Loft conversion, new gable & new pitched roof

The brief


The clients wanted to use the empty loft space to create a master bedroom at the top of the house with an ensuite and dressing room. As part of the design they sought to maximise light and space and optimise the views from the new second storey bedroom.

The property


The property is a large 1920s detached house on an elevated position over looking Brighton. It is constructed from bricks at the base, with a pebble dash on the first floor and with a tiled hipped roof on all fours sides over the original part of the house. An earlier two storey extension encompassing the original garage copies the original walling materials but is finished with a basic felted flat roof.

The solution


The design proposed to convert the hip at the back of the property to a gable and change the flat roof over the garage to a pitched & hipped roof.
A hip to gable was a visually attractive solution to creating additional usable space in the loft. The gable follows the lines of the existing roof, its orientation minimizes any detrimental impact upon the neighbours but it maximizes the views across the City. The roofing materials and the finish of the new gable give a uniform appearance to the rear elevation.
The new hipped roof at the side matches the line and pitch of the existing roof, it follows the existing eaves and uses matching materials but it is subordinate to the original roof and has a lower ridge line.
Internally there is a large bedroom running from the front to the back with a dressing area to the front of the bedroom. Under the new pitched roof is a good sized ensuite bathroom containing a large ‘walk-in’ shower and a bath. The new stairs from the 1st floor landing follow the line of and match the existing stairs and look as though they were always there.

The result


The aim of the proposal was to maximize the available space in the loft whilst creating a design that was harmonious with and enhanced the visual character and form of the existing house. The loft conversion has created a good sized bedroom with an ensuite and a dressing area. The gable to the rear provides space, light, ventilation and fantastic views and the new pitched roof provides space for the ensuite and gives a more balanced front elevation to the property creating visually harmony.

“We are very pleased with the results. The bathroom is much bigger than anticipated, the dressing room is an excellent use of the space and the huge gable window is a constant delight. The atmosphere that has been created is very calming.”

CE, Brighton

Refurbishment of Grade 1 Listed Flat

The brief


The clients met in and fell in love with Brighton and bought the flat as a place to come and live once their lives become less busy. They wanted to refurbish the property to a good modern standard but to retain or put back the historic features, respecting and reflecting its original layout and use as part of the servant’s quarters of the grand house above.

The property


The property is the front part of the basement of a grade 1 listed terraced house built in the 1830s and is located in one of the most iconic group of heritage buildings in the country. As with all large houses of the era the basement was the ‘work horse’ of the house.
The flat was habitable but was suffering from a 1980s makeover, which detracted from the historic aspect of the property.
Originally, a York stone passage ran from the front to back of the basement giving access to the; Housekeeper’s room, Butler’s pantry, numerous food & drink storage rooms, servant’s hall, kitchen, scullery, food storage and servant’s stairs up to the main house. Over time the house and basement have been divided and sub-divided and prior to these most recent works the flat was a 1980s incarnation.
The living room at the front of the basement was the House keeper’s room and this is the only room in the property that retains its original plan form. The other key feature for which there is evidence is the front part of the York stone passage. Over time ceilings have been lowered, walls built and a kitchen installed in the passage. The plan form of the rest of the flat is a combination of the conversion of the house into flat in the 1920s and the work in the 1980s. The property is listed and any works needed both Listed Building consent and planning approval.

The solution


The proposal was to refurbish the flat whilst at the same time remove the modern features that detract from the historical interpretation of its original plan. If and where possible the client wished to reinstate the layout and details of the property, taking it back to how it was when first built or to a logic point in its history. This wish involved removing modern features, retaining the 1920s alterations that had become part of the historic development of the building (such as the cross-passage) and where evidence existed putting back some original features.
The design solution was to retain the principle layout of the flat but open up and delineate the York stone passage.
The York stone passage has been created by stripping out the the kitchen, and the removal of walls, blockwork balustrades and suspended ceilings. To delineate the passage a York stone floor was laid and the bathroom walls set back. A new kitchen now sits respectfully in the York stone passage.
In the Housekeepers room all the features added in the 1980s were removed including; the plaster moulding and ceiling rose, the picture rail and skirting boards, the window with bulls-eye glazing, the six panelled fire doors, the 20th century fireplace and non original doorways. In their place is an entrance door in the original location, plain plastered walls and ceiling, a period fire place and a refurbished parquet floor found under the carpets. New timber window shutters matching original examples have been reinstated in the tracks existing in the box sash windows.
Throughout the flat the modern and non-original features have been removed and replaced. This includes; new four panelled internal doors (match original doors in other basements in the square) with Regency style rim locks and keeps, a new four panelled timber front door, square nosed skirting boards reflecting those found in other Regency basements, replacement of the blockwork around the steps to the subterranean cellar with a visually unobtrusive balustrade, contemporary doors to the under-the-pavement cellars and the removal of the ceramic tiles covering the York stone steps and patio at the front of the property.

