Houses built in the ’60s and ’70s used to be the period home underdog, but they are fast becoming the latest must-have for any savvy renovator. Big rooms and generous proportions work well for open plan living, while an exterior makeover – typically involving a healthy dose of new cladding – can work wonders in propelling this type of property into the 21st century.

It could be said that Andrew and Barbara Tweed were ahead of the game in May 2009; they’d already bought into this concept when they went to view a 1960s house on a quiet cul-de-sac in Hertfordshire. Skip to the remainder of the story.

The Project

  • Name: Andrew and Barbara Tweed
  • Build cost: £625,000
  • Build time: 1 year
  • Location: Hertfordshire

Andrew Tweed in front of his remodelled home

Andrew Tweed’s home is built on a hillside, resulting in a floorplan split over three levels

white rendered 1960s remodel

The white exterior is an insulating render system from Sto. The walls are clad in 100mm of polystyrene with a thin coat of acrylic render over the top so the whole house retains its heat

contemporary kitchen in 1960s home

Wide sliding doors from IQ Glass open up the kitchen/diner (with Eggersmann units) to the garden

oak flooring in a living area

Hardwearing oak flooring from Timber Natural adds warmth throughout the bright living areas

spacious hallway with wide staircase

A wide hallway creates an inviting entrance to the home via a European oak staircase from Ternex with glass balustrades from Flight Design

light airy hallway with rooflight in 1960s semi

A large rooflight fills the hallway and lower stairwell with natural light

The Tweeds had been living nearby in a large period property, and at first toyed with the idea of downsizing to a country cottage. Concerned about having to rely on a car – not to mention, the prospect of the ongoing maintenance associated with these old, characterful properties – they decided to buy something completely different.

“As my daughter succinctly put it, we needed to go down in size and up in style, so that’s what we set out to do,” says Andrew. “We wanted a low-maintenance house that was as eco-friendly as we could reasonably make it, and we liked the idea of living somewhere modern.”

With this in mind, it’s not surprising that a newly built contemporary house in the area caught their eye.“We found the details for Nicolas Tye Architects on the hoarding outside and decided to give them a call,” says Andrew.

When the Tweeds first met Nicolas, they talked about their aspirations for turning their recently purchased sixties house into a modern home. “Nicolas’s eyes lit up and that’s what sparked everything off,” Andrew continues.

Andrew and Barbara put in for pre-planning on Nicolas’s advice, which helped them get a feel of what may or may not be approved in the new design. “We discovered that the local planning officer liked Nicolas Tye Architects’ designs, which was quite helpful!” explains Andrew. “However, he did say we needed to tone it down as the zinc roof was a bit over the top for the area.”

While the form of the house would remain much the same, a modern white render finish was proposed to not only blend the new additions with the old, but to improve the thermal efficiency of the house. Architect Nicolas also suggested triple-glazed windows with glass-reinforced plastic (GRP) frames that look like aluminium, but provide optimal thermal efficiency.

The Tweed’s planning application was approved without a hitch in February 2010; the subsequent eight months were then spent putting the contract out to tender and sourcing materials. Work finally started in October but a prolonged period of heavy snow, followed by some unexpected changes to the design, meant the project took a year to complete.

The couple – who had initially planned to oversee the entire project themselves – were glad they decided to keep Nicolas Tye Architects on board once the build was underway. “We were able to lean on them for advice when things got tricky,” says Andrew. “It meant our fee bill was about 45 per cent higher than what we had budgeted, but the team assigned to us were fantastic.”

Unexpected changes had a big impact on the building budget too, which was initially agreed at £307,000 with the building contractor. But by the time the shell had been finished, the costs were nearer to £390,000.

Andrew and Barbara were pragmatic and could see how the extra spend had accumulated. Swapping some materials for higher-quality or high-spec alternatives – like the proposed fibre-cement roof tiles upgraded to slate – contributed.

“In hindsight, we probably should’ve knocked the whole lot down! We could have built exactly the same house design and saved ourselves nearly £100,000 in VAT,” says Andrew.

But the couple’s endeavour has not been in vain. “We absolutely love the house,” Andrew says. The project also proved enjoyable for those involved.

“The funny thing is, although it isn’t significantly bigger, it works so much better now because Nicolas Tye Architects really thought about how the space would be used,” concludes Andrew.

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