Small extension gives Victorian terraced house new lease of life
It took just two metres to help transform a tiny terraced house in York into a light-filled home. Sharon Dale reports.
KEN and Deirdre may be quite content with their two-up twodown on Coronation Street, but many bog-standard terraced homes aren’t best suited to modern living.
Although they now have small extensions and their outside toilets have been replaced with bathrooms, they haven’t altered significantly since the 1800s.
It was the challenge of bringing a Victorian terraced house into the 21st century that drove David Petherick to buy a renovation project on Ashville Street in York.
David, who qualified as an architect and has worked for central government on housing and disability issues, felt sure he could make the property lighter, bigger and more energy efficient, while setting a template for transforming the average terrace into something special.
“There are millions of these houses across the country and I wanted to show how, with a relatively small amount of adaptation, they could continue to provide attractive, comfortable place to live for small households for another hundred years,” says David, who bought the house at auction last summer.
It needed a complete renovation. The loo was outside, the kitchen consisted of an old sink, there was no effective water heating, no insulation and there was a shower unit in one of the bedrooms.
Most of the neighbouring properties had a rear groundfloor extension for a bathroom, but David and his friend Marcel Tarta, a builder, came up with a more radical solution.
They removed the entire, southfacing back wall on the ground floor and replaced it with folding glass doors to maximise light and warmth from the sun.
At the same time, they extended the rear room by two metres, topping the extension with a sloping roof with three skylights. Planning approval wasn’t required as the extension was classed as permitted development.
“It is amazing how much difference that two metres makes to the back room. It is now a spacious and light kitchen/living space, which looks out on to a small yard, which provides a sheltered, low-maintenance courtyard with garden lighting,” says David, who adds: “It is surprising how few people even think about which way the rooms face and yet, in a climate where we need to make the best use of every bit of light and sun, it is possibly the most crucial factor of all when buying a house.”
The rest of the space has been entirely remodelled. The dark, enclosed staircase that ran up the middle of the house between the front and back rooms has been relocated along the party wall in the kitchen/living area.
A new window over the staircase at first floor level not only lights the stairs but brings morning sun into the living space. The area formerly occupied by the old staircase is now a downstairs toilet and storage.
Upstairs, there are two bedrooms, which share a “Jack and Jill” en-suite shower room. The large loft space is now accessed by a ladder and has been boarded out for storage.
“Storage is another big issue in terraced houses so the loft was a solution,” says David, who has also made the house more ecofriendly.
The walls are solid brick so cavity wall insulation wasn’t an option. Instead, the exterior walls have been clad in insulating panels and coated with render.
The roof and floors have been insulated and double glazed windows installed. Rather than gas central heating, David opted for electric panel heaters and a modern immersion heater for hot water.
“The house is so well insulated it doesn’t need a lot of heat, but I believe gas prices will continue to rise and electricity is the best bet in the long run, which is why I opted for the panel heaters and the immersion heater, which would work well if a future owner wanted to install solar hot water or photovoltaic panels,” says David, who is now selling the house that is a good example of what can be achieved through good design.
Chimney Pot Park in Salford is another. Developed by Urban Splash, a whole block of terraced houses was transformed.
The street frontages are the only built elements to be retained, while the roofs feature chimney roof lights, a modern take on old chimney stacks.
Inside, they are “upside down” houses with the bedrooms and the prefabricated pod bathroom, which feature a sunken bath, on the ground floor. The first floor has a kitchen/living areas plus a mezzanine and a balcony garden deck. The decks extend over secure covered parking at ground level and incorporate a glazed panel, allowing light to penetrate into the rear ground-floor room.
It’s a stunning development but it hasn’t been copied, possibly because of the expense. Cost is a big issue when improving a terraced house as the outlay can easily outstrip the added value.
David Petherick’s renovation was costly but the house needed complete modernisation and the price at auction reflected this. It is also in a popular location off Huntington Road in York, so the resale value has made it financially viable.
Architect Nick Midgley says: “Opening up the back of the property and extending out as David has done could cost anywhere between £20,000 and £30,000.
“If you spend that much it might not be reflected in the value of the house but what it will do is make the difference between a typical terraced house and something much more exciting.
“If you are planning to stay long-term then it will improve your quality of life. It will bring in light, create space and you’ll get a great feel good factor.”
The transformed terraced house on Ashville Street, York, is for sale with a price in the region of £150,000. For details tel: 07710 438589.
Top, Chimney Pot Park in Salford by Urban Splash was a major and expensive transformation of a row of terraced houses that turned living areas upside down. Bottom, from left to right, David Petherick transformed this terraced house in York with a ground-floor extension that floods the rear of the property with light and external cladding to improve insulation.
NEW FROM OLD: