Meet Karen McGourty .......


Would you like to introduce yourself, your name, job title?

I’m Karen McGourty ACIAT and my job title here at France and Associates is Architectural Technologist.  I hail from Emerald Isle (Ireland) but I have been living in England for over seven years.  

Let’s start off with some questions to break you in gently.

Which 3 words describe you best?

Creative, logical and perfectionist

Do you have any hobbies?

Yes I have many hobbies mainly baking, fitness and various crafts including knitting, sewing and candle making.

Would you like to take the hobby further in the future? 

A part of me would like to apply to go onto the Great British Bake Off however I don’t think it would be relaxing having Paul and Prue critiquing my baking!

If you could invite five famous or noted people (past or present) to dinner who would you choose?

Frank Lloyd Wright, Eileen Gray, Mary Berry, Guy Martin and Chris O’Dowd

Can you tell me one thing about yourself that not many people know ……

Both myself and my family like to follow and enjoy spectating closed public roads motorsports like Motorbike Road Racing like Isle of Man TT and Car Rallies like World Rally Championship.  I was a marshal at the last Rally Ireland and a round of the World Rally Championship in 2011.   

What job did you want to do when you grew up?

I wanted to be an actress however my parents gave me a reality check!

What have some of your previous jobs been?

I have previously worked within a national building consultancy alongside building surveyors with my role very similar to them.  Prior to this I worked in a college group estates department with no two days the same!  I have also worked for a small architectural practice in Northern Ireland. 

What was it that made you get in to design?

I have always been interested in design and making things and I have been on building sites since I was a baby!  My parents were in the process of constructing their house when I was born.

What were some of your projects you’ve worked on, within your role as designer? 

In my first job position after I graduated, I got to work on the refurbishment of an Martello Tower in Dublin bay, it was a very interesting structure and converting it into holiday let. 

I also really enjoyed working on refurbishment of existing campus and converting it into an innovative 14 to 16 year old academy school which specialised in vocational pathways alongside traditional GCSE’s.  We had to design innovative spaces for teaching including teaching care apartment which allow training on health care provision within an normal home environment.

What would you say a strength of yours is that you bring to the team

Having worked with building surveyors and also in an estate/ facilities department I feel I can bring extensive practical knowledge on operational side of building like compliance issues.

As a company we specialise in adaptations for people who have suffered catastrophic life injures etc, what is it that gives you the most enjoyment?

I firstly find the clients and their families inspirational and humbling how they deal with what life has given them.  It give me a greater work satisfaction to know the work we carry out contributes to providing suitable space, environment and home for our client’s needs.

Can you tell me about a job that you’re looking after at the moment?

I’m looking after a few jobs which have start and are about to start on site, one is small barn conversion to existing farm house in Durham.  Another a demolition and construction of new dwelling in Greater Manchester and refurbishment and extension of an existing dwelling in Sheffield.

Is there anything specific in the world of architecture that you want to see change?

In the current world where we are always switched on and bombarded with sensory information even in our buildings and environments especially in town and city centres, I feel there is a need to start designing calmer and more socially inclusive environments and buildings for everyone.

Thank you for taking the time for everyone to get to know you a little better!d

Meet Sharon McAughey ….


Would you like to introduce yourself?

Hi, my name is Sharon McAughey and I recently joined France and Associates as the new Office Manager working on the Expert Witness side of the business.  Previous to this I was employed by Paul S Withey Limited who specialised in producing expert witness accommodation reports for the courts as does Jonathan France.

What is the background that brings you to France and Associates?

I have always done office work, from being a Typist, to a Secretary, then to a Personal Assistant and now an Office Manager, I have also been employed as a book keeper in the past too.  When I left school back in the 80’s, I did go to college to study bakery, which is very on trend now, I wish I’d stuck to it and I might have been on “Bake Off”, you never know.

Which three words describe you best?

Happy (mostly), loyal (always) and hard-working (is that one word?).

Did you have any nicknames growing up?

One of my teachers used to call me Monkey-nuts, because he was cruel, and my surname was Monks at that time.

If you were an animal what would you be and why?

I would be a seal, as they are graceful at times and clumsy at others, and they lay around on the beach sleeping or eating.

Do you have any hobbies?

I wouldn’t say I had any ‘proper’ hobbies as such, but I do enjoy going to gigs and festivals with my partner Jamie, although I have yet to tackle one of the big festivals, they are a little intimidating to me.  We have several gigs coming up this year, all of which are very different, from Def Leppard to The Streets!

What strengths do you think you bring to France and Associates?

I feel that I bring experience and knowledge with me, and cool head to handle pressure and stressful situations at work.  I have learned over the years that any problem or situation is not unsolvable, and not to worry about things out of your control.

If you could invite five famous or noted people to dinner (past or present), who would you choose?

