Rightmove chats to Charlie Luxton and 241 tickets to Grand Designs Live

To celebrate next month’s Grand Designs Live at Excel London, Rightmove sat down with architect and TV presenter, Charlie Luxton, to discuss what sustainable building means to him.

Don’t miss our 241 offer code below for tickets to Grand Designs Live at ExCel London 3rd-11th May.

What is sustainable building and what does it mean in today’s new homes?

Well there are two aspects to sustainable building.

One is to do with energy consumption and really reducing energy consumption so that you’re using less resources to keep warm and service the house. That obviously has a benefit that your reducing the usage generally of fossil fuels, but also there is another thing that goes on with very low energy buildings which is that when a house is not losing heat (i.e fully insulated and air tight) they are just far more comfortable to be in because you don’t get temperature variations and cold drafts, you don’t get that cold room that no one likes to go in to.

So it’s not just about sustainability, a big capitally environment, it’s also about your local environment being nicer place to be, that’s really a luxury rather than a surround sound system. You know just being really warm in a nice house.

Secondly, there is an idea around trying to use materials that are more sustainable, things that have less impact on the planet. So weather that’s wood fibre insulation or more sustainable hard wood and wood sourcing. That obviously has an effect on deforestation and unsustainable mining techniques.

But also making the internal environment a healthier place, less volatile compounds and basically less toxins from the kind of materials we’re putting in the home.

Given the fact we spend 90% of our time indoors, having a healthy home environment is absolutely key.

We’ve noticed more and more conversions (office, church, factory etc.) on Rightmove recently, are you a fan of recycling homes or do you prefer starting from scratch?

I think the whole idea that the planning system controls what can or cannot be a house is kind of bonkers.

I think there is a slight issue around open countryside and the way in which buildings are built and then converted needs to be dealt with. But the idea that you can’t convert an office in to a bunch of flats because there should be employment there, is kind of a bit odd!

It’s kind of a bit Big Brother-ish, and actually, that mode of control is outdated and we have just got to accept that people will build where we need to build.

We’ve got such a housing crisis that we need to be as inventive as we can.

EPC, why is it so important for a buyer? What are the risks of not looking?

Think about cars… 10 or 15 years ago no one knew what the petrol/fuel consumption of their car was. They just didn’t have a clue, but now everyone knows because it’s become an increasingly important thing.

EPC is effectively like the MPG for your house.

To actually understand how much it’s going to cost you to keep that house warm and run it is vital when you come to buy somewhere, because that really impacts on your disposable income and what you can afford to pay for your mortgage.

Now arguably, as the EPC market matures then mortgage companies should look at what a house costs to run. So if it’s really cheap to run, then you can borrow more to buy it because you are not going to be spending on heating it, which is better for everyone, because it means we can invest more money in our houses to make them low energy. Low energy houses benefit everyone and therefore we’re not as reliant on other countries.

The idea that we understand what energy a house uses is absolutely fundamental to the maturing of the housing market.

Tell us about your dream home or project?

I want to build a new house for me and my family to live in. We live in a listed Cotswold cottage and we want to try something new; the energy consumption could be so much lower, but that’s not easy to do.

I have just converted a barn down on the Cornish coast which is probably my dream project because it’s about five minutes from some fantastic waves.

Is there such a thing as a sustainable make-over for the average household?

Absolutely, you can make a household very low energy. Its pretty fundamental and whilst some reckon it costs about 40,000 – 60,000 quid just too really dive the energy bills down on a house, in reality that doesn’t make sense unless it’s on the long term.

People don’t look at what the payback is on a new kitchen is, they just say I want a new kitchen because it’s really nice. What increasingly needs to happen is for people to want to live in a sustainable house because it’s really nice. It’s much more comfortable.

Do you think sustainability can compromise design and where is the balance?

I think it’s really difficult. As an architect, we firmly model everything so we know what the implications of our design decisions are and we can start to weigh up the pros and cons. The size of a window here or the size of a window there.

The key is to understand the implications of your designs. These ideas of super glassy houses with loads of north facing glass, they are just not going to be very usable, yes they look good but ascetics is only part of architecture.

However, an extreme alternative to that is basically a black box with no windows that’s super insulated, and I don’t want to live in that either.

Architecture is the art of skilful compromise, and sustainability is clearly just a part of that endless juggling and balancing.

Do you use Rightmove and what do you use it for?

Yes. We need to move at some point so we look at what is going on in the market, where we might want to move next, work out where we can afford to go next, working out what we could buy or for the perfect plot!

As an ambassador for Grand Designs Live, what are your tips for anyone planning to attend?

Bring comfortable shoes – ITS BIG!

To begin with, go and see everything you intend on seeing early on because you can get exhausted. There is loads to see, there’s lots of great talks, there’s so much going on, lots of stuff on display. But you need to keep a lid on it or you’ll be exhausted and not be halfway round.

So tips for Grand Designs London?

Comfortable shoes and a plan!

With areas dedicated to interiors, technology, kitchens, bathrooms, build and gardens, inspiration starts with a visit to Grand Designs Live at the ExCel London, 3-11 May 2014.

Book 2 for 1 tickets now! We have teamed up with show organisers and have a great 2 for 1 ticket offer for you – get two weekday tickets for just £16 or two weekend tickets for just £19. To book visit www.granddesignslive.com or call call 0844 854 1348 and quote RMOVE14.

*Transaction fee of £1.70 applies per order. Tickets must be booked in advance. Offer ends 11th May 2014. Offer valid on standard admission tickets only. Saving based on the door rate.

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