Sale, Greater Manchester is a hidden jewel.
It’s less well-known than famous fashionable Chorlton or aspirational Didsbury, but it retains the similar character of a quiet family town, with a variety of houses from 1930s semis, to large detached villas. Some of them have existing extensions or a garage conversion.
There is still a good amount of houses for us to redesign, as I recently found with some clients.
How can you Improve your House?
Recently I have been speaking to Ross. He and his wife moved to Sale last year, as it’s a very good location, even if you don’t have children. They had picked a nice house that haven’t been reconfigured or extended. Like most traditional old buildings, the house had many small rooms and a small separate kitchen, and an external garage. Ross invited me for a chat and asked for an advise on what can be improved in it. It was a different approach to what other clients have.
Usually I meet homeowners that tell me exactly what they want to do, but they are unsure how to do it. Here I was standing in this 1930’s semi in Sale thinking about a house as if it was mine and creating a vision of how it can become a better place for its owner.
Need An Extension? – Not Necessarily
We went through couple of questions.
The first one was; What makes you unhappy in the house?
The answer was; It is cold and the kitchen is small and dark.
Another: Would you like to have a separate living room downstairs? Or would you mind dedicating one of the upstairs bedroom and arrange it as a small reading and library corner?
The answer wasn’t too clear so we looked at both options.
We decided that it is not the extension that will make them happy. A downstairs reconfiguration was the direction that we went to fully explore.
An Unexpected Solution: A Garage Conversion
We had another experience similar experience with local clients, this time with a garage conversion for Kit, a customer. He wanted to extend his house and make it more sellable for a family set up, even though they themselves didn’t have kids.
As I mentioned before Kit, was a client that knew exactly what he wants. But for this scenario with Ross – he wasn’t sure if this was the best and only option to go for.
Designing and building an extension is always based on a trade of the garden space versus the living space. His house already had the extension that facilitated the kitchen and utility room. As a small narrow extension, it wasn’t fully transformable. As we talked and drew options of how to make it larger and more utilisable space we more and more leaned towards reusing the old garage that was on the side of the house. This was a wasted space, or rather a large bike storage.
One of the interesting options we looked was knocking down the existing extension. We could return this space to the owner and recreate the garden patio, which would take care of the side of the house. This way the garage and surrounding area behind it could be turned into an open space kitchen diner with a toilet and the utility.
The neglected garage got a new function and the garden views massively improved. There was no longer an extension to look at from the living room. The other benefit was an open view and full sun exposure of the back of the house – no shaded corners anymore.
In the end, the extension was not the only solution. Garage conversions or just remodelling might do the job, and might be easier to heat up when you look at the running costs of your house.