Just a bit off the end

My second project on Grange road is nearing completion. What was once a freezing tiny kitchen is now (nearly) ready for a new life as a family kitchen with a little dining area and really lovely relationship to the garden. The last run of oak work top should be in by now but the floor tiles will have to wait a little longer: the underfloor heating requires eight weeks for the screed to cure before we can lay tiles. Let me just say a big thank you to our builder, Wow Developments, great job guys!

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Station Road – more progress

For the Station Road project the client was looking for a loft room but had low headroom in loft and a stair running between the front and back room. So the room I have designed is a half loft. We put new stairs above the old and leave the front part of the roof space as a loft storage space. The new room at the back of the house is full width as the stairs are out of the way and we find the headroom by dropping the ceiling in the back bedroom and hallway. The front bedroom still keeps its high ceiling and character. I have stolen a corner of the storage loft for a roof light, so a little light trickles down the stairs into the middle of the house. We are due to complete on site on the 13th of June when I will issue the practical completion certificate if I am satisfied that the works are complete. The contractor has done an excellent job so far and I expect an early completion.

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Site Progress Grange Road

This project on Grange Road is having a new loft room and a rear extension. We went down the route of planning permission for the extension so that we can go a little bit wider and taller than the permitted development guidance. The start on site occurred during the really wet weather so my heart out goes out to the guys on site, digging away in the rain to get the foundations in. All passed off by the building inspector, the slab and walls went in quickly. Wow Developments, the builder, sourced some very sympathetic bricks to match the existing wing and I am very pleased with the carpentry. The roofer was out this morning, working in the sunshine.

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Site progress Station road

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A few photos from on site. A lot of clients get a bit nervous when they imagine what will happen to their precious house. Well, the builders will come and smash up the bits you don’t need and make some nice new bits that you do need and then they will make everything tidy and nice and you will be happy. Try to forget about the bit in the middle!

Good progress on Station road, the builder is ahead of schedule. He is also solving a lot of small problems along the way so that they don’t turn into big problems. I am happy.

Squeeze me baby

Working, as I do, with Edwardian and Victorian terraces, I see a lot of subtle variations in the typology of these houses, but the overriding concern for their original designers is this: how to get as much house as possible into a plot that is between 10 and 15 feet wide – that’s about 3.0 to 4.5m. This beautiful but tiny house is one of a set of four, facing onto Kings Heath park. They have a front room, back room and stairs in the middle. The stairs are super steep, so they finish with a landing at the first floor about 18″ (about 450mm) short of the party wall (brown plan). In front and to the left is another super steep winder stair turning all the way up and back into the attic (blue plan). Because the stair run is greater than the width of the house, the designer has found some extra space: The attic stairs go over onto the neighbour’s side of the house. The designer has split the space between the double chimneys between the houses, with the garden half going to this house and the front half going to the neighbour. This is the most dense and critical part of the house plan and the walls, steps, doors and turns are all squeezed super tight. Not that they feel intruded upon, like a door too narrow for the body, but the elements are compact and without any wasted inches. The edges of the first floor landing are bounded by the Bedroom 1 door, the top riser, the Bedroom 2 door at an angle, the first tread to the attic and 18″ width of the wall carrying the neighbour’s stairs. In Bedroom 1, the wall runs level with the chimney breast – because behind it are the neighbour’s attic stairs. If you check back to the Ground Floor plan, you will see that we are above the alley, so this wall can run all the way down to the ground.

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Green Road

Birmingham is a city with a lot of city street feel. Every city, and many city districts, have their own city street feel. In much Kings Heath we have narrow streets of bay fronted brick terraces hard to back of footpath or with tiny front gardens. Or we have big gabled semis with arts and crafts features fronted with big old street trees. It is not just the houses that form the street feeling but the road, the footpath and the way the houses relate to it – the footpath materials, trees, grass verges, gardens and garden boundaries or no gardens. Most streets have a rule or pattern. Every so often we get a street that is a bit different or even very different. I went to see an enquiry on Green Road B13 a few months ago and I took some photographs as the street changes from one thing to another. In fact, Green road is nothing like a city street. It starts at the top like a passage between the back gardens of the big houses on Wake Green Road, works it’s way down past an eclectic collection of houses, some set back from the street, some at strange angles, down to a ford across the river Cole with a footbridge that is neither country nor town. Municipal street furniture sits beside rural views across fields. Especially interesting is the relation between houses and highways. Sometimes there is a footpath, sometimes none. There is a stretch with large lawns beside the highway which residents use for parking in between. Some houses have created interesting terraces that demarcate private from public, others have walls to screen out the street. A witches cottage with a street lamp behind a white picket fence, a 20’s house hidden behind trees. There is overgrown foliage, a line of cobbles, or a brick wall built around a tree from another time. Magic.

 

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