Tim Offer Architects
PL21 9PU

01752 878 986

  • TOA is an award winning RIBA Chartered Practice based on the edge of Dartmoor in the South Hams, Devon.  We specialise in low energy residential design and are Certified Passivhaus designers.  We provide high quality and sustainable architecture together with a bespoke and personal service.


    “His attention to detail was impressive, ensuring the delivery of the house for which we hoped. An extremely professional, responsive and friendly service.” Ian, Palgrave

  • Tim Offer Architects is an award-winning architecture studio based on the edge of Dartmoor in South Devon. We are also a certified Passive House designer.  Our work strives to create beautiful and unique settings that elevate the everyday. The practice aims to provide high quality and sustainable architecture together with a bespoke and personal service.

    Every project is approached in a collaborative way, looking for the connections and relationships that will be central to its success. We enjoy getting to know our clients and forming lasting relationships that ensure that solutions are tailored to their needs.

    Our ambition is to craft the extraordinary out of the everyday; to create settings that belong in their surroundings and are enriching to those that encounter them. Using natural materials, our approach is developed through making and enjoying the construction process. Research and reflection also inform a thorough design process that produces specific and responsive solutions that fit easily in their context. We want our buildings to communicate something of the situations in which they exist.

    A full range of architectural services can be provided, from initial briefing through to completion. We have particular expertise in sustainable contemporary residential design, including new dwellings, extensions, alterations and conversions, frequently working with listed and historic buildings in conservation areas, the National Park and AONBs. We aim to make the process of construction as enjoyable and stress free as possible, and our services can be tailored to the particular needs and budget of each project.

    Tim Offer Architects are an RIBA Chartered Practice, are registered with the Architects Registration Board (ARB) and are members of the Association for Environmentally Conscious Building (AECB).  Tim Offer is also a certified Passive House designer.

  • Our aim is to craft the extraordinary out of the everyday. Each of our projects is informed by our understanding that our work is a backdrop to life. It is informed by the people, the activities, the experiences and interactions that will happen there. Our focus is on allowing these experiences to come into being – on creating a sense of belonging. By spending time and forming close relationships with our clients we can ensure that these are central to the design process and solutions.

    This belonging is also enabled through an understanding of the local context – orientation, aspect, view, materiality and form. Not imitating the context but learning from it – what has shaped it and made it particular. Research into the local situation ensures that proposals fit into and contribute to their setting.

    A respect for context is also at the heart of a sustainable design approach – minimising impact and maximising passive benefits, while using local materials and expertise to root a project in its place. By working with the local environment solutions can be developed that minimise energy requirements.

    To turn a house into a home emotion and experience need to be added. This comes from strong client relationships and reading between the lines of a brief to reveal hidden opportunities. We add value through our creative thinking.

    Through manipulation of material, aspect, connections and view we can create uplifting and appropriate settings that enrich experience and exceed client expectations.

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  • Sustainability is rooted in our design approach from the earliest appraisal of a project or a site. We look to passive solutions to reduce the impact of our designs by harnessing the qualities of material and environment.  Tim is a certified Passive House designer, registered with the Passivhaus Institute.

    First we aim to minimize energy usage – through careful placement and orientation and through the design of the building fabric. Next we look to passive solutions for heating and cooling – harnessing solar energy and natural ventilation. Only after this do we look at meeting the remaining energy requirements, where possible suggesting renewable technologies to meet these needs.

    We are members of the Association for Environmentally Conscious Building (AECB) and hope that the principles that underpin our work will also encourage and enable more sustainable lifestyles.

    See Passive House Devon for more information about Passive House.

    Stackyard (Millway) was the winner of the RIBA East Sustainability Prize 2015:
    ‘… the designed principles of the PassivHaus are to be commended. But it is also the timber primary structure which is exposed internally, the airtightness, solar thermal collectors, solar photovoltaic cells and rainwater harvesting with careful consideration to the choice of material in construction, in use and end of life…’
    RIBA Awards Judges

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  • Understanding our clients and their needs – beyond what is written in the brief – is central to our approach.  This allows us to find unexpected opportunities and solutions. The process of creating a project is key to its success, through dialogue and collaboration.

