A kitchen extension and remodelling scheme has transformed the way Carole and Trevor Kite enjoy their 1920s home.

Buying a home can sometimes involve a compromise. When Carole and Trevor Kite bought their five bedroom 1920s semi in Hove, West Sussex, in 1995, they thought they’d eventually need to make some alterations to the ground floor. “What the house really lacked was a downstairs toilet and a utility room,” says Carole. “A breakfast room joined onto the kitchen at the back, with an archway separating the two. Our washing machine and tumble dryer were in the breakfast room, which could be a bit annoying.”

But as so often happens, life got in the way of their plans — busy jobs (Carole is a psychotherapist and Trevor is an electrical engineer) and never feeling that they quite had the finance. “We always prioritised holidays back then,” admits Carole.

The Project

  • Name: Caroline and Trevor Kite
  • Build cost: £112,000
  • Build time: 5 months
  • Location: West Sussex

It was their neighbours who finally spurred the couple on. Far from being a case of ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ the work next door inspired them to rethink their original plan for a downstairs loo and a repository for white goods. It also lead to a fortuitous meeting with architect David Chetwin, who’d overseen their neighbours’ build, and who Carole and Trevor engaged to project manage their extension.

“We really liked what they’d done but there were also things I wanted to do differently,” says Carole. “We opted for a flat roof with skylights instead of a sloping roof with Velux windows, for example, because then the ceilings in the original part of the kitchen and the new bit would be level, and it wouldn’t feel like two rooms made into one.”

Aesthetics were a key consideration. The extension is clad in cedar because as Carole explains: “There was always the issue of how to match the brick, so we decided to go for something completely different.” Trevor also wanted to emulate his grandmother’s house in Jamaica, where he spent a lot of time as a child, so chose large, timber framed windows and doors, crafted by local firm, Higgins Joinery.

Work began on the build in August 2010 and immediately ran into problems. On day one, when the builders came to start digging the foundations, they discovered that a drain previously obscured by a set of concrete steps was cracked and had, most likely, been leaking water from the kitchen sink and downpipes for years. The soil underneath was completely sodden and eroded. A structural engineer was called in to consult and found it necessary to dig two metres deep and lay large concrete ground beams to act as a ‘bridge’ between the solid and softer earth, and provide support for the walls.

This unexpected find knocked the schedule back weeks and work didn’t begin until October 2010. It was then all hands on deck for the building company to get as much done as possible by December – “the first meal I cooked in the new kitchen was Christmas dinner,” says Carole – with finishing touches going on until the end of January.

It was a stressful few months but worth it. “We love the space — how big it is, how light,” says Carole. “My message to anyone thinking about it is: don’t wait years, if you can afford it, do it!”

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