Adding an oak framed wing to their 1940s bungalow gave Sue and Jim Digman a new home with an annexe for Sue’s mother.

As a child, Sue Digman lived with her parents and sister in a 1940s bungalow in a pretty Kentish village, and has fond memories of playing in the rambling two-acre garden.

The single storey brick property was more than doubled in size in the 1970s when Sue’s father built an extension, and once Sue and her sister had grown up and left home their parents continued to live in the bungalow — which has now been in the family for more than 50 years.

The Project

  • Name: Sue and Jim Digman
  • Build cost: £200,000 (£1,360/m²)
  • Build time: 1 year 11 months
  • Location: Kent

“Mum carried on living there on her own after my father died, but the maintenance was too much,” says Sue. “We were living a mile down the lane and spent several years trying to maintain both our own home and the bungalow, until we came up with a much better solution.”

Sue and her husband Jim had always dreamed of building an oak framed cottage, and mum Margaret, 79, dearly wanted to stay in the bungalow but was unhappy living there alone. The decision was taken to extend and reconfigure the bungalow by adding a substantial oak framed wing, creating a beautiful new home with an annexe for Margaret in the original section.

“Years ago we’d visited one of the Homebuilding & Renovating Shows where Border Oak was exhibiting a full-sized replica of an oak frame house,” says Sue. “We absolutely loved it, but living in the greenbelt meant that building a brand new house in Mum’s back garden wasn’t an option.” Instead, the family approached Border Oak to design them an extension to replace the 1940s element of the bungalow, which contained three ground floor bedrooms and a hallway. This would allow Margaret to continue living in the 1970s section which had been built by her husband and to which she was so attached.

Internally the whole building has been renovated and reorganised. “Mum’s kitchen was moved over by one room, her living room is as it was and she has a bedroom with an en suite, with everything on one level,” Sue explains. “Our extension is two storey, and we’ve also built into the roof space above Mum’s annexe to create a first floor bedroom and bathroom with dormers and conservation rooflights — giving us three bedrooms in total.”

The jettied oak framed wing of the house contains Sue and Jim’s kitchen, sitting room and utility downstairs, with two vaulted bedrooms and a bathroom above. This is linked to Margaret’s home by a centrally positioned communal dining hall, which neatly connects the old and new halves of the building.

Sue and Jim were on site every day, and employed contractors to undertake the wiring and plastering, with the remainder of the work completed on a predominantly DIY basis. Jim’s brother is a plumber and was able to install the central heating and fit out the bathrooms, working alongside the couple.

The Digmans’ efforts paid off however, as they were able to complete the entire project for just £200,000. Externally the pretty cottage is unrecognisable from the original single storey brick bungalow, which has evolved to suit the needs of the family who have owned it for so many years. “It was really important to keep the heart of the old bungalow, which my father built,” says Sue. “Now we’ve added our own extension and brought the building up to date, so everyone’s happy.”

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