All posts tagged as self build

03 Jul


In Misc by Pete Tonks / July 3, 2015 / 0 Comments

And here is another one which is proving to be popular which was a replacement dwelling i designed down in Kent.

Hope you enjoy












02 Sep


In Misc by Pete Tonks / September 2, 2014 / 0 Comments




Good news this morning as we have achieved the national recognition of submitting fully digital online planning applications through the government central hub, The Planning Portal. As such we are now champions apparently! ๐Ÿ™‚

We have been working with the portal since its inception and have tweaked and refined how we prepare and submit our applications to ensure they meet the relevant criteria.

Bearing in mind most of my work is produced freehand, this has at times been testing but the product we now produce not only meets with our clients agreement but it is also satisfying to receive approval for our work from central government.

This does not mean the end of the road in terms of our submission approach though as there are further enhancements planned for the near future.



23 Jun


In Misc by Pete Tonks / June 23, 2014 / 0 Comments

We had a great end to the week last week when this scheme was approved!

This was once again a very ambitious proposal and ‘word on the street’ according to various local sources was that we didn’t stand a chance. Well, you know me by now…. if i hear something like that i am definitely gonna give it a crack and prove them wrong….

I met these clients only at the end of last year so the process has been pretty swift to be fair. The site itself is elevated facing the village green of a sleepy Buckinghamshire village, it has a Grade II listed house directly opposite and is within ย the Aylesbury Vale District Council Conservation Area. Now, AVDC do have a reputation for being pretty tough but i think this is a little unfair in my opinion. What i think they do have is high standards when it comes to the design and integration of new dwellings into established environments. Something they would expect even more so within a Conservation Area.

We did a good pre-application process with AVDC and worked closely with the planning officer and conservation officer and between us, we collectively shaped the scheme to ensure the clients are happy with with it as well as the council. ย We had a few concerns from neighbours and also the parish council, but again, with good communication flowing between everyone and the design decisions being made here, we got it spot on for everyone.

What we did ultimately achieve with this project is a two storey dwelling ย as a replacement to a bungalow which most people considered impossible, especially in such a sensitive location. How we got it is down to a number of reasons but one of the key factors was the the fact that both the planning officer and conservation got what we were doing and what i stand for as a house designer. They concluded within their reports that the removal of the existing bungalow and the construction of this new dwelling would present an opportunity to enhance the conservation area.

This is the existing dwelling on the site.


And this is the replacement dwelling all approved and ready to go…!

bucks house

Massive congratulations to our lovely clients,.. i know they are going to be very happy in their new family home.


03 Jun


In Blog by Pete Tonks / June 3, 2014 / 0 Comments

Well, this is what its all about really….. ๐Ÿ™‚

I had these photos sent through the other day from clients i designed and got planning for last year in lovely Buckinghamshire and i think they like the house now the oak frame has gone up… big smiles is what its all about.


This was a real toughie too.. the existing dwelling which we wanted to demolish because it was basically knackered sat in the Green Belt and in a Conservation Area so was always gonna be a fight.

We had to negotiate hard with the notoriously difficult Chiltern District Council and after a few design progressions and liaison with the planners we did get a result. More importantly, we got a result which hits the spot on every level for all members of the family and could easily be their lifetime home….

Some great shots of the Oakwrights frame and erection team too!








28 May


In Blog by Pete Tonks / May 28, 2014 / 0 Comments

Seems only 5 minutes ago we were working with these great clients from London.

They had decided to make the move to the countryside and head back towards Suffolk where they were born.

They secured a small cottage on a great countryside plot. When i say great, i mean great!! On a very quiet road out of the village, 360 degree open countryside views, a large garden with orchard and the nearest neighbour about a mile away… happy days right? Well, yes to be fair,… it was not looking bad at all although we had a planning battle ahead of us… something i never mind ๐Ÿ˜‰

Their plans for the place were to radically extend the cottage up to more than 100% increase and add a 3-4 bay outbuilding with studio space above. We had all the local planning specialists saying it was never going to happen and we also had a knock back from the council during our pre-application work. However, we did work closely with the planning department and arrived at a solution whereby we could get the increase the clients were looking for but i just made it look a lot less.! ๐Ÿ™‚ This was achieved by breaking the extensions up into various component elements and referencing them to local vernacular styles.

I had some photos sent through recently so decided to revisit the project looking back at my drawings and i have to say i am very pleased with it. The clients absolutely love it and i am planning to get up to see them soon for some finished shots to be taken.

Hope you enjoy


This was the original ground floor….


And this the extended ground floor


This was the original first floor


And this the extended first floor


A couple of before and after images of the front and rear elevations



and some photos from the client….




21 May


In Misc by Pete Tonks / May 21, 2014 / 0 Comments

So, we are expanding here and after me and the missus and Marley the dog became 4 with the birth of our daugther, we are soon to become five with the arrival of Tonks Jnr 2 so we need some space!!

When we bought our cottage around 10 years ago it was just a shoe box. We extended in 2005, built the studio and garages in 2007 and extended again in 2009 and now we are gonna do it again… cannot wait!

‘The Brain’ will connect all of our various additions which although work ok as they are, i think a new flow will be created in our home which will work really well for us now we are a growing family.

Here is a breakdown on how we got the space…. original house in red, 2 storey rear extension in blue which received full planning approval, the outbuildings are in green and were built under Permitted Development (PD) therefore not requiring a planning application and likewise, the kitchen extension in orange was also a PD project.


