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.

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY -

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.


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