Friday, 29 August 2014


Today. I thought I need to give some background info on the vital "planning permission". (for which we are currently eagerly awaiting an answer from the local authorities)

I appreciate this is not necessarily a entertaining subject; but hopefully a hardly veiled undertone should make it a little less " dry" to read.

In brief for the readers who are not familiar with the uk planning rules:

- the process takes a long time to be processed ( 8 weeks minimum to be precise) (we are expecting an answer for our proposal first week of October!!!)

- the written planning " rules" and "guidelines" are notoriously slippery... And can be argued in any one way depending on the "interpretation" of the officer the application falls upon.

- neighbours are "consulted" for their opinion and if more then 3 claim they would be negatively affected by the proposal, the process all of a sudden takes up to 6 months and a number of other hoops need to be jumped through ( including a planning meeting etc) (for information we have more then 30 adjacent plots to our property)

- neighbours (although I cannot generalize) tend to be against anybody doing anything at all. (A acronym has been termed(not by myself): "NIMBY"... Standing for Not In My Back Yard -)

I could be expanding here but basically it took over 10 years for the 3rd runway at London Heathrow to be approved or something like that(?) and this is in the interest of the entre nation.... ( I realise this comment may be politically charged -especially if you happen to live under the new flight path)

But really I should stop here.  Please accept my apologies; I have a feeling that personal frustration and anxiety is being vented...

This is not what this blog should be about.

You may refer to the below link for more "factual" information.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Glass is sexy.

Its not all put down in a very linear fashion am afraid.... But I thought I should share.

Today I visited "the cantifix guys" basically they are some of the best in London for structural glass structures.

He did quite early on in the conversation mention that they are "not cheap" ... Which  I was not really surprised about, but for him to be so upfront about it means I have started to fear the initial quote I am going to receive by the end of the week!!!

We are looking at inserting a lot of glass, walk on glass floors and glass skylights and large glass windows, and and....

I know I did not mention yet but in effect we are planning to dig a rather grand basement floor (approx 1400 sq ft (or approx 120sq m ) ... And unless we get serious amounts of light in there, its unlikely we will fetch a good return on investment!

So two 3 large lightwells and lots of glass is the answer!
Very early sketch and some great glass use lightwells in contrast to Victorian fabric below. (Apologies I should and would like to give references but these are some screenshots collected over the last few months) 

I guess I don't really need to mention that I like glass.

Monday, 25 August 2014


Let's go a little more in depth.

Getting the current property took approximately a year of research and hunting.

That involves trawling though auction catalogues (or dealing with "dodgy" agents -but that is another post- ) and focusing on some highlights to "do the homework"

- transport links ( I will never look at anything further then 10mn walk to an underground/overground station)

- looking into the legal pack to make sure no surprises there of course.  (There may be building restrictions )

-sq ft price of the sold comparable properties nearby (zoopla and right move ) check averages of all comparables  (at least 10)

- checking planning history on the council website and estimating potential extensions /conversion potential in terms of planning approval. (That estimation is one of the hardest bits... Very hard to second guess these people - and the possibility to add some 200 sq ft area into the garden can make or break a project when the sq ft resale value is at the 1000gbp (that's 200k straight off your resale value)

- viewings (sometimes you will arrive to join a crowd gathering in front of a property. Prams. Dodgy drug lords looking types. And of course builders etc.... Am not exaggerating I should dig out a photo really!  )

- checking structure issues and estimating repair bills

- do "maths";  estimate the refurbishment cost and include other costs like stamp duty etc. Take the estimated resale value based on the sq ft price of comparables, do a best case and worst case scenario. And determine a top price. Basically what you should be ready to pay on the day.

-finally walking around the area day time and night time .... How does it feel like ? Have you got a couple of trendy coffee shops already on the high street or is it all fish and chips and betting shops? (Basically are there early signs of gentrification. That's the bottom line of any " upcoming area" ) .... Check the walk to the station. The walk there may be through some seriously unwelcoming council estate. Would a potential buyer like that? Does it fit the target purchaser you have in mind?

Overall over the year I would say in depth research was done on approx 25 properties ... Clapham, Crystal palace, Peckham, Forest Gate, Forest Hill, Brockley, Camberwell (will tell you about the Camberwell garage in another post... We made news there!) Walthamstow, Bow Stratford..... I could go on. But really mostly around the "new" east London line.

... That's 25 properties where as an architect, you can't help but imagine and " dream" about what the potential is.
What can be done and some special ways of extending and gaining extra sq ft.

And of course sometimes the bidding will just fly by the "top price" which took all that research.....

And you do wonder how have they done their maths? 

Other times, you will battle it out with the last opponent and you may push your top price by another 10k .... 20k 30k ... but reason prevails and you let go...  that instant the hammer falls and the other bidder has it. 

One of the key rules is "don't fall in love" ....but sometimes i have to admit. I am a bit of a softy and it still hurts to see a beauty run away with a another stranger.

Below... Some research notes on a property I still regret!

Sunday, 24 August 2014

More visual

Having received the first feedback.
"Keep it more visual"
I thought I should oblige and add a few pictures!

In the next few posts I will elaborate on the actions so far. 

- the auction purchase, the filming from "homes under the hammer", the ongoing saga of the planning permission.... The encounters with the neighbours...  

In fact thinking about it I should go one step back and mention what all research and other properties that had been earmarked, prospective areas.... Etc... Plenty of material to write about.... Wondering if I will have the time to do the actual project itself at this rate! 

Side view giving a sense of size
This one showing "the trees" growing on! 
The huge overgrown garden
And here the side return - view from the garden.

Saturday, 23 August 2014


As an architect, finding unusual and neglected spaces  to reinvent creates a sense of satisfaction that is difficult to convey.

This blog is an attempt .

I am sure I will revisit previous projects in a later post, but the  latest find is a hidden Victorian beauty; in the heart of the most hyped London corner - Hackney.

I am pretty excited about it and I hope that I will be able to share the excitement (and the troubles -which normally are part of the job) over the next few months.

Pls don't hesitate to ask questions - I may not always be replying straight away.... But when I will, I will do so with pleasure.
 A side glimpse of the beauty