23 Sep 2022

Cool and Contemporary for Retired Life

Steve and Judith Slater's severely-neglected bungalow was in need of a complete refurbishment in order to make it habitable again. With a brief to create a comfortable and sustainable home to enjoy their retirement, the Slaters turned to Tim Chetham of Chetham Architecture Design to help turn their renovation dreams into a reality. Here, Tim explains the ins and outs of the project, and we conduct a quick Q&A with Judith about her and Steve's decision to renovate.

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The property – which is traditionally built with standard building materials, including UPVC windows, concrete roof tiles and roughcast rendered walls – is located on a cul-de-sac with a mix of bungalows from the same period,” says Tim. “Many neighbouring properties had been extended with flat-roof dormers over the years.

“At some time in the past, there had been an attempt to convert the loft into two rooms; however, this had not been done to any building standards and was accessed by a step ladder. Meanwhile, to the rear of the house, there was a poor-quality extension, which had been used as a utility room, and at the side of the property was a flat-roofed garage. Together, this meant that there was no natural ventilation or direct light into the kitchen. A lack of insulation and ventilation meant the rooms were damp and cold.

“That said, the bungalow’s location, adjacent to Morecambe Bay, together with a large garden, meant that it had huge potential.”

The concept

“The brief was to create a comfortable and sustainable home for Steve and Judith to enjoy their retirement,” continues Tim. “It is far more sustainable to renovate an existing property than to demolish it and start again – the innovation lies in creating a modern, sustainable home from what would otherwise have been considered a derelict building. Consequently, the concept was to replace the poor-quality additions with high-quality extensions and upgrade the fabric of the existing building to exceed current standards of insulation.

Design and materials

“The design is intended to improve the property’s quality and aesthetics whilst respecting the context and environment. An open-plan layout on the ground floor and a vaulted ceiling create a sense of light and space, giving the house a more contemporary outlook. Large areas of glazing reduce the need for artificial light and break down the barrier between inside and out.

“We used a ‘fabric-first’ approach to create a thermally-efficient envelope, including triple glazing and an insulating cork-based render. Traditional building techniques were combined with modern, sustainable materials, such as zinc and aluminium, which can be recycled at the end of their useful life.

“Solar PV panels provide a sustainable source of energy, and underfloor heating is supplemented with two wood-burning stoves to provide an energy-efficient heating system.”

Q&A with Judith Slater

RK: What inspired you to take on this project?
JS: We owned a large detached Victorian property in Arnside. Although it was a beautiful house with a large garden, it was more than we needed and was challenging to maintain. Consequently, with retirement on the horizon, we thought it was time to downsize.

RK: Have you always wanted to pursue your own project?
JS: Not necessarily, but with so few properties meeting our requirements where we wanted to live, it seemed like the best option.

RK: Why did you choose this property to renovate?
JS: The property was in the perfect location, near to our family, local facilities and the beach. There was also enough money left in the budget to turn it into our dream home.

RK: What was the vision and inspiration behind your new home?
JS: We wanted to create a home that would be sustainable and easy to manage but also had that ‘wow’ factor.

RK: How did you approach finalising your design brief?
JS: We employed Chetham Architecture Design to produce plans for the original building and then created some options based on our requirements. Tim worked in 3D, which helped us to visualise the plans.

RK: How long did it take to gain planning permission?
JS: The planning process was relatively straightforward and quick. Once we had decided on the final scheme, Tim submitted the plans on our behalf and it only took about six weeks before they were approved.

RK: Were there any challenging aspects to the project and build?
JS: Yes – COVID. Unfortunately, this meant that the build took longer than expected. The cost and availability of materials were also affected after the lockdown. Also, being an existing building, access to the rear of the site was difficult.

RK: Did you project manage the build yourself?
JS: We worked with a local builder, who was highly recommended. He managed the build’s day-to-day aspects, allowing us to concentrate on the interior design and finishes.

RK: How did you approach material and product specifications?
JS: Some of the material specifications were a requirement of the planning consent, but we could put our personal touch on the interior and landscape design.

RK: Are there any particular materials that you would recommend to others looking to renovate or self-build?
JS: Our architect recommended a cork-based render, which not only helps to insulate the property, but has a nice texture and makes the extension and the original building look like a unified whole.

RK: How long did the project take?
JS: From start to finish, the project took about three years. The design process went according to plan, but the lockdown affected the build. There were additional delays securing the services (gas and electric) and clearing the site at the rear to allow access for machinery, which put the project behind schedule.

RK: When was it completed?
JS: We didn’t fully complete the project until spring 2021, but we had already moved in by then.

RK: Did you remain within the original budget?
JS: The final price was more than the original budget. This was partly because of COVID, but we also went to town in the kitchen and the garden.

RK: Walk us through the property’s design.
JS: Externally, the front of the house has been modernised, but the extension and new dormer roof still blend in with the other homes on the street. However, it has been transformed at the rear with a much more contemporary appearance.

RK: How does the building respond to its surrounding landscape?
JS: The new glass gable end takes full advantage of the steeply-rising garden and creates a light and spacious interior – completely in contrast to the dark and damp bungalow we bought.

RK: What does the local community think of the refurbishment?
JS: The feedback has been positive as far as we know; however, the ‘piece de resistance’ is at the rear, so only a select few get to appreciate this.

RK: What do you love most about your new home?
JS: The sense of light and space. We also particularly like the feeling of the underfloor heating; it’s such a contrast to our old draughty Victorian house.

RK: What’s your favourite room?
JS: The kitchen-diner. This has the ‘wow' factor of the cathedral ceiling and glass gable end, but it is still at a human scale, and you can relax by the wood-burning stove and enjoy the views up the garden.

RK: Would you do the whole thing again?
JS: We are glad we have done it – but now it’s time to relax and enjoy it.

RK: What advice would you offer to anyone looking to renovate or self build?
JS: Go for it! It’s more sustainable than buying a new house, and you can create the home of your dreams.

FACT FILE:
Location: Bolton-le-Sands, Lancashire
Type of project: Renovation and extension of derelict bungalow
Contract sum: £200,000 (Inc)
Architect: Tim Chetham MCIAT, Arb (Chetham Architecture Design)
Structural engineer: R.G Parkins (Kendal)
Main contractor: Russell Beaumont

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