Despite the overgrown state of the space at the end of the garden of the house he had bought to renovate, architect Tom Allen wasn’t fazed.

“Although we bought the house with a view to build at the end of the garden, Plan B was to simply extend the existing house.”

Having already extended and renovated the house that stood on the site, Tom and Natalie turned their attention to space at the end of the garden for a self build. “The design for the new house meant that both the new and old houses would both have 10m long gardens,” he explains.

Project Notes

  • Homeowners: Tom Allen and Natalie Scroggie
  • Project: Contemporary self-build
  • Size: 120m²
  • Build time: Aug ’16 – Aug ’17
  • Build cost: £170,000
  • Value: Approx. £500,000
Timber-clad with render self build

The ground floor is largely clad with a through-coloured grey render, whilst the first floor has been clad with cedar

Contemporary self build with timber clad first floor

The house has been designed to be two storeys at the front before sloping down to become single storey at the rear

Contemporary self-build with cantilevered first floor

The ‘Y’ shaped support beneath the cantilevered first floor was designed by Tom who wanted to avoid the more traditional columns. The swing was an idea that was inspired by the rain chain Tom used in place of a standard rainwater pipe

Architect Tom came up with an asymmetric design that would both overcome issues raised by the close proximity of the neighbouring houses as well as making the most of the compact nature of the site.

Keen to have the same floor area upstairs and downstairs, the new building is two storey at the front, with the roof sloping down at the rear where the house becomes single storey — a design feature created in order to keep the roofline away from that of the neighbours.

“It was tight to squeeze in everything we wanted,” says Tom. “We had to maximise every inch and people are really surprised that downstairs is only 60m² — it feels much bigger.”

modern kitchen diner with exposed brick wall

The kitchen, dining and living spaces have been combined to make the most of the space and to allow light to flow through. A poured resin floor has been laid over underfloor heating

To ensure the upstairs spaces were as big as the ground floor, and with only single storey spaces at the rear of the house, a cantilevered first floor extends out to the side of the building.

The ground floor space is largely occupied by an open plan space incorporating the kitchen, dining and living areas. The industrial-inspired space is separated from the snug by a double-sided fireplace, containing the woodburner.

Contemporary snug with long narrow window

The more intimate snug area can be closed off with a huge sliding door when required

Double sided fireplace with woodburning stove

The snug is separated from the main open plan area by a double-sided fireplace complete with woodburning stove

Keen to keep the internal space flexible, Tom and Nat have included a huge sliding door to close off or open the snug up as the mood takes them.

This flexible approach continues in the entrance hall. This relatively large space features an oversized door so it can become an extension of the living space if needed.

Open plan entrance hall with folding doors

The generous hallway doubles up as an extension to the living area, and can be closed and opened up as needed thanks to the oversized doors

On the first floor, the four double bedrooms all have vaulted ceilings to increase the sense of space, whilst roof timbers have been left exposed. “This meant there was no need to plaster between the rafters,” explains Tom. “It also cut down on labour as there was less plastering — which obviously reduced costs too.”

Master bedroom with vaulted ceiling and exposed beams

The timbers of the roof have been left exposed upstairs to increase the sense of height in the rooms

Tom did a huge amount of DIY. “I wanted to be on site everyday,” he says. “I had renovated in the past, but a project like this is mentally and physically tiring. It can be lonely managing a project — everyone constantly wants decisions from you. Luckily we had a good team of trades.”

From designing the steel and timber staircase to making his own light fittings and furniture, Tom was as hands on as he could be. This included second fix plumbing and joinery and fitting the first floor deck.

Contemporary luxury shower room

Costs were kept low despite the high quality of the fixtures. In the en suite, Duravit sanitaryware has been combined with a stone floor and slate wall tiles

Build costs came in at £170,000. “It is a low build cost,” says Tom. “Paying other people to do it would easily have added around £30,000 – £40,000.”

“This is my first new build — we absolutely love it,” says Tom. “Every day we benefit from the thought we put into each decision.”

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