Adapting to home working

A new way of living and working is upon us. As we adapt to these changes it is likely that we will also need to adapt our home office/homeworking arrangements to suit the needs of ourselves and our families. To do so effectively requires some careful consideration and planning.

For many of us, our homes have become places where we spend more of our working lives. Homeworking was a growing trend before the changes brought by Covid-19 and has now become the new normal for many. Whilst self-employed people may already operate this way, many of our PAYE neighbours only now find they must adapt to do the same. Many are ‘making do’ with the corner of the living room or the spare bedroom to connect with their working life, whilst¬ juggling the needs of the rest of the household with their own. Whatever space you are now working in, the more conducive your work environment is the more positively it will affect, well being, morale, and productivity.

At Kyrf Architecture, we believe that the basics for a sustainable and healthy work environment include good lighting, controllable temperature and ventilation, the best possible connectivity, comfortable work equipment and furniture, flexible workspace.

• Good natural lighting where possible and appropriate task lighting, low light environments especially in the winter months can impact on wellness and motivation.
• Controllable temperature and ventilation, no one likes working when it’s too hot or too cold, and whilst most homes are comfortable, getting the balance of fresh air and temperature right for you is critical. Houseplants can both improve the air quality and the atmosphere of a workspace, in some cases, and localised solution, like a fan or radiant heater, for example, can help too. Whereas taking a step back and looking at the building as a whole can vastly improve the quality of both your living and work environments.
• We can take for granted the thinking that goes into setting up commercial office spaces to keep the employees’ risk of work-related injuries and health problems to a minimum. But everything from the height of your desk and computer screen to the design of the chair you sit on helps to avoid bad backs, strained eyes and the like.
• In this time of VPN and zoom meetings, ensuring the best possible connectivity takes away the added stress of dropping out halfway through a critical piece of communication. Whilst the supply to the property has a bearing, a lot can be done within the property to improve data rates.
• Avoiding distractions and disturbance to others, whilst this can be just as much of an issue in a commercial office space at home having the flexibility of a dedicated homework space, can make all the difference for both you and those who share your home.

All of these improvements are achievable with a little time, and thought, whilst some improvements can be made by yourself in the short term, for a long-term sustainable solution, many home-based workers are now considering more fundamental improvements to both their living and home-working environments. Depending upon the property type, options may include permanently adapting an existing space or reordering the house, extending the property into the attic, building an extension or even considering a standalone annexe to the property in the garden.

Why now? If you are lucky, enough to have the resources a downturn in the economy is a great time to make improvements, as there are plenty of building contractors hungry for work.

At KYRF Architecture, we are offering a limited number of half-day consultations either remotely or at your home to assess your needs and identify workable options for your situation. 

What’s involved? We would aim to give you enough information to be able to make informed decisions about making the most of your home as both a living and a work environment.

We would cover the following:

• What you need and why you want to make changes to your home.
• What you feel does and does not work for your family in your current set up.
• Discuss your budget and preferred time scales for any work.
• Identify some initial options for improving your property.
• Help you understand the stages, procurement options and any statutory approvals required for delivering options.

What’s the cost? The initial ½-day consultation is a fixed price of £250 if you chose to proceed after initial consultation a detailed preliminary cost plan and fee proposal appropriate to the scope of the works would be provided.

Thanks for taking the time to read this article. If it has got you thinking about how you can improve your home give Jim Ross a call to discuss how this consultation can be facilitated with regard to covid-19 and safe working practices, on 07960 350 128 or email him at

JLR 4th May 2020

Jim Ross Architect

Jim Ross Architect
Working with organisations, and private clients, Jim works strategically at a range of scales to find appropriate and engaging ways of making projects, buildings, processes and places work. He draws on tried and tested tools to enable clients to make well-informed decisions.
With over 15 years experience designing, teaching, project managing and delivering architectural projects, Jim mixes consultancy, academia and community projects gives a rich seam of experience upon which to draw.

Jim has a particular interest counter-urbanism, consultation and community-led design, and speciality enjoys working with complex client groups. Enabling client groups to make informed decisions and leading them through the initial stages of projects, pre-design and stakeholder engagements, identifying the project constraints which when understood and defined allow creative and innovative design responses. These soft skills are complimented with an intuitive 1:1 understanding of construction. An eye for contemporary design in historic and landscape environments. Patience and tenacity, deliver high-quality design solutions in sensitive contexts.

