How to turn an ugly box into something that will stand out
Answer: It is generally acknowledged that giving an ugly house a makeover can add up to 10 per cent to its value. Whatever you decide however, please try to avoid emulating the surrounding houses by introducing stylized Victorian motifs. You cannot make a house built in the 70’s look Victorian. The scale and massing are fundamentally different and no amount of money will make your house blend in. Instead accept you live in a relatively new property and exploit the fact. It is possible that the very boxiness of your house may provide the perfect concept for its rebirth. Adopting a simple palette of materials and choosing the correct colours, appropriate design for windows and doors etc. will allow you to create a simple but modern new house with a classy appearance.
The budget option is to paint over the brickwork. While this is not unheard of with Victorian houses, particularly terraces, if you are the only one in the street to do this it may have an even more negative impact on the appearance. It is also opening up a serious long-term maintenance issue for you and any future owners. At the other end of the spectrum is the removal of bricks and their replacement by better quality versions or even the construction of an entirely new brick skin. This is extremely expensive and will in all probability have some structural implications. Furthermore you are unlikely to recoup the cost through an increase in property value.
A good compromise is to have your house rendered. Although at £70-£80 per square metre for a quality product it’s still costly it will at least give a clean “modernist” aesthetic. This can be improved further by replacing the tired concrete roof tiles with slate, even if you go for the cheap Spanish or even cheaper Chinese equivalent.
While I dislike upvc windows, I do recognise their perceived attractiveness, despite the fact that good quality timber, can with care have the same life expectancy. However, if you choose plastic I recommend selecting a colour rather than the ubiquitous white. Opting for black or even a dark grey together with matching fascia and doors will give an attractive and more sophisticated look when set against a white render.
Also don’t stop at the fabric of the house, the setting is just as important. Garden design should reflect the architecture with more sculptured planting and quirky hard landscaping rather than the traditional front lawn with perimeter shrub planting.
If done correctly, the use of a limited number of good quality materials will provide the ideal design solution.