This renovation began in November 2018 and ran for a full 10 months - during this time, and due to the fact that not one part of the building was left untouched, the clients placed their furniture and belongings in storage and moved into a rental property while the work was carried out.
This renovation, extension and refurbishment included two two-storey extensions, a complete re-wire and re-plumb, a new kitchen and bathrooms, and a re-model of the entire inside of the property which required every room being gutted. The client also wanted the already converted loft refurbished and the roof stripped to be re-tiled. Last on the list was to replace all the old UPVC windows and dress the house in hanging tiles.
So in short, this was a very big project and despite the house not being that old, various works had previously been completed over the years of varying degrees of quality, which meant that not only did our order of works need to change, but we had to reconsult with the engineer on several occasions.
Once everything was exposed, and we had the new engineer's specification, we could proceed with a new order of works. The first step was to dig the footings for the two new extensions and start building - given the amount of remodelling that was happening to the existing structure, this was also necessary to support the rest of the work.
While the original plan was to simply strip the tiles from the roof and replace the felt, baton and tiles, because the engineer had essentially condemned the structure which made up the floor of the loft conversion, which obviously formed part of the roof, it all had to come off and be rebuilt.
In order to do this in the latter part of the year, and also taking into account the British weather and its unpredictability, the whole build was covered by a scaffold roof.
During this process and ongoing through the build, we installed some 17 pieces of steel across the three floors as per the engineers specification. A considerable portion of these were due to the remodel and virtually every load bearing wall within the property moving.
With the brick work up, steels in place, new roof finished and windows replaced, we were able to begin on insulation, first fix electrics and plumbing. The property was now 5 bedroom with 4 bathrooms, a cloak room, kitchen and utility room, plus underfloor heating.
From here the job was more run-of-the-mill - plastering, tiling, fitting bathrooms and the kitchen, decorating and completing the outside of the property.
This project was the extension and remodel of a 14th century listed cottage in Laddingford, Kent. The objective was to extend the property in order to give the clients a proper family kitchen, renovate their downstairs bathroom, replace wiring and plumbing and heating system, remove an exterior wall and create an interior partition between two existing downstairs areas.
On this project, the clients had a very definite idea of how they wanted their extension to look, to both be in keeping with the existing timber framed cottage, and to make a real feature out of it. Previously, their kitchen was a small area inside the main building, and what was essentially a utility room in a badly built lean to. With the architect, they had designed a cathedral fronted, oak framed, vaulted ceiling room, which would become their new kitchen. Their old kitchen space would then become their dining room. Their old downstairs bathroom was to change in shape and size and become a far more usable shower room and toilet. The kitchen was designed by the client and bespoke kitchen manufacturer. As with all of our projects we offered design advice and support throughout – one notable example would be changing the cross beams and king posts in the roof structure to oak, as the architect had specified smaller soft wood beams. We felt that this would ruin the whole look of the extension.
The biggest challenge on this particular project was tying the extension into the existing property – not only did it need to be joined to the main building, but we also had to tie it into what remained of the single storey extension which contained their downstairs bathroom and was joined to the property next door. This meant we had three roof structures to consider, structural supports to install due to removing an exterior wall and the inherent issues of working on a property hundreds of years old. While this wasn’t an obstacle, constructing the cathedral front on the extension posed a specific challenge due to its size and weight as we constructed the whole thing on site using traditional methods.
This project in itself was designed to be a special feature on the property and make their family kitchen a beautiful and functional room to be in, overlooking their garden. The special features on this property include their new shower room, oak cross beams and king posts, custom made oak window frames and double doors, the solid oak cathedral front, underfloor heating, Kent peg tile roof, bespoke kitchen and new heating system. This job was also about the small details, which included a custom made oak threshold between two rooms, a new antique style radiator, wooden boxing, shelf work and exposed brickwork.
This project was the full refurbishment of a loyal client’s family bathroom suite in their listed manor house. The last work we did for this family was their kitchen, which we won a regional award for in 2017.
The clients had designed the bathroom themselves, with a little help from an interior designer friend of theirs and had a very clear idea of what they wanted to achieve, which was very much the case with the kitchen we completed. They had everything chosen from tiles, units, sanitary ware and the type of shower. Like many of our clients they are a pleasure to work for and their meticulous nature suits the way we work down to the ground. They had chosen a walk-in shower/wet room, a free-standing claw foot bath, double sink unit and concealed cistern/floating toilet. Like the other rooms we have completed for them all the oak was refurbished, ceilings replaced, and everything done to the last detail.
Their house presents us with plenty of obstacles, purely because of its age. The only way to tackle this bathroom was to completely gut the room and remove the bathroom upon bathroom fitted before. This included replacing the wall between the bathroom and the adjoining room as it was just one layer of lath and plaster. Given the age of the building the floor was ridiculously out of level which had to be sorted first – we couldn’t touch the joists and we couldn’t touch the floorboards as they formed the ceiling in the room below. We built a frame and sympathetically levelled the floor. This meant a step into the bathroom was created, so we had to remove and shorten the original oak door to get it to fit. Once we had a level ‘playing field’ we could begin assembling their dream bathroom.