    We pride ourselves on the quality of our service and believe that we stand out for the exemplary nature of our approach and outputs. Each project is questioned from first principles and emerges through collaboration with clients and other stakeholders, ensuring that it addresses clear needs and aspirations in an intelligent and creative way.

    Initial ideas are drawn and modelled to stimulate discussion and to draw in other members of the team. Through research and dialogue our projects are enriched and honed, with drawings and models the key tools of development and communication alongside reports, specifications, visualisations and diagrams.

    From the earliest ideas our projects are driven by principles of passive design. These maximise the positive benefits of orientation and fabric, minimising energy use and creating a comfortable environment.

    This thorough approach ensures that we can maximise value by identifying problems and their most effective resolution, focusing expenditure to where it is needed most. It also means that others who are involved in the process have the information that they need to make clear and effective decisions.

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  • Our workstages loosely follow the RIBA plan of work, but have been adapted to the major project milestones:

    Stage 1-2: Briefing, Initial Proposals

    Each project starts with the gathering of information. A thorough briefing process is the most important stage of any job to ensure that the right questions are being asked and that the solutions will address the needs of the project.

    At this stage a full survey will be undertaken, and we will engage in a number of conversations to establish what the needs and aspirations of the project are. This often results in questioning and putting aside initial assumptions. You will also need to develop your own ideas for the project – how you imagine you will use the spaces and what they might look and feel like.

    The initial brief is then developed into ideas and concept proposals through sketches and models. At this stage we also consider basic constructional and environmental concerns. There may be a number of options or variations that reflect different solutions to the problem.

    The major output of stage 2 is a report that brings all of these options and details together for discussion, and agreement for how to move forwards.

    Stage 3: Design Development, Planning

    Stage 3 takes the initial proposals and develops these into a coherent design ready for a planning application where required. Drawings, models and reports bring together all of the information and develop the proposal ready for submission. Careful research is also undertaken into the planning context and history.

    We are meticulous about the information that we submit, using a number of methods to best describe the scheme. We have experience of making successful applications in conservation areas and to listed buildings, within the national park and areas of outstanding natural beauty and have been praised for the thorough and comprehensive quality of our applications and our conduct throughout the process.

    Even where planning is not required, this stage is an important phase of development of the project from the initial proposals ready for detailed and technical design.

    The major output of stage 3 is a planning submission to the local authority.

    Stage 4: Detailed Design, Building Regulations, Technical Design

    When planning permission is granted, the next steps are to develop the technical information of how the project will be built. Stages 4 can be split depending on the service to be provided.

    At stage 4 other consultants such as structural engineers become more involved and the building fabric and performance are developed and finalised.

    A simplified stage 4a develops the scheme ready for a building regulations submission.

    Stage 4b develops this information into a full set of details and specifications for contractors to prepare full tenders. At this stage all of the final decisions on materials and products will be made and the way that elements come together finalised.  A full set of detailed designs means that you know what is being priced, and that you can compare prices accurately.

    The major output of stage 4 is a tender submission to a number of builders to get accurate quotes for the work.

    Stage 5: Tender Documentation, Construction, Contract Administration

    Following the selection of a contractor, construction can start.

    All of the construction information, details and specifications are brought together, and a contract formed between you and the contractor. This will set out exactly what is to be built, how much this will cost, and how long it will take.

    Throughout the construction phase we act as contract administrator, checking progress and quality of work, responding to queries and requests for information, and monitoring the financial aspects of the project.

    We will visit site regularly through this stage, and at practical completion will gather information and inspect the work ready for handover. After you have moved in we will assist in coordinating any further work that is required and settling the final accounts, as well as helping you to get to know your new building.

