Living with the builders creates bigger, better, brighter bungalow
This traditional bungalow has had a modern makeover. Heather Dixon reports. Pictures by Jeremy Phillips.
PHILIP Russell might never have renovated a property if it hadn’t been for a motorbike accident which nearly killed him.
“I was recovering in hospital and rethinking my future when a friend brought me a copy of Homebuilding & Renovating magazine to read. I decided that when I was back on my feet I would do more with my life and that would include renovating a property,” he says.
Ten years later he kept his resolution and, with his wife Natalie, bought a dated 1960s bungalow near Leeds with the aim of turning the traditional three-bed property into a modern open-plan family home.
“A couple of sales had fallen through and the price was reduced by £50,000 by the time we bought it,” says Philip. “The original plan was to convert just the front section of the bungalow, where the living room was, and give it a modern facelift, but a friend suggested flipping the property round, building an extension at the rear and having the kitchen overlooking the garden.”
The couple paid a designer to draw up a simple redesign from which the final plans emerged. They included an open-plan extended kitchen, living and dining area and adjoining study, with folding sliding doors opening onto the back garden. The living room at the front of the house would become the main bedroom. The old flat-roof kitchen extension would be demolished and the rest of the kitchen area turned into a family bathroom. The original bathroom would be transformed into a spacious entrance hall. There would also be a new single garage and a walled garden with resin aggregate patio.
Natalie and Philip lived in the bungalow while it was renovated, camping out in a single room and creating temporary walls for privacy when the old bathroom became the builders’ main thoroughfare.
“We created a new front door which, for a while, opened straight onto the bath and toilet, so we had to be very imaginative and create makeshift walls with large pieces of cardboard,” smiles Natalie. “The bath provided our only source of running water for a few weeks.”
The renovation began with Philip stripping out the internal fittings and putting the contents of the garage, including much of their furniture, into a storage container in the front garden. The old garage was then knocked down to create access to the back of the house.
The existing kitchen extension was also demolished and 30 skiploads of rubble removed from site. The concrete raft footings for the extension across the back of the bungalow were then dug out ready for the building of the Marley Rochester brick plinth and breezeblock walls.
The old room layout was reversed and the new extension created an open-plan kitchen, dining and sitting room. This meant taking out inside walls and installing lintels “everywhere” to create the new framework.
Three months into the project, Natalie, who by this time was expecting their first child, gave up work and was spending more and more time among the chaos. As work progressed she and Philip moved from room to room, taking the upheaval in their stride.
“At one point the electricity was off and we were cooking with a head torch on,” says Natalie. “We just saw the whole thing as an adventure. It was really good fun.”
The new plumbing went in and the walls were insulated and plastered before solid oak and tiled floors were laid ready for the fitting of the new kitchen and bathrooms.
A study/bedroom was built at the back of the integrated garage so that it, too, could benefit from folding sliding doors overlooking the garden.
“During the building of the extension we realised there was space above the garage to create another small room,” says Philip, who went back to the planning department to apply for an amendment to the original plans. “There isn’t much headroom but by using the right trusses we were able to create a useful space which can be used for storage or as a den.”
The original part of the property and the extension were then tiled with slate to create a seamless modern finish. When it came to sourcing building materials and furniture for the new-look bungalow, Philip and Natalie spent hours on the internet, looking for the best deals and finding some money-saving bargains in the process.
The revamp has certainly caused a stir with the neighbours but the overall feedback has been encouraging and it was worthwhile financially. The bungalow cost £174,000 and the build cost was £100,000. It was recently valued at £375,000.
“We wanted to show that a quite dated bungalow could be transformed into a modern home without radically altering its basic shape,” says Philip.
“By turning it round and reorganising the rooms, we have been able to create a light, spacious home which gives the bungalow a radical new image.”
Joinery, JK Benchmarks, tel: 07894 865162
Designer, Owens Design, tel: 01977 702450
Builder, Dominic Moss, tel: 07917 341798
External Epoxy resin aggregate, solar shading and flooring, Fresco Group, tel: 0113 245 4050
Internal doors Dooria, dooria. se
Gate: David Wright Joinery, tel: 01977 681832
Kitchen: Diane Berry Kitchens, tel: 0161 798 5335
For further inspiration and advice for your building project, pick up the December issue of
magazine and check out The Northern Harrogate Homebuilding and Renovating Show at the International Conference Centre, Harrogate, November 2-4.
THEN AND NOW: A flat-roof kitchen extension, above right, was demolished and an integral garage built further down the drive, creating an elegant L-shaped bungalow.
The open plan-kitchen, dining and sitting room used to be bedrooms until the layout of the bungalow was changed. The Russell’s added warmth to the bungalow by using rich, dark colours.