Annelies and Peter Tompkins’ new contemporary home replaces a 1960s bungalow that originally occupied the plot.

Surprisingly, this is architects Peter and Annelies’ first venture into the world of self build. “We have renovated period houses and moved around quite a bit, renovating and remodelling,” explains Annelies.

“Having lived in several period houses I really wanted lots of light and Peter was keen to have a house that was very efficient and didn’t require much heating. Plus, I am originally from Belgium where everyone builds.”

The Project

  • Name: Annelies and Peter Tompkins
  • Build cost: £335,000 (£1,116/m²)
  • Build time: 1 year 8 months
  • Location: Berkshire

Winner of the Residential Design Excellence Awards in The Daily Telegraph Homebuilding & Renovating Awards 2015

An Awkward Plot

Having come across a bungalow which was proving difficult for the owners to sell, due to a number of covenants and planning restrictions that had been placed on any future developments, Peter and Annelies were not to be deterred. Viewing the restrictions as an exciting challenge rather than a hindrance, they set about designing a replacement which overcame everything thrown in their way — and the result is a totally unique house.

Gaining Planning Permission

The plot was originally home to a 1960s bungalow which had been built in the garden of a large Arts & Crafts house next door. This meant that there were several restrictive covenants which had previously been placed on this site. A wall had to be built between the new home and the Arts & Crafts house, several of the trees had Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) placed on them, there were height restrictions governing how the new roof could be constructed, and the front and rear elevations had to remain in the same position.

Located in a quiet residential road, home to an eclectic mix of house styles, including a ‘castle-style’ property and a few ‘white boxes’ – a fact that ultimately helped them at their planning appeal. “We bought the bungalow with planning permission to extend, but once the existing foundations were checked and we thought about what we wanted from the new house we felt that we would be too restricted with a remodel and that cost wise it made more sense to just start again.”

Peter and Annelies moved in and lived in the property for a year before work began, during which time they submitted new plans. At first these were given a design-based refusal, but the couple stuck to their guns and won on appeal.

The Build

Annelies decided to act as architect and project manager. The single storey section of the new house was built first, complete with private courtyard, and the family lived in this while work was carried out to the rest of the project.

The new house uses a local brick, carefully laid in a bond which matches the vernacular style — and ties in with the neighbouring Arts & Crafts house. “For the mortar, lime, white cement and sharp sand were combined, and little stones were introduced in order to give the same texture as the bricks,” explains Annelies.

The flat roof, covered with a single-ply membrane, has been combined with a slight slope at the rear, concealed by a parapet wall — designed to overcome the height restrictions.

Energy Effiency

The house is run on a biomass boiler which powers the underfloor heating. There is 100mm of insulation, a woodburning stove and a mechanical ventilation with heat recovery system.


A refreshing change from white render, this new brick-clad house not only stands out as highly individual, but also exudes character and blends in with local buildings in the area. All the windows are from Velfac and operate on a push and slide system, meaning frames are kept to a minimum. There is no symmetry here and instead the windows were designed and placed according to views and privacy.


A great deal of planning went into the kitchen diner, which features carcasses from IKEA that have been customised with doors that were cut and sprayed by the joiner, and composite work surfaces


The floor-to-ceiling units conceal lots of storage as well as a lobby between inside and out — not to mention an ingenious hideaway window seat


Hidden curtain tracks, smoked oak engineered flooring and shadow gaps rather than skirting boards, keep the living room feeling clean and unfussy

tomkins house living room

Sliding doors mean the room can be closed off from the foot of the staircase when required. The mid-century modern furniture belonged to Annelies’ grandmother


The narrow rectangular windows provide privacy in the bathroom. The sanitaryware is from Bathstore

Photographer: Simon Kennedy c/o Tompkins Rygole

Our Sponsors