New Project – Bungalow Extension & Refurbishment

JULY 2018

The refurbishment of an existing bungalow and rear extension has commenced and has progressed well in advance of the anticipated programme.

All internal demolition has been completed with new internal partition walls constructed, 1st and 2nd fix M&E completed.

The new extension foundations and ground floor structure is completed awaiting delivery of the supporting steels.

New replacement windows have been installed.


The advances in technology for assisted living

The construction industry is sometimes criticised for being slow to innovate, but the application of innovation in the sector is not straight forward. Every project is different, none more so than when it comes to developing bespoke assisted living properties for disabled or elderly people.

Advances in technology are changing the way in which we design, develop and build assisted living projects. However, at Bryburn, we are always looking to find new ways to improve our service and end result for our clients, so we are constantly on the lookout for new, life changing technologies to install.

Smart technology is making the average household more and more connected, with a range of functions including lighting, heating and even curtains now controllable from a variety of devices. Technology like this can completely change the quality of life for a physically disabled homeowner or tenant as it will allow them (condition dependent) far more autonomy than ever before.

Below are some of the latest innovations that are improving quality of life in assisted living and disabled developments.

Smart locks

A severely physically disabled person may need to give personal care attendants, nurses, therapists, family members or a housekeeper access to their home on a regular basis to make sure they get the care and support they need.

With this in mind having technology such as smart locks gives disabled homeowners and tenants a safer, more autonomous home life. A smart lock is a much more secure option than a keypad. Keypad locks don’t tell users if, when or by whom they’ve been used, and it can be difficult to change the combination.

Combinations can also be guessed or memorised, but most smart locks allow users to give visitors admin, guest, or temporary access, or even limit the days and times they can enter the house – all via smart phone. The app also allows users to keep a log of who has visited.

Smart outlets and lighting

Smart outlets can help tenants or homeowners avoid the costs of expensive smart technologies by converting their existing appliances into smart appliances. They can be linked to most smart phones and any device plugged into them can that be turned on or off via mobile device or voice controls through a device such as an Amazon Alexa.

Being able turn average household appliances like a dishwasher or kettle on or off remotely means disabled users can complete everyday tasks that they would not normally be able to do.

Smart lighting works in much the same way as smart outlets and allows users to seamlessly control the lights in their house via speech recognition software or smart phone – increasing visibility and accessibility in a disabled home.


Stairlifts have been around since 1920 when they were simple rope and pulley systems and have been gradually developing ever since. Whether it’s the development of a curved track system to accommodate any style of home or adding adjustable seating features, stairlifts have changed a lot over the years.

Modern stairlifts have many new features that can streamline the home lives of the disabled or elderly including being able to control them remotely, security locks to prevent children from playing with them and a function that allows the lift to carry a wheelchair to avoid the user having to move from chair to chair.

Assisted living and Bryburn

At Bryburn we take our customer’s conditions very seriously and are always on the lookout for new technology and innovations to install for them.

Whether it is in a property or properties we are developing for you, or your existing building that you would like updating – we will search and test the best technology to find the system or product that will suit you or your tenants to improve their quality of life.

To find out how we can help you with your assisted living or disability-friendly property contact us now.


Tel: 02392 893191 or 02392 893193

Or connect with us on Facebook or LinkedIn

Do you need planning permission?

From January to March 2018, authorities undertaking district level planning in England received 116,700 applications for planning permission, down 5% on the corresponding quarter in 2017.[1]

If you’re considering building new, renovating, or simply adding an extension to your home, you’re probably thinking about planning permission too. It can be a daunting prospect. However, you may not actually have to go through planning permission- not all home improvement projects require it.

Sometimes certain renovations must meet Building Regulations however so it’s best to check before you get started.

Here’s a list of improvements and installations that don’t always require planning permission:

House extension

You can often extend or add to your house without the need for planning permission, provided you meet certain limits and conditions. These typically involve: the dimensions of your proposed extension, the position on the house and the proximity to your boundaries.

Planning permission is needed if more than half the area of land around the ‘original house’ would be covered by additions or other buildings.


Conservatories fall under the same restriction as single storey extensions. As they are typically modest in size, planning permission isn’t needed. It is important to check that you meet Building Regulations and certain planning conditions, for example, that the conservatory does not exceed 50% of the total area of land around the house.


Garages can generally be built in your garden or on land surrounding a home, without the need for planning permission.

However, Building Regulations approval is required for the construction of a garage attached to an existing home, and for converting a garage into habitable use.