Brian Cox, to talk about the universe and his time in a pop band!  Ricky Gervais, he is intelligent and funny and has also been in a pop band, I think they would get along well.  Tom Hardy, self-explanatory.  Edgar Allan-Poe, to tell us some scary stories and I guess Elvis to entertain us all.

Meet Bill Crawford .....

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Would you like to introduce yourself, your name, job title, how you are connected to France and Associates? Bill Crawford MCIAT and I work with France and Associates on projects in Scotland and far northern areas of England. I’m an associate of France and Associates.

Let’s start off with some questions to break you in gently. So, Bill what nicknames do you have? At School I was known as Vince, the Gopher, who was the cartoon character in Deputy Dawg who couldn’t see very well and that was me till I got glasses. Billy Boy which is what most of my chums call me when we meet up.

Which 3 words describe you best? Ordinary, average and try to keep my head below the parapet

Do you have any hobbies? Yes woodturning, scroll saw work, pyrography and working with wood in general

What gives you enjoyment from your hobby? Therapeutic, creative and artistic

Would you like to take the hobby further in the future? Its an interest that never stands still!!

If you could invite five famous or noted people (past or present) to dinner who would you choose? Leonardo da Vinci, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Matt Busby, Tom Petty and Roseanne Cash

If you were a flower which one would you be and why? A thistle, because they survive under all conditions

Can you tell me one thing about yourself that not many people know …… My Father was a professional footballer and Mechanical Engineer by profession and my Mother was from a family of German Builders who emigrated in the 19th century to the North East of England to construct buildings for the mining industry

What job did you want to do when you grew up? An artist but then I became a realist

What have some of your previous jobs been? Structural Engineer, Estates Surveyor, Commercial Garage Owner and owner of a Computer Aided Design company which supplied Apple, Hewlett Packard, Graphisoft ArchiCad software and Xerox products amongst others  to Architects, Structural Engineers, Construction Industry and Graphics professionals throughout the UK

What was it that made you get in to design? I have always had an interest in making and designing things, whether mechanical, artistic or in building construction.

When you did get into design what were some of your favourite projects you’ve worked on so not just the most expensive but ones you’ve enjoyed. Designing a space frame rear sub frame for the original mini only for Ford to bring out the Escort Mexico which put paid to that!!

Assisting with the design of phosphor bronze rocking bearings for steel railway bridges

Recently we converted an 1860 Sheriff Court House in Linlithgow to a Boutique Hotel

You don’t work in office with us, but what would you say a strength of yours you have that maybe others in the team might not have. Probably because I am considerably older than most in France and Associates, I have the advantage of been there, seen it, done it and got the T-shirt so I don’t get too fazed by life in general

As a company we specialise in adaptations for people who have suffered catastrophic life injures etc, what is it that gives you the most enjoyment from working with this calibre of clients? I have designed adaptations over the years for a number of Clients and the satisfaction comes from giving someone a solution to allow them to have a better standard of life despite their physical disability

Can you tell me about the job we have in Scotland that you’re looking after? It is quite a challenging project due to the Client needs, however solutions are being found which will give a positive outcome for all concerned

Is there anything specific in the world of architecture that you want to see change, not only for ourselves but other practices all over the UK i.e conserving buildings design in the era they were made etc.. As the years have progressed, the technology involved in construction products has developed and as a result, selection of products in some areas has become more complicated. This has not been as beneficial as might have been hoped for and has, in my opinion, caused confusion. The Grenfell Tower fiasco is an example of this.

Thank you for taking the time for everyone to get to know you a little better, and we look forward to meeting up soon.

Innova Litigation Conference 2018

Eagerly anticipated ever since Jonathan was asked to speak at the conference!

France and Associates had a fabulous day at the conference, which was held at Wetherby Race Courses. With the chance to discuss lots of our work and how we all work together in giving a better quality of life for those who have been born with disabilities or have disabilities as a result of medical negligence or a catastrophic injury.

Jonathan spoke on how important it is to have open communication between OT/Case Managers and the appointed architect, so the best result can be met for the client.

The knowledge that we took in about the equipment available for such clients was outstanding with the opportunity to view the equipment in working order, the extent of aids available to help with everyday life and the way they operate gives the client an amazing amount of freedom and the ability to move around the home like an able bodied individual.

The conference was fantastic and we can't wait to attend next year.

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Award Finalists


France and Associates are finalists for the Alan King Award for Excellence in Architectural Technology 2018

We are very proud to announce that France and Associates are amongst the 6 finalists for the CIAT Alan King Award 2018. This is for our recently completed project in Eckington, for a client who is visually impaired. This will not only benefit the clent now but also in the future. 

If you would like to look at our award submission please view the documents below.

