Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Upstairs Downstairs

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Upstairs Downstairs

Article excerpt

Byline: Richard Warren

EXTENDING up and down has become pretty routine as Londoners seek to carve more living space out of their homes. But now developers are going a step further by buying roof space and installing prefabricated penthouses on the top of mansion blocks. In less than two weeks, there can be a fully furnished flat on your roof selling for [pounds sterling]5million. Leaseholders who initially object are soon won over with tempting upgrades such as a redecorated entrance hall, new lifts, improved landscaping and more parking -- all likely to increase the value of their homes.

Christian Lock-Necrews, head of Knight Frank's Marylebone office, says: "Rooftop extensions, and extended basements too, are hugely popular in central London, and in most cases the cost should be 50 per cent of the value added. Usually, building on top is most cost effective, because it realises more value per square foot as roof extensions can have views and benefit from natural daylight."

" In St John's Wood, four neighbouring mansion blocks are getting taller. Penthouses have been erected on the roofs of three blocks and aller order: extra being added to two more are being added to a fourth. 10 Trinity Square -- a hmes, a members' In Chaldon Road, Fulham, a homeowner has added [pounds sterling]50,000 to the value of his [pounds sterling]1.25 million house by building a fourth bedroom above an extension, says Barclay Macfarlane of the sales agents, Strutt & Parker. The 10ft by 9ft bedroom cost [pounds sterling]25,000-[pounds sterling]30,000 to build.

HEIGHT OF GOOD DESIGN The biggest rooftop extensions are appearing on mansion blocks. Developer Dekra buys roof space and has built 90 penthouses on blocks in London. It erected a huge 3,500sq ft penthouse with a 2,300sq ft roof terrace in St John's Wood. Dekra's penthouses are mostly prefabricated units lifted on to the roof by crane.

This approach is less disruptive than building brick by brick, says Derek Cunnington, managing director of Dekra. Cunnington says leaseholders welcome it when they hear the deal that will benefit them and add to the value of their property.

To maintain aesthetic continuity, planners usually won't allow extra floors to be added to a building unless there are precedents or they fill spaces in a "gap-toothed" roof-line where some buildings are lower than others.

Planners are more willing to permit new basements, because they don't disrupt the look of a building, even though digging them can be disruptive for neighbours and there are concerns about rising water tables.

DIGGING DOWN FOR GOLD Another trend is for clever homeowners to tempt developers into a highpriced sale by first gaining planning permission for generous extensions.

A builder in Chelsea has spent [pounds sterling]150,000 creating a basement under the front garden of a five-storey semidetached house in Drayton Gardens. …

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