While drawings can always depict a neat end result, getting to that point with an old, dilapidated building, complicated by unforeseen circumstances, is a different story.
While the plans were very detailed on this extensive renovation project, the age of the buildings meant that variations and deviations from the drawings were almost inevitable.
The fact that this byre conversion took four and a half years to come to fruition tells its own story – not only have the owners, Mr & Mrs Dawson, received the conversion and alterations as originally proposed but their execution, and the rectification of previous unauthorised works, have gone well beyond all their expectations.
The old stone walls of the byre have been retained and insulated while the roof was completely replaced to modern standards – the original roof trusses, however, have been kept.
Being off the national gas grid, a new oil-fired heating system has been installed, with all new and refurbished areas now enjoying low-temperature hot water underfloor heating. The underfloor heating sits on insulation to a thickness well in excess of the minimum building regulation requirements then topped with screed and the natural stone slabs salvaged from the original kitchen, which provides substantial thermal storage, helping to minimise daytime temperature variation.
The owner, a keen ‘salumist’ (sausage maker), also wanted to include a cool room in which to produce and store his bangers! This requirement has been met with reconstruction of a heavy-masonry constructed room off the utility area which is insulated, but has no heating.
As soon as work commenced on the existing dwelling, it became clear that previous unauthorised work had been carried out, but to a very poor standard. This meant the builder, APU Construction’s Andy Uzzell, was in regular contact with building control throughout the construction process as more deficient work was discovered and corrective works needed.
The lengthy contract period may have helped with cashflow, but the primary goal to create a high-quality family dwelling has certainly been accomplished here. The refurbished living areas have been transformed from cold, dark and uncomfortable to areas of superb comfort and a joy to occupy. The byre is now a pleasant and relaxing office and leisure area in which the children love to play and perform, complete with its own double-fronted wood-burning stove. The new modern kitchen acts like a magnet to visitors and has become the ‘hub’ of the home while the high quality-finished bathrooms and cinema room help fulfil everyone’s wishes.
The owners said: “We wanted to create a large, open, flexible family home which integrated the outside garden spaces into the inside living areas. We were determined to retain the character and period features of the original; a significant challenge given the condition of the original and the consequent depth of the renovations. We engaged Jagged Edge Design as our architectural agent, as they are LABC partners with a neighbouring local authority. Andy Uzzell – our builder – kept us on track with his expert knowledge, experience and ‘can do’ attitude.
“Paul Kalbskopf at Building Control was involved from the outset and worked hard with Andy to find practical solutions to every problem the house presented. It’s not been easy and at times we’ve questioned whether or not we should have taken it on, but we’re absolutely delighted to be living in the dream and to have been able to breathe new life and unity into a farmhouse that needed some intensive care.”
This combination of a very old building, the rectification of shoddy workmanship, the resurrection of dilapidated structures, a builder whose approach was that it’s only right when it’s fully correct and a client prepared to invest the necessary resources to achieve that goal, has truly produced a unique end product – and worthy winner of the Best Extension or Alteration to an Existing Home in the 2018 LABC West of England Building Excellence Awards.
APU Construction, Jagged Edge Design Ltd