Emma and Keith Bloom have given a newly built developer house a facelift and extension — the result is a contemporary family home with kerb appeal.

When you find out that Emma and Keith made extensive alterations to a newly built developer home, your first thought has to be, ‘But why?’.

“It had great space and exactly the open plan layout we were looking for but it wasn’t our style,” explains Emma diplomatically. “The developer had put in cheap bathrooms and fireplaces, mock-Georgian double doors and skirting, but we felt that the house should reflect the time it was built in rather than be a replica of another era.”

The Project

  • Name: Emma and Keith Bloom
  • Build cost: £88,200
  • Build time: 5 months
  • Location: East Sussex

The couple had previously lived in a Regency apartment with a leaky roof and draughty windows. As a result, they decided to look for a new build home to renovate – a home where a renovation fund could be spent on making the home their own, as opposed to fixing problems. With this focused approach, the couple disregarded over 40 houses in a year and then came across a new house that had been built by a developer; their sealed bid offer of £770,000 was accepted and in October 2006 the couple moved in.

Before long they had a clear list of changes they wanted to make to the house, such as removing and replacing doors, improving the walk-in shower in the master en suite, a new kitchen and an improved family bathroom.

Emma and Keith also hoped to make changes to the rear guest bedroom. “We realised that the ‘Toblerone’-shaped roof had created a low ceiling and low eaves so we lost about a metre of floor space,” Emma explains. The couple hired local architects ARCH angles to help them with their application for a dormer window. “We really liked their website and the style of their houses, and when we met Nicola Thomas we found her really easy to talk to,” says Emma.

When the first application was refused, Nicola called the planning officer for advice. “I was surprised when they said we could build a gable end instead because this actually adds more bulk to the roof,” says Nicola. “But it was great news for the Blooms because they’ve ended up with a much nicer-looking room with more head height and usable floor space.”

The new plans were approved in January 2009 and the couple subsequently decided to apply for changes to the exterior – white-rendered brickwork, more aesthetically pleasing galvanised steel rainwater goods and sweet chestnut cladding, which replaces concrete hanging tiles, now give the house much more kerb appeal.

When it came to the actual building work the Blooms, together with Nicola, decided on builder Alan Coe because the quality of his previous projects was excellent. Alan and his team started on site in June 2009 and finished five months later right on budget.

Emma and Keith’s contemporary-style home is now unrecognisable from the standard developer new build it once was. “The project took us a while to finish but we love the house and it has been well worth the wait,” says Emma. “The space inside has been simplified and is more symmetrical and we think the contemporary style is far more suited to ‘now’ than it ever was before.”

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