In his role of Design Fellow at Cambridge University, Jim has the opportunity to reflect upon wider design practice and pass on his delight in finding simple solutions to complex environments to the next generation of young Architects. Jim is equally happy on the drawing board, in the lecture hall or up a ladder on a building site.

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Environmental Policy

KYRF Architecture, in line with our own personal values, works to minimise and reduce negative environmental impact and promote sustainability.

Environmental Overview

  • Reduce to a minimum our use of energy (fossil or renewable)
  • Reduce our use of water and make more use of waste water and rainwater
  • Alter our pattern of transport use to reduce our contribution of greenhouse gas emissions
  • Separate our waste streams, re-use, recycle and compost materials wherever possible
  • Only purchase products and use suppliers that meet strict environmental and ethical criteria
  • Maintain a healthy working environment for staff
  • Avoid products and finishes that are harmful to health


KYRF architecture continuously seeks ways to reduce dependency fossil fuels with the objective of ultimately eliminating their use altogether.

The office space heating and hot water is provided by a combination of gas and electricity supplied by OVO Energy on a 100% renewable tariff. However, we will seek to reduce our use of gas to a minimum. We will aim to reduce our CO2 emissions by adopting the following strategies:

  • During winter maintain a maximum office temperature of 21ºC
  • Ensure all windows are closed when heating is on
  • Give a preference to best of class energy performance when ordering electronic equipment
  • Buy only energy efficient computers and TFT monitors
  • Ensure all computer equipment is put to ‘sleep’ mode when not in use and turned off at night


KYRF Architecture seeks ways to reduce its use of water.

We have low flow taps to our wash hand basins and sinks and dual flush WC’s.


KYRF Architecture seeks ways to reduce travel by road and promotes walking, cycling and rail / bus travel where possible. We aim to restrict our projects and traveling distance to within a 50-mile radius of Norwich. Travel to meet with clients and visit sites within Norwich will generally be undertaken by cycling or walking. Travel to destinations outside Norwich is by rail if possible or by road if not.


KYRF Architecture seeks ways to reduce our waste production by re-use and recycling. We currently re-use waste paper for rough printing and only recycle paper when both sides have been used. We carefully separate all card, glass, cans, tins and plastic bottles for recycling. End-of-life computer and electrical equipment will be given to local charities for re-use.

Ethical Purchasing

KYRF Architecture is committed to promoting good environmental and ethical practice through its purchasing policies. For example, we only buy:

  • 100% post-consumer recycled paper for stationery, envelopes and printing
  • Locally grown food where possible
  • Non-toxic cleaning products

We aim to purchase mainly from small local companies where possible and look for suppliers and service providers with good ethical standards.

KYRF: Our approach to projects

KYRF Architecture is a young practice based in Norwich, between us we have a breadth of experience working on architectural projects across East Anglia and further afield because we choose to travel to where the exciting work and buildings are.

KYRF works side by side with the client in a way that can be described as “stripped of badges”, building consensus in a shared spirit of open dialogue. The recognition that all those around the table can and should contribute to solving the problem is central to the success of the project.

You can be assured that we will be fully committed to delivering your project with all of our skill and dedication.

Before we put pen to paper we do our homework!
Understanding and clearly communicating the project constraints at an early stage helps manage the risk associated with any given project. Project constraints can include financial/funding, time, environmental, planning, heritage, flood, health and safety, ecological and spatial. Whilst these can seem like unnecessary and inconvenient factors, to an experienced designer the constraints are the solid ground against which we can locate and develop the project. Part of our role, as architects, is to ensure the right skills and information are available to manage risk in an appropriate way and the information is available to the client to make informed decisions.

All our work involves observation, recording, interpretation, and investigation of the physical characteristics of buildings and context. Simply a process of calmly exploring through drawing and modelling what we encounter is an essential part of a process of observation and feeling our way towards understanding.
At KYRF, our focus is on the physical, material realization of a place and the work of architecture – this is what defines space, light and feel, as well as the environment in which the cultural finds its place in a context.

Many of the projects we have delivered are about resolving a particular issue for a client – whether this is a requirement for a particular new building, adaptation of existing buildings in a live environment or essential repair and maintenance.

We expect to draw upon your knowledge and experience and apply our creativity to just such problems, mindful that excellent new design has to complement the character of the existing site.