    Stage 1: Briefing, Initial Proposals [continue reading]

    Stage 2: Design Development, Planning [continue reading]

    Stage 3: Detailed Design, Building Regulations [continue reading]

    Stage 4:Technical Design, Tender Documentation [continue reading]

    Stage 5: Construction, Contract Administration [continue reading]

  • Much of our work involves historic structures and their reuse or adaptation.  This often involves the careful balance of many, often conflicting, influences. We have a wealth of experience working on listed buildings and in conservation areas, as well as in the National Park and in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

    To achieve this, we work closely with planners and conservation officers to develop proposals that are appropriate to their setting.

    All of our work starts with careful analysis and research. We look to understand the existing pattern of development and site conditions, to identify opportunities and constraints and to ensure that any interventions are rooted in the particular qualities of a specific place.

    This understanding allows us to develop designs that complement the historic structures or landscape in which they sit. This does not mean copying the existing condition, although this may sometimes be appropriate. By looking to the materials, forms, layout and evolution of the existing condition we can propose solutions that build on these elements.

    Our aim is to allow evolution to occur, while respecting the existing condition. We want our buildings to enable new situations to come into being through use and interaction – by designing in flexibility and building well, a building may enjoy a number of lives.

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  • 2022 Great British Architects Awards – Devon Leaders in Sustainable Residential Architecture

    2022 Build Home and Garden Awards – Devon Contemporary Architecture Studio

    2020 Daily Telegraph Homebuilding and Renovating Home of the Year, Best Extension – Lutterburn, South Hams

    2020 Galvanizers Association National Architecture Awards Shortlist – Lutterburn, South Hams

    2020 Design and Build Awards – Specialists in Residential Design, Devon

    2019 Build Ones to Watch

    2019 Galvanizers Association National Architecture Awards Shortlist – The Square, Plymouth

    2019 Build Architecture Awards – Devon Residential Architect

    2018 Build Architectural Innovation Awards – Contemporary Residential Architect

    2018 Build Architecture Award – The Square, Plymouth

    2018 LABC Southwest Building Excellence Awards Shortlist – The Square, Plymouth

    2017 Build Architecture Award – Church Road, Wembury

    2017 SME News SW Enterprise Awards – Architecture Design Firm

    2017 Build Architecture Awards – Devon Residential Architect

    2015 RIBA House of the Year Longlist – Millway, Suffolk

    2015 RIBA East Client of the Year – Millway, Suffolk

    2015 RIBA East Sustainability Award – Millway, Suffolk

    2015 RIBA East Award – Millway, Suffolk

    2014 Ideal Home Best House – Millway, Suffolk

    2013 LABC East Anglia Finalist – Jesus, Cambridge

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  • Tim Offer MA(Cantab) MArch RIBA

    Tim Offer returned home to Devon in 2012.  Prior to this Tim was a senior architect at Mole Architects in Cambridge where he was project architect for the award winning Stackyard house. He also previously worked at Studio Partington on the Award winning Derwenthorpe project and also at Foster + Partners and Nicholas Hare Architects in London. Tim has a wide experience working on award winning projects at a variety of scales, from small residential extensions to multi-million pound projects for developers, schools, universities and cultural institutions.

    Educated at Cambridge and Cardiff, Tim was awarded the ES Prior Prize at part 1 and the Construction Law Society prize at part 3 for excellence in design detailing and professional practice. Tim has taught university architecture design studios for over a decade, at Cardiff, Kingston, Nottingham and currently at Plymouth. Tim has also managed and taught the undergraduate professional practice module at Plymouth and contributed in technology across the school.

    Tim also sit as a panel member on the Southwest Design Review Panel, is a parish councillor, and has been involved in the development of a number of neighbourhood and community plans. In his spare time he likes to get out on his bike and coaches junior rugby at Ivybridge RFC.

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  • Right here! Any building project can be daunting, especially if you have never done it before. Why not give us a call or drop us an email and we can talk through the process in a little more detail or arrange an initial visit to discuss your aspirations and how we can help. Have a look at our process and workstages sections too.

