To call the elegant contemporary building attached to this period house an ‘extension’ seems rather understated for a structure that has nearly doubled the size of their existing home.

“At 120m², the extension is arguably the size of a small house,” says Matt, who is an architect and designed the extension himself. “We needed more space but we also needed to find a way to connect our house to the big garden, which is along the side rather than at the rear.” Skip to the remainder of the story.

The Project

  • Name: Matt and Sarla Maisurias
  • Build cost: £144,000 (£1,200/m²)
  • Build time: 2 years 10 months
  • Location: Surrey
Dining area with staircase in background

Matt helped design and build the staircase and dining table

Cantilever staircase with decorative wooden horse in foreground

The two storey section of the house was sunk a metre into the ground to overcoming planning restrictions on the height of the extension

Bedroom with floor-to-ceiling windows

The windows create a light filled space to provide a visual and physical connection to the garden

The partially hidden front elevation of the house

The low elevation of the modern extension if well hidden by trees from the front of the 1920s house

Matt and his family moved to this house in South Cheam way back in 1998. “Like most architects I wanted to do something for us as a family, so when we saw this 1920s house on such a big plot we thought, wow, this has fantastic potential.”

What caught Matt’s eye was the fact that the house was on the corner of the street with a third of an acre of garden. Then in 2005 he was finally able to take his preliminary sketches to the local planning authority.

Matt’s design centred around a contemporary structure combinating in a two storey section that would connect the house with the garden. This was radically different from anything else in the area so he wanted to gauge the planners’ reaction before he submitted his application.

“I was surprised when the planner I spoke to said he was nervous about what I had in mind, as he was a young guy,” says Matt. “Instead he wanted me to extrude the side of the house and put in a pitched roof.”

Prepared to fight for his contemporary building, Matt was relieved when a semi-retired planner caught sight of his design and persuaded colleagues to take another look. “He said we could do with some different thinking in this area, which was great as if it hadn’t been for him I don’t think I would have got planning for what I wanted.”

It took nearly a year for the plans to be approved but Matt was happy to carry on saving. Matt helped out with a proportion of the work himself by helping the builder with the foundations and bricklaying, doing carpentry and plumbing, as well as project managing and buying materials.

Matt designed the extension as a phased development so that the family room, first floor bedroom, lounge and dining room could be built separately, allowing the family to carry on living in the existing house. The extension was finished in October 2010 and has transformed the home from a four-bed 140m² space into a five bedroom home of 260m².

“We’re all drawn towards the light and views of the garden as we spend most of our time in here now,” says Matt. “It’s great; we know where everyone is because we can either see or hear each other and this has made us much closer as a family.”

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