21 Oct 2021

The Self Build Diaries: Ed and Katie Pateman-Jones

This stunning 2500ft2, Victorian, five-bedroom, semi-detached, south-facing house in Streatham Hill, South London, is home to Ed and Katie Pateman-Jones – who live here with their baby, Billy, and fox-red labrador, Juno. Having completed an extensive renovation in summer this year, Ed and Katie have successfully married old architectural elements with brand-new materials with stunning, rough brick surfaces and large expanses of glazing.

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Here, i-Build’s Editor, Rebecca Kemp, talks to Ed Pateman-Jones about his family’s home renovation project and finds out what drove him and Katie to take on this property to extend.

RK: What inspired you to take on this project?
EP-J: For us, it just didn’t feel like good value to buy a house that was already ‘done-up’, particularly as it would then likely be to someone else’s tastes. Because of this, we inevitably ended up looking at properties that needed a bit of TLC. Comparatively, this house required less work than many others we saw, allowing us to concentrate on the things we wanted rather than essential repairs.

RK: Have you always wanted to pursue your own project?
EP-J: I studied for a property development degree at university and so always had some ambition to renovate a property. My mother has also renovated several houses, and so the prospect of a renovation was always something I was enticed by. Fortunately, Katie and I share very similar architectural and interior tastes – which, we learned on our house hunt, was not shared by many others (or at least within our limited budget!).

RK: How and why did you choose this property to renovate?
EP-J: Prior to buying this house, we had put offers in elsewhere, which were (very fortunately) rejected. In hindsight, we know that we had definitely got caught up in the illusion that everything seems to be selling at double speed as soon as you start looking. This house had been taken off the market by another buyer who, fortunately (for us), couldn’t get the finances together, so the estate agent called us up, and we bit his arm off! In our eyes, it was the best value house in the area and represented everything we wanted (at least four-bed, south-facing, good-sized garden and at least 2000ft2), and it had the added benefit of being at a price that allowed us to release some equity from our previous property, thus enabling the renovation to happen.

RK: What style and age is the original building?
EP-J: It dates back to around 1900 and is Victorian in style – high ceilings, fireplaces, architraves, picture rails etc.

RK: How did you combine the original building’s style with the extension?
EP-J: We love the London yellow bricks, so we designed the extension to blur the old and the new. That blending of existing and new-build elements also spilt over to how we incorporate the theme of inside/outside with the glazing ‘cutting’ through the bricks and allowing us to view up the side of the house, seeing where the old bricks and new bricks merge.

RK: What was the vision and inspiration behind your new home?
EP-J: We absolutely love the exposed bricks and black window frames found on canal houses in Amsterdam – and the minimalism and clean lines of Scandinavian design. We have combined these two architectural types with traditional Victorian London architecture to create our dream home.

RK: How did you approach finalising your design brief?
EP-J: With such a huge opportunity to do something exciting and unique, there was no way we were going to follow the status quo. So, we were always encouraging the architect to push the boundaries of what he thought we wanted. Initially, we wanted traditional Crittall windows (or replicas), but including them in the design created a number of restrictions for us – in terms of how the glazing functioned within the space. We also realised that we wanted to veer away from anything that was very in vogue at the time – in case it didn’t age well. Once we had made this decision, we (and the architect) were much more creative with the glazing’s design and functionality without compromising the rest of the space. As soon as we knew there was an option to have an opening corner of glazing, ‘up-and-over’ glazing and a separate skylight, all against a gorgeous, exposed brick wall, we were determined to make that happen.

RK: How long did it take to gain planning permission?
EP-J: Faster than expected! Although, because of the redesign after changing the concept away from Crittall-style windows, we went back through planning permission for a second time. We found that calling the planning officer directly to encourage progression helped speed the process up by a few weeks.

RK: Were there any challenging aspects to the project and build?
EP-J: Many! The seamless threshold between the kitchen and the patio tiles is complicated to design, mainly because the glazing is on a corner. This took many conference calls with the glazier, architect and builder to finally agree on how this could work. Finding well-priced glaziers was extremely difficult. We had quotes back at twice the price of what we ended up securing, for what we believe to be, an identical product.

RK: Did you project manage the build yourself?
EP-J: Our builder managed the build, although we sourced most of the finishing materials.

RK: Did you work with an architect at any point in the process?
EP-J: Yes, until the builder was appointed and then again when we ran into difficulty with the glazing design.

RK: How did you approach material and product specification?
EP-J: We did this as we went along, without any advice. Hats off to anyone who can do it all upfront! We are pleased with the end result, having done it this way, but it was highly stressful as the decisions seemed never-ending at the time.

RK: Are there any particular materials that you would recommend to others?
EP-J: Our exposed brick wall characterises our build. If you can find a way of integrating the clean lines of glazing with the rough lines of brick, I think your project is likely to end up looking great.

RK: How long did the project take?
EP-J: Eight months. We had planned for about five. Excavation during very wet weather took longer than expected. We also increased the size of the renovation to improve the rooms throughout the house, including another bathroom, whereas we had initially just planned to do the ground floor.

RK: When was the project completed?
EP-J: It was completed in June 2021, but we moved in a month before, as it was habitable. Katie’s parents had already put up with us living with them for eight months! I’d certainly recommend being there for the final stages. I don’t know what would have happened if we hadn’t moved in because the tradesmen seemed to be asking us questions every day about the final finishes.

RK: Did you remain within the original budget?
EP-J: I don’t think we had ever appreciated the cost associated with the pre-build work of design and surveys. We initially hadn’t planned to do the whole house, but we managed to save enough money to do more work than planned which, obviously, increased the budget quite a bit.

RK: How does the building respond to its surrounding landscape?
EP-J: Our extension and patio sit slightly lower than the surrounding gardens, which means it fits in very well. Whilst there is a lot of glazing, there are some very mature large trees at the end of the garden, which affords us all the privacy we need.

RK: Is the finished space everything that you hoped it would be?
EP-J: Very much so, although it has taken some time to settle in again and de-stress from the experience.

RK: What do you love most about your new home?
EP-J: The lighting. We gave it loads of thought before and during the process and were very reluctant to compromise – even when we had some pushback on the complexities of what we wanted. Now the atmosphere at night is very unique and can change at the flick of a switch.

RK: What’s your favourite room and why?
EP-J: The kitchen extension, being the core of what we have done. It has such a ‘wow factor’ and is truly one of a kind. It’s bright and airy but cosy at the same time. All the materials feel high quality, and it just feels like you’re somewhere special.

RK: Is there anything that you would have done differently?
EP-J: We get asked this a lot. We could have done things differently, but we had considered them before we proceeded, which meant that we ended up making the best decisions for us and how we would use the space.

RK: Would you do the whole thing again?
EP-J: Yes, but I think if we do it again in the next six years, it would be for the purposes of ‘flipping’ a property – which would be far more straightforward and less stressful than what we have done here.

RK: What advice would you offer to anyone looking to renovate?
EP-J: Don’t underestimate the cost of all the finishing materials, because they are often not part of your glazing and construction quotes. It’s easy to have a figure in mind that can be vastly below the reality once you actually start buying everything! Think carpets, light switches, plug sockets, light fittings, handles, tiling, paints, electricals and, of course, furniture.

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