Industry Changes


The majority of changes to the building industry are those affecting the private rented sector. “Part L” of the Building Regulations governs the “Conservation of Fuel and Power” in new and existing dwellings, and helps set out the energy efficiency standards that must be adhered to in domestic buildings.

In previous years, Part L helped the industry to switch to condensing gas boiler technology by making their installation mandatory in all new homes and most replacement situations.

Energy Performance Certificates (EPC’s) were made mandatory for all rented homes in October 2008, rating all properties from ‘A’ to ‘G’ (‘A’ being the excellent, ‘G’ being worst) scale of energy efficiency and making recommendations on how it can be improved. At the time, information from these homes lead to an understanding that most average rented properties in the UK are ‘D-rated’, with 8% ‘F-rated’ and 3% G-rated. These ratings indicate a much higher rate of poorly rated properties in the rented sector, rather than the private owner occupier sector.

Since April 2016, tenants have been able to request that landlords carry out ‘reasonable’ efficiency improvements, but as of April 2018, if the efficiency of the home is poor, changes will become mandatory.

As of 1 April 2018, all rented properties must have a minimum energy efficiency rating of E and above in order for it to be rented out to new tenants, for tenancy renewals or extensions to the present lease. This will make in the region of 500,000 homes that are ‘F’ and ‘G’ rated illegal to rent.  

As of 2020, the regulations will tighten further to apply to all private rented homes, including existing tenancies. Failure to comply will come with a fine up to £5,000.

How They Can be Improved

Improvements to a buildings efficiency is possible through various guises, or a combination thereof. In some cases it may the provision a replacement hot water and heating system, for a more up to date boiler, with assurances that all pipes are “lagged” or insulated whilst installed, which would protect from heat being lost as the hot water is dispersed to various radiators in the home. There is also the provision of insulation in lofts, internal wall insulation (IWI), external wall insulation (EWI), replacement of all external windows and doors, provision of mechanically controlled ventilation systems and much more!

Surveyors and Architects will be able to help with this industry change, to guide you or your client’s through the process of improving the energy efficiency of the building.

How this could affect the Solicitors

Where a disabled person is renting a home temporarily, it is important to note the above changes which legal professionals can use when negotiating terms of a lease for their client. An EPC is usually provided with the property particulars, so there should be an understanding at the time of considering the viability of the property, as to whether or not it requires improvements to its energy performance.

In usual circumstances a home is bought under a trust, bought specifically for the disabled individual with their needs in mind. In all circumstances, a building condition survey report would normally include a list of works to be carried out, as well as an “Energy Performance Certificate”. The EPC would indicate the property rating, and prior to the disabled client moving in to the property, necessary work would likely be carried out to improve the dwelling’s performance.

Most persons with life changing conditions and injuries require higher than average heating temperatures, so improving the dwelling’s energy efficiency would likely ensure the building remains warm and draught free, would require less use of energy to run and with the avoidance of damp would prolong the lifetime of finishes and products within a home.

Speaking at the Litigation Project Conference 2018


We are delighted to be speaking at the first ever Litigation Project Conference this May! Innova Care Concepts are hosting this event, and it will be full of private occupational therapists, case managers, solicitors, equipment specialists, and other architects who specialise in creating accessible homes for clients.

Our Managing Director Jonathan will be appearing at the event and discussing how architects see case management and overcome possible issues. He’ll be giving a unique insight into the work of an architect and how OTs and case managers can help with the design process. Jonathan’s experience and background in this sort of work makes him a leading figure in inclusive design for disabled clients.

Delegates will also be able to get their hands on the latest equipment like ceiling track hoists, specialist electric wheelchairs, hydrotherapy pools and other bits and pieces that we’re usually accounting for in our designs.

To be held on Tuesday 22nd May, the Litigation Project Conference is one of the few case management training events taking place in the North. It’s completely free, and attendees will be given the chance to network with other professionals from all walks of litigation work. As we are well-aware, getting everyone involved in a case management project in the same room at the same time can be rather difficult, so this is sure to be a truly unique experience for all!

So if you’re free on the 22nd May and fancy coming along, then please book your free place here. We look forward to seeing you!

France + Associates feature in latest architectural journal

A great start to the new year, having featured for the "practice profile" article in one of the UK's most read Architectural journal, the AT Journal Winter Issue. The article showcased our award winning project in Yorkshire, which offers a snapshot of our services and the rewarding industry we work within.

Click on the 'AT ARTICLE' button below to find out more. France and Associates are featured on pages 16 and 17.

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Yorkshire Children of Courage Awards

France and Associates often see first-hand the difficulties families face when they have a child with extra difficulties and disabilities and the challenges these young people endure. Yorkshire Children of Courage Awards was an opportunity for us to reward these young inspirational individuals, which we are proud to be a part of.

Many of our current clients are young children who have sustained life changing injuries. France and Associates help them to reclaim their home which forms part of a process to increase independence and provide the foundations for improved private care.

