If your home has an elderly relative, a young married couple, a baby, step brothers or sisters - as well as you and the missus, all under the same roof, then you’re not alone. Today’s modern families come in all shapes and sizes and households can be made up of a variety of people - all with different needs.
A home purchased for a man and wife and their two children, may still be the family home even when those children have grown up but stay living with Mum and Dad ‘cos they can’t get on the housing ladder or an elderly parent may be unable to cope alone and come to live with their son or daughter's family.
And then there's the situatin when children of divorced couples join up with offspring from other relationships either on a permanent or weekend basis. They all need somewhere to stay.
With the current housing market forcing people to stay put and ‘improve rather than move’ and challenges facing first time buyers to get their own home, houses have to become more flexible to cater for changing family dynamics over time.
So how can you modify your home to suit?
•Extending - if you have the ability to extend, a single storey extension (say over a garage) could provide for:
◦A Granny Flat that shares the same front door, but has its own living space. This could also serve a young couple who want their own privacy.
◦An additional bedroom for extra children or teenage ‘hang out’.
You may be able to add an extension under Permitted Development rules - which means that you don’t need planning permission - but you should check with your council first. If you can manage a larger extension you can create extra living room too.
•Converting the loft - perhaps the easiest option is to convert the roof space into an extra room. You may not be able to put Granny up there if there’s too many stairs, but you can re-jiggle the rest of the accommodation to make it work. For something more on-trend, create a mezzanine level in the loft space. You’ll need to consult a professional as you’ll be removing roof beams and will need to comply with building regs.
Do think about where you are going to store all the paraphernalia that you currently have in the loft.
• Converting the garage - is an affordable way to create extra room. If you need to maintain the external look of the house, leave a small portion at the front for storage and convert the rest. You’ll need to insulate the walls and floor.
• Converting the cellar or basement - It’s not just sleeping arrangements that you may need to tackle. Your home may benefit from the extra leisure space as your family grows. The kids once happy with a bucket of Lego and play dough now require pool tables, dartboards and all sorts of multimedia. For cellar conversion specialists try Timberwise.co.uk
• Developing an outhouse - older, rural properties often have disused outbuildings in their grounds which make ideal bolt holes. You may be able to develop them on the basis that they are dependent on the main house. Getting planning permission to convert an outbuilding into a separate dwelling will be harder, but it would allow you to give or sell this to your family member for them to own independently. Get the outhouse properly surveyed - you may need to demolish and rebuild which will cost more and raise more planning issues than converting.
• Building a garden house - If you don’t have an outhouse to develop, but do have garden space, there are upmarket wooden garden structures that could provide an additional space. Think hard about how it is going to be insulated and heated. Go to armadilla.co.uk for a stylish example.
• Re-jigging what you have - if the household purse doesn’t stretch to having the house extended or parts converted, then give careful thought to how best to use the existing accommodation. Try;
- Partitioning rooms so that siblings can still share but have some privacy. Glass brick walls are a trendy alternative to a stud partition. If an actual wall is out of the question, then partition with room dividers.
- Sacrificing a little used separate dining room or office and creating a ground floor bedroom. This could be ideal for an older person who can’t cope with stairs. This same room could be a teenage hangout or hobby room. As no permanent changes have been made, it can revert back to its previous use in the future.
- Reclaiming space from large rooms, airing cupboards or wide landings. With some jigger pokery, you may be able to create an extra room from an inefficient layout or large rooms.
Think about the queue for the bathroom if you’re now housing extra people. You may need to build another loo, an ensuite or full bathroom into your plans.
Just changing the furniture and décor may be an easy solution to a growing family.
- Folding wall beds or ‘Studybeds’ could change a traditional bedroom into a studio / office space for that ‘grown up’ child. Alternatively cabin beds are great for children and teenagers who need their bedroom for more than just sleeping.
- A vanity unit / sink in a bedroom instantly provides more privacy and independence without the need for an all out en-suite.