For born and bred townies, the very idea of setting foot north of Watford, Chingford or Walthamstow conjures up visions of a bleak hinterland where the shops close early, chic eateries and wine bars give way to greasy chippies and silent pubs, and bingo at the village hall is the locals idea of a big night out.
If you live within the M25, the very idea of forsaking civilisation to join the hicks in the Sticks probably fills you with horror, even if it is to move to a spacious, modern semi in a commutable county town where property is half London prices.
So what to do when you can’t afford to move up the London property ladder but space is at a premium because you’ve got a growing family, you need a bigger kitchen or bathroom, or you’d like a spare room to entertain friends or set up a home office?
Well, there’s more than one way to swing a cat, even in a Victorian terrace or a between-the-wars semi that wasn’t exactly built with modern living standards and conveniences in mind. In their favour, most are solid, brick-built affairs with high ceilings, occasionally run to a third storey, and almost always have a rear garden.
In short, they offer excellent scope for extension, conversion or refurbishment – at a fraction of the price of moving out or moving up. With your standard two-up, two-down, the obvious option is to knock the two-down into a single through lounge/diner (poky, unused front parlours are a thing of the past), extend your kitchen or a conservatory out back, and/or convert your loft space into an en suite bedroom, study or what you will.
Of course, for both aesthetic and financial reasons you’ll want to preserve the best of the original features: exterior door arches, fan lights and bay windows with their mouldings all add distinction and value, not to mention interior features like Victorian mantles and ironwork fireplaces – which would cost a fortune to replace if you went to an architectural salvage company.
That said, you might want to go cool and modern with your interior décor: say Norman Foster furniture, timber floors and Farrow and Ball paints as opposed to the heavy anti-macassared furniture and fusty flock fabric wallpaper favoured by the Victorians.
At Herts & Essex Lofts we have made something of a speciality of extending, converting and refurbishing older properties, and we will be pleased to advise you on the possibilities of renovating your London property in a sympathetic manner – whilst releasing that much needed living space.
And as a bonus, you’ll not only be adding living space, but equity. North London property values have risen by about 70% over the past five years, and a loft conversion alone could add another 20% to that. See also our recent blog about properties in Walthamstow.