A complete renovation of an architecturally interesting but challenging building, this project required structural works and solutions to dampness and condensation problems, as well as new floors and extensive decoration inside and out.


Background & preparatory works

Our client, who we met at Grand Designs 2016, already had architect’s drawings for the renovation of this detached two-storey coach house dating from 1700. Invited to tender, we put together a cost and programme based on their specification and scope of works, and were successful.

The project involved renovation of the entire cottage, requiring a complete strip-out of the kitchen, downstairs shower room, ground-floor wooden flooring, skirting, architraves and upstairs carpets.

Once the strip-out was complete, we completely rewired the property, significantly increasing the number of power sockets.

Curing condensation & damp

Clear evidence of damp to the external walls, in the form of staining and odour, was confirmed by a property survey. So we removed the existing render to 1m above the ground floor level. The wall received damp-proof injection and we applied a waterproof render to the exposed brickwork.

Owing to condensation in the past, Mechanical Heat Recovery Ventilation (MHRV) was installed in each room, with extraction systems in the kitchen, bathroom and shower areas. Designed by a specialist subcontractor, the MHRV system’s main unit was fitted in the bathroom boiler cupboard with extraction and intake through the main roof. All ventilation pipework was carefully hidden behind walls or boxed within the ceilings.

Remodelling work

A challenging element of the renovation involved removing a column to open up the space in the kitchen, while also increasing the head height there and in the dining room.

We removed the plasterboard ceiling in dining room, and then structurally propped the joists supporting the floor and wall above. These joists were cut 1500mm back from a steel beam encased in concrete, so it could be removed along with its supporting column. We also removed the ceiling on the other side of the concrete steel beam to expose the porch roof. A solar-powered Velux window was incorporated to provide natural light in the enlarged space.


The ground floor also had to be replaced. We removed the old wooden flooring and poured a self-levelling compound to form a new screed over the uneven surface underneath. Our recommended solution for the water underfloor heating system used 18mm insulated heating boards, laid directly on the screed. The mechanical elements of the heating system were placed under the staircase and boxed off with doors to match the kitchen.

This underfloor heating system operates across the entire ground floor, topped in the dining, lounge and study areas by a floating wooden floor.

The discovery of additional dampness at floor level was traced to a pathway on the neighbouring property that had been built higher than the building’s original DPC level.

To resolve this, we commissioned a new design to capture ground and surface water. This required excavation of a trench below the DPC level around two elevations of the house and use of a tanking system.


Other elements

The dark and dingy lounge was transformed by installing a structural beam (again, with the first-floor joists propped) followed by a three-tier bifold door. This replaced a single, double-glazed door, bringing in much-needed light from the garden. We re-used this door in the study, for access to the yard area.


In the kitchen:

We commissioned a Ream Kitchen design, utilising some of the existing appliances.

  • handless cupboard units in Dove Grey by Second Nature
  • a black mirrored quartz worktop with a double under-sink and drainer cut into the surface
  • floor laid with matt black tiles (600x300mm), which were bonded to the insulated underfloor heating boards


In the shower room:

  • we dug up the floor to reconfigure the drainage in the space and built a wet room.
  • a Geberit toilet  framewas installed, and concealed in the wall, as was the drainage to the basin
  • wet-room shower tray and shower utensil pocket cut into the wall
  • the Bristan thermostatic shower valve was partly concealed with a swivel shower head
  • walls tiled with the same matt black (600x300mm) wall tiles with silver beadings to all edges
  • floor tiles bonded to the insulated underfloor heating broads
  • ceiling painted in metallic silver to enhance the minimal natural light from a small window


In the hallway:

  • new electrical distribution board and storage cupboard with a new water softener unit
  • floor laid with the same matt black (600x300mm) tiles, bonded to the insulated underfloor heating broads
  • walls wallpapered with a quirky can-can dancing theme.


In the bedrooms:

  • vertical clear-lacquered raw cast iron radiators
  • master bedroom’s feature wall wallpapered with mustard tone dragonfly print
  • other walls painted in a same mustard tone to complement oak wardrobe doors


Exterior of house:

  • scaffolding was erected on all elevation
  • existing and new render decorated in brilliant white finish
  • brickwork of gable and yard elevations, with decorative corbel detail, and chimney stack was raked out and repointed
  • new lead flashing  installed on the front elevation over the new kitchen
  • Velux window replaced an old mortar flashing that was leaking
  • installed a new cottage-style front door, painted in a yachting blue