Adding a porch to any external door of your house is considered to be permitted development, not requiring an application for planning permission, unless: the porch has a ground area of more than 3 square metres, it’s higher than 3 metres above ground level, or it’s less than 2 metres away from the boundary of a dwelling house with a highway (which includes all public roads, footpaths, bridleways and byways).

Loft conversion

If you’re simply converting it to living spaces then planning permission is not needed. However, if you’re extending or altering the roof space, beyond certain limitations then planning permission does apply. These limitations include a volume allowance of 40 cubic metres additional roof space for terraced houses and 50 cubic metres additional roof space for detached and semi-detached houses.

Roof windows

You don’t need planning permission to install roof windows as long as the new window is no higher than the highest part of the roof, and it does not project more than 150mm from the existing roof plane.

Solar panels

Planning permission is not required, but certain limitations must be met. This includes, for instance, that panels should not be installed above the highest part of the roof (excluding the chimney) and should project no more than 200mm from the roof slope or wall surface.

Windows & Doors

Repairs, maintenance or minor improvements, such as repainting, to windows and door frames don’t require planning permission. The same applies for the insertion of new windows and doors- as long as the appearance of the house isn’t materially altered.

An instance where you might require planning permission is if you’re inserting a new bay window, as this is treated as an extension.

For more detailed information on the above and to find out about other home alterations which don’t require planning permission, you can visit

If you would like to get your project kicked off, Bryburn would be happy to assist. Please feel free to get in touch:


Tel: 02392 893191 or 02392 893193

Or connect with us on Facebook or LinkedIn

[1] Planning applications in England: January to March 2018. Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, June 2018. Available at:


Innovations in the building industry

Technological innovations are transforming the building industry and stretching the boundaries of what is possible in construction. These innovations can, in various ways, improve the aesthetics, quality and scope of projects, as well as having a broader impact on encouraging better, more sustainable, practice.

Here are some of the innovations that made an impact in 2017:

Environmentally friendly asphalt

In recent years, recycled bottles and other single-use plastics have been used in asphalt. In Sydney, recycled printer toner is being incorporated into an environmentally friendly asphalt mix. Other, sustainable, alternatives like algae and cooking oil are also being explored.

3D printing

Two concrete bridges, in Spain and the Netherlands, were constructed on-site using commercial 3D printers last year. The benefits of this method are that fewer resources are needed i.e. structures require only the amount of cement that will be used, require no formwork (lessening waste), and can be built into shapes previously only achievable with extensive CGI work.

Construction-site Robots

Several new applications are being deployed on construction sites, including SAM (Semi-Automated Mason), the bricklaying robotthat works alongside human masons to increase productivity and reduce physical strain on workers. This has the potential to fill in the gaps left by labour shortages.

Virtual Reality (VR) in Preconstruction

VR is being used by developers to review immersive, 3D environments of architectural designs. Using a combination of Building Information Modelling (BIM) technology and VR headsets, those involved in the project i.e. architects, project managers and engineers, can identify design flaws and better map their approach to building it.

Augmented Reality (AR)

This technology is still very much in the development stage, but has the potential to be used on-site as a tool for creating the structure exactly as the design envisioned it by projecting virtual images into the user’s line of sight.

These innovations are becoming more and more applicable and less theoretical. Earlier this year, the government called on the housebuilding industry to embrace the latest innovations to ensure we are “raising the bar on the quality of new homes”. With the aim of delivering 300,000 new homes in England by the mid-2020s, ministers have declared it essential that better quality design is employed.

This should encourage first-time buyers and foster more community support for new build developments. For instance, virtual reality could be used to visualise proposed new housing from the homebuyer or neighbours’ perspectives so “communities will be able to see how development can visually contribute to the area from an early stage, even before planning permission has been granted.”

At Bryburn, we are very keen to see how these latest innovations develop and benefit our industry, and will be keeping our eyes and ears to the ground.


Independent Living for Disabled Young People

Today, we are often hearing how difficult it is for young people to find affordable rents and get on the property ladder, meaning they are having to stay in the family home for much longer. Independent living is even more difficult for young people with disabilities to achieve. Disabled young people have typically had to stay in the family home well into adulthood, relying on their families not only for housing, but often for care too.


Difficulties faced

There are substantial barriers facing young disabled people looking to move into their own home. These include:

  • A shortage of suitable housing, particularly in the private rented sector
  • Suitable housing often only being available in segregated schemes
  • Problems in bringing together housing with the support required
  • A common failure of housing and social services to work together

Due to such barriers, young disabled individuals may find that their only option for leaving their family home is to move into a housing scheme or group home. This means that the decision about where to live is more often determined by which vacancies these services have rather than by the young person’s choice. Schemes which aim to offer a transition to independent living often are unable to achieve this because there is nowhere for the young person to move on to.

