‘The Ger­mans took one look and said they wanted the job’

An ul­tra-mod­ern kit ex­ten­sion to a pic­tureper­fect English cot­tage was an ideal so­lu­tion, finds Zoe Dare Hall

The Daily Telegraph - Saturday - - PROPERTY -

As a child grow­ing up in the Hamp­shire vil­lage of Broughton in the Test Val­ley, Jonathan Turpin would of­ten stand on the bridge near his house, try­ing to catch brown trout in the prized waters be­low, and won­der about “the mag­i­cal, mys­te­ri­ous lit­tle cot­tage” on the other side of the stream.

When he re­turned to live in Broughton years later with his wife, Les­lie, he was de­lighted to see the Grade II listed, 18th-cen­tury cot­tage was for sale. What he never knew as a child was that its real beauty lay out of sight, with four acres of land­scaped park­land, sur­rounded by wa­ter.

“We could never have af­forded a large house with this amount of land in Broughton, but we could af­ford this small cot­tage, with a view to ex­tend­ing it,” says Jonathan, 48, who runs branches of hair­dressers in Hamp­shire and Sur­rey. The sale went to sealed bids, and while theirs wasn’t the high­est, Jonathan sent a let­ter to the el­derly owner, ex­plain­ing his mem­o­ries of this cot­tage. It worked; they were asked to come around for tea, in­vited to match the high­est bid of £387,500, and the cot­tage was theirs. He and Les­lie, also 48, spent the next eight years pur­su­ing plan­ning per­mis­sion to ex­tend their his­toric home.

There were ap­pli­ca­tions, re­jec­tions and ap­peals. Given its bu­colic, wa­tery set­ting, they needed flood sur­veys and wildlife stud­ies. “We have deer, nest­ing buz­zards and king­fish­ers in the gar­den, all of which needed to be mon­i­tored,” says Jonathan. On top of that, there were the de­lays that came with go­ing down the wrong track from the start.

The cou­ple as­sumed that such a pe­riod build­ing would re­quire an ex­ten­sion that blended in, but their first two sub­mis­sions – ones that com­ple­mented the ex­ist­ing house with au­then­tic peg tiles and old brick – were re­jected flat out. “It was a frus­trat­ing, long process in which the con­ser­va­tion of­fi­cer in­formed us it wasn’t a case of him telling us what we could do, but of us propos­ing what we wanted to do and him say­ing yes or no,” says Jonathan. “I then read an ar­ti­cle about how con­ser­va­tion of­fi­cers want to see mod­ern ex­ten­sions on old houses.”

His re­search into con­tem­po­rary build­ings led him to Huf Haus, the Ger­man man­u­fac­turer of mod­ern pre­fab­ri­cated homes, which builds only around 150 a year in the UK. Ini­tially, how­ever, it didn’t look like the Turpins would be join­ing the Huf-own­ing set. “The com­pany told us that it didn’t do ex­ten­sions, but we were po­litely per­sis­tent and sug­gested they come and see the prop­erty. Three Ger­mans turned up in their smart cash­mere coats, took one look at the set­ting and said they wanted to do it,” Jonathan says.

The Turpins de­cided to chal­lenge the Ger­man de­sign­ers to come up with the small­est ever Huf Haus as well – a one-bed­room Huf granny an­nexe for Jonathan’s 80-yearold mother, Su­san, in place of an old garage in their gar­den. “She was still liv­ing over the road in the house I grew up in, but she has mo­bil­ity prob­lems. It made sense to swap a big Vic­to­rian prop­erty for a very user-friendly, open­plan glass box,” he says.

Over the next six months, the Huf crew de­signed the ex­te­rior of the 646 sq ft ex­ten­sion and 1,076 sq ft bun­ga­low – both of which were im­me­di­ately given the green light by plan­ners. Then the Turpins spent three days in the fac­tory in Harten­fels, western Ger­many, de­cid­ing on ev­ery light switch, plug socket and where to put the TV in a room with four glass walls. “Once you have signed off the de­sign, it can’t be changed. There’s no go­ing back,” says Jonathan.

Sev­eral months later, on the dot of 7am as promised, a huge ar­tic­u­lated lorry ar­rived. Within two days, the struc­ture for both build­ings was com­plete. Over the next few weeks, the in­ter­nal flour­ishes were added, in­clud­ing a wood-burn­ing stove as the cen­tre­piece of the new ex­ten­sion.

“Within one step we walk from the 1700s into the 21st cen­tury,” says Jonathan of their glass box, which is bolted on to the his­toric brick wall of their cot­tage. “It doesn’t de­tract from the listed build­ing. It’s clear what’s old and new, and it works. In win­ter, we use the snug, old part with its low beams, and in sum­mer we have a beau­ti­ful glass sit­ting room where we can slide all the doors open and over­look the gar­den,” he says.

Su­san, too, is de­lighted with her ul­tra-mod­ern, triple-glazed an­nexe over­look­ing the mead­ows. “We have kept some of her tra­di­tional Vic­to­rian fur­ni­ture, which works well in a mod­ern cube,” adds Jonathan.

It may be the small­est Huf house ever built, but it’s also the prici­est on a per-square-foot ba­sis be­cause of the tricky lo­gis­tics when in­stalling it. The ex­ten­sion cost around €230,000 (£207,000) and the an­nexe €460,000. Sav­ills re­cently val­ued the house at £1.7mil­lion. The Turpins have no plans to sell, but there are many ex­pec­tant buy­ers wait­ing in the wings, says Jonathan. “We get sev­eral let­ters a year ask­ing if we will sell. It’s a one-off. It’s like liv­ing with a lim­ited-edi­tion Fer­rari.”

BLEND ON THE RIVER Jonathan and Les­lie Turpin, be­low; their Grade II listed, 18th-cen­tury cot­tage, above

SMALL IS BEAU­TI­FUL The Huf Haus an­nexe, main, and ex­ten­sion, be­low

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