Beverley and her husband Andy chose their detached 1970s house in Tunbridge Wells for its close proximity to their sons’ schools. “Even though it was in reasonably good condition we felt that we could still do quite a lot to it,” Beverley continues. “The challenge was to reconfigure the rooms and give the outside a facelift which would make it more appealing.”
More familiar with renovating Victorian houses than 1970s properties, Beverley had never previously been able to radically change the external appearance of family homes.
This time she planned to convert the flat-roofed double garage into an extra room and introduce a veranda, running the full width of the front façade, which would tie in with the existing timber cladding for an American feel. New window openings would give the front of the house a more symmetrical appearance.
- Name: Andy and Beverley
- Build cost: £114,000 (£600/m²)
- Build time: 1 year
- Location: Kent
“The existing roof and external cladding didn’t need upgrading so there was enough money in our budget to spend on some cosmetic improvements,” explains Beverley, who employed a local architect to help design the alterations, which included replacing the front windows with timber sashes.
Previously the small entrance opened directly into a kitchen to the front of the house, but Beverley and Andy decided that moving the kitchen to the rear would create a far more practical layout. And so they knocked down the dividing wall and installed an RSJ between the large former utility and the dining room to form a new long, open plan kitchen diner overlooking the rear garden.
Planning permission was required to change the flat roof of the garage to a pitched design, but apart from converting this space the footprint of the house has remained unchanged.
“When I first saw the house I had a pretty good idea what I wanted to do, but I decided to bring in an architect (SEE BELOW) to sort out the finer points and advise on some of the structural work, as I wanted to make sure everything was done correctly. He drew up the plans for us, but after that he wasn’t involved,” recalls Beverley, who was keen to project manage the work herself, employing tradesmen she had used during past renovation projects.
The final stage of the work involved converting the garage, and fortunately the existing brick walls required no underpinning or strengthening. These have been lined internally with plasterboard. New openings were inserted for doors and windows, and the roof was taken off and replaced with a pitched, slated structure.
“We haven’t added any more space to the original house —we’ve just changed the way that space is used,” says Beverley. “When we first moved in half the house was dead space and we just lived in a couple of rooms at the front. It’s amazing how different the house feels now, and how much better it works for us as a family.”
Using an Architect
Beverley and Andy’s architect, Andrew Lanham, provided a half day consultation with the couple before being commissioned to prepare a full design. According to Andrew “this is a service that is proving very popular as homeowners get the ‘Design Juice’ upfront and can see if there is any potential to develop their home without any commitment to take things further.” An initial rough design sketch was produced at this first meeting.
Andrew then produced a scheme to reorganise the house, designed a little link to the family room in the garage and then submitted for planning and building regs and coordinated with the Structural engineer. Apart from few queries, Beverley and Andy then took control, overseeing construction.