Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

On the Way Up, Max out on Sty.le; Philippa Stockleydiscovers Actor Ben Forster Is Raising the Roof with His Latest Production

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

On the Way Up, Max out on Sty.le; Philippa Stockleydiscovers Actor Ben Forster Is Raising the Roof with His Latest Production

Article excerpt

BEN FORSTER knows a thing or two about dramatic transformations. The actor, left, played Jesus in the revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber's rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar in its 2012 arena tour, and he's taking the role of Brad Majors in The Rocky Horror Show at the West End's Playhouse Theatre from September 11.

So it was no surprise that Forster, 34, and his partner, interior designer Paul Longman, wanted to put their stamp on their Rotherhithe flat by creating an additional floor. When they bought the sixth-floor home in a Nineties block in 2011 it was laid out on one floor, but had a timbered loft space big enough to make habitable. The flat as it stood was dull, dingy, divided and dated. Forster said it looked like a cheap rental.

"We got a few quotes, some were ridiculously expensive, some wouldn't even look because it was so high up," says Forster. But the quote submitted by surveyor Rob Woods won the couple's approval.

After lengthy discussions, Forster and Longman added two bedrooms with en suite bathrooms, plus a small veranda with a glass floor, through which you can see down into the flat. By moving the bedrooms upstairs, the floor below became one large livingdining room. Lots of skylights make the whole space very bright.

"Planners will want you to leave the existing roof," advises Woods. "This job took 12 weeks as it was a large loft, and we had to use scaffolding and a winch. A simple loft conversion might take eight weeks."

The verdict: "Rob and his team were open to all our suggestions and from day one it was so smooth," says Longman. "It has added a lot of light and space. We're so happy with it."

What it cost: Flat in 2011: PS367,000 Total spent including decorating: PS130,000 Value now: PS950,000 Loft conversion by Simply Loft at simplyloft.co.uk Simply Loft's prices range from about PS30,000 plus VAT for a small loft conversion to PS90,000 plus VAT for a large one.

WILL YOU NEED PLANNING PERMISSION? WHETHER you enlarge your home upwards, out at the back, sideways or all three above-ground extensions are the best and cheapest way to improve, bringing light, space, plus the unquantifiable aspect of joy into your life. …

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