Our design for this side return renovation was to knock through several internal walls and create an open-plan kitchen. Our clients wanted to combine this with a living space rather than a diner, which presented an interesting challenge. They also wanted a new bathroom.
The project exercised our complete service: client briefing; design concepts; planning permission; Party Wall agreements; interior design; structural design; building control; technical specification; tender assessment; project oversight; and supply of fixtures, fittings and furnishings.
Home Design Concepts
Based on our clients’ brief, we produced 3D visuals showing different options to help them choose their favourite. Our local structural engineer confirmed that our concepts were technically feasible. Given the different floor levels in this house, he was content with our plan for a cranked beam to open up the ceiling line to the maximum extent. The photo below shows how we achieved this in practice.
We then submitted a pre-application to the Council to identify any obvious concerns.
The pre-application response was very positive; a formal application was required because of the height of the new structure, but the planning officer considered that it would pass with no objections; and so it proved.
Party Wall Agreements
Because we were excavating to a depth below the foundations of the neighbour’s garden walls to pour a new footing, our clients had to obtain Party Wall agreements. We drafted the letters and the neighbours were happy to sign.
Whilst we were obtaining formal agreements, we advanced the detailed interior design. We brought samples to our clients and arranged for them to visit our suppliers to see larger items up close. We have written separate pieces on bathroom design and kitchen design, if you want to read more. With guidance and suggestion, our clients made their decisions quickly. They were particularly keen on the copper leaf glass tiles for the shower; this was to prove a significant challenge technically, and a great success aesthetically.
The structural design was essentially an H-frame to hold up three first floor walls and open up the space completely.
You can see the H-configuration in the dotted lines above; in the photo below this comes to life with a galvanized steel in the foreground, the spine steel running from front to back, and the cranked steel completing the H-frame.
Building Control naturally reviewed the structural calculations, and other requirements which our architectural consultant provided in the form of construction drawings.
They were content with the technical aspects of the project. However, before agreeing to the work, they noted that a public sewer ran through the garden. We had to obtain a no objection letter from Wessex Water, which we justified on the basis that no excavation works were planned within 3m of the sewer location.
Our technical specification included reference to the technical drawings but also added other details such as plumbing, joinery, electrics and decoration. You can read more about how to specify all these features in our blog How to Renovate A Property.
Tendering for Building Work
Our estimate for the total cost dictated that we should tender this work on our clients’ behalf. We invited 4 tenderers of which 3 responded. Two were reasonably close but there was one clear winner in terms of price. We had worked with him before so were confident that the quality would please our clients. If you are interested, we have produced a separate account of how to choose a building contractor.
Our extended service, which most clients ask us to carry out, is to oversee the project. Given that we have been intimately involved from the start, this makes perfect sense. Not only do we understand the inter-relationships between the various aspects of a renovation, we also supply fittings which need to dovetail into ongoing works.
The following gallery gives a summary of how the project progressed from start to finish.