France and Associates attended the well-known Yorkshire Children of Courage Awards on 13th October 2017. The event celebrates the youth of Yorkshire who put their all in and don’t expect anything in return. Whether this is living with a life changing illness or a sibling caring for their ill sibling and taking on so many more duties than they should have to at their age. France and Associates decided that it is important to celebrate the unrecognised youth around us, that’s why we decided to sponsor an Award. We chose the category The 13-18 Special Recognition Award, which was received by Finn Knaggs, 15, from Leeds who at just 7 months old contracted pneumococcal meningitis which resulted in profound sensorineural hearing loss, complex epilepsy and left-side hemiplegia. Despite his mother not been given much hope, Finn is now very active!

We were privileged to meet a former client, cheeky chappy Charlie Senior! Charlie of Huddersfield picked up the award Special recognition (0-12 years): Charlie has come such a long way from when we last saw him. Amazing to see his progress!

As the importance of supporting the courageous youth of Yorkshire is, there were many familiar faces in the crowd presenting awards on the night.

France + Associates Appointed as Designers on Landmark Case


Jonathan France MCIAT, accommodation expert witness and architectural professional, has been appointed on a landmark case to assist the Claimant (JR v Sheffield Teaching Hospitals) and their family to successfully adapt a property to be fully inclusive of their needs.

On consideration of the landmark case, JR v Sheffield Teaching Hospitals appears to be the first decision on the application of the Roberts v Johnson formula since the discount rate was reduced to minus 0.75% in February 2017. At the time of writing, it is also the largest court award of compensation to a disabled claimant, recovering an award that had a capitalised value of at least £24.3 million.

The claim was made on behalf of 24-year-old JR, who sustained a catastrophic brain injury at birth. In respect of accommodation, it was agreed as part of the case, that the current accommodation of JR was wholly unsuited to his needs and that a new property must be either purchased and adapted or constructed.

Roberts v Johnstone explained

When someone has significant injury for no fault of their own, the house they lived in before their injury will often be unsuitable for their needs.

Accordingly, there will be a claim for new accommodation which will usually be more expensive than the value of their pre-injury accommodation. The way in which accommodation claims are calculated is not to compensate for the capital value of the required accommodation but the annual loss incurred by the Claimant due to the loss of income from the capital spent on the property.

A calculation known as a Roberts v Johnstone calculation (so called from the case in which the calculation was established) is used to calculate the accommodation claim. The calculation takes the difference in the price of the current property and the price of the new property that is required as a consequence of the Claimant’s injury. Investing in a new property means that the Claimant has to use part of their capital and to reflect this a discount of minus 0.75% is applied (representing the annual loss of investment). Prior to February 2017, the discount rate was set at a rate of 2.5%, and had remained so since 2001.

This figure is then multiplied by the “life multiplier”, accorded based on the Claimants present age and life expectancy, adding the cost of adaptation, increased utility bills and moving costs.

How did it affect the case JR v Sheffield Teaching Hospitals?

When calculating the appropriate award for accommodation, it was clear that using the established rule of the Roberts v Johnstone would award the Claimant with nil loss.

The Judge in this case recognised that there had been numerous criticisms and attacks on the Roberts v Johnstone approach. However, he was bound by Roberts v Johnstone and, given the negative discount rate, he had to consider the return on a risk free investment as representing JR’s loss. On the evidence (and discount rates) there was thus no loss. The Judge did however go on to add that there was an urgent need to “find a proper solution to the accommodation conundrum“.

As a result of the present discount rate, the Judge’s hands were tied and a nil loss was awarded, despite the Judge recognising that the Claimant has very high care needs, is reliant on motorised wheelchairs to mobilise, and requires a suitable adapted property for a home. Despite awarding a nil loss, the Judge had assessed the appropriate purchase price for the Claimant’s accommodation at £900,000.

Following a later appeals process, an offer was made 3 days before the Appeal was due to be heard and JR accepted an offer of £800,000. This figure is the cost of accommodation as determined by the Trial Judge, minus a reasonable valuation for the accommodation that the Claimant would have purchased or rented uninjured.

Our Role

Now the case has settled, our role is to assist the Claimant and their family with adapting the property to make it fully wheelchair accessible. The property in question has, like all of our client’s properties, numerous challenges in terms of levels, access, layout and use of spaces. As with all of our clients properties, the main challenge is to make the home both accessible and a beautiful, enjoyable space. This will allow the Claimant unimpeded access along with the enjoyment and comfort you should expect to benefit from in your own home.

The next steps in the process are to complete the various surveys the property, then manage the design once approved by the Claimant, OT’s and various healthcare professionals, through the statutory approval process and the later tender and construction process. A challenge, no doubt, but one we are certainly looking forward to!

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