Spot the odd one out... a terrace which opens up new possibilities
This low-cost terraced house is the perfect live- work property. Debbie Jeffery reports. Pictures by Jeremy Phillips.
NOWADAYS we harbour high aspirations when it comes to our homes, but not everyone can afford to fund those dreams.
Tom and Emily Hunt were no different from other young married couples looking for their ideal home together, with a modest budget and high hopes.
But their terraced house in Sheffield boasts rather more bells and whistles than the average home, despite costing only £139,000 to build.
“We married in 2007 and wanted to buy a house in Sheffield,” explains Tom. “The end-terrace property we chose had a large driveway to one side, which had once contained two other terraced houses. These were condemned and demolished in the 1970s, but we hoped to get planning consent to build something else on the land.”
The couple moved into their new home, which also doubled as an office for Tom’s burgeoning media products business.
Gradually, as staff increased, the business took over two of the three bedrooms and the need for larger, dedicated premises became pressing.
“We were out on a bike ride in the spring of 2009 when we passed an amazing contemporary house beside a listed Norman abbey,” says Emily, an economist.
“Such a distinctive new house in a sensitive Conservation Area made us believe it could be possible to build something really different ourselves on the land that came with our existing house.”
Inspired by what they had seen, the Hunts posted a note through the door, asking who had designed the three-storey property. In return they received an email putting them in touch with Halliday Clark Architects in Bradford.
“We explained that we wanted to build something smaller, in a similar style and for a much lower budget, and Adam Clark was extremely excited about the idea,” says Tom.
In November 2009, a planning application was submitted for a geometric three storey end terrace, designed to complement the streetscape without emulating neighbouring turn-ofthe-century brick terraces and 1980s houses.
This was achieved by matching the red brickwork of surrounding properties and choosing a dark stain for the Siberian larch cladding, so the house effctively melts into the woodland backdrop to the rear of the plot.
“We were in love with the idea of creating something completely unique and originally wanted grey render to the ground floor with contrasting white render above, which the planners wouldn’t approve,” says Tom.
“Adam made six computerised mock-ups of the exterior with different coloured wood and render options. There was no contest and we all chose the same one. The design only received one objection and was approved almost immediately.”
Clever use of a tight footprint was made by excavating back into the hillside to form an external yard/bike store, and by creating a roof garden and balconies to further increase the outdoor areas.
A building contractor was employed to build the house using the Kingspantek system of structural insulated panels (SIPS) and the main shell was erected in just two weeks. The property has been built to Level 4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes, achieving an extremely low overall U-value and high airtightness rating.
Window and door frames are thermally efficient aluminium, and the scheme incorporates mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR) which when combined with the highly efficient woodburning stove in the main living space, means that Tom and Emily rarely need any additional heating, even in winter.
The three storey end-of-terrace house has a bedroom, bathroom, utility room and a self-contained office for Tom’s business Breed Media on the ground floor. Two entrances ensure that the live and work elements of the building can be kept separate. Stairs lead up to the open plan living/ dining/kitchen space at first floor level with folding sliding doors opening the entire rear wall out to an external terrace.
The top floor contains Emily and Tom’s bedroom, which benefits from balconies to the front and rear. A further staircase leads up to a roof terrace with a built-in bench making the most of the limited outdoor space.
The initial budget was £80,000, which may have been possible if they had opted for a conventional house.
“It soon became apparent we would have to re-think costs. Fortunately we already owned the land, which may have cost around £60,000 to purchase without planning permission,” says Tom who spent £139,000 on the project, which took seven months to complete.
While the construction work was on-going, the couple were able to continue living in their house next door, which has since been rented out.
This made party wall agreements simple, although they did experience a certain amount of upheaval. A flue needed to be relocated to the rear to allow the new house to abut the gable end. This meant installing a new boiler, which in turn burst all the radiators.
“It was probably the most stressful period of my life because I was running the business and also making a huge number of day to day decisions about the build,” says Tom.
“At least we know that it was all in a good cause, and now the house is finished we’ve teamed up with Adam Clark to offer similar live/work designs to others. It’s an affordable concept for inner city living, and has transformed a piece of unloved land into a sustainable home we’re proud to live in.”
SOMETHING DIFFERENT: The house took seven months to build and is constructed from structural insulated panels clad with larch. It is now both a home and an office for Tom.