then built it for less than half-price, virtually 'single-handed' in nine months; just using every available evening and weekend!'"

Brian D Miles

The origins of "Self-Build-Pro (Chartered Surveyors)" lie many decades back in the past ~ way back in 1971.

Within months of getting married; I had embarked upon my first 'self-build' project.  We bought an old cottage, I drew up plans to gain planning permission and then carried out a 'traditional' self-build project using local sub-contractors to extend and modernise the cottage, adding a garage/utility 'annex' as well.  By the time everything was finished, three years had passed; during which time I had also completed my professional qualifications, gone into partnership and become a parent with the birth of my daughter!  

When thoughts subsequently started to turn towards wanting a brand-new house; I quickly realised that it would be years before we could afford to either buy or get what we wanted built!  However; my knowledge of house-building costs and construction methods convinced me that we actually could afford what we wanted ~ if I built it myself!

Of course; the slow, heavy, dirty work that 'traditional' construction involves made that method an instant 'non-starter'; as did the ridiculously high cost of buying and erecting a 'package-kit' timber-frame house!  But simply cutting pieces of timber to length and nailing them together was such a quick, simple way to build houses that I realised that I didn't actually need a 'package-kit' to build a timber-frame house; I could easily buy all the timber, etc. direct from the timber merchants and build the house myself at a fraction of the cost!

Similarly; I already had the technical knowledge to design the electrical, plumbing & heating installations and technical 'guides' for things like dry-lining; so I knew that I could do all that work too and save myself even more money!

Ultimately; the only things I didn't do myself were the facing brickwork to the gable-ends and garage, the sewer  connection in the public highway, the bitumen macadam drive surfacing, the Tyrolean render and the glazing ~ the latter simply because I could only get a 25% trade discount whilst the glaziers could get 55%; meaning that they could supply and fit the glazing for virtually the same price as it would have cost me to just buy the glazing units!

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Subsequently; I designed and built (Hands-ON) another fourteen houses and bungalows ~ most of them single-handedly ~ with the most recent project being in 2005.  I also designed and installed the electrical, plumbing and heating installations in seven of those projects.

As professional work increasingly brought me into contact with clients having major problems with 'traditional construction' and/or looking for more cost-effective, higher-specification alternatives than 'traditional construction' seemed capable of delivering; it was only natural that my 'expertise' with timber-frame design and construction increasingly 'crossed-over' into the professional work until it became obvious that we should simply scrap the inadequate and antiquated 'traditional construction' methods completely and concentrate all our efforts on 'bespoke' residential timber-frame 'self-build' projects and speculative timber-frame housing developments!

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As computers developed; so did our usage of them, especially for developing our own in-house 'bespoke' structural design programme (ProFrame-XL) based on the old BS:5268.  Eventually (in 2003) we achieved 'partner' status with the LABC (Local Authority Building Control) which meant that our structural calculations no longer had to be checked every time we submitted a Building Regulations application!  Despite many years forewarning; most of the industry's structural timber design programmes are still based upon the outdated, obsolete BS:5268 which was finally superseded by various totally new BS's (based on EuroCodes) during 2012!  Although the new BS's give 'number-crunching' a whole new meaning and led to a sustained programme of work in order to 'convert' the relatively simple old BS5268 based 'ProFrame-XL' structural design programme to be fully compliant with EuroCode '0', '1' & ' 5' ; that status has been successfully achieved.

However the real 'key' to revolutionising our whole system of working was the advent of widespread Local Authority acceptance of 'online' Planning and Building Regulations/Warranty applications; which has allowed us to computerise all our architectural and planning design work ~ which also meant we could dispense with 'formal' offices to house staff.

 

 

 

 

 

   

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