My Best Build Decision
Tom Allen and Nat Scroggie’s self-build plot threw up a number of design challenges, but the pair’s decision to build a cantilevered first floor in response to planning constraints has brought the home to life
One homeowner reveals how a propped cantilevered first floor adds wow factor to his new self-build
We recently built a new 120m2 house on a garden plot. We were happy with a lot of elements of the build, such as the bespoke storage solutions we designed to make the most of the downstairs space. However, without doubt the best build decision was to use a propped cantilevered first floor. It creates an impressive design feature, where the first floor extends out from the ground floor.
Our new home is on a tight site and is built up to the boundary on two sides to maximise the building’s footprint. A two-storey house on the boundary would have been unacceptable from a planning point of view due to the proximity of neighbouring buildings
and gardens. To reduce the overshadowing and overbearing impact on the neighbours, the house is single storey at the rear. However, this significantly reduced the floor area of the first floor.
The cedar-clad box protruding from the first floor compensates for the lost floor area and, as a result, the ground floor and the first floor are a similar size. Thanks to the cantilever, a carport has been created at the front of the property and it also partially covers the patio at the rear to create a shaded area, with lights and speakers in the soffit. There is also a rainchain and a swing — which everyone naturally gravitates to. The Y-shaped propped cantilever column is a really striking feature in the garden and gives the impression of the house floating over the fence.
The building form was strongly influenced by the constraints of the site itself and the need to overcome potential planning issues. When considering developments on tight sites in urban locations, we would encourage others not to be discouraged by potential problems but to see them as opportunities to overcome with innovative design solutions.
In our case, a more conventional design would probably have limited development on the site to a small bungalow; it’s even possible that it wouldn’t have been feasible to build a dwelling at all. By taking a slightly more radical approach we’ve managed to achieve a four-bed detached house and the overall design has massively benefited as a result. H