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
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