Building Design Advice: Mark Wilson

Mark Wilson MCIAT - Biography:Mark Wilson Pic

Mark Wilson is a Chartered Architectural Technologist and practitioner in architectural and building design solutions. He practices with a passion for building design technology and innovation that is affecting the construction industry now and into its future.

Having developed a comprehensive understanding of design for construction, he has a practical and flexible approach to building design problems. Over the past 34 years, he has gained his working knowledge with building contractors, property developers and in private practice. Mark is now principal at Design Office Architectural Ltd, a building design practice based in Leeds, which has operated successfully over the past 13 years. Although his experience embraces many areas of architecture and construction, his specialist skills lie in design for retro-fit, as well as new build and the application of current and appropriate technology at all levels.

He has created and developed the BuildingDesignExpert.com website as a free information hub, providing a one-stop-shop to enhance the knowledge base of the construction professional and earnest DIYer. BDE-LogoIt provides visitors with a broad range of useful resources, including a high quality and informative weekly construction related blog, coordinated construction events calendar, building products search pages and much, much more.

Mark regularly presents on behalf of the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists on a range of profession related subjects, and is shortly to be published in the Journal of Survey, Appraisal & Valuation, with an article entitled "Insulation: What to Specify and Why".

DISCLAIMER: Answers to questions posted on the 'Ask the Building Design Expert' feature are made on a best endeavours basis and can only be based upon the information provided in the question. The questioner should use answers given as a guide, and always seek further qualified professional verification prior to carrying out any works. The Building Design Expert feature provides free advice to members of the public via the 'Ken's Yard' web site only, and is not able to enter into correspondence over matters raised.


In your experience, what is the most common mistake people make when designing their home? Catherine Gaines, Kent

Hello Catherine,

In considering your self build project, this is potentially the biggest undertaking of your life and so naturally you want to get it right. Not only right, but right for you. Most self builders work to a tight budget, and will look to try and save money where ever they can. Having made the decision to embark down the 'self-build' road....

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What do you think are the best and most effective environmental features to consider when designing your own home? Eleanor Parker, Edinburgh

Hello Eleanor,

Everyone has their own personal agenda when it comes to environmental issues. For me the one very near the top of the list is reducing energy use in your new home. The most cost effective way to do this is to 'super insulate'. That is insulate way above the minimum requirements laid down under the Building Regulations Part L. This is your one opportunity to....
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Submit Your Own Question for Mark here

When considering an attic conversion, do I have to use steel beams or not? Des

Hello Des,

Steel is an inherently stronger material than timber, and so is able to span greater distances - i.e. the length of the beam can be longer between supports - whilst carrying the same load...
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Discovered empty cavity between ourselves and a terraced neighbour. Already halfway through the build, is there anything we can blow into the cavity to use as sound insualtion? Sue Watson

Hello Sue,

Your only option to fill the entire cavity, is to use a blown fibre insulation. But beware this is not a DIY job, and must be carried out by a specialist installer. The installation of this material (which is very akin to mineral wool loft insulation that you can buy anywhere) will have a limited effect upon reducing sound transmittance...
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Can I Render on OSB Board Using Fibreglass Mesh? David Robertson

Hello David,

Sorry, glass fibre mesh is quite unsuitable for this application. The OSB board should be fine, as long as it is fixed to a suitable support frame. It should also be dry and at least 15mm thick, preferably 18mm...
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Can a beginnier with some DIY experience install electric under floor heating including the tiling? Mike Hutton

Hello Mike,

The tiling? - No problem. The electric underfloor heating is another ball game...
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What Sort of Construction will be Needed for Earth Bound Walls of a Garage? Julius Joseph

Hello Julius,

What you describe is a major structural issue, and clearly you recognise that there may be some requirement to increase the wall retaining strength due to the pressures exerted upon it...
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I have huge oak beams supporting the roof of my extension. Due to movement they are creating big cracks, 1/2 inch in width. How can I remedy this? Win Everleigh

Hello Win,

What you describe in terms of 1/2 inch wide cracks, is most concerning. You should contact a Chartered Architectural Technologist, or structural engineer without further delay. The cause of the cracking...
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I'm installing 4 soil stacks into my new build. With each of these can I simply put a 4" AAV near the top of the pipework to allow air to enter the system, rather than run the pipework up and out of the roof with a normal vent? Adam Thwaites

Hello Adam,

A good rule of thumb was always that the head of the drain run must be ventilated 'naturally' i.e. not an AAV in sight. The remainder may be fitted with AAVs, but it will be dependent upon their proximity...
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What cost per cubic metre should I budget for when building from scratch? Andy Welton



Hello Andy,

This is the classic how long is a piece off string question, if only because the key issues are so variable. Your costs will generally depend upon 2 factors...
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How Do You Stop Salt Coming Through Newly Plastered Walls? Thanks, Richard Taylor



Hello Richard,

The problem of mineral salts can, as it seems you are finding, plague some interior finishes. There are a couple of possibilities...
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