Community combines talents to build two storey extension

Case Studies, General

When Robin Dowling decided to build a 2 storey extension to his cottage near Crowborough, he immediately enlisted the help of his local friends and trusted tradespeople. 18 months later, Robin and his family were the proud owners of a large family home that combines character, sustainability and high-quality workmanship.Community combines talents to build two storey extension
2 White Cottages is set in open woodland which forms part of a 42-acre nature reserve. Known as Slaugham’s Ghyll, the area is important for biodiversity in Sussex because the woods create a warm, humid microclimate where plants thrive.

As well as enhancing the cottage’s historical features, Robin’s vision for the extension involved creating a good sized family home that would make the most of the property’s 2-acre plot.

Having asked his friend and local architect Keith Vivyan to come up with a design, Robin planned to build a large ground floor living area featuring a traditional shaker style kitchen and a separate utility room. He asked local firm Crown Oak Building to create an oak built orangery that would double up as a dining room and also planned to add a ground floor study/ bedroom with a toilet and shower. The first floor would feature two extra bedrooms and one of these would have an en-suite bathroom.

Confident that his work would comply with building regulations, Robin submitted a Building Notice application to his local authority building control service. Doing this meant that he didn’t have to submit full plans before beginning work, instead, the work would be inspected as it progressed.

Sustainability was a key part of Robin’s vision for 2 White Cottages, so reclaimed bricks were used to blend the new extension with the existing building. Local company Jim White Groundworks ensured that all demolition rubble was either reused to build the new patio or redistributed on site and the timber was also sustainably sourced.

Inside the property, sustainable oak was used to create the staircases, doors, skirting and architraves.

To keep the interior of the extension as eco-friendly as possible, Robin also made sure that it incorporated plenty of modern technologies.

While underfloor heating was installed on the ground floor, the U Value of the cottage was vastly improved by using higher levels of insulation and windows featuring Class A glazing. These were largely installed by Shield Exteriors, another Crowborough based company.

With help from local businesses and friends, Robin was able to manage the project himself, despite the fact that he also had a full-time job! Every spare evening and weekend was devoted to working on the extension and this commitment, combined with regular on-site support from his LABC officer, led to the building being completed without any issues.

Mr Dowling and his family are thrilled with their new home, which complements its beautiful surroundings while successfully blending contemporary design, historical character and sustainability.

2 White Cottages received a well-deserved nomination for the 2016 LABC Building Excellence Awards.

Project Team


Robin Dowling, 01892 653963,


Keith Vivyan, 01892 864221


MJ White Contractors, 01892 852598

Redwing Roofing, 01892 610593

Shield Exteriors, 01892 660099

Crown Oak Buildings, 01732 866910

Building Control

East Sussex Building Control Partnership, 01892 602005

Homeowner Guide

East Sussex Guide to Extending Your Home

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