Remodel - from bungalow to three-storey home
Smart Technology Home
Mark and Gillian Smith’s radically extended and updated 1960s bungalow integrates cutting-edge automation to create an intelligent home
Story: Debbie Jeffery Photography: Savills
|Project:||Extension and remodelling||Location:||Newark|
Mark Smith is a self-confessed tech junkie, whose company installs home automation to remotely control heating, lighting, audio, and all manner of other systems by phones and tablets. So, when it came to his own house, he was keen to integrate technology that would allow the newly remodelled family home to be operated remotely.
“We’d given a boxy 1970s house in Nottingham a modern makeover and were looking for a new renovation project in the area when this property came onto the market,” he explains. “My parents had friends who lived on this road when I was growing up, and I remember always being very impressed by the rural location, so it felt quite familiar.”
After shortlisting five properties, Mark and his wife, Gillian, who also works in the family business, made an offer on the detached 1960s bungalow which overlooks fields.
“In all honesty we weren’t buying the building, we were buying the location and plot,” says Mark.
“The bungalow itself was fairly substantial in size but quite dated, with all the accommodation on one level.”
The couple, who have two children aged 10 and 11, decided to work with the existing L-shaped building, drawing up plans with an architect friend to extend upwards and create two more floors.
“We planned to take off the main roof of the bungalow to build up, but we kept the smaller leg of the L-shape as a single storey. It had only been added a few years ago and was structurally in better shape,” says Mark.
Previously, there were five bedrooms, a large lounge, a snug and a kitchen on the ground floor, but the layout was unusual, with bedrooms to either end, and it was initially difficult to see how the revised floorplan could work.
“I’m normally fairly good at imagining spaces and coming up with designs, but this time I struggled to see how to make it work,” says Mark. “That’s where our architect, Tom Allen, came in. He did a brilliant job of defining the new spaces and how they would be used. Our brief was to create a new home from what was already here, which would be a little larger than our previous house.”
Two of the bedrooms were combined to form the new sitting room, and another bedroom was converted into an office.
The sitting room has french doors leading out onto the rear garden.
The snug was reconfigured and the sitting room, kitchen and utility combined to create a spacious kitchen/diner with a wall of aluminium bifold doors.
There is a wall of aluminium bifold doors in the spacious kitchen/diner, which has an Italian timber-effect porcelain floor. Each individual tile has a unique design to create a bespoke finish.
“We’ve added a pantry and converted another room into a utility, changing the old master bedroom into a games room,” says Mark.
Lighting design was an important factor and has been carefully considered in the bedrooms and bathrooms.
The master bedroom suite, complete with a walk-in wardrobe, is now located on the new first floor, together with two further bedrooms, an en suite, and a family bathroom. On the second floor, two more bedrooms share a bathroom and are lit from above by skylights.
Extending upwards and cladding the exterior in render and cedar, together with the new slate roof, have completely transformed the original 1960s brick bungalow.
Externally, the brick bungalow was designed to be extended upwards in blockwork, with the entire building finished in a combination of render and cedar cladding. New openings would be created in the original walls to insert large feature windows, and a slated roof would unite the old and new elements.
Despite the VAT implications, it made financial sense to retain the bungalow, building off the existing foundations to add two storeys as well as an extension.
“It did cross my mind to demolish the bungalow, but we felt that, as it makes up a good third of the final property, the cost of rebuilding this section would outweigh any gains in saved VAT,” explains Mark. “The foundations were solid, so we decided to build the extension and upgrade the fabric of the building.”
Planning proved straightforward, and Mark then took 18 months off work to manage the project – employing various subcontractors and completing some of the work himself, including demolition, joinery, plumbing, and several electrical installations.
“Following demolition, we sold off all the old roof tiles, the kitchen, and log-burner, which helped offset costs,” says Gillian.
“The entrance hallway was previously an oak-panelled room, which wasn’t our style, but we were able to sell on the panels.”
Lightweight concrete blocks help to reduce the load of the new walls.
A structural engineer had confirmed that the existing foundations required no reinforcement, and soil conditions were favourable, but lightweight concrete blocks were chosen which helped to reduce the load of the new walls. The weight of the roof slates was also calculated during the original design phase, together with the necessary structural steelwork.
