How to turn an ugly box into some­thing that will stand out

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY - Jonathon Wingfield We had al­ways planned to in­crease the size of the house but with each month that goes by we are keener to change the fun­da­men­tal ap­pear­ance rather than just add an ex­ten­sion. Although there are a va­ri­ety of semi and de­tached houses arou

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.

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