New look for old: the bungalow that’s gone right up in the world
This contemporary house looks like a newbuild but it hides the bones of a 1950s bungalow. Sharon Dale reports.
THE credit crunch had a devastating effect on the housing market, but for Iain and Donna Richardson it presented a golden opportunity.
Instead of trading in their twobedroom terraced house in Leeds for something slightly bigger, they decided to tackle a project that would propel them further up the property ladder.
“An architect friend Tim Smith suggested that we should look for a plot of land or something we could rebuild as there wasn’t much competition from developers once the credit crunch hit,” says Iain.
Thinking bigger paid off and their radical transformation of a 1950s bungalow has won acclaim from Royal Institute of British Architects judges who have shortlisted the house for an award.
“The idea of a project really appealed but we couldn’t find anything in Leeds as it was still too expensive so we widened our search area,” says Iain, an architectural and interiors photographer.
They found the two-bedroom bungalow in Almondbury, Huddersfield. It was empty, in need of modernisation and had a guide price of £130,000 to £150,000. Donna, an English teacher, brought the hammer down at £155,000.
“That was in September 2008. But a year or so earlier and we’d have had no chance of getting it at the price we did,” says Iain.
Their options included extended to the side and creating rooms in the roof with dormer windows, but Tim Smith persuaded them to go up to create a two-storey, contemporary home from the shell of the bungalow.
“It was more expensive but we reckoned at least we wouldn’t ever have to move again. We could live in it forever,” says Iain.
Planning and building regulations approval took almost a year, not least because some of the materials and methods were unconventional. The couple wanted the first floor rooms open to the roof and so speciallydesigned asymmetric trusses were used. The staircase was an unusual dog leg design and they wanted to use an oversize sheet of super strong plywood from Scandinavia as a balustrade.
“The building regs people were cautious about the products they hadn’t heard of and they also needed a structural engineers report to confirm the bungalow’s foundations were strong enough to hold another storey, so there was a long wait, but we weren’t in a big rush. The plan was to stay in our terraced house, which we’d almost paid for, and fund the project from savings, our earnings and a personal loan until the end of the build. I spent the time ripping out the insides, landscaping outside and finding a builder,” says Iain, who hired Neil Turton for the job.
In late summer 2009, Neil started by taking off the roof and lowering the cills at the front of the house to create large picture windows. The first floor was created and the back of the house remodelled.
Iain and Donna wanted the property to be understated from the front, while the rear reflects their love of modern architecture. The windows flood the house with light, the pilasters add architectural interest and render brings the old redbrick and new construction together. Inside, the ground floor was reconfigured to create a glazed porch, en-suite bedroom, cloakroom, open plan kitchen/dining area and sitting room. Upstairs, there is a large landing/office space, a bathroom and two bedrooms, with one featuring an internal window to grab light from the stairway. The build took about a year and Iain and Donna, both 31, moved in last summer.
“It all went well. Neil was a great builder and project managed everything, while we spent time sourcing products,” says Donna.
She and Iain decorated the house using a combination of white paint and seagrass wallpaper and they made all their own curtains – he measured and cut the fabric and she stitched it. They also created their own version of an expensive Italian kitchen for a cut-price £5,000, including the appliances. The unit carcasses were bought from Howdens, while joiners made solid oak doors. The worktops are Corian.
“We’re thrilled with it. The Italian kitchen we saw cost £20,000 for just one wall of units,” says Iain.
Outside, they treated themselves to an eco-friendly, wood-fired hot tub from Rustic Tubs. It added £2,000 to the budget but is made from antiseptic and antifungal cedar, so there is no need to use chemicals in the water. It is heated by a wood burning stove. The bungalow project and fit out cost about £100,000 bringing the total cost of the house to £255,000. It’s now the perfect home for the couple and their new baby daughter, Oona.
“It looks like a new-build,” says Iain. “You’d never guess there was a redbrick bungalow beneath the render. Tim did a brilliant job with the design and we were lucky to find a great builder. We love it. There isn’t a single thing we’d change.”
The house has undergone a radical transformation. Top: The understated front of the property with large picture windows. Above centre: the red brick bungalow before its makeoverand the cut price Italian-style kitchen designed by Iain and Donna.