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Historic