The bathroom boasts all new electrics, lighting and plumbing (including a newly installed pump) to boost the water pressure for their shower. They have a claw foot, free-standing bath under in front of the window with a floor standing mixer tap, plus a concealed cistern, floating toilet. The real feature in this room though is the remote walk-in shower/wet room with contrasting tiles and mosaics. We also made them a shelf for shampoo bottles complete with glass shelf and light, plus a little cupboard next to the toilet for convenient storage. All the oak in the room was refurbished and the ceiling was also stripped out and replaced – a challenge in itself between oaks as old as these.
This job was for another regular client in another listed, period property. Despite the size of the room and the fact that it was technically a kitchen, it got very little use. The clients used a smaller area for food prep. The main reason this room was rarely used, was because of the huge beam above the top of the Aga, which for them was below head height.
It was obstructive and made using the Aga very difficult and annoying. The beam also encroached into the room and was supported by a pillar, which again took up space and was located in an awkward position.
Essentially, fitting a new kitchen was pointless and irrelevant if we couldn't deal with the issue of the beam. The beam's purpose was to support part of a chimney above it - why something that big was put in for that we have no idea, but we came up with a solution.
We built a load bearing wall to the left of the Aga, supported the concrete lintels under the chimney with a piece of steel and trimmed back the lintels to an appropriate length. Once complete we could remove the old beam, and the pillar that propped up the other end of it.
Another simple but fairly sizeable challenge was to install the large decorative oak beams across the room, locate and deal with some buried pipework, re-wire, re-plumb and remove some rather interesting decorative features in the room.
From this point onwards it was a pretty straightforward kitchen fit, which has turned a relatively unused room in their house, into the heart of the home again.
This project was originally to convert an unlisted barn into a three bedroom residence for a client of ours in Goudhurst Kent, who we have previously done an enormous job for before. The barn is on their land and they intended to use it as a holiday let or a residential let. The project changed because the original oak structure of the barn was not suitable for conversion and the engineer condemned it – we had no choice but to take the whole thing down and start again.
The client’s architect and engineer had already designed the build with their input, what we had to do was build the barn from scratch on the existing footprint. The build consisted of an open plan downstairs lounge/dining/kitchen area, with a cloakroom. Upstairs there’s a master bedroom with en-suite and walk-in wardrobe, two further bedrooms and a bathroom. Being essentially a new build, we looked after the full heating system (including underfloor heating), wiring and plumbing.
The first and most obvious obstacle was the condition of the barn due for conversion. The barn wasn’t listed because it was bought and moved from another site, but unfortunately put together in such a way that it was simply dangerous and practically falling down – the condition of the oak was also very poor. The barn was carefully dismantled and the oak set to one side. Once we had the original footings checked and properly levelled, we could begin building a new barn. Being a new build in the countryside, we had the challenge of getting it on mains electricity, water and drainage. Access and space also proved a little challenging due to the build being on a hill, with only a small track to access it.
As with all of our projects we always consider energy efficiency, insulation and waste. On this project we also had to look after an endangered species. On inspection bats were found in the loft, which are a protected species. The conservation team that visited us made sure the bats in the loft of the barn we were due to demolish were carefully caught and released elsewhere. Because the old barn had bats living in it, we had to make sure that the new barn could accommodate them too, in case more bats made it their home in future. They consulted with us and visited the site several times to inspect what we had done and that it was suitable. This included sectioning off one area of the loft (which we made bigger than they asked), leaving the insulation out from between the roof joists so the bats could hang from the felt, and leaving a gap between the weather boarding and soffit from them to access the loft.
Again, Kate and Richard are good friends of ours. We first me them after being commissioned to build their mansion family home and this is the third job we have done for them. The barn we built for them was just a couple of hundred yards from this house, so we saw them on a daily basis. Despite the project changing because we had to demolish the old barn, doing it that way saved them a great deal of time and money – a fact that we explained to them and proved it was the best course of action. While the oak frame of the old barn wasn’t in a suitable condition to convert, it was still worth money to someone, so we helped them get it sold and picked up.
This listed building in Ticehurst, has for hundreds of years, been two business premises. Anything from a gardening shop to a solicitors. Originally of course it was just one house, and while our clients were living in the property and had been for a number of years, they wanted it put back to how it was originally. The two doors, floor to ceiling windows and internal division didn't make for a comfortable and enjoyable front room.
Removing the front of the house wasn't that much of a challenge, but we had to take into account that the clients would still be living in the property while all the work was carried out.
Quite often with a building this age, it makes sense and is quite often necessary to go that bit further while the work is being carried out, so we stripped the tiles off from the top half of the building in order to insulate, re-felt, restore the windows and re-hang the tiles.
