A most at­trac­tive bit on the side

Why go up, or down, when the sim­plest way to ex­tend your home lies left or right? Caro­line McGhie re­ports

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Health&wealth -

This is a pe­cu­liarly Lon­don pre­oc­cu­pa­tion. As prop­erty prices have soared, so peo­ple have tried to max­imise the in­ter­nal space of their Vic­to­rian ter­race houses by build­ing into the side pas­sage – that dank area pre­vi­ously oc­cu­pied by drains, dust­bins, bi­cy­cles and shade-tol­er­ant plants. Most home­own­ers push the kitchen out into it, but Rachel and Peter Tlusty went fur­ther and built an ar­chi­tec­tural mille­feuille.

They also ex­panded the kitchen into the gar­den. The whole project cost about £150,000, and they are now sell­ing the house with its six bed­rooms and three bath­rooms through John D Wood at £1.89 mil­lion. By con­trast, an­other house for sale in the same road, in south-west Lon­don, with five bed­rooms, two bath­rooms and a large kitchen, is val­ued at £1.285 mil­lion by Sav­ills (0845 375 8944). The Tlustys, there­fore, may have added about £600,000 to the value of their prop­erty.

They saw the po­ten­tial in the dead space when they bought the house 10 years ago. “We are an end-of-ter­race, so we had a good eight to 10 feet go­ing along the whole length of the house which most peo­ple don’t have,” says Rachel. “The peo­ple we bought from had drawn up plans to have a sin­gle-storey ad­di­tion.” In­stead of build­ing from th­ese, they con­sulted ar­chi­tect Charles Brice and in­te­rior de­signer Char­lotte Lane Fox in or­der to cre­ate some­thing al­to­gether grander.

Their ini­tial plan was to build up to the full height of the house, but the area has con­ser­va­tion sta­tus and lo­cal res­i­dents ob­jected that it would look over-de­vel­oped. So they mod­i­fied the plans and re­duced the top floor. In­stead of putting an­other bath­room up there, they turned it into low-ceil­ing stor­age space. “We don’t over­look our im­me­di­ate neigh­bours on ei­ther side so it wasn’t go­ing to af­fect any­one,” says Rachel. “We would cer­tainly do it again. You might as well make the changes that you can to make a house more hab­it­able.”

This was four years ago when the mar­ket was mov­ing briskly. “We had one or two sleep­less nights but we were pretty con­fi­dent we would re­coup our spend­ing,” she says. “We had a won­der­ful team of Pol­ish builders – though it took 24 weeks in­stead of the planned 16. We lived on the top two floors and they cre­ated a lit­tle kitchen for us in one of the bed­rooms.”

On the ground floor, they gained a big­ger kitchen with French win­dows to the gar­den, plus a util­ity room and a study. On the first floor, they got a dress­ing room-cum-bath­room and a smaller shower room, which freed up the orig­i­nal bath­room to be­come an­other bed­room. On the top floor they got two large stor­age rooms.

When they ap­plied for plan­ning per­mis­sion they had two tod­dlers, Amelia and Katie, but since then Char­lotte has been born and they now have three girls aged eight, six and three to en­joy the ex­tra space. “The house flows very well,” says Rachel, “and I love the fact that my util­ity room is on the main floor, not tucked away in a cel­lar. The study is close by too, so I can be on the com­puter and the chil­dren can be play­ing next door. I would be hard pushed to man­age with th­ese rooms on dif­fer­ent floors now. It has made this house unique. It places it apart.”

So what is the mar­ket like for a house with so much more lat­eral liv­ing than its neigh­bours? “Most peo­ple are look­ing for houses in their orig­i­nal state so that they can do the side ex­ten­sions them­selves and add value quickly,” says Hugo Head­lam, of John D Wood. “Th­ese streets are full of four- and fivebed­room houses which are a bit short on liv­ing space. Fam­i­lies now want room for grown-ups and room for chil­dren, too.

“A typ­i­cal one-storey side ex­ten­sion costs around £30,000 to £50,000. If it goes into cre­at­ing a new kitchen, it can cost £50,000 to £70,000. Usu­ally, it adds £100,000 to the price of the house – but this one is spe­cial, as it pro­vides triple the space and a big­ger kitchen. It is a rar­ity.”

Charles Brice (020 7491 1932, www.charles­brice.co.uk)

The Tlustys’ home is for sale through John D Wood (020 8871 3033) for £1.89 mil­lion

Side show: (above left) Rachel Tlusty and her daugh­ter, Char­lotte, in the added study of their south-west Lon­don home; top, the side and kitchen ex­ten­sion; above, on the first floor the ex­ten­sion also fea­tures a dress­ing room/bath­room and shower room

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