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    Architects are highly skilled and professionally trained to turn your aspirations into reality. They will guide you through the design, planning and construction process whether you are constructing a new building or adapting an existing property.

    Architects apply impartial and creative thinking to projects large and small. They add value, whether from maximising light and space, adding functionality, or achieving the best return on your investment.

    An architect can help you at every stage of a project: from getting the brief and the design right at the start; through negotiating planning and building regulations and working out how it will be built; right up to administering the works on site, working with the builders to get it built as you want it.  And an architect has done it all before, so will be able to guide you through the process and make it as stress free and as enjoyable as possible.

    Have a look at the RIBA website

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    Qualifications and professionalism.

    The title ‘architect’ is protected by law. Only people on the Architects Registration Board (ARB) register can call themselves architects. Architects are subject to rigorous training and codes of conduct; they study design for many years (it takes at least 7 years to qualify), and should be masters at creating spaces and using them as efficiently as possible. As professionals, architects are also bound by codes of professional conduct to put the interests of their clients first. The ARB requires that all architects carry professional indemnity insurance, which provides peace of mind for clients.

    Architectural technologists are also professionals, registered with the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT). They also have to go through rigorous training and qualifications to become chartered. Broadly speaking, technologists tend to be more detail and construction focussed, and architects tend to be more aesthetically minded, but this isn’t always the case. TOA pride ourselves on every aspect of our service.

    Anyone can call themselves an architectural technician or architectural designer. You don’t need any qualifications, or have undertaken any training to do so. That doesn’t mean that they are all bad; some will have completed parts of the training to become an architect or a technologist, or may have trained as engineers or surveyors. Others, however, will have no formal training at all. As a professional body does not regulate them they have no professional obligations to look after their clients interests or to carry professional indemnity insurance.  You should always check whether your designer has appropriate insurance, and ensure that they will be giving you the level of service that you require. Always insist on a formal appointment setting out the terms of service and look at previous work before engaging someone.

    See the ARB website and the CIAT website

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    Only architectural practices that meet strict eligibility criteria can register as a Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Chartered Practice. They need to employ RIBA chartered architects, have appropriate professional indemnity insurance, have quality management and other policies in place, and most importantly conduct themselves in accordance with the RIBA code of conduct and code of practice.

    Chartered practices are committed to excellence in design and customer service. That’s why the RIBA only promotes accredited Chartered Practices to clients. (see the RIBA find an architect website)

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    Architects are problem solvers, who will ensure that you address the core needs of your project to get to a solution that meets those needs.  An architect will work closely with you to hone your ideas into a brief, and will also be able to identify solutions and opportunities that you may not have thought of. An architect will be able to suggest layouts, materials and products that go beyond the conventional to truly meet the needs of the project and maximise returns. This is what we are trained to do – to think creatively about a problem to come up with solutions that are not always obvious.

    An architect will also anticipate the unintended consequences of any decision. An 8m deep extension on the back of your detached house may sound great in terms of the additional space, but what about the natural light and airflow in the middle of the plan?

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    Having a builder on board is great – they are sometimes hard to come by!

    But you should use people for jobs that are appropriate to the skills that they have. A builder is usually great at building things, but is unlikely to produce accurate and detailed layouts and schedules, which will make it very difficult for you to know what you are going to get and agree exactly what work will be done. If you leave it to your builder then they will be deciding your construction materials and methods, the performance of the fabric, the heights of windows, the details of the eaves, the number of sockets in each room….

    This often ends in misunderstandings and a long list of additional extras that weren’t discussed at the start but are essential to your satisfaction with the project. These extras will end up costing you more as the project progresses.

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    Investment at the right stages of the project will save you money in the long run. Getting the brief and the design right at the start reduces the need to make costly changes when on site. A full set of drawings will allow accurate pricing and programming by a builder and with everything thought about and coordinated before you get to site you can be confident of what you are going to get and how much it will cost.  You will also know that what you will get is what you want.

