Restoration, Renovation & Extension, Surrey
“The grange was a Victorian rectory built in 1892. The previous owner had not updated the property since around 1967/68 and so it included lots of original features from that time including the kitchen, an oil-fired boiler in the cellar that looked like it could power a liner, and even things like silk curtains and carpets from the 60s which must have been stunning in their time.
“There were no showers in the house, no insulation and just slate tiles on the roof, and single pane windows. Our children actually used to get ice on the inside of their bedroom windows – the heating bills were unbelievable! So there was a huge amount of work to do.
“Having seen the amazing job Vernacular Homes had done on our barn conversion, we knew we wanted them to work on this project too.
“We extended the tiny kitchen, doubling its size and added the sympathetic extension with new apexes to match the original ones. The existing plans were for a very modern extension which we just didn’t feel would work. So we discussed it with Vernacular Homes and came up with a much better design that just blends with the house.
“We also had new ground source heating installed which involved digging kilometres of piping, and had new plumbing and wiring installed.
“We wanted to maintain as many features as we could so we opened up three fireplaces and rather than refurbishing the original windows, which would’ve been prohibitive in terms of cost, we instead installed bespoke timber framed replacements – 50 in total.
“All of this had to go through planning which Vernacular Homes was enormously helpful with. I think the planners were happy that we were keeping the façade, and bringing the property up to modern standards without destroying the features.
“Throughout the project, the nice thing about working with the team was the constant communication; they took so much of the stress away from me. Getting trades in during covid was really difficult and I imagine the site manager, Ashley, was pulling his hair out, but I would never have known because he just managed that with the staff. Having someone on site like him is invaluable. I’ve seen people attempt to project manage a build themselves and encounter constant problems with subcontractors involving huge time and cost overruns, so I never wanted to do it myself. To keep on top of all the trades and understand if they’re carrying out work exactly as they should be, you really need that experience. Having said that, all of the trade teams were fantastic. I’ve had Vernacular Homes’ painters come back afterwards and do work for me because I’ve rated their painting – in fact, I always go back to them for recommendations for trades. I’ve worked with a number of them and I know the work they can produce.
“The house is now a 5000 sqm, seven bedroom, six bathroom property. We also transformed the attic room into accommodation for our au pair, with her own bathroom. The whole team has done an amazing job. I’ve worked with contractors before on renovations who have been difficult, but everyone was so easy to work with and the finish is just exceptional.”
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