The result


Walking down the now exposed York stone steps at the front of the flat, worn by generations of servants and owners, the years of wear and the soft buff colour of the stone takes you back 180 years.
Inside the now removed stud walls, dropped ceilings and 1980s paraphernalia make way for what really feels like the original York stone passage. An Aga and minimal kitchen units sit quietly against one wall, almost like a serving table of days gone by. In the old Housekeepers room the finishes are basic and your eyes are drawn to the cast-iron fireplace, to the renovated parquet floor and to the plain but elegant details and finishes. Period radiators, light switches and fittings and even the flexes give a simple but chic feel.
The recent renovation has created a modern flat in a heritage building of national importance. The refurbishment manages to provide the comforts required of today in a historic setting whilst portraying a little sense of how it was and how it might have felt when it was first inhabited.

Replacement of bay window

The brief


Replace the existing metal windows in the front bay with windows that can be safely opened, that keep the flat warmer and that better reflect the heritage and age of the property.

The property


The property is the first floor flat in a 1840s terraced house located in a conservation area in central Brighton. The flat has masonry rendered walls and the windows in the front bay are steel Crittall, which will have replaced the original timber sliding sashes. The Crittall windows detract from the visual appearance of the property, they have very poor thermal performance and they had come to the end of their usable life (it was difficult and potentially dangerous to open and close the windows).

The solution


Replace the Crittal windows with double glazed, timber double hung vertical sliding sashes matching the pattern of original timber sash windows in the street.

The result


The new windows match the age of the property and significantly improve its visual appearance from the streetscape. The windows can be easily opened and closed, they are wind and water tight and there is a marked improvement in the heat retention in the flat.

“Martin McCurdy was recommended to us by a neighbour when we needed an architect urgently, having been let down by someone else. He did a wonderful job preparing and submitting the plans for our window replacement, and thanks to his efficiency we received planning permission from the Council in very good time. We would absolutely recommend Mr. McCurdy to anyone requiring architectural services.”

David and Gretchen Smith

Refurbishment & installation of solar panels

The brief


The clients wanted to improve the thermal comfort of their property while reducing their contribution to climate change by investing in eco energy.

The property


The property is contained within a Grade 2 listed terrace house in Kemp Town Brighton. The ground floor and basement have been converted into separate flats and the property is the top maisonette consisting of the 1st and 2nd floors.
The building is a solid masonry construction with timber windows, a ‘butterfly’ pitched roof (orientated south/north) to the main part of the building and a rear outrigger with a flat roof. Much of the original structure remains intact or is in evidence in the building and the windows in the main part of the property are the original traditional timber sliding sashes. An office located in the rear outrigger is a later addition to the property and is accessed half-way up the stairs over the original kitchens below. The exterior walls of the office are single skin masonry, the window was a single glazed softwood casement and the roof flat is finished with roofing felt with no insulation at all. The property is listed and any works needed both Listed Building consent and planning approval.

The solution


The office was unusable in the colder months and it had a detrimental impact upon the thermal comfort in the rest of the property. The solution was to install internal wall insulation (IWI) to the external walls and to the ceiling of the office and fit a new double glazed timber casement window. The IWI was a 100mm PIR thermal insulation board, finished with plasterboard, a 5mm plaster skim and then painted white.
The south facing slope of the ‘butterfly’ pitched roof allowed the installation of eleven 0.8m x 1.6m photo voltaic (PV) panels. The PV panels were fitted to the roof slope in in the same plane as the roof tiles and are not visible from the public realm.

