It’s always a challenge to find the perfect plot of land. This is especially true if you want a house with more bedrooms than your planning permission allows for. In this article, we’ll take a look at how architects Nicola Chambers were able to creatively design and build a four-bedroom home on a tight town centre site that originally formed part of the neighbours garden.
The plot was a tight town centre site in Bishop’s Stortford that originally formed part of the neighbour’s back garden. The site, which slopes both ways and has access for three houses through their private driveways; meant we needed to maintain this at all times while providing necessary space down one track per on each side so construction vehicles could get close without obstruction.
Planning permission was granted for a small two-bedroom chalet-style house, but the brief from Kirsty and Joe is that it should be transformed into their dream home. An expanded four bedroom family residence with gardens in its entirety requires much more space on site than what they had initially planned so we worked hard to accommodate this increased volume while still respecting both immediate context (Kirsty’s input) as well current trends within architecture today – in other words, efficient circulation spaces were key!
The house’s design has enabled it to fit comfortably onto a small plot. The sloping site allowed for extra space, and since the front door opens up into an open-plan living room with great views out back as well!
The house was designed to have a minimal impact on its surroundings. In order for this design principle to work, we had to carefully consider overlooking and maintaining the existing neighbour’s amenity while maximising light and views from our new property. To achieve these goals without compromising what already exists in terms of neighbouring properties or structures (elevation changes are prohibited), we respected building lines as well as heights at both front-facing and rear elevation.
By joining the garage to the house we kept the volume of this element to a minimum, increasing light in first-floor bedrooms, and maximised space outdoors. The house is designed to meet current Building Regulations targets for energy and water efficiency, however, a Zero Energy Building Fabric and Renewable Energy study was also undertaken. This shows how the home could be upgraded with photovoltaics or air source heat pumps at some point in the future if they become more cost-efficient over time – it’s an exciting prospect!
Our clients were clear from the start that they wanted a modern house. The key was to interpret this in such a way to ensure their designs fit well within its local context by using traditional materials like brick and slate, including pitched roofs or dormer windows; these old school elements can still look very sleek on top if you do them right! The house is a mixture of natural materials that change with age. The soft, light-coloured brick helps to provide contrast and interest on the side where it meets dark aluminium doors while also breaking up what would otherwise be one layer too many in this contextually similar area!
K&J wanted to provide a home that was both flexible and private. A sliding screen allows them this, while also framing views from the large living spaces to lush gardens beyond with uninterrupted natural light pouring in through all sides of the windows at ground level or first-floor height for those who want it!
The designers of this project designed a beautiful garden that not only helps to make the house feel more at home but also provides privacy for those who live nearby. The landscaping was subtle and natural, with different areas set higher or lower than one another depending on how much space there is available in relation to where their homes sit on either side.
We always wanted to create a modern home to build a family. We’re both from creative backgrounds and renovated our first home ourselves. Its hard to find well proportioned, well designed homes in good locations these days and we’ve both always admired contemporary architecture. Kirsty was also pregnant during the build and being close to both our families was important.
We love the use of glass to the rear of the house – The garden feels like an extension of the living space. The clever use of pocket systems for the external full height windows upstairs whereby they disappear into the walls is excellent and executed perfectly. We love the open plan spaces which blend seamlessly and can be divided simply using internal pocket doors.
The technology in the house was very important from the offset, the lighting being a key aspect. Luckily one of Joe’s friends ran a local home automation business called Q Smartdesign who advised us on the importance of lighting, something we were keen to get right. We installed a Control4 automation system that controls almost everything and is highly intuitive. We’d highly recommend giving this proper consideration if budget permits as it genuinely makes a huge difference to our day to day life in the house.
The feeling of creating a home together was very exciting and we’d visit the site almost every day together. Being happy in your home and the feeling of being settled has brought us very close. There were difficult stages but we learnt to work together well and took responsibility for different areas of the project to ensure it was collaborative. Now we both feel as though we’ve really accomplished something great.
Be prepared to commit a lot of time and effort and try not to underestimate this. Any self build requires a lot of input, especially if you want to achieve a high quality of finish. Also plan a large enough contingency and be clear with the detail from the offset down to where switches, light fittings, etc will go. Changing things as you go will cost you stress and money.
We invested a tremendous amount of time planning the house collaboratively with our architect and builder. It was the effort and commitment we made to designing a house and spaces very considerately that has really paid off. We feel so lucky to own such a beautiful house with everything we could ever want. Every day we still pinch ourselves!
Project Cost: £200,001 – £500,000