We have a breadth of experience of the upgrading, repair and maintenance challenges faced by old buildings. Our approach is to ensure that every problem is treated in a unique and fresh way. Even if the basic techniques of adaptation and repair are the same, the client’s requirements for the way a project has to be delivered will differ. We offer full consideration to environmental sustainability, attention to ensuring accessibility needs and delivering sensitive and appropriate alterations and interventions.

Delivering long-term sustainability requires vision, practical application, and experience. KYRF Architecture can offer this. Our work in the built environment is underpinned by our own environmental, sustainable, and quality, values. At the heart of the project is an understanding of your needs.
KYRF would work with you to find solutions that fit your particular specifications and general aspirations.
We believe that all buildings should:

  • have low emissions, low energy, low pollution and be economical to run,
  • be friendly for local flora and fauna, in keeping with the local environment,
  • be comfortable, fresh, bright and easy to understand,
  • be straightforward to maintain, flexible in day-to-day use and adaptable in the medium and long term,
  • be accessible for all,
  • make it easy for the occupants to be in control and touch the earth lightly.

Whatever your motivations for wanting a sustainable project be they cost, saving the planet or bragging rights. The outcome is the same and is better than the alternative!
Considering sustainability involves long-term thinking and whilst none of us knows what the future holds its good to know that we have contributed to reducing the impact of development upon the environment.

Over the last few years getting accessibility, right has become a essential part of every project. With carful thought and a measured approach, this can bring benefits not just to those in need of improved facilities but also for users that are more able. An example might be including the plumbing for a down stairs shower for a client when doing renovation work so that if it were even needed major additional work to the building would not be required to adapt the building.

As architects, we can guide you on potential costings for a project. at the early feasibility stages. Then dependent upon the scope and scale of the works advice if you require a quantity surveyor to act as “truth teller” and give an outside view of the likely costs associated with the projects, this can be practically important if external funders are involved. They have considerable experience, and thus a library, of general fabric and structural repair techniques, new build, and associated infrastructure. Where similar rates and prices cannot be used a time, plant and material assessment is made and applied to the estimated quantities and/or an elemental approach is taken to the pricing. In short, they don’t guess costs – they are evidenced.

The Nature of Advice

The week we felled the timber for the Natural Shoe Store project, I had two other projects involving trees. The differences between the way they were dealt with by the relevant statutory authorities, made me think about the nature of significance and important protection of asset be they natural or heritage. 

Situation 1 – Greenwood Balustrade for Natural Shoe Store, Covent Garden

Felling trees for the Natural Shoe Store project in private woodland, Kent.


Felling in private woodland is licensed by the Forestry Commission. “In any calendar quarter, you may fell up to 5 cubic metres on your property without a licence as long as no more than two cubic metres are sold, no requirements to get permission.” Tree Felling – Getting Permission, FCCS100

Situation 2 – Jeppe Hein’s Rotating Trees, Frieze Art Fair 2008.

Request to excavate 2m3 holes for a slewing rig to rotate 7m high oak trees with a 5m wide crown amongst the ancient oaks in Hyde Park for an artist installation by Jeppe Hein for the frieze art fair 2008.

Trees in Royal Protected by  Royal Parks and Other Open Spaces Regulations 1997 and permission is required from the secretary of state to “ … attach any article too, climb or interfere with any tree …”


Negotiated by phone with an Arboricultural Officer at The Royal Parks to hand dig holes and not cut more than 8% of any existing trees roots, and if roots over 50mm diameter were found to consult. The Arboricultural Officer agreed to operate watching brief.

Situation 3 – Crown Lifting for Residential Project, Cambridge

Request for a crown lifting and thinning of a sycamore boundary tree set back behind the houses in a suburban street in Cambridge.

Report prepared by an Arboricultural Association Registered Consultant (AARC) to BS 5837: Trees in relation to design, demolition, and construction, recommendations included tree protection and pile foundations and ventilated ground beam.


The tree officer was initially adamant that the application for the proposed extension would be recommended for rejection due to the location of the foundations and need to raise the crown of this tree, a TPO was placed on the tree.  The objection was dropped.


With the right standing, resources, and reputation it is often, it seems, possible to make ambitious interventions, which can seem unfair to those who wish to make modest changes to their protected assets but do not have the resources or knowledge of the system.

As a professional negotiating the world of regulations around significance and impact, I have found that once the principles and experiences of larger projects are established, these lessons can assist those with means that are more modest in achieving smaller ambitions.

Whilst an understanding of legislation needs demonstrated the individual interpretation by officers is often subjective, soft negotiating skills are important, and the argument is worth having.