The existing building is a typical local farmhouse, with a long thin footprint and barns attached to one end. The building is predominantly only one room deep front to back, resulting in having to pass through one room to access another. Our property had also been previously extended at one end, increasing this linear arrangement. At some point the building had also been extended to provide a kitchen / pantry area, with a “cat-slide” roof that only afforded a storage area on the first floor due to the lack of headroom.

Due to external wall thicknesses of 500 to 600mm internal room dimensions are modest, and new door and window openings were not going to be straight forward.

Another consideration for us was orientation of the property. Previously twinned with another building, the two properties originally shared a driveway and front doors faced each other across a yard. Now in separate ownership with individual driveways, we felt our property need to be rearranged so that if “faced” the drive / road and our land to the North. This is also the best view from our property, towards Romaldkirk, Eggleston and beyond.

To give us a larger more open plan space, we intended to convert the attached former milking parlour into a lounge. This would have access to the rear south facing garden, and views to the north once we had added a new window. We also planned to keep the space double height, in contrast to the other existing ground floor rooms.

We felt a new first floor family bathroom was essential, but as this would mean losing a bedroom we needed to make the storage area work as a bedroom. A ground floor shower room was also a top priority, before the winter arrived. Having to cross the yard to the outside privy was one thing, but not being able to have a proper shower after a hard day’s (usually dirty) work was a real challenge.

After considering several layouts and room arrangements, we concluded that in addition to internal alterations, a modest extension and dormer would be required to create a family home from the property. Both of these elements would require planning permission from Durham County Council.

The extension was designed to enlarge the existing utility room into a porch / boot room, which would create a more obvious entrance and provide a much needed draft lobby to buffer us from the strong winds we experience. The boot room would also allow an alternative route to the lounge, without having to travel through the kitchen and dining room.

Upstairs, we soon realised that a dormer was required to make a bedroom feasible.  Rather than add a traditional pitched roof dormer often seen in the area, we decided a more contemporary flat roofef design was more honest. We didn’t want it to dominant the existing building, so spent considerable time looking at designs in 3D to keep the dormer as small as possible whilst giving us the minimum headroom needed.

In addition to the alterations on the building, we also had to design a complete foul / surface water drainage layout, and choose a heating source.  As there was only internal plumbing for a kitchen sink, the waste seemed to discharge into a field drain, which is obviously not good practice. There was also very little surviving guttering on the roof, which was not helping the damp walls and very soft ground around the perimeter of the building which can often lead to settlement cracks.

Having finalised our designs, next step was submitting a planning application.