Recent investigations have revealed a dire shortage of accessible housing. The Equalities and Human Rights Commission have said 93% of 8.5 million rental properties in the UK were not accessible to the disabled. The 18-month review found 365,000 disabled people were in homes unsuitable for their needs. It was also reported that councils are only requiring approximately 4 in 10 new homes to be accessible and adaptable, while just 5% required developers to construct wheelchair-accessible housing.


Support options available

There are funding options available to help owner occupiers, landlords or private tenants carry out adaptations to homes to make them suitable for disabled living.

If a disabled person has been assessed as needing a small adaptation or equipment that costs less than £1000 to buy and install, the local council must provide this free of charge. Councils can charge for larger, more expensive home adaptations.

If an adaptation that costs more than £1000 is needed, then this may be eligible for a Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG). This is means tested; depending on income and savings, the disabled person may need to pay for some of the work. Dependents (under 18s) can get a grant without their parents’ income being taken into account.

Your local council may also have its own grants or loan schemes for adaptations, repairs and improvements.


VAT Notice 701/7

There are also VAT reliefs available for disabled people. Section 2.4 of VAT Notice 701/7 covers the Goods and Services that are zero-rated.

This includes building works such as:

  • ramps, widening doorways and passages
  • bathrooms, washrooms and lavatories
  • lifts
  • preparatory, restoration and making goods
  • goods supplied in connection with the construction services in previous bullet point
  • grant-funded building work

Other good and services included are: installation of goods, repairs and maintenance of goods, and electrically or mechanically adjustable beds, chair or stair lifts, hoists and lifters, sanitary devices.


Disability Solutions from Bryburn

“We believe those with a disability have the same rights as any other person. The truth is many still face barriers, particularly when it comes to living conditions. We create living spaces that enable independent living, privacy, confidence and dignity for individuals and their families.”

We can assist with:

  • Adaptation of existing residential accommodation
  • Design and construction of new build or refurbishment
  • Professional advice i.e. VAT reliefs

Contact us for more information. We can offer a prompt, caring and sensitive response from trained specialists.


Tel: 02392 893191 or 02392 893193

Or connect with us on Facebook or LinkedIn

A wonderful day at the Kidz to Adultz Exhibition

Who attended?

The Bryburn team consisting of Darren Burnett, Dave Bryant, Justin Woods, Sue Collier and Molly Edwards had a fantastic day at the Kidz to Adultz South Exhibition in Farnborough on Thursday 17th May.

How the day went

After an early start, we arrived at the venue, amazed by the number of exhibitors and wide variety of goods and services on offer.

The visitors to our stand were invited to enter the Bryburn Lego House competition, with the added incentive of free sweets!

Bryburn Limited pride themselves on the personal touch and, speaking to the many visitors, it became clear that these families were very interested in the services we offer. It’s often the case that they are overwhelmed by the process of adaptation or a new build and don’t know where to start, and knowing that we had the resources and skill set to manage a project from start to finish was of great interest.

The winner of the Lego House competition ….

We would also like to announce the lucky winner of our Lego House competition ….. Oliver Porter!

The correct answer was 550, and Oliver was the closest with his fantastic guess of 545.
Congratulations to Oliver, who will receive a £100 gift card, courtesy of Bryburn Disability Solutions.

The day was great fun, and meeting such amazing families was the icing on the cake, we were inspired by all of them!

One little person who made quite an impression on us all was “The Amazing Aiden”. He has his own website and more Twitter and Facebook followers than any of us in the office, including many celebrities! It would be great if we can help to increase those followers for him, as it really means a lot to Aiden and his family.

Thank you all for coming along and visiting us on our stand, we had a fantastic time and were thrilled to have met you.
Hope to see you all again next year!

The work doesn’t stop when the build is complete

Construction is an industry filled with potential missteps and pitfalls. It’s important to be diligent and adhere to vital health and safety and best practise requirements, but attention to detail and due-diligence shouldn’t stop when the build is complete. Providing an aftercare service helps make sure that clients and tenants can continue to enjoy their new space even after the job is done, without having to worry about potential issues. Providing aftercare to a project or development should also be a sense of pride for any construction company worth its salt.

At Bryburn we strive to make sure that we provide the best aftercare possible on our projects. As a business that also works to develop and adapt properties for people with severe disabilities it is even more important that we are on hand to maintain and redevelop our builds when required.

As an example, we were recently appointed to design and construct a disability ramp, complete with safety handrailing, for a wheelchair user to replace an uneven, dangerous and impractical set of steps that were making life extremely difficult for our client.

