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How could I re-configure the ground floor of this Victorian terrace

(18 Posts)
beansagain Tue 02-Jun-15 11:22:32

I've attached the floor plan for the ground floor of this Victorian terrace. It's in fairly bad repair so we'll need to do some work, put in a new kitchen etc so while we're at it, we think we should do the side return and possibly incorporate the dining room into the kitchen and close off the front room so that it no longer connects to the dining room. I'd also love a utility room if possible.

My main worry it cost and light. Any ideas what a side return might cost on this kind of property? Also, how could we close off the front room so that it no longer interconnects with the dining room without losing all the light in the dining room. I guess that's why the vendors left that odd external space I've hatched on the plan. It's a completely dead space but I can see it adds light.

Finally, the room marked "office" on the plan is a lean-to without electricity or light so practically useless.

I'm open to all ideas!

Liara Tue 02-Jun-15 20:21:16

What is your budget like?

If I had the budget, i would look at knocking down the 'office and making a glass roofed extension to the kitchen covering that area.

I don't think it would be cheap though!

girlgonesouth Wed 03-Jun-15 08:42:45

They might have left that small courtyard because the drains are there as well as for light. You could connect it with a glass roofed side return, which would mean removing most of the side wall of the back addition, putting in a steel beam, and re-routing all the plumbing / drains. Not sure how much that would cost, from £25K? You could build a side return extension just where the lean-to is for less, then you'd still have a little internal courtyard.

beansagain Wed 03-Jun-15 09:49:08

Budget is £40k max.

Definitely need to knock the office as it's really poorly built and a waste of space.

Ah yes, good point about the drains. Re-routing the drains sounds like a bit of a nightmare and now that you've called the odd external bit "a courtyard", I'm thinking we could possibly make a nice feature out of it.

IssyStark Wed 03-Jun-15 12:16:21

I'd be tempted to:

leave the courtyard for the reasons stated above;

block off the living room (this shouldn't cost much if you just put in a stud wall but if you want flexibility you could put in pocket doors so it can be opened up to the dining room which would cost more)

knock down the office, open it up to the kitchen and put a glass roofed extension in it's place (or at least the biggest skylight you can get if cost is an issue) and have French windows into the courtyard as well, so in the summer you could have the French windows in the dining room and in the extension both open onto the courtyard.

I'd be tempted to look into putting a utility room where the entrance to the kitchen is, either so it fits in beside the loo, or have it on the courtyard side, and in effect just make the hall longer before you enter the kitchen. You could then have storage cupboards on the other side of the extended hall. It would probably bring the kitchen down to about 4 or 4.5 m deep, but with the extra width bringing it up to 4.5m wide, it would still be a good sized kitchen diner.

I'd also try and get as much glass into the walls in the kitchen/diner as possible.
I've tried to show what I mean by scribbling on your plan.

Threesoundslikealot Wed 03-Jun-15 12:26:32

I'm wondering if you could put a glass roof on the courtyard (not cheap though) and support the roof with a non loadbearing wall, and then keep the light but have an enclosed space you might be able to use as a utility. But I suspect there are reasons why you couldn't!

beansagain Wed 03-Jun-15 12:31:30

These are fab ideas, thanks very much. Am in work now but will study with interest this evening!

TreadSoftlyOnMyDreams Wed 03-Jun-15 13:51:51

Have a similar layout just without the office and have been discussing the side return for years now. Just don't have the £40k+ to do it. grin

We met with several architects two years ago most of which put forward the bog standard extend over the side return, mostly glass or velux roof, install kitchen diner. Job done.

Our neighbours have put a utility room into the "courtyard" which has made their dining room v dark and completely put us off. Another set have left a courtyard and both the dining room and kitchen are much more welcoming and brighter as a result. Rubbish use of space though.

So - I'll get to the point eventually. One architect suggested reinstalling the partition in the living room but not at it's original point if that makes sense. So chopping a section out of the dining room down as far as the chimney breast, or more if you want to pay to remove that [all the way up].
So a) you have an enclosed living room which is adult space for the sake of argument. Fireplace, naice room.
b) Relocate the kitchen into the old dining room in a U shape which could extend into the new side return slightly and an island if you wanted one could go here. A big island with the hob on it makes extraction easier as it's not in the main house iykwim.
c) Old kitchen and new side return (lots of glass) become a new family room/diner. French doors/bifolds out to the garden.

It didn't appeal at the time but it has massively grown on me as an idea. We have the same layout as you with a v nice dining room table which isn't used a whole lot, but then have to have a dining table in the kitchen with two small kids. We also have a table in the garden so all in all, it's a bit ridiculous.
By making the living room bigger than it would have originally been, we could put a sofa across the new partition and have a lot more seating than we currently do.

beansagain Thu 04-Jun-15 07:59:30

Now, that sounds really lovely. Are you thinking you'd squeeze in a utility room or is that too much to ask? I agree that dining rooms don't seem to work for the way we live now and they seem to be used for toy storage in most houses.

Interesting about your neighbours too. It sounds like it makes sense to leave the courtyard for light and drains but we might be able to steal a bit of space from it. I guess what I'm planning is not a grand design but I want to get it reasonably clear in my head so this is really helpful. This is a house we're thinking of buying so we need to budget for the work that needs doing.

Thanks for the ideas. I'm getting excited somewhat prematurely!

beansagain Thu 04-Jun-15 08:00:42

BTW, did that architect mention any ballpark figures of what it might cost to do that bigger job including reinstalling the partition with the living room in a different place?

