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.

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY -

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.



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