Devon's couple transformed their home in the country
PUBLISHED: 12:43 24 April 2015
In the latest of our series profiling people who have transformed a home in the county, MARTIN WESTON reveals how it took teamwork to help makeover an ageing bungalow
We were looking to return to our home county to retire and got to know the South Hams area better after family members moved to Kingsbridge.
The house and garden – Sunnyside, Chillington, where my wife Heather and I now live had been untouched for many years, having been occupied by a gentleman in his nineties. We chose the property firstly because of its south-facing aspect and secondly because it needed renovating, thus making it more affordable and allowing us to make the decisions as to how it would eventually look.
With planning permission one can change many things about a property, but you cannot change the aspect - unless you knock it down completely! The kitchen and living areas were originally on the north side of the house, with three bedrooms facing south - a terrible waste of sunshine - so we drew our own plans as to how we envisaged it.
This included raising the roof 1.5 metres to accommodate a bedroom, en-suite and mezzanine area upstairs. The ground floor would then be ‘squared off’ to allow for the kitchen, dining area and living room to have wall-to-wall sunshine on the south-facing side and two en-suite double bedrooms which face north. The mezzanine opens out onto the living room, giving a feeling of height and space.
The building company we used belongs to Tristan Couch, of Loddiswell. We could not have asked for a better group of builders to work with. Many a time, we had half of the Kingsbridge 1st XV rugby team busy working on the property, which included carpenters, electricians and plumbers, so they demolished walls throughout the week, and beat the opposition on the pitch at the weekend!
Because the builders were former school friends, including the company’s owner, Tristan, we had virtually no stressful episodes during the build. Even hoisting a ten metre glulam beam into position in the rain didn’t seem to worry them. The entire project took about two to three weeks over the projected timescale of six months. This was mainly due to weeks of rain and several changes we proposed during the build.
The house is of traditional, block construction. We wanted to make it as eco-friendly as possible and as we were taking the majority down to DPC level, we didn’t have to retro-fit anything. We chose in-line solar panels, which fit seamlessly alongside the slate roof tiles. These provide energy for an air source heat pump, which provides hot water and underfloor heating. Another nifty gadget diverts any excess generated electricity to an immersion heater, thus saving us more in energy costs. We also installed a 5,000 litre rainwater harvesting tank in the garden.
The house is fitted with Rationel windows, which are Danish, and are constructed of wood with an aluminium cladding on the exterior. This gives a softer, less industrial, look in the inside but means they are virtually maintenance free.
Since last summer, we have been running the house as a small B & B, using the two ground floor rooms. Our website is sunnysidesouthhams.co.uk