And for the next chapter, we had to apply for a full application which was approved last week and it looks a little something like this..


obs3ย As viewed from the rear, ‘The Brain’ is the grey building which will feature a small mezzanine play deck for the kids and will be clad in grey metal seam cladding to reflect those found on the neighbouring farm.

My wife thinks i am a bit weird and crazy for the whole ‘brain’ thing but i kinda like that to be honest. She will love it, the kids will love it so happy days…

PJT ๐Ÿ™‚

21 May


In Misc by Pete Tonks / May 21, 2014 / 0 Comments

Nice little result today….. we got planning for our clients for a replacement dwelling in a beautiful Cambridgeshire village not too far from my studio. We like the local ones ๐Ÿ˜‰

I took the job on last year and it took around 2-3 months for the design process and then we submitted the application to South Cambs DC. The planning was always gonna be a toughie and it has taken longer than normal with the council for various reasons but we worked with them continously throughout and negotiated our position nicely to get to where we are today… a planning approval! Happy days…

So why was it a toughie? Well, the site itself is slap bang in the middle of the village Conservation Area where demolition is normally resisted. Furthermore, the plot is surrounded by Grade II listed buildings. These are some really good looking houses and cottages though and provided inspiration for my design. They have been there for hundreds of years and its a little humbling but also something that makes me very proud to think that my designed projects will be around for the next few hundred… Anyway,,.. yes, it was gonna be a toughie but we did have our very good reasons for wanting to demolish the existing dwelling.. that reason being….? It was beyond even being an ugly duckling! It was a 60’s/70’s box that was trying its damned hardest to be cool and modernist but failing miserably on pretty much every front… how did it even get built in the first place was my initial thought but its well documented that residential architecture went off on its own cosmic path during the 60’s and 70’s and it just “kinda happened that way,.. man” So here is the existing…



And here is the approved design in blue compared to the existing footprint in red so we have got a decent increase too.


And a section through the dwelling just to check it all works.


And the approved design which is clasically Cambridgeshire village. Everything i love. Its simple but quirky and has that immediate Cambridgeshire vernacular feel.


So job done on this one…. great site, great clients and a planning approval. They can go off and do the fun bit now…





24 Apr


In Blog,Misc by Pete Tonks / April 24, 2014 / 0 Comments

So,.. I had to squeeze a little job in today for some clients we met up at the recent Homebuilding and Renovating Show at the NEC.

They have recently secured planning permission for a new build in Essex. Nothing to do with me up until I met them at the show with Tim Crump and Dave Grey of Oakwrights.

Whilst the clients had got planning, they were not sure about the design and felt that something was missing. We had a good chat about things at the show and i directed them to various areas which needed adjustment or further exploration was needed as to find exactly what was missing.














I have basically kept the profile and shape of the building as is approved so as to avoid the need to go back to planning but have then referenced some of the local Essex vernacular. The result, in my opinion, is so much better and and has a really cool Essex country house feel to it…. I love it anyway,… lets see what my clients say later.


04 Mar


In Blog by Pete Tonks / March 4, 2014 / 0 Comments

Here is a little film we put together recently just to show what we get up to behind the scenes and how i approach the design and planning service for my clients. I hope you enjoy itโ€ฆ PJT

14 Feb


In Blog by Pete Tonks / February 14, 2014 / 0 Comments

So i got reminiscing about my 30 years in this industry the other day with my parents and as always, i could rely on my old mum to say “i have got some photos, wait a minute”.. so off she goes and comes back first of all with this beauty!


Now, this picture i think would have been from around 1984-85 and finds me in the Potton drawing office as a fresh faced skinny thing with an equally skinny tie (probably leather but not the piano one!… Google these if you dont know what i mean) It really did make me realise that i have probably sat at a drawing board nearly every day ever since which is a lot of days and a lot of drawings… and yes, the haircut is very 80s’ hence the “mullet alert” but trust me, it was the fashion back then ๐Ÿ™‚


This second picture transports us forwards into the early 90’s and everything has gone all sci-fi and the magazine piece talks about the brave new dawn of design and computers. Yes, that is me. I have gone all corporate and that fresh faced kid from the mid 80’s is still in there somewhere but the hair is sharp and the shirt even sharper…! Check out the retro 2 screen set up, monster tablet and keyboard. If you look in between the two monitors, these were hard plastic menus that you slotted into the tablet for each of the various commands. At the time this seemed amazing but now it just seems completely stone age. Great fun to find these though.

Finding these two pictures has come at a good time actually as interestingly i have had quite a few discussions with clients lately who love my drawing style and wondered what design package i use…? I told them that the design package is my hands, a ruler, pens, pencils and tracing paper and of course a drawing board. Most of them were gobsmacked and it made me realise how much i love doing what i do but more so how much i enjoy sharing it with others.

Ironically, the magazine article eloquently suggests that ‘The use of CAD is clearly the way forward. Many of the systems now available are cheap, powerful and simple to use. Only the drawing board manufacturers should be worried’ Well, i would counter that and say that as far as i am concerned with my clients, my ‘design package’ is the way forwards and when it comes to concept, design and planning work, you cannot beat the honesty and soul that a hand drawing produces and i am happy to be ‘long in the game’ (minus the mullet!) … ๐Ÿ™‚