The result


The office is warm and usable and its improved thermal performance has had a significant and positive impact upon the comfort within the whole property. The PV panels have reduced the client’s energy bills, they have given them a return on investment of approximately 10% per annum and the clients are contributing to the reduction in global warming.

“The work in the back room has drastically improved the way we live in our flat. In winter months the flat is now comfortable in every room and is sunny and airy through summer. We are also extremely pleased that Martin’s work meant it was straight forward to install PV solar panels across our roof. We really enjoyed working with Martin and would not hesitate to work with him again.”

Jackie & Mark, Brighton

Low-Energy Rear Extension

The brief


As the owners move towards a time in their lives where they want to use their home to follow their passions their brief was to create a studio, an office and a storage room in the large rear garden. The extension should be integrated with the current property, future-proofed and encompass triple glazed windows and doors as used in the existing bungalow.

The property


The property is a 1950s detached bungalow. It had a dilapidated garage to the side, and a small front and a large rear garden. The hipped roof is tiled on all four sides, the walls yellow bricks at the base with pebble dash above. Previous work to the bungalow included internal refurbishment, a new porch and the replacement of all the windows and doors with triple glazed PVC units.

The solution


Demolish the garage and replace it with a large (28 sq.m.) single–storey extension following the line of the northern boundary. The extension is linked to the bungalow and has direct access into the rear garden. The level floor runs through from the bungalow to the extension and the wide doorway from the existing to the new allows easy access. A drop in ceiling height in the link marks the boundary between the domestic and the working space.
The AECB Silver standard was used as the benchmark for the detailing and thermal efficiency targets for the extension. The extension has a warm flat roof, PVC triple glazed windows and sliding doors, minimal thermal bridges, good air-tightness and thick cavity walls allowing for 200mm of cavity insulation.

The result


The extension provides a large, light and airy studio, office space and a big storage room and much of the sunny rear garden remains. Internally, the original space flows through to the extension but is distinct from the residential parts of the property. The AECB Silver Standard keeps the extension warm, in the winter and cool in the summer with very low heating costs. Externally the extension is clearly an addition but the link connects the old and the new and unites the domestic with the work space. Through the use of matching materials the extension both compliments and reflects the existing form and there is visual harmony.

“We are very grateful to Martin for showing us what’s possible in terms of thermal insulation in a new-build property. Our annex requires surprisingly little heating in winter and, despite being south facing, it doesn’t get overly hot in the summer. He provided impressively detailed specifications for the builder, and when the work was in progress he visited the site regularly, forming a good professional relationship with the builder to facilitate the achievement of what had been planned. We found Martin to be reliable, easy to contact and communicative.”

JS & BM, Brighton

Loft conversion with limited height

The brief

Solve a common loft problem: what to do when you cannot stand up in the loft but need more space. Like many others, the clients did not want to move and needed more space for their growing family.

The property

The house is a two-storey terraced house with high ceilings to the ground and first floors.

The solution

Drop the first-floor ceiling to accommodate a second-storey.
The height of the first-floor rooms and the distance of the window heads from the ceiling allowed us to drop the first-floor ceiling by about 300mm, still leaving ample height on the first floor and well over the required minimum on the second floor. Dropping the floor requires a different process from the ‘normal’ loft conversion, where all work is done in the loft away from the rest of the house until the stairs are fitted. The existing first-floor ceiling can harbour more than a 100 years’ worth of dust and dirt. It is essential to put in and seal the new floor beneath the old one before its removal.

The result

A light loft with a bedroom, shower room and dormer window. Internally the new stairs to the loft match and follow the line of the existing stairs, and roof lights provide natural light to the bedroom. Externally the dormer finish matches that of the existing house, the rear elevation flows up from the garden and it looks as if the dormer has always been there.

Basement extension

The brief

Turn an unused basement area into an en-suite shower room to give a family with growing teenagers a much-needed extra bathroom and create a balcony.

The property

A three-storey terraced house. The first option was to convert the unused loft, but the ceiling height of the loft was insufficient and the first-floor ceiling could not be dropped. At the back the house had access to two levels of the rear courtyard, but much of the basement level was taken up with an old WC and store, and the exterior space on the ground-floor level was limited.

The solution

Utilise the space taken up by the old WC by building a basement-level en-suite shower room and using its roof as a balcony.