TreadSoftlyOnMyDreams Thu 04-Jun-15 10:09:22

I would get a good builder to walk around with you and take a bloody conservative view of costs and time to execute given it's an old building and if you have kids you may have to move out as no kitchen for three months+ is pretty tough. If there isn't a steel already across the living room ceiling, new regs will require one as far as I know. That's about £2.5-5k straight off the bat, remove chimney breast incl making good in dining room and room above £1500 to £2000, relocation of services/gas etc along with new partition, plastering, ground floor extension using steels instead of pillars. Our ceilings had to come down when we removed the chimney breast and put a steel in [bodged by previous owners] so it's worth considering the knock on effect of structural work on other rooms which you may not have budgeted for.

You could squeeze in a utility room but I guess it would be in the dining room? Which would mean no windows which may or may not bother you. We've put our washer and dryer into one tall cupboard in a stack beside the understairs cupboard [there was an odd pantry cupboard there before] and that works very well if you don't mind the beeping late at night when the feckers finish their cycle

All in all [and these are London prices] if you don't buy a designer kitchen I'd estimate around min £70k for a good quality finish with underfloor heating etc out the back.

I've seen quite a few houses put their kitchens into the old front room and make that room a kitchen/diner and the rear kitchen turned into a family room. Seems a shameful waste of a fireplace to me so it doesn't appeal but again it depends on how you use the house and if a front room is north facing then it really does have legs I think.

It's worth bearing in mind that unusual uses of space seem to make a property harder to sell from what I can see so in my opinion if you are going to do it, you need to make the finish very good.

beansagain Fri 05-Jun-15 08:13:20

Treadsoftly, thanks for your extremely helpful comments. £70k is eye-watering especially as the house also needs new bathrooms and windows and has some very shoddy looking electrics, plumbing etc.

We don't live in London but SE so building work will command similar rates.

I definitely wouldn't put my kitchen in the front of the house. That would feel wrong and the front room of this house is actually quite nice with a good fireplace.

I guess a utility room is a dream rather than a must too. I visited a friend (who does not live in the SE, of course!) and her house renovation includes a laundry room and back kitchen envy so I got it in my head that I need a utility room. In reality, I don't.

TreadSoftlyOnMyDreams Fri 05-Jun-15 10:47:31

Maybe find a good architect then? If the work is properly spec'd up and builders have to submit a fixed price bid then you will have more certainty around costs.

I really am not a builder. We had a quote of around £35-45k in London to do a bog standard side return extension to include a straightforward off the high street kitchen. We've done a loft conversion though and had to rewire and replumb, insulate and replace windows in a standard Victorian terrace.

All the incidental stuff like plastering has a way of adding up in a shocking manner very quickly and it is sooooo stressful when the numbers are way in excess of your estimates so I tend to take a very conservative view on costs now. It can definitely be done smarter and more cheaply that we did it though if you take the time to plan it v well. We sort of jumped in feet first and stuff like new ceilings added £000's that we hadn't planned for.

Depends if it is your forever house I suppose. It's one thing to move in, redo the plumbing, the bathroom and the electrics and smarten up the existing kitchen with the rest further down the road in a few years.

beansagain Fri 05-Jun-15 11:43:16

Yes, this would be our forever house or at least until we win the lottery.

We did work on our existing house and had an architect do a fairly good spec and the work came in on budget so that's definitely the way to do it.

bilbodog Fri 05-Jun-15 15:54:31

I don't know where you are in the country but a lot of London Victorian properties have filled in these side returns and you could look on Rightmove and see how they have done it - the floorsplans etc, which would give you some ideas. Personally I would go for a full side return and if I didn't fully glass the roof you could have a large roof lantern or something at the dining room end so that light would still go in through the double doors (if you leave them) or even take the doors out and open it all out - would be fab! You could use the darker dining room end as a snug end with the TV so that fact that it might be a bit dark would probably be better for watching TV and do all your dining and living at the garden/sunny end? Good luck.

FaintlyHopeful Sat 06-Jun-15 11:00:57

I have a similar layout and have been thinking about putting doors between the sitting and dining room because our dining room gets no direct light at all, it's really grim. I saw a neighbours the other day which is absolutely stunning, but maybe the opposite of what you are thinking....
They have bifold doors between the sitting dining room but they go right up to the ceiling more or less and make the room heights seem much bigger. Their dining room is the kitchen (they don't have the inshot bit you have) up to the point of your office; lovely aga on one wall, normal cookers on other wall, then this is open into what is currently your kitchen and office (all one space) which has a huge dining table, a big couch and squashy armchairs, with bifold doors along the entire wall into the garden.
It's really, really lovely and light all the way through the house (something ours lacks), with much more of a feeling of space and light. Taking all of the doors up to ceiling height seem to be the thing that has made the difference. I'm madly jealous and would love to have the vision for this type of thing!

meadowquark Sat 06-Jun-15 11:39:47

I am used to having small budgets so always think of how to utilize the existing layout better. I would be tempted to keep the existing open plan living / dining space with double doors to the courtyard, then keep the your big kitchen. I would convert "the office" to utility/shower room. I would have a glass roof or large Velux on the courtyard roof and another double doors to a small hall leading to utility room along with a normal door access from the kitchen.

EarSlaps Sat 06-Jun-15 13:53:01

I'd rebuild the office area with a velux roof and create a kitchen diner. Wall between lounge and dining room and turn the latter into a playroom/den. Glass/polycarbonate roof over some of the courtyard if possible to give outside space for drying clothes?

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