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  • Writer's pictureMillen Homes

Traditional or Modern House Design?

Updated: Mar 29, 2023

Our little space on the internet to discuss all things design and planning related.


Here goes... our first EVER post:



As a Team we thought it would be fun (and hopefully a little informative) to talk over in more detail, some of the planning and design issues we come up against in our line of work. We appreciate that to some of you this might be where you clock out, but to us the constant problem solving and thrashing out of creative ways to overcome planning issues is what drives us! (yes, we are a little obsessed 🤪).


We're sure most of you have had your own personal journey working with the planning department in your local council for any renovation works to your house, extensions etc.. so you may have an idea or some experience with the planning system already.


At Millen we feel it's important to build a relationship with each council and work together to provide developments that enhance the local community and help meet local and national housing needs... Oh! And we aim to deliver it in a way that promotes sustainable processes and materials. This in itself proposes its own challenges as some councils are far more open minded and easier to work with than others on innovative design (no mud slinging any names from us…).


There are a lot of other elements we firstly take into consideration when designing a scheme; the size of the plot, the surrounding area, the existing density and average plot size, types of houses in the vicinity, the specific council and their housing demands/needs… you get the gist, there’s a few. We then take a view as to how to divide up the land to satisfy the above and what design will give it the best chance at planning.


Which brings me on to what we'd like to talk about first: traditional or modern house design?


We appreciate this is a very personal preference, however our initial designs have a tendency to lean towards a more modern aesthetic, but why? This is not purely down to the look, but more about the sustainable benefits of building these more contemporary houses.

Where once a need for steep roof pitches and lintels were necessary to ensure adequate removal of water and prevention of leaks in our homes, this just isn’t the case anymore, not now that flat roof systems are so effective at the same thing. A firm favourite of ours is incorporating a flat podium to accommodate a beautiful living roof of sedum and wild flowers and the many benefits this brings to a new build by promoting biodiversity, insulation, offsetting carbon and not to mention the dreaminess of how they look.


So why a tendency for our designs to be modern?

Our modern designs are predominantly driven by these improvements and evolvements (which are still constantly changing and adapting) in the sustainable technologies. This has opened up exciting opportunities to come up with new and original eco-friendly house designs and build methods.


But there is a lot more to "sustainability" than simply building modern and to be honest it's very hard to quantify the level of "sustainability" of a design. However these are some of the factors we take into account:

  • Often over looked can be the significance of the speed at which houses are erected. Simple designs or modular units can go up extremely quickly which minimises the need of construction vehicles therefore reducing carbon emissions.

  • Energy efficiency (which is measurable) and sources of energy are top of our priority. We find these are often better suited to a more modern appearance (again our opinion). Construction systems such as SIPS or ICF are quick to erect and have a high energy efficiency.

  • The orientation and location of our houses is decided on to maximise solar energy. Solar panels are much more discrete on a flat roof and easier to orientate correctly.

  • Since the advance in triple glazing, large expanses of glass in construction have seen a huge increase. We also love it for the added perk of maximizing the health and wellbeing benefits of flooding the house with an abundance of natural light internally.

Adopting these technologies in unison should result in a lower cost of living for the home owner, relying less on main power supplies = lower energy bills.


We are unfortunately, however, finding a resistance from some councils to support super sustainable building designs with a preference for something more traditional and in keeping with the existing street scene. Part of the process we thrive on is coming up with creative strategies and design solutions to overcome these hurdles whilst not overly compromising on the sustainability credentials of our designs. Where possible we specify eco-friendly materials available to us and energy sources that are delivered in a more "classic" style.


We personally LOVE some of the more traditional design features found on classical buildings and find the intricate details add depth and character to a home which makes them very desirable still. Where it makes sense to add these into a house design, we try to do so in a way that integrates effortlessly and seamlessly.


To round up


Whilst confidence in sustainable technologies increases, we are happy finding that middle ground that compromises between both traditional and modern house design; a stepping stone to fully embracing and promoting sustainable living for all. This falls in line with our mission to create, provide and deliver homes that benefit people and the planet.


The Team at Millen are always happy to help with any planning questions, issues or queries you may have so feel free to just ping us an email to say hi or give us a call.


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