“For our previous project we’d remained living in the house while we renovated, which proved quite difficult with two young children, so this time we decided to rent instead,” Gillian explains. “The roof was coming off, so there wouldn’t have been an easy way to live here without hindering the builders.”
The double-height entrance has a galleried landing and bespoke oak and glass stairs, with double doors into the kitchen.
The build ran smoothly, and once the house was watertight the couple were able to concentrate on fitting out the interiors. The new house is zero carbon, which involved tackling various issues. Wooden floors and some concrete slabs were removed so that insulation could be installed, with the broken concrete recycled as hardcore. The insulation and membrane were finished with a quick-drying anhydrite floor screed, which was pumped into the building.
“When it came to choosing windows, we looked at aluminium, wood and plastic options, but discounted timber on the basis of maintenance,” says Mark. “In the end, we chose aluminium-reinforced plastic to give us the look, strength and ease of maintenance within budget, and paid a 10% premium for anti-sun glass, which has a black tint and prevents the house from overheating.”
An LG air source heat pump was installed which is specifically designed for use in older properties. “The higher the temperature for heating and hot water, the less efficient an air source heat pump becomes,” explains Mark. “Typically, it’s most efficient running at around 50ºC, but ours has the ability to go up to 80ºC if needed – although we successfully operate it at far lower temperatures.”
On the upper floors, oversized modern panel radiators compensate for the lower running temperatures of the air source heat pump.
Underfloor heating was installed throughout the ground floor, with oversized modern panel radiators on the upper levels to compensate for the lower running temperatures of the air source heat pump.
In-roof photovoltaics are virtually invisible on the back to the house.
“We’ve fitted south-facing, in-roof photovoltaics, which are virtually invisible, on the back of the house to offset our electricity consumption during the day,” Mark continues.
“The Eddi solar power diverter takes any surplus electricity that we generate and puts it into the 210-litre hot water tank, as well as pre-warming the central heating system by using a buffer tank, which means we don’t need to run the air source heat pump during the summer months.”
A touch screen in the kitchen is just one of the ways to control the smart home technology installed througout the house
When it came to specifying the automated systems, Mark was in his element. “The Control4 smart home operating system allows us to have overall control of the property from an iPad, phone, computer, or by using a touch screen in the kitchen,” he says. “This means we can control everything from both inside the house and also remotely. It combines subsystems into a single, easy-to-use and intuitive interface.”
I wanted the tech to enhance the experience of living in the house, and not become an obstacle.
Systems include Heat Miser heating with thermostats, Control4 lighting, Sonos audio with ceiling speakers, a DoorBird wifi intercom, CCTV, electric gates and garage door. At twilight, the outside lighting automatically comes on and turns off again at 11pm
A Control4 home automation system operates the electric gates and garage doors, heating, lighting, audio system, alarm and CCTV, with wifi and data points located throughout the house.
Mood lighting may be operated by a single button, with a welcome setting upon entering the house, and a goodbye button which turns off lights, TVs and the music system as the family leaves. “The children are already better at operating the systems than we are,” laughs Mark.
Positioned off the dining area is a delightful snug, with full-height glazing, wall-mounted feature fire and inset shelving storage.
“I wanted the tech to enhance the experience of living in the house, and not become an obstacle, so it’s all fairly subtle and easy to use. Hopefully, whoever lives here next will enjoy it as much as we do.”
What were the high points of the project?
There are always challenges to tackle, but we genuinely enjoyed the entire project and that’s partly because we knew what to expect after extending and remodelling previous homes.
…and the low point?
About three-quarters of the way through the project there’s always a stage when you wonder if you’ll ever get to the end, especially with a substantial property.
Your best buy?
Our kitchen was an absolute bargain.
We didn’t necessarily need the solar PVs or air source heat pump, but we wanted to incorporate as much new tech as possible and it felt like the right thing to do.
Mark and Gillian’s TOP TIP…
“Set small achievable goals to tick off the list rather than looking at the bigger picture.”
An outdoor seating area off the kitchen an games room, extends living space into the landscaped gardens.
This case study appears in SelfBuild & Design December 2020