Ampersand EPM Ltd - Interview

Interview

House extension services

23/03/2016

Ampersand EPM Ltd carries out restorations, repairs, alterations and conversions to buildings for customers across Warwickshire and the West Midlands.  We had an interview with the company to find out more about their work.

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Cylex 1. Please tell us a few words about the products/ services that you offer.

Ampersand EPM Ltd: We carry out high quality restorations, repairs, alterations and conversions for customers across Warwickshire and the West Midlands. Our experience and expertise with period and heritage buildings means that we can utilise the correct materials and techniques for the project. 'Correct' may be historically accurate for the building's period. Or it may be 'correct' for blending a new feature or section to a much older building. 'Correct' always means high quality materials and techniques to meet current building regulation standards without adversely affecting the fabric of the existing structure. We also work on post war and modern buildings, and are able to combine contemporary interiors and building extension of any age.

Cylex 2. What type of wood do you use for your timberworks?

Ampersand EPM Ltd: We use quite a wide range of timber across a project. For example, the most common structural grades for timber used when forming a roof or for floor joists are C16 and C24 to conform with building regulations. Flooring timber tends to be oak as it comes in a variety of shades and finishes and is very hard wearing. If a customer wants luxury vinyl tiles laid over existing wooden floorboards we use 'flooring grade' plywood. This is important because it has been constructed from premium hardwoods to prevent movement. If skirting boards and architraves are to be painted, we recommend using MDF. It has bad press for being cheap and inferior to real wood. However, when it's used in the correct manner and situation it is a better option than real wood. If used as painted skirting it has no knots, doesn't warp and has less shrinkage which results in a clean, sharp, contemporary appearance.

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Cylex 3. What if a client would want to renovate some of the existing house as well as the new house extension, will 'Ampersand EPM Ltd'  do this?

Ampersand EPM Ltd: We carry out as much refurbishment work as we do extensions. Across the team of people that we have there is a wealth of experience built up over decades. This is invaluable when carrying out refurbishments as it means we can apply the correct techniques and select the correct materials to ensure the finished product is what the customer requires. Sometimes a project will require a combination of restoration and refurbishment. If we take a kitchen in a Georgian or Victorian house as an example. The fabric of the room (plaster details, wide floorboards, skirting, doors, sash windows) can be restored. The kitchen units themselves can be period reproduction, or quality contemporary, and the appliances and lighting brought up to modern standards. This approach means that a customer can use various sources of inspiration and blend the styles to achieve their desired finish. However, as the fabric of the room or building is restored rather than refurbished then the heritage, history, and just as importantly, the value of the original building are retained. This approach applies whether applied to an interior refurbishment, repointing brickwork, or hard landscaping.

Cylex 4. What kind of house extension will add the most value to a home?

Ampersand EPM Ltd: That depends on the home that is to be extended, and can vary quite widely. If the home has a small kitchen which is out of balance (by modern standards) with the rest of the house then a kitchen extension can add 15 – 25% to the value. Similar figures apply to adding a bedroom or loft conversion. Adding an extension to your home is a big investment, and as with any large investment it's worth doing your homework. Have a look at similar properties to your house both before and after extension which have been sold recently to get a feel for the price difference. Ask an estate agent to value the property and give an estimate of the value after extension.

Cylex 5. Will you provide a comprehensive quote for the project?

Ampersand EPM Ltd: In a word, yes. We aim only to provide a quotation, and try to avoid estimates which are only used as a preliminary where information is missing preventing a quotation. A quotation will describe the work agreed, time scales, the cost, payment schedule and so on. The quotation also forms part of the contract so that overall everyone involved knows what's expected of them. Good communication is vital to ensure a smooth running project and make sure there are no surprises.

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Cylex 6.  How long will it take to start an interior refurbishment project once materials are selected?

Ampersand EPM Ltd: It mainly depends on three factors. Firstly the customers requirements to fit in with things like holidays, work, social engagements and so on. You don't want builders (no matter how polite and well mannered) working on your house if you have relatives visiting from Australia or a wedding going on. Secondly, our availability. Thirdly the size of the project. As there's no 'typical project' it's virtually impossible to give a lead time. However, it's worth saying that organising everything in terms of drawings, building control submission, choosing finishes etc. and THEN asking builders to start the following week isn't going to work. Most good builders will require two or three months advance notice due to existing commitments. If they're free to start a two month project at a few days notice you'd have to ask why they are free.

Cylex 7. What are some the current projects? How about what are the most requested?

Ampersand EPM Ltd: We've recently completed the total refurbishment of a stone built terraced cottage. Currently we're putting the finishing touches to a large extension which required handmade and coloured bricks with cream coloured lime pointing and a very modern kitchen. Photographs and descriptions of both will shortly appear on our new web site. The most requested work seems to be seasonal and can be affected by TV programmes such as 'Grand Designs' and 'The Restoration Man'. These programmes as well as being entertaining provide some great ideas that may not be the first thoughts otherwise. So in the Spring customers think about hard landscaping (patios, multi-level gardens, decorative stone walls etc.) and extensions. Autumn seems to be the time where interior refurbishments or restorations come to the fore. Of course it also depends on when a customer buys a new home etc.

Cylex 8. How would you describe the services offered by 'Ampersand EPM Ltd' ?

Ampersand EPM Ltd: That's a very difficult question actually. I suppose the simple answer is we work with the customer to deliver what they want. We talk to them, look at plans, find out what they want and don't want. Brief them on what to expect during the works, keep them updated during the project. Above all, we always keep in mind that it's their home. In reality it's much more complicated than that as we're frequently called upon to offer advice, guidance and suggestions. We never try to impose our opinions, but as we've seen the 'before and after' many times we can offer an insight into the finished article. Sometimes customers will find it difficult to visualise the space element in the finished product. One customer last year asked us to completely refurbish their bathroom. They had visited a well know bathroom supplier and had plans drawn up by them. We spotted a problem with the layout and the shower which had a very large glass panel. If it had been fitted as designed the customer would have had to climb over the toilet to get into the shower. We had a chat, decided on the best choice to make and got back to the bathroom company.

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Ampersand EPM Ltd is a member of the FMB (Federation of Master Builders) and a TrustMark registered company. For further details, please contact the company.

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