Amanda and Oliver’s home is a typical London Victorian terraced house. From the front, it has the same Victorian front door in the same community. However, step inside, and you discover an energy-efficient, contemporary new home that is 50% bigger than its formerly near-identical next-door neighbours.
The couple had bought their traditional two-up, two-down terrace before starting a family. Over time, their growing household was left with a choice between selling and buying somewhere bigger, extending or rebuilding. Amanda explains: “Oliver and I moved from a one-bedroom flat to a small two-bedroom house in the knowledge that it could be extended in the future. As our family grew, we needed more space, and so we decided to take on this project. By doing the works ourselves, we finally got our ideal house in the area we wanted – all without paying stamp duties and agents’ fees.”
The couple appointed Adams+Collingwood Architects’ specialist residential team, who had worked on a number of similar terraced houses and recommended the most practical, cost-saving way to create the ideal family home. In this instance, that meant demolishing and rebuilding. This decision allowed the family to take advantage of VAT savings – saving them more than £100,000 compared to the cost of refurbishing and extending the existing property.
Preparing for family life
The initial brief for the renovation was “a practical vehicle for a reasonably large family living environment – which also included new sustainable and energy-saving technologies.” Amanda reveals: “We spent a long time discussing this with Adams+Collingwood Architects. We ensured that the specifications were exact so that the contractor could work from a clear design. The only provisional items that we had when the builder started work were the kitchen and staircase. The layout of both had been designed, but the suppliers had not been chosen. Oliver was able to mark up an architect drawing to show the electronic data and communication technology that he required.
“Planning permission-wise, it took two months for a pre-application and three months for the planning application. We project managed the build ourselves; although we worked closely with Adams+Collingwood Architects – who took on the traditional roles of contract administrator within their architectural service. Adams+Collingwood guided us towards suppliers such as West One Bathrooms and Howdens Kitchens. Whereas my husband found the door company Doors4UK.
A contemporary interpretation
With the local council’s support, Adams+Collingwood Architects recreated a replica external facade precisely as it would have been 120 years ago. The practice also kept the traditional architectural typology of the ‘water closet wing’ to the rear, retaining the familiar features that are so representative of Victorian terraces.
Amanda explains: “The street frontage is a complete new-build replica of the original Victorian facade. Behind that facade, everything is new; although the ground floor entrance/sitting room and the master bedroom above are replicas of the original rooms.
“The front facade now includes a bay window which was missing when we bought the property and is now more in keeping with the street. The smart element of Adams+Collingwood Architects’ design is that the family room/kitchen is level with the main garden level. The fact that the garden is level means we have a patio area which is like an extra room in the summer.”
A spacious interior
The contemporary, split-level plan included four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a formal sitting room, a utility room, plenty of storage space and an open-plan kitchen/dining room that opens out onto the family garden. With the kitchen floor set 450mm below ground level of the garden, this allowed for the introduction of a low wall, which acts as a spare seat for an additional outside room.
For the internal fit-out, Adams+Collingwood Architects opted for an imaginative combination of expensive and everyday materials. Their goal was to deliver a high-end finish, but one that included durable, practical surfaces that befitted a growing family. This meant marble tiles in the bathroom and Corian worktops in the kitchen, combined with practical wall finishes and ash plywood dividers on the feature staircase. The result is a bright, spacious family home that provides plenty of room for a contemporary London lifestyle. It’s terrace living, upcycled.
The final build
“Works started on site in August 2017, and we completed and moved in immediately in February 2019,” says Amanda. “However, this was not what was predicted. The contractor we chose contracted the works on the basis of a 32-week contract, so we were expecting to move in long before we did.”
Regardless of contractor complexities, the Adams family are delighted with their new home. It previously had issues that are typical of many terraced houses – internal doors that wouldn’t quite close during winter, springy floorboards and mysterious draughts that pushed up energy bills. As a result of the terrace upcycling solution, the home has gone from using 6000kWh electricity and 7500kWh gas per annum to using 4000kWh electricity and 6000kWh gas – despite the building being twice the size.
Talking of the final build, Amanda said: “The design by Adams+Collingwood Architects makes incredible use of the space available. We feel that we have acquired an incredible new property, but without having to leave the area we loved.” When asked what she loves most about her new home, Amanda responded: “The design, layout and space. These all work together to produce a family home that works precisely for our needs. Adams+Collingwood Architects ensured that all our requirements were captured, so we have the perfect family home. The kitchen/dining room is our favourite room. This is a large family space that all four of us enjoy being in. It is light and airy and leads straight onto the garden. It is also warm and cosy in the winter.”
Talking of the hurdles the couple encountered, Amanda recalled: “The client and contractor relationship was much harder to manage than I had envisaged. In particular, keeping the contractor to a specification and time frame was tricky. I would probably have done more diligence on our contractor as that relationship – and its subsequent breakdown – was the most challenging part of the project. That said, notwithstanding a lot of problems with the contractor, we remained within the original budget.
“I would advise that anyone looking to renovate pays due diligence with regards to potential contractors and builders to ensure that the relationship between contractor and client is maintained throughout the project.”
When asked if she would do it all again, Amanda replied: “Oliver was much keener to pursue this project, and with a different contractor, he would be keen to do the project again.”
The architect’s verdict
Talking of the final project, Rob Adams, Architectural Director at Adams+Collingwood Architects, said: “It’s wonderful to see the Temperley Road family settling into their successfully upcycled home. London’s terraced houses are a valuable resource, and Adams+Collingwood Architects has ambitious plans to upcycle terraced housing on a scale that would provide a sustainable solution to solve the housing crisis our city faces.”
“The eco-friendly element of the Terrace Upcycle solution is key to making London’s housing more sustainable. We need to do all we can to reduce our environmental footprint, and this concept has the potential to reduce the energy consumption of every terraced house in London by a third while also providing homeowners with significantly more space,” adds Adams+Collingwood Architects’ Tamsin Bryant.
• Worcester Bosch boiler
• Porcelanosa’s porcelain full-height marble-effect tiles
• Staircase designed by Adams+Collingwood Architects
• Timber for the staircase from Exeter-based Beech Bros
• CNC-cut plywood balustrading from B2b Exhibitions Ltd.