    “A good architect actually pays for themselves – more than once. You will reap the reward and the building will be hugely better and deliver much better value for it.” Kevin McCloud, Grand Designs

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    Almost every job will need a structural engineer. There are a number of other consultants that might be needed too, from ecological consultants to check whether you have bats to party wall surveyors to draw up agreements between you and your neighbours. Every job is different and part of the briefing process is to identify what the project will need in terms of additional help and expertise.

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    You are likely to need planning permission if you are changing the outside of the building, or building something new. There are certain things that you can do under permitted development rights. Even these sometimes need to go through an application process before you can start work, however.

    There is loads of useful information on the planning portal website. Or you could give us a call to have a chat about what you are thinking.

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    The building regulations help ensure that new buildings, conversions, renovations and extensions are going to be safe, healthy and high-performing. Detailed regulations cover specific topics including: structural integrity, fire protection, accessibility, energy performance, acoustic performance, protection against falls, electrical and gas safety. The building regulations are defined by the English and Welsh Governments.

    Construction work is signed off by a local authority inspector as the project progresses. You can also have your designs signed off for compliance before you start on site so that there are no nasty surprises.

    The planning portal has lots of information about this too.

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    Probably longer than you think.

    For a typical large extension and reconfiguration project it may be 8-12 months before you even get started on site, allowing for proper briefing and design development, waiting for planning (a minimum of 8 weeks needs to be allowed for this), and then working out all of the detail and coordinating the work of other consultants like engineers and other specialists. Then you need to find the right builder at the right cost before you can start.

    The work on site might take 4-6 months, or even longer if the conditions are complicated or you are doing something interesting.


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    Probably more than you think. You can ignore most of the budgets that you see on Grand Designs – these generally only work if you give up your job, manage the construction and do a lot of the building work yourself.  Costs have also risen significantly over the last couple of years.

    We currently advise to allow around £3000/m2 for new construction as a good base. Higher levels of performance and specification or more complicated designs will push this higher, and simpler projects may be a little lower than this.  As projects get larger there are greater economies to be found as the one off costs are spread over larger areas. The opposite is true for smaller projects.

    If you are installing items like kitchens or large areas of high performance glazing these should be considered as stand alone items on top of this. You can get good kitchens from Ikea on a budget, or spend tens of thousands for something hand crafted with top of the range appliances.

    You should also factor in a contingency for anything unexpected and around 15% of the construction cost for all of your consultants’ fees and planning and building regs…

    Oh, and then there’s VAT. If you are working on an existing house that’s another 20%, and usually 5% for conversions. New build houses are zero rated.

    You also need to think about indirect costs too: where will you live while work is happening at your house? Will you need to borrow more on your mortgage to finance the project? Will you need additional insurance while the work is ongoing?

    This is why it’s important to plan your project before you start. Work out what you budget is and hone the design to something that is realistic rather than bankrupting. To get a better idea of build costs you can employ a quantity surveyor to prepare a detailed cost plan as the design develops, or get a builder on board early to help hone the detail and the aspirations to the available budget.

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    You’ve already started; doing your research is key. Have a look at architects’ websites and give them a call to find out more or arrange an initial meeting. Most architects will meet to discuss your aspirations for free. If you want anything more detailed or any design work you should expect to pay a small fee.

    Once you have narrowed down your options and got comparable fee proposals (make sure that they are all quoting for the same levels of service and deliverables to get a real comparison) you need to make a decision. Lots of factors will influence this. Cost will of course be important, but so will design quality, approach, personality and confidence. Getting building work done can be stressful, so you will want someone to guide you through it that you can trust and engage with, and whom you feel will be honest and straightforward with you.

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    We pride ourselves on our service and outputs, but don’t take our word for it – give us a call and arrange a meeting. You can come and visit us in our studio to see how we work and examples of the information that we produce, or we can visit you on site to have a chat about your aspirations and how we can help with your project.

    Either way, we love hearing from new people and sharing what we do, and hope that we might be able to help you with your project.

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