Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Fruits of a Gap Year in Oz; Just One Thing: An extensionA Couple Returning from Australia, Refused to Compromise on Space, Says Jo Messenger

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Fruits of a Gap Year in Oz; Just One Thing: An extensionA Couple Returning from Australia, Refused to Compromise on Space, Says Jo Messenger

Article excerpt

Byline: says Jo Messenger

MOVING back to London after living and working in Australia for a year, Lucy and Russ Davies were surprised how small and cramped the three-bedroom house they were living in felt. When a house came up for sale close by they put in an offer straight away. It too felt small but had a big garden, garage and lots of potential. And it needed it: by the time they moved in, Lucy was expecting Max, their third child.

"Three architects visited us to talk through ideas but they just didn't take on board what we wanted to do; it was very frustrating," says Lucy. "A friend then told me about her neighbour Anna Smith, who is an architectural designer running annasmithdesign.co.uk. She visited us, and as she has a young family of her own, she understood what we were looking for."

Plans were drawn up for a two-storey side extension with a single wraparound ground-floor extension at the back, plus a loft conversion. But things got off to a rocky start when their planning application was turned down. "We wanted a hip-to-gable loft extension to make best use of the space but it would have been different from the style next door. We appealed against the decision but lost," says Lucy. "It felt unfair and was stressful at the time, as other houses in our road had already done the same style of conversion."

Anna changed the plans to a hip roof, which was approved, but the planning process had taken eight months. Luckily, the rest of the project went more smoothly. Lucy and Russ contacted Ron Klingenberg of construction firm Inner Space Developments, who had worked on the neighbouring house.

"Ron started work in February 2011 and he advised us to move out while the work was being carried out," says Lucy. "We stayed in the property for the first six weeks but the living areas we could use were getting ever smaller. It was actually more cost-effective for us to rent a house nearby for six months, as the builders could rip everything out in one go, rather than having to work around us."

The roof was off for about three weeks and the couple decided not to fit a canopy over the house. "It would have cost an extra [pounds sterling]3,000 but the walls of the house had been taken right back to the brickwork, so we felt it couldn't get too damaged," explains Lucy. "Luckily, the weather stayed dry."

At ground level, the two-storey side extension wraps around the rear of the house to create a spacious open-plan kitchen, with room for a utility area and home office at the side, while the second floor has gained two bedrooms and a family bathroom. The original bedrooms have remained, with the old bathroom now an en suite for the guest room. The small third bedroom was used to make a hallway to the two new bedrooms and bathroom.

"With the property taken back to the bare brick, almost everything was redone or replaced, from the plastering, wiring and plumbing to the new box-sash windows," says Lucy. …

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