Conway House

The Main Character

A planning permission to replace existing dwelling. Making the decision to self-build “Conway” was an uncompromising determination to transform a simple dormer bungalow into a place our client would love coming home to; a design that would be a contemporary interpretation of the surrounding houses in the characterful street and one that would make a positive contribution to the street scene; and finally, a home that would be highly insulated and energy-efficient.

The Setting

Our client has purchased a chalet bungalow and wanted to create something a bit different that had a contemporary frontage and was very energy efficient. Initially, permission was gained to convert and extend the existing building but this had large cost implications, due to upgrading and altering an existing structure especially when compared to (planning permission to replace existing dwelling) knocking down the original building and replacing it with a modern building.

Our client wanted to be hands-on, after gaining planning permission to replace the existing dwelling they wanted to undertake the majority of the construction themselves, whilst dipping into the expertise of contractors they had worked with over the years.

They were thrilled to find an architect practice who genuinely understood how much the project meant to them and who was as uncompromising as they were when designing the dream home they were looking to build.

The Challenge

Planning Permission to Replace Existing Dwelling

The key aims of the brief were to create living areas to the rear to enjoy that enjoy garden views, whilst creating a two-sided patio, which could be used to create a useable outside space that joined both parts of the house to the rear, an open kitchen, living, dining area, and second living area. The brief was to create a space that had a lot of light, a great entranceway, and an upstairs terrace.

Whilst the orientation was fixed due to the nature of the street, the existing building area was narrowed to allow access to both sides and further development space to the rear in what is an ample garden.

We worked closely with our client to build a strong relationship with the LABC to ensure that the building would comply with regulations without affecting the architecture of our future home.  Additionally, a LABC  surveyor was involved as part of the design team rather than as an external third party, which was particularly helpful when the issue of their timber-framed construction needed to be resolved.

Timber frame construction a modern method of construction (MMC), was chosen because of its cost to space benefit, in that more insulation can be fitted into the same construction giving a higher energy rating of A, whilst maintaining more internal space, compared to more traditional construction methods. Though at the time there were fewer mortgage companies that would consider lending on this type of construction. Other elements of the build were the inclusion of solar panels and triple glazing which helped to achieve the client’s brief of achieving a truly energy-efficient home.

The Return

With our client overseeing the complete build brought with it endless positives, they were able to source products and work with subcontractors from trades they had worked with in the past. They sold elements of the original house and recycled timber, enabling waste kept to a minimum. They frequently combined waste and recycling trips with visit to the builder’s merchant to minimise vehicle movements.  Additionally, their relationships with directly-appointed subcontractors meant they were able to monitor their work closely to ensure the project was completed to the high levels of design and those required by the Code for Sustainable Homes.

Timber-framed construction methods helped speed up construction on site and ValUTherm-insulated panels and Triple glazed Unilux windows were installed, increasing the thermal efficiency of the building.  Underfloor heating was used across both floors to make use of the heat provided by the solar panels. They installed the plant in the garage and looped the underfloor heating pipes for the house across the garage floor to make use of the residual heat, and insulated the garage door to retain it.

The Final Twist

Our client’s decision to go for planning permission to replace existing dwelling and to run the project themselves gave them a high level of input into the finer details of the build, and the flexibility of the construction method allowed them to adapt the internal layouts, once the spaces had been created and were able to resize rooms to better suit their needs.  Achieving their EPC rating of A is something they were very proud of especially as it was one of the last projects constructed under the now defunct Code for Sustainable Homes.

Conway is a great space to live in.  It is warm in winter and cool in summer.  They have now changed their energy supplier and will be paying  £50pcm for gas and electricity.  In addition, they are also generating electricity and sending back to the grid, so are getting an income from the house too.


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