Extending or remodelling your home: Some points to consider.
13:52 01 February 2011
Your life changes year to year and at some point you will probably think about moving house but perhaps it is time to think about extending or remodelling your home instead.
You like your house, location and neighbours but find you are running out of space or that your house no longer suits your lifestyle. Perhaps your family has grown or maybe your children have left for university and you want a stylish zen type living space that doesnt suit muddy PE kit or sticky fingers.
Q. What do you want?
Your first consideration is what you want your home to have that it doesnt have now. This can range from a small office space to help you work from home to extra bedrooms or a knock through of separate rooms to create a huge open plan space.
Q. Where can you build?
You will need to assess your home to see where you can convert space or build your extension.
In small urban houses with little land and stricter planning regulations you will need to be canny with your design as extensions will be small in size and will need a good deal of thought on the layout to make them work. Adaptable furniture, clever details and lighting design will help to get a spacious feeling in the smallest of houses.
With larger houses, you may have a garden, loft or driveway you can extend out to. It is still important not to detract from the proportion or layout of the existing house, the skill is in creating more/larger rooms that still connect to the heart of the house.
It is vital to consider the value of your home and consider whether you are adapting it in order to improve the value or whether you want to stay there, make it your own personal dream space with the sale value taking second place.
Last but not least, there is the small issue of obtaining Planning Permission. This may be a long and complex process and may require you to get other consents such as Listed Building Consent or provide details to the Highways Officers. This will all depend on your site and the planning policies of the local council.
Q What is your preferred style?
Most people considering a domestic project already have a mental bank of details and room plan arrangements they have picked up over the years from buildings they have visited or illustrations in books or magazines.
To generalise massively, your style preference will probably fall somewhere between contemporary or traditional and everyone will have their own interpretation of these styles.
Contemporary style, as seen in purist architectural magazine articles, is simple yet highly designed with crisp, clean spaces where the beauty comes from the exactness of line, proportion and material and which needs to be set off with perfect lighting. It is synonymous with open plan where spaces flow from one space to another and needs a monastic dedication to live without clutter.
Traditional style is hard to define. Traditional Scandinavian and Japanese structures would be considered contemporary in the UK and indeed many minimalist architects have taken the principles of these designs to create their designs.
I would define pure Traditional as being buildings that are designed without designers, rather put together by craftsmen, carpenters and stonemasons who have a good knowledge of constructing for the local conditions and materials available. A traditional building can have decorative features perhaps a hand carved newel post on the stairs or exposed timber beams.
The style of your design will probably be a mix of both and may be eclectic; poacing details from different eras and architectural styles. As long as the overall effect comes together then there is no reason why you cant have a modern version of an inglenook fireplace in your contemporary home or a huge modern window in your oak framed extension. Everything can be drawn and modelled during the design process to get the scheme exactly right.
Let there be light
Whichever style you choose, light plays a fundamental part in how your home feels.
Natural light is the best. It is brightest and gives beautiful effects as the quality constantly changes depending on the time of day, weather and season. Natural light brings the interior to life and even a simple white wall will come alive with patterns, colours and reflections of the sky. Natural light can be provided with windows or rooflights, Sunpipes (Flexible mirrored tubes) can direct natural light into the deepest of rooms or a basement.
Artificial lighting needs to be carefully planned in order to provide ambiance and good quality task lighting. There are a multitude of different lights available and time should be invested in creating an interior lighting scheme as this will make a huge difference to the way the spaces feel.
The process of extending or refurbishing your home will involve looking at your options and weighing up the pros and cons. Desires, budget, saleability and adaptability will all play an important role in creating your design. Take the time to create the right design as once the disruption of the builders has become a memory your home will affect the way you live and a well designed extension or remodel will give you a great deal of satisfaction.
Julia Burden RIBA, Ver Architecture, www.verarchitecture.co.uk