By working sympathetically with them we were able to come up with a solution that was not only economic, but genuinely enhanced the lifestyle and living environment for the end user.

Below are just a few of the aftercare services and assets that it’s vital to supply to a client post-build.

Multi-Trade skilled operatives

Each build is different, and even post-build a variety of different issues can crop up, from electrical faults to unexpected environmental issues. So, it’s important to have multiple staff and contractors on hand with a wide range of skillsets. You cannot guarantee true aftercare if you do not have a quick, varied and responsive workforce.

At Bryburn we provide a dedicated team of professional multi-trade skilled, fully DBS checked operatives. They’re able to respond to any ongoing maintenance requirements and can efficiently carry out repairs to properties in a quick and timely manner, by working on a variety of issues from lighting/electrical to painting and general upkeep of any build type.

A planned and reactive maintenance service

Sometimes the maintenance required by a client just cannot wait. It could be a dangerous electrical fault or a structural issue that would make the property dangerous to be in. In these circumstances it is vital to provide clients and tenants with a fast and responsive service. Failing to get someone out to fix a fault as soon as possible can in some cases run the risk of the customer being homeless, not to mention hazardous for a business’s reputation.

We offer a range of maintenance services, from a programme of planned and preventative works, to a prompt responsive call out service. We have a dedicated helpdesk that understands and manages any needs that clients may have, and our staff can talk them through the process, give advice and assist in providing the best service suitable for every situation.

Operations and Maintenance training

For any business investing in training is vital to stay ahead of the curve and the construction industry is no different. What is different however, is offering clients training on their new development or adaptation. For a homeowner, tenant or facilities manager, learning the ins and outs of the property and how to use its various components means that they can have almost complete autonomy when living in or using it.

We provide operations and maintenance training to end users, so they can get the best out of the building and systems installed. Our friendly and personal staff will conduct training on the best methods of maintaining their facilities. The aim of the training is to give clients a better understanding of the construction of their property and assess work needed to maintain a healthy environment.

Contact us

Whether the work is planned or reactive, our Small Works and Maintenance teams provide a prompt and professional service to satisfy and exceed our customer expectations. If you would like to discuss further work on your existing Bryburn development or adaptation or would like to make use of our Small Works and Maintenance teams, don’t hesitate to contact us.


Tel: 02392 893191 or 02392 893193

Or connect with us on Facebook or LinkedIn

Review of building regulations and fire safety

In 2016/17, there were a total of 37,718 dwelling fires attended by fire and rescue services in Great Britain[1]. Although occupier behaviour is typically the major reason for fires starting, the design and characteristics of a building will affect the potential for a fire to spread or to be undetected and, therefore, impact on the likelihood of the fire causing harm[2].

Independent review of building regulations and fire safety[3]

In 2017, the government announced an independent review of building regulations and fire safety. This forward-looking independent review, led by Dame Judith Hackitt, Chair of EEF, the Manufacturers’ Organisation, was to look at current building regulations and fire safety with a particular focus on high rise residential buildings. The final report is due this Spring, and it will report jointly to the Communities Secretary Sajid Javid and the former Home Secretary Amber Rudd.

The review was to consider:

  • The regulatory system around design, construction and on-going management in relation to fire safety.
  • Compliance and enforcement issues.
  • International regulation and experience in this area.

In December 2017, the interim report was published, calling for a ‘universal shift in culture’. Its key findings were:

  • A culture change is required – with industry taking greater responsibility for what is built – this change needs to start now.
  • The current system for ensuring fire safety in high-rise buildings is not fit for purpose.
  • A clear, quick and effective route for residents to raise concerns and be listened to, must be created.

This was accompanied with the following statement from Dame Judith Hackitt:

“I have found that the regulatory system for safely designing, constructing and managing buildings is not fit for purpose. The current system is highly complex and there is confusion about the roles and responsibilities at each stage. In many areas there is a lack of competence and accreditation. While this does not mean all buildings are unsafe, it does mean we need to build a more effective system for the future. That is why I am today calling for the construction industry, building owners, regulators and government to come together to identify how to overcome these shortcomings together.”

Bryburn’s Response

At Bryburn, ensuring the comfort and safety of our clients is a key priority. The report’s preliminary findings have challenged our industry to make vital changes in its approach to quality, standards and health and safety.

In line with our commitment to on-site health and safety, we are already committed to ensuring the safety of the homes we build and adapt for our clients. This is particularly imperative due to our work in providing disability solutions. Any impairment of mobility increases vulnerability to fire as it impacts on the ability to, and speed of, escape.2 Therefore, reducing the risk of fires in the homes of vulnerable individuals is of paramount importance.

