'Formulating a brief with a client can be a really interesting journey,' says Dennis Hellyar. 'We seek to tease out what clients need, in place of what they want. The difference can be transformational!' Balancing sustainable design, a network of great builders and client budgets, Dennis takes his 20 years’ experience in architectural practice and applies it to your home, large or small. Whatever your project, he will guide you each step of
What does your business offer?
Quality architecture and quality design with sustainability at the core. I’ll work with you personally throughout your project, from helping you see the full potential of what you can do all the way to taking care of the small things that can save you money.
What are your values?
Sustainability, value and appropriateness. We’ll look at your budget and give as much as we can for as little as you can. We try to unlock aspiration and work with clients to create a design that is good for them and good for their community. People get a lot more than they bargained for when they work with us.
Tell me about a project you’re proud of.
We recently made a 1.2m extension to my neighbour’s house. It didn’t cost a lot, but created a little more space and made the tiny kitchen into something more usable. We look closely at everything, for example using a lot of glass on one wall to create the illusion of more space. It was north facing so it wouldn't overheat. We chose builders who would look at the innovative design and understand it. This helped us give a better price and listen to the builders’ suggestions, taking these back to the client and working back on their plans to save money. The house wasn’t a big statement, but it captures all our values.
How has your business changed and learnt over time?
We’ve made a transition from conventional Computer Aided Design (CAD) drawing to Building Information Modelling (BIM). This means we can take you on a virtual reality tour of your house design. Many big architectural firms don’t do this, but we want to give people a closer idea of what they’re going to get.
We’re growing and I’m conscious we need to have the right people. We want to maintain a humbleness about things. I can’t know everything though, so I always ask my team for their ideas. At the end of the day I need to believe in it, but everyone gets their say.
What's your local tip for working on your home in Cardiff?
Use brick and be imaginative with it. There are really good bricks available – I get Brian Carroll from Granite Brick involved in all I do. Wood is good, but use it properly. We use cedar as long as it’s not in the sun. If you leave wood in the sun it goes black. Above all know your materials.
Larch cladding detail from steel and timber frame, eco-sustainable house, St. Mellons, Cardiff
Hybrid steel and concrete house, Ogmore
Past customers say:
"Dennis managed to develop a vision for the extension and remodelling of part of our house that we would never have dreamt up without him. He took our basic ideas and practical requirements and fitted everything we wanted into a beautiful, clean, open space."
"[Dennis] delivered an inspired design that lifts and complements the house, was patient as I changed my mind!, overcame planning obstacles, worked with the builders to resolve issues and delivered a brilliant garage that exceeded expectation. He is a total professional and very nice person to work with!"
"Dennis listened to our aspirations for the new kitchen-diner we wanted to create. [...] Now that it's complete we spend a lot of time in the new room, delighting in the layout, space and especially the light and warmth. We are thrilled with the result."