The next stage was to build the new bays and rebuild the brick work in order to make the new door central to the property.
From here the rest of the job was relatively simple - fit the new bay windows and door, re-fit the original hand rails for the steps, have the lead fitted on the roof above the bays and over the door then finish. While we were there, the client also asked us to do some decorating inside their new living room and lay a new floor.
We have completed work on this property before (a two storey extension at the rear), but it was for the previous owners. The bulk of the job was a single storey extension on the side of the house, plus returning two original small bedrooms to one double room, and re-fitting the en-suite. As you can see, we had a few things to clear before work could begin.
Clearing the ground and removing the debris from site took a few days, mainly down to the old concrete dog kennels and shed structure on the area we needed to dig the footings. Luckily for us in this instance, we weren't short of space as we quite often are, meaning much less disruption and inconvenience to our clients, as everything could be kept out of their way.
With the footings set out and dug as per the architectural and engineering drawings, building could begin. While the drawings specified the extension to be built in block work, it was to be finished in weather boarding to match the existing listed property. As you can see, the extension was designed with double French doors to the rear and a window to the front. The design also included structural steel work.
Once the openings for the doors and the window had been completed, they could be ordered and made in timber, again as the building is listed. The next step for us was to construct the roof. Due to the ceiling being vaulted, the engineer had specified a piece of steel work to support the timber rafters. This need to be craned into position.
On completing the roof we began work on connecting the new extension to the existing building - this would also become the new front door. In order to do this we stripped back the weather boarding and tiles, and cut a new doorway. The flat roof above the connecting corridor was completed with lead work, and the hanging tiles on the side of the existing building were replaced - this of course included replacing the breathable felt and batons.
As with all buildings of this age, it's very common that we need to replace and repair parts of the structure as we go.
Next up on the task list was to fit Velux windows in the new roof and tile it with reclaimed Kent peg tiles - again, due to its listed status, this is the only way this can be done. Then it was on to the weather boarding.
While the insulation, screeding, electrics and plastering in the new extension was being completed, we made a start on the bedroom/en-suite work. The stud wall which turned the double bedroom into two smaller rooms was easily removed - the en-suite however needed a bit more work. In the images below, you'll see what looks like a storage cupboard at the back of the bathroom - this was in fact the shower. We were asked to turn this back into a cupboard and create a new shower cubicle - pretty straight forward, but first we had to level the floor.
Below is a few images of the completed bathroom, which included a bespoke oak sink unit, made by us and distressed to match in with original oaks and doors:
Back on the extension, the last major things to do were remove the old porch and tie in the building as if it had never existed, and then landscape the garden. Here are some final images:
These clients, regulars of ours had been wanting to replace their kitchen for quite some time. The room in question was part of a 17th century farmhouse with plenty of oak, exposed ceiling beams and an Aga with the original stone surround. The challenge on this job was to restore and maintain all of the existing features while at the same time bringing it up-to-date with a new kitchen.
Once the old kitchen had been stripped out, we could set about laying the new tiles, restoring the oak beams, making good on the walls and stripping out the ceiling in between the oak beams in order to fit new down-lighters and replace all the electrics and plumbing, ready for when the new kitchen was delivered.
At the same time the client took the opportunity to give their Aga a complete service and refurb.
Once our kitchen units and appliances arrived we could get cracking. As with all of our suitable jobs, this was entered into the Federation of Master Builders Awards which is held every two years, and we picked up 'Best Kitchen or Bathroom Project - South East Region'.
This particular project began in October 2016 and was extensive as they come. The build included a two storey extension on one end of the property, with a single storey extension across the majority of the back of the premises. None of the inside of the existing building was left untouched either and the project included remodelling both upstairs and down, moving the staircase, and fitting a new kitchen, family bathroom, en-suite, downstairs toilet and downstairs shower room.
The first task on a job such as this is to expose existing drainage and other supplies such as mains electricity (if underground), mains water and in this case LPG. Given the new building layout and therefore foundations, they all needed to be moved or accommodated into the new building footprint.
Our first trip to Spicers Barn in spring 2016 consisted of a downstairs remodel and flooring throughout, a new kitchen and mezzanine floor, in order to create some work-from-home office space.
After taking out the existing kitchen, we started on the structural work in order to open up the dining/kitchen area into a more open plan space.
The structural work was completed in oak in order to match into the existing barn construction. While this was going on we also constructed the mezzanine floor, which the client felt was wasted space upstairs. This included new solid oak supports and balustrade.
With the new open plan layout downstairs, the client wanted consistent and practical flooring throughout so we fitted their choice of engineered oak, and gave it a specialist treatment to make it tougher and more robust.
The last stage was to install the kitchen in the new space around the existing Aga, complete with island. The traditional style and colour really suited this barn conversion, and it was finished with solid oak worktops, which were styled, cut and fitted by us on site.