This necessitated juggling the internal layout to accommodate the new-found space. The basement-level living room and the ground-floor master bedroom were swapped. The living room is now in a lighter and brighter location with better access to the front door. French doors inserted in the rear wall lead from the living room to the new balcony.

The master bedroom now has an en-suite shower room with natural light streaming through glass bricks and sun tubes. A utility room was squeezed in for good measure.

The result

No need for the client to move from the property they loved. Despite limited space, the feel and use of the house has been transformed by utilising the available space more effectively.

Opening up the family living space

The brief


Accommodate the needs of a growing family by transforming a separate kitchen and dining room into a single large family space in which the family could cook, eat and relax. Open up and bring light into the back of the house by inserting bi-folding doors into the rear garden.

The property


The large end-of-terrace house, built at the turn of the 1900s, had a typical layout for the era with an internal dining room and a kitchen to the rear with a single door out into the garden via the old WC and utility room. The separate rooms faced south and west and the best aspect of the rooms was lost.

The solution


Remove the wall between the kitchen and the dining room, relocate the WC and utility room, and insert bi-folding doors across the rear exterior wall, opening up the whole space.
Internally the kitchen units and appliances were moved to the interior of the new room with the dining area located to the rear next to the bi-folding doors. The rear garden was decked, the height of the decking flowing through into the new room.

The result


A happy client: “This has changed our lives. As a large family we spend most of our time at home in the kitchen preparing food, eating it or just chatting round the table. We can now do all of this in one room. The light flows in from noon till sunset and when the sun shines we open the bi-folding doors, move the table outside, or sometime half inside and half outside. The distinction between the inside and the outside becomes blurred and our family living space extends to the edges of the garden.”

Rear Kitchen Extension

The brief

Solve a kitchen crisis. The clients had lived in the house for many years and had extended it to accommodate their needs, but the kitchen remained an unresolved issue – as the estate agent told them “the kitchen was just too small for the house”. The brief was to create a kitchen space suitable for the family. The challenge was to achieve this within the constraints of the site.

The property

A big detached house on a large plot, but with a very small kitchen and only a breakfast bar. The house sits on a sloping site, close to the boundary on both sides, with a short, steep driveway up to the road at the front and an expansive garden sloping quickly away to the rear.

The solution

Planning restrictions to the frontage, the need for a drive-through driveway, and the slope up to the road severely limited the potential for an extension to the front. To the rear, the slope of the land and the clients’ wish to retain the character and balance of the house also limited the potential for an extension.

The solution was to extend at the front and at the back. This entailed pulling the garage forwards by a metre or so and adding a small glazed room to the rear of the existing kitchen, matching an existing extension. The result changes the external appearance very little, but inside the kitchen has been transformed into a workable space.

The result

A full-size kitchen, including space for an American fridge-freezer and eating space for six people. The kitchen has been transformed from a cramped space into a room when the clients can cook and eat and enjoy the views into their delightful garden.

Basement flat and loft conversion

The brief


Take advantage of the enormous development potential offered by the property’s loft and the basement, converting the latter into a separate two-bedroom flat with an enclosed private patio to the rear and the loft into additional living accommodation.

The property


The house was a 1930s semi-detached house in a conservation area. It is subject to an Article 4 Direction and the proposed work required detailed liaison with the council’s planning department.

The unused loft space was one of the largest I have ever seen in a normal house and would have lent itself to conversion to a small flat on its own. The basement covered the rear three quarters of the house’s floor plan, with an old garage taking up much of the usable space.

The solution


Extend the basement flat to the rear, creating a new kitchen and living room for the flat and a new balcony for the house above (accessed from the rear ground floor) with steps down to the garden.

Conservation-style roof lights and windows were the only allowable visible alteration to the front. To the rear the planners were happy with proposals that copied similar examples in the street of the rear dormers and the rear basement extension.

The result


In the basement, the conversion and rear extension creates a two-bed flat with bi-folding doors to the rear patio, with a light-well providing light and ventilation to the front bedroom.

The new stairs to the loft rooms follows the line and detailed design of the existing and they flow up to the second-floor landing. The new landing gives access to the spacious bedroom with its large relaxing space, an en-suite bath and shower room and an office.