Architect and
Self Build Coach

protaHOMES was founded by Architect and Self Build Coach, Oliver Murray, with the mission of making the process of building your own home easier and more accessible. To that end we provide Self Build Coaching  alongside our Architectural Services to help our clients progress through their self build journeys with clarity and confidence. If you are considering embarking on a Self Build, we invite you to book a free Getting Started Consultation.

protaHOMES is a Cambridge-based Architectural Practice and Consultancy that specialises in High Performance Self Build Homes.

High Performance

By ‘high performance’, we mean homes that are designed and specified to meet the rigorous performance criteria of the Passivhaus Building Standard, and which deliver high standards of comfort and health for their inhabitants, whilst also being good for the environment. If you are unfamiliar with Passivhaus, or unclear regarding the benefits, we invite you to download our Passivhaus Infosheet which on a single page describes the key principles, features, advantages, and benefits.

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Self Build

By ‘self build’, we mean that we work with people who want to commission the design and construction of their own home, and who are therefore inherently interested and invested in creating homes that are both beautiful and functional. We know that while many people would like to build their own home, they never take that first step, simply because they don’t know where to start. It is for this reason that we created the Self Build Starter Pack, with a selection of simple worksheets to help aspiring self builders get started with their self build journey.

Homes

As highlighted by the name of our practice, we are specialists in homes. protaHOMES was founded to help people create homes that delight and enhance their quality of life. Please feel free to check out a selection of some of our projects by clicking the button below. 

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How to get started with your high performance self build

Step 1: Download our Brief Worksheet

One of the most important things one can do when embarking on a self build project is to spend an adequate amount of time to develop a good project brief. This should be a written document that you can share with the key stakeholders involved in the project. In other words, something akin to a manifesto that clearly communicates who you are, what you are trying to achieve with the project, what your priorities are, and ultimately what you will need to see and feel when you are living in your new home to know it has been a success. We have developed a one-page Brief Worksheet with 8 simple but powerful questions to help you write a first draft of your project brief, something which helps you get your thoughts down on page and which can be developed further at a later stage. 

Step 2: Book a Getting Started Consultation

Our Getting Started Consultation is a 45 minute online video call during which you will have a chance to speak directly with Architect and Self Build CoachOliver Murray about your self build aspirations and how you can get started. To get the most out of this consultation we ask that you send us your completed brief worksheet ahead of the call. In return we will share with you our full Brief Development Form, a longer questionnaire with our 70 questions to help you develop a more detailed project brief. In addition to your brief, we will also discuss other necessary considerations when embarking on self build project, and if applicable, we will help you develop a one-page action plan setting out your next steps.

Step 3: Sign up for Clarity Review

Our Clarity Review pre-design service is a low-commitment consultation we offer all prospective clients before we provide a proposal for our full architectural service and before we start work on design. For us as architects, our Clarity Review is an absolutely crucial first stage of our process, as it enables us to really get to know our clients, and their requirements and aspirations, before we start designing their homes. To use a medical analogy, it enables us properly diagnose the problem so that we can confidently prescribe a solution. For our clients, the service is designed to help you define your destination and map out your journey, including estimated timescales and costs, so that you can embark on your self build journey with clarity and confidence.

Featured In

"How to claim your right to build"

Finding a plot, and getting planning permission to build on that plot, has for a long time been the most significant roadblock preventing people from pursuing and realising their self build dreams, however a number of recent planning appeal decisions have opened up a new route for you to claim your right to build.

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Architect and Self Build Coach, Oliver Murray, giving a talk at Grand Designs Live on the subject of "How to claim your right to build".
Family Photo
Architect and Self Build Coach, Oliver Murray pictured with his family on a plot of land that they hope to self build a Passivhaus on one day. Photo by Akira Suemori.

"Why is it so hard to build your own home"

The Times article describes Architect and Self Build Coach, Oliver Murray’s own fight with the planning system in relation to his own self build aspirations – a contemporary Passivhaus in the Green Belt. In relation to a question over the public benefit of a single self build dwelling, Oliver is quoted explaining that “the cumulative benefit of 100 self-builds is just as significant as 100 developer homes".

"New interactive map could ease plot-hunting process"

Our Custom Build Map was the headline feature in the INSIGHT section of the September 2023 issue of Homebuilding & Renovating Magazine. Custom Build is a form of housing procurement where a developer facilitates the involvement of future owner occupiers in the design and construction of their own home. As the Custom Build movement grows, we decided to create a map to track the number of developments and plots being brought forward through out the UK.

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Extract from the September 2023 issue of Homebuilding & Renovating Magazine.
Extract from the August 2023 Issue of Built It Magazine. Image is of a completed custom build scheme in Norfolk by LIVEDIN Custom Build.

"What is Custom Build?"

In a comprehensive article in the August 2023 issue of Built It Magazine [now incorporating Self Build & Design] discussing the benefits of custom build, our Custom Build Map is featured in a section titled "Finding a Custom Build Plot". 

Multi-Plot Self Build Development in Kent

Are you looking for a self build plot? Orchard Farm is a unique multi-plot self build development in Kent where you can purchase a serviced plot with planning permission on which to build your own home alongside a community of other self builders. We are part of a network of experts available to help self builders realise their dreams at Orchard Farm.

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Site Plan showing 25 plots in Phase 1
New Hope for Self Builders
Extract from October 2023 issue of Grand Design Magazine

Right to Build Article

Architect and Self Build Coach, Oliver Murray, wrote an article for the October 2023 issue of Grand Designs Magazine in which he explains that where your local authority is failing to meet its duty under the Right to Build legislation, this is a material consideration that could weigh in favour of your self-build planning application.

Resources

Self Build Starter Pack

We know that while many people would like to build their own home, they never take that first step, simply because they don’t know where to start. It is for this reason that we created the Self Build Starter Pack.

Passivhaus Infosheet

If you are unfamiliar with Passivhaus, or unclear regarding the benefits, we invite you to download our Passivhaus Infosheet which on a single page describes the key principles, features, advantages, and benefits.

Newsletter

We invite you to subscribe to our Newsletter in which we share our research and insights relating to high performance self build homes, as well as news and other information relating to new resources and events. 

Facebook Group

After being unable to find a Facebook group focused on high performance self build homes in the UK, we created one imaginatively called High Performance Self Build Homes UK. We invite you to join and interact with the other self builders and industry professionals.

RIBA Chartered Practice Logo

Passivhaus-Trust

Supporting custom and self build