‘We love our house and have been living here very happily since 1998, but a few years ago we started to think about moving,’ says Lynne. The cottage she shares with husband Tim was built in the 1740s, and previous owners had extended to create a larger kitchen and third bedroom in the 1960s.
‘Back in the 1700s, houses were often built facing north to keep them cool in the summer,’ explains Lynne, ‘but this tends to make the original rooms dark and, although the house was big enough for us, the layout didn’t really flow.
‘However, we were sitting outside on the terrace one evening and it suddenly occurred to us that we could extend into the garden,’ Lynne continues. ‘We played around with the idea and when we factored in the expense of turning another house into our home, we felt it would cost more to move than to extend.’
- The owners: Lynne and Tim Dare, who both work as executive headhunters, live here
- The property: An extended three-bedroom 18th-century, semi-detached cottage on a third of an acre
- The location: Hartpury, Gloucestershire
- What they spent: The couple’s kitchen-diner and garden room extension project cost around £200,000
Planning the design
The couple searched online for an architect, and found Laurence Aston in nearby Redmarley D’Abitot. He was highly recommended and in turn suggested local builder Paul Roberts. The original plan was to have a two-storey extension, but, to the couple’s dismay when they saw the costings, it was too expensive.
However, Laurence came up with an alternative solution: a redesigned kitchen, new utility, oak-framed garden room and a gable-ended dining room leading from the kitchen, with the roof rising to an apex. This new space would take the place of a terrace, a small conservatory and part of the east-facing garden. The couple were delighted with the plans, which they submitted in April 2012, with full permission granted two months later.
Unfortunately, it took another year before work could begin as the local authority requested that a bat survey was carried out – luckily none were found in the house – and a telegraph pole had to be relocated from the front garden.
‘Having to move the pole turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as it was lovely to get rid of it and all the overhead cables,’ says Lynne. ‘In addition, the power company told us that if we had a trench dug to carry the cables underground across our garden, it would remove the old pole and set up another at the end of our garden free of charge.’
Building the extension
Work finally began on the extension in June 2013. First, the small, ramshackle conservatory was demolished and many tons of earth were removed from the garden to level the ground. ‘We also took down the exterior back wall of the kitchen and built another, internal, one, where our ovens are now, to create a utility room,’ says Lynne.
The Oak Frame Carpentry Company in Stroud provided the oak for the new dining and garden room extension, which opens out to the patio through two sets of oak bi-fold doors. Travertine floor tiles are fitted throughout over underfloor heating. ‘While the tiles were expensive, they were worth it, as they complement the oak and almost perfectly match the paving stones used outside,’ says Lynne.
Another slight hitch arose soon after work began. ‘The foundations were meant to be at least one metre deep, but the diggers hit bedrock at 700cm,’ explains Lynne. ‘Luckily, after viewing the foundations, the building control inspector signed them off. In fact, he said that the bedrock was the reason the cottage was originally built here, as it’s very stable.’
Work continued swiftly, with the builders and a team of joiners on site seven days a week for a month, working from dawn until dusk to meet the deadline for the new kitchen’s installation. By October, the builders were ready for the handmade units and island to be fitted.
In the meantime, Lynne came up with the perfect solution for a temporary kitchen. ‘The builders helped me to empty a tiny home office – two square metres – by the porch and put in a small kitchen, including a sink, two-ring hob, dishwasher and shelving, so it was painless,’ she says.
To create more space for cabinets, Lynne and Tim removed the old boiler, which had been located in the kitchen where the utility room now is, and had it replaced with an external model. ‘To heat the space, we specified an electric mat underfloor heating system, as we didn’t want to dig up the existing concrete screed, but in the extension we opted for a wet system,’ explains Lynne. ‘For instant heat, we also fitted an upright radiator to the wall opposite the island.’
Despite a few setbacks, the couple just about managed to keep the project within their budget, going over by only 10 per cent. ‘We had anticipated that in our contingency fund, however, so there were no surprises,’ says Lynne.
‘We really shopped around for the kitchen, and visited at least half a dozen showrooms. In the end we chose Woodchester Cabinet Makers because it was local and the only company that invited us into the workshop,’ explains Lynne. ‘We could see how well-made it all was, the price was right, and the proprietor Tim Buckingham had all sorts of ideas for filling in awkward spaces with useful storage solutions, such as our dresser and a built-in wine rack.’
It was important to the Dares to use natural materials, such as oak and stone, throughout the project, and they opted for a natural colour palette to complement them. ‘As green fields surround us, we chose soft green and off-white paint for the cabinetry, which went well with the limestone floors and oak beams,’ says Lynne. ‘We also picked country-style fabrics that capture the feeling of the location. We wanted clean lines and for the space to feel as light as possible, so painted the walls off-white.
‘Every time we walk into our new extension, we smile,’ continues Lynne. ‘We spend most of our time in here now and we can open the bi-fold doors to step straight into the garden. We love it and can hardly believe it’s ours.’
|Building work and carpentry||£143,920|
|Kitchen cabinetry and installation||£13,140|
|Architect’s fees and planning application costs||£8,980|