New looks for old bungalow that was given a 21st century facelift
This property is now a contemporary home with spectacular views. Heather Dixon reports. Pictures Dave Burton.
DAVID and Abby Beevers dismissed their house as a nonstarter when they first came to view it because they thought the garden was too small.
But nothing else they looked at was a patch on its spectacular location. Set on a hillside on the outskirts of Harrogate, the unassuming 1960s property, a bungalow with attic bedrooms and dormer windows, commanded wide, uninterrupted views across the Nidderdale valley.
“We couldn’t find anything else that came close to it,’ said David. ‘We could see that the house had huge potential and, as it turned out, the garden was larger than we realised. It was just too overgrown to see.”
So in the space of a particularly eventful fortnight, David and Abby not only got married but also moved into their new home with the intention of getting planning permission to modernise the property and complete the project within a year.
Finding an architect wasn’t an issue but getting planning permission for their design quickly turned into a major challenge.
“We had thought about extending to the back of the house and keeping its triangular roof shape, making it predominantly glass at the front,” said David. “Gary, the architect, suggested building upwards and squaring off the front to turn it into a proper house.”
Harrogate Council rejected the proposals but the Beevers went to appeal and, apart from a compromise over cedar cladding to the front of the property, the planners’ objections were over-ruled. The process took 10 months.
During that time David and Abby spent their evenings and weekends planning the interior layout, which would include an open plan living, kitchen and dining area and a south-facing two-storey glass atrium which would heat the upper floor through solar gain.
They cut back the overgrown garden to reveal its full potential, grassed large areas and created scale cut-outs of the furniture so they could decide where everything would eventually go. “We wanted to understand where the electrics and plumbing would go so that when it came to the build we were not having to make last-minute decisions – and potential mistakes,” said David.
They put the project out to tender and moved into rented accommodation, while making regular site visits to monitor progress.
Over the following weeks, the supporting walls were propped and the chimney stack in the centre of the property was supported with a wooden frame. The plasterwork was stripped back, the roof removed and steel lintels installed to replace the original wooden ones. But at the point where the house was semi- demolished, they discovered a further problem: the supporting walls were not strong enough to take the weight of the redesigned upper floor.
“The walls looked thicker than they actually were,” said David. ‘There was only a thin breeze block and a lot of air between the block and board, so they had to be taken down and replaced. In the end it would probably have been easier – and certainly a lot cheaper – to completely demolish the original building and start again.”
But the negative moments were well balanced by positives. David had taken their plans to the neighbours in the early stages and discussed what they wanted to do. His open communication paid off and they soon won the support of those they would be living next door to. They also made sure nothing went to waste. Materials they couldn’t re-use themselves, they left on the front garden with an invitation for passers-by to help themselves. Even the thirty-or-so skips used to remove the rubble were occasionally raided at night.
“It meant we could fit more into the skips and save money on skip hire,” said David. “All kinds of things were recycled, including timbers which people took for their log burners, and half-barrel planters which one man used as feeders for his pigs.”
David and Abby sourced all the internal fittings themselves, ordering the kitchen and bathroom fittings long before the build had actually started.
“We kept them in the garage of our rented house and virtually designed the new rooms around them,” said Abby. They originally wanted a corner fire across one edge of the square chimney breast, but the cost would have taken them even further beyond their budget, so they settled for a Danish Babus fire in a conventional position.
“It still circulates the heat effectively and we’re really pleased with it,” said Abby. All the floors and doors are solid wood and Abby spent hours oiling them to perfection, then David painted the house from top to bottom. But nothing was finished by the time they moved in.
‘We missed the Christmas deadline and decided we were going to move in February, come what may, otherwise the build would just drag on indefinitely,’ said Abby. ‘It was chaos. For two months the house was over-run with electricians, plumbers, kitchen and bathroom fitters. There were tools and piles of cement sitting in the middle of floors.”
In spite of everything, David and Abby enjoyed the entire process and created the modern, stylish, eco-friendly home they aimed for.
“It’s been a lot of fun and a huge learning curve, and we’re delighted with the end result. We certainly plan to renovate or build again, but next time we would immerse ourselves fully into it and employ an architect to project manage it,” said David.
“When you are paying a lot of money you have to make sure you get exactly what you want and not settle for compromises. You have to live in it long after the builders have gone home.”
Months spent planning the layout and the furniture and fittings paid off and the interior of the Bidden’s home is a perfect picture of stylish modern living
David Beevers looks out from his light-filled, contemporary two-storey home. He and wife Abby battled to follow their vision and after the design was first rejected.
LET THERE BE LIGHT: