How we built a home out of a tiny, dis­used newsagent

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Front Page -

Wil­liamson, an ar­chi­tect, and Baldry, a struc­tural en­gi­neer, wanted a home that had lit­tle or no mort­gage. They bought the shop for £33,500, and spent just £35,000 on the build. “I cre­ated a thor­ough bud­get plan be­fore we started,” says Wil­liamson. “If, in the course of the month, we over­spent, I’d then look to how we could save money else­where. I was con­stantly re­view­ing the bud­get plan.”

They made huge sav­ings by car­ry­ing out most of the work them­selves, park­ing their van in the drive­way to live on site. The cou­ple reckon that they com­pleted around 90 per cent of the work, only call­ing in trades­men to make the roof wa­ter­tight and ask­ing a car­pen­ter to help with the tim­ber frame for the first floor ex­ten­sion. To cut down on the cost, Wil­liamson and Baldry took handy short­cuts such as us­ing kitchen cab­i­nets from Ikea, cus­tomised with their own wooden fronts. But they in­vested in sturdy ma­te­ri­als too, such as a stain­less steel coun­ter­top that set them back £1,000.

The cou­ple even con­structed the stairs them­selves, and there is ply­wood cladding and pol­ished con­crete floor through the house to give a sense of con­ti­nu­ity. The bed­room sits tucked be­hind the kitchen, and up­stairs is a living room and study that opens out on to a bal­cony. The small space has been packed with stor­age and fea­tures to avoid crowd­ing it, such as open shelves in the kitchen.

To get the project through plan­ning – a hard task, since pre­vi­ous pro­pos­als to over­haul the newsagent had been re­jected – the cou­ple de­cided to paint the out­side brick white, with the wooden cladding in black, to re­flect the lo­cal ver­nac­u­lar of Shrewsbury’s Tu­dor roots. Al­though plan­ners were ini­tially scep­ti­cal, they ac­cepted it, and the white has also been used in the up­stairs living area to bring the out­side in. The de­sign has kept the look of the newsagent, with a be­spoke triple-glazed win­dow in the kitchen that em­u­lates the orig­i­nal one from the old shop. The glaz­ing, cre­ated by Man­ley & Son Join­ery, looks out over the church op­po­site, and is south fac­ing, fill­ing the room with light.

The house is also en­ergy ef­fi­cient, con­structed to Pas­sivhaus prin­ci­ples, well-in­su­lated and air­tight. “We’d have liked the house to have been cer­ti­fied,” says Baldry, “but our very tight bud­getary con­straints meant we couldn’t af­ford to spec­ify cer­ti­fied prod­ucts and pay for the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion process.”

There is no need for a boiler; the house is kept warm by just two elec­tric heaters and a towel rail, with a tank for hot wa­ter in a specif­i­cally de­signed space un­der the stairs. “The home­own­ers re­ally need to be ap­plauded for tak- ing on all of the chal­lenges and be­ing tena­cious enough to see them all through,” adds Bray.

The judg­ing panel crowned a house in Devon called The Quest, with lat­eral space and a can­tilevered west wing, as the “world’s most amaz­ing home”. The “best spirit of self build” went to a de­vel­op­ment in Bat­tersea, south London, in which six neigh­bours came to­gether to re­build their block, dou­bling the size of their homes and pay­ing for it by build­ing eight flats. “This project shows en­tre­pre­neur­ial think­ing in a way that must be con­grat­u­lated and up­held as a shin­ing bea­con of hope,” says Bray, “es­pe­cially in an age where we are wrestling to find ways to cre­ate hous­ing for all.”

Clare Wil­liamson, an ar­chi­tect, and Os­car Baldry, a struc­tural en­gi­neer, utilised their skills by com­plet­ing most of their home’s ren­o­va­tions them­selves

The house’s wooden cladding was painted black to re­flect Shrewsbury’s Tu­dor roots, right; the stairs, far right, were con­structed by the cou­ple

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.