Reasons to be cheerful Pt 2

Inevitably, the hike in stamp duty from five per cent on a £1.5 million property to 12 per cent, has deterred some prospective movers. Rather than forking out more tax, many are opting to maximise their current home.

Local developer Dermarta has benefited from this shift in the market. “The decision over whether to renovate or move is a lot easier these days,” says founder Dermot Steedman. “Home owners are spending the tax-saving on extending or refurbishing.”

This view is echoed by Robert Ditcham, Managing Director of Ayrton Bespoke. “We have seen a substantial increase in home improvement investment. The standards home owners set themselves has rocketed,” he says. His business is in doors and windows, not an insubstantial capital outlay. “Home buyers don’t want to see old windows and doors. It’s a cost coming their way soon,” he asserts.

cheerfull 4There are restrictions to extending the Victorian terraced house, the common housing stock in Nappy Valley. The done thing is to add a side return or single storey extension, but new trends are emerging to increase size and light.

“Victorian houses have fantastic potential to be used as modern family homes,” says Hughes. “The beautiful Victorian features that we all love like cornices and fireplaces compliment contemporary design and give these houses a homely finish.”

New materials, products and techniques mean almost anything is possible. Glass has been the big step change in home refurbishment over the last few years. Dermarta’s Steedman notes the trend in bifold doors, which are now becoming frameless. “We’ve come a long way from the Velux window,” he says.

“Large scale sliders are a fantastic option,” adds Hughes. “And you can install aluminium versions with sight lines that are minimal, giving a slick finish to your new extension.” Rory Gordon of Good London Builders advocates using Velux solar-powered windows with rain sensors and solar blinds. “They’re just brilliant,” he says.

He also voices a word of caution before embarking on a basement in particular: “Don’t do a basement unless you really know what you want the space for and need it.” And, furthermore, has words of advice on how best to stretch your budget. “Everything is negotiable,” he says. “It doesn’t mean the price will change, but always ask.”

cheerfull 5

Clapham Common Tube by Johny Midnight at Gallery Midnight

The installation of smart technology is considered a composite part of the renovation project now. Home owners are experimenting with wifi-controlled and remotely-accessed lighting systems and CCTV for pets. You can even boil a kettle from an app on your way home from work. Windows that close and open automatically – depending on the weather – and iPhone-charging bedside tables are becoming the norm as we seek to banish ugly tangled cables from the home.

THE SIX GOLDEN RULES Building work can be stressful, but these essential guidelines will help you get the very best out of a project and reach that wonderful moment when the work is done and your home and lifestyle are transformed

1. The Team. It’s a team effort: you, your builder and your architect/designer. Together you plan, and good planning prevents poor performance. How will you use the new space in your home? What would add both practical and financial value? While you are having work done, is it worth perhaps adding a downstairs loo or utility room?

2. Avoid ‘overspec’. It’s easy to be dazzled by technology but it can also be expensive. Will you use this ultra-modern device? Is the Lutron light or KNX necessary? Maybe you’d prefer a good, old-fashioned light switch.

3. Go Local. Often local suppliers are happy to offer a better discount to customers who live nearby as a thank you. We always recommend supporting local businesses, and do play the ‘local card’.

4. Listen. Seek advice, and take advice from your builders with their skills and knowledge. This might be your first project – your builder has probably completed hundreds!

5. Be Adaptable. Research and planning are crucial but don’t be afraid to make changes if you are thrown a curve ball. Be prepared to adapt. It is hard to visualize space from a set of plans, so be sure to pick a builder who will allow you to do this without financial penalties.

6. Enjoy! Your house is your home – get involved and have fun!

Source: Empire Builders


BALHAM: A fully renovated, six-bedroom semi-detached house on a leafy road between Balham station and Streatham Hill, covering 3,292 sq ft.

CLAPHAM: A five-bed terraced house between the commons with two large reception rooms. Spread over 1,900 sq ft and recently decorated with a 23 ft decked garden.

WANDSWORTH: A large five-bed terraced house of over 2,000 sq ft, between East Hill, Wandsworth Town station and Earlsfield station. With a high-spec kitchen and a video and alarm system on each floor, it also boasts a cellar.

CLAPHAM COMMON: A double-fronted Victorian terraced house with over 2,000 sq ft, four bedrooms, three receptions and two bathrooms.

FULHAM: Over the river, £1.5m will get you fewer bedrooms. A four-bedroom, two-bathroom period terrace is on the market just off the popular Munster Road. It has a south-facing roof terrace and garden.

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