We are keen to keep abreast of the report’s future findings, and interested to hear of the recommended industry changes.  We are already confident the work we deliver is to a high standard and quality. However, in ensuring we are ready to adhere to any new regulations, we can ensure the homes we build are safe not just for today but for tomorrow.




Homes for everyone

Every homeowner or renter has different requirements, but none are more specific or crucial than those needed for a property with disabled residents.

There is a wide array of different solutions to help people with disabilities get the most out of their homes, but it is important to tailor each home correctly. There is no catch-all solution to create an optimised environment for every disabled homeowner or tenant, so research, expertise, empathy and good old-fashioned understanding are vital for house builders and developers looking to work in this market.

At Bryburn we design and build safe and functional properties for vulnerable individuals designed to enhance their living environment and improve their quality of life.
Below are just a few of the things we believe are vital when building or adapting specialist properties for people with disabilities.

Empathy and experience

Disabilities come in a wide variety of forms and understanding the needs and issues each can bring when planning a build or adaptation is extremely important. Our approved and experienced builders understand the variety of challenges those with disabilities can have and will tailor an approach to each build situation to meet their individual needs.

It is also vital for us to be ever mindful that in some instances we are dealing with people who are no longer able to manage their own affairs and welfare, so we always make sure to respond to our clients immediately and communicate openly and regularly with them, their families and carers.

Prepare for new technology

We have over 30 years of experience in the construction industry but as with any large business sector there is a constant influx of new technology. Whether it is the latest in accessibility tech or new top of the line supportive equipment, keeping up with the latest technologies and systems means we can deliver clients the best possible lifestyle in their own home.

Tried and tested methods are also important to successful builds and conversions, but we go out of our way to understand and consider new technologies to see if they can offer an even better alternative.

Being mindful of budgets

Building or converting any property can be very costly to the client but doing so to fit the needs of a severely disabled person can be even more so. Although we are a business, we are always conscious of our client’s budgets and will do everything in our power to keep the build within them without sacrificing features and quality.

One way we have helped clients keep within their budget in the past is by providing our advice and expertise on VAT relief applicable under VAT Notice 701/7, which means that goods required for building work for disabled people accrue zero VAT payable by them. This advice, along with exploring value engineering options designed to reduce the capital cost, whilst still maintaining the all-important quality and functionality of the property, meant we were able to deliver a quality project that was ahead of programme, within budget and exceeded all our client’s expectations.

Consider carers too

When funds are limited, essential adaptations to make homes safe, comfortable and practical for people with disabilities must come first, which means that often the needs of the carers can become secondary, even when they are the ones making important decisions and providing essential care. It is so important for carers to live in an environment that also meets their own needs so that they can have the motivation and energy to provide the best care for their dependents they possibly can.

Statistically 1 in 10 people in the UK act as unpaid carers, typically caring for a close friend of family member and around 1.25 million work over 50 hours a week providing unpaid care. So, whether it is something simple like keeping some worktops at standard height in a home designed for a wheelchair user (to prevent the carer from constantly stooping), or a larger issue like installing hoists or a stairlift to reduce the physical strain of having to lift or carry the patient, carers’ needs must be met as part of adapting the family home.

Get in touch

We work on disability solutions projects of every size, from minor alterations to make an existing home more accessible, to the design and construction of brand new specialised residential accommodation. Our experience covers the full range of building and maintenance work, including but not limited to:

• Installing equipment and specialist adaptations
• Extensions and loft conversions
• External adaptations
• Internal conversions and renovations
• New build and redevelopment work
• Project management
• Sourcing a site or property
• Feasibility studies
• Comprehensive design and planning service
• Acquiring planning permission
• Advice of the application of VAT Notice 701/17 and VAT relief
• Liaising with Court of Protection case officers

If you need help with any of the above or have any questions on disability solutions adaptation and construction, please do not hesitate to get in touch.


Tel: 02392 893191 or 02392 893193

Or connect with us on Facebook or LinkedIn

Specialist garage conversion – now completed


The project comprised of a single storey extension providing a re-modelled ground floor layout to improve the family’s current lifestyle.

We are delighted to announce that the work is now complete and we have received some excellent feedback from the client on this project.

“Everything looks fantastic so far and we can’t wait to see the finished result! I would like to mention how pleased we are with all your staff and contractors. They have all been so friendly and professional. It is often my parents or in-laws are in the house looking after the children, and having been through works like this previously they have all commented on how impressed they are with your workers and on how it has been so stress free for us.

We really can’t thank you enough for that.”