Updating an urban classic
Cities across the country offer a wide selection of Victorian terraced and semi-detached houses. Popular with young families, they are also widely used as the basis for a modern house, often with rear facing loft conversions that add valuable sleeping space.
Gemma and Sam found this largely original terraced house in one of Brighton's conservation areas and instantly fell in love. But when it came to making it just that little bit bigger, they also discovered what can go wrong if you don't look after 19th century housing. We first met them on a consultancy visit, and at the same time noticed some unusually springy floors, as well as a couple of questionable alterations that suggested poorly-executed previous work..
Planning was put in for a loft extension and balcony
Adding length to the ground floor made for a good through kitchen/diner
"We never realised how complex it is to get planning permission for a simple extension”
Recent years have seen a hardening of attitudes across planning authorities, with widespread designation of areas as Conservation zones. This means that many extensions that would go straight through without needing planning in other areas where Permitted Development Rights have not been suspended, such as loft conversions, are instead subject to rigorous scrutiny, and quite onerous restrictions.
In addition, plans need to be prepared to a high degree of detail, together with design, access and heritage statements that prove the case for the development and show how it aligns to the council's policies.
If you know your way around the system it is a lot easier, which is why so many clients, like Sam and Gemma, chose to have us manage the planning process as well as draw up the plans.
"We were delighted with the plans, which showed how we could create a bedroom and shower room on the top deck. This meant we could take out a box room to give a large Master bedroom, and get extra living space by extending to the rear. As part of the survey we discovered the shell of a disused outside toilet buried under the raised rear garden. Showing this existing shell, gave grounds for an extra two metres, which made all the difference to the kitchen area."
Getting the planning through, involved two site meetings with the Council, in which we were also able to show that the ground works around the property needed significant improvement as a result of years of poor maintenance. This had led to blocked ventilation, which in turn caused rot in the subfloors, the cause of the springy floors we discovered on the survey!
Replacing the ground floors gave the chance to open through the lounge
Adding more bedrooms upstairs allowed a decent en-suite
As with so many old houses, it wasn't until the owner scratched beneath the surface that they found the result of years of neglect. Fortunately redeveloping the house and adding on the extensions, meant this could all be taken care of as part of the build.
The finished result offers a fine family home with four good sized bedrooms. It has also delivered a major increase in value that works out to be far greater than the cost of doing the works. Best of all, it gives the client a home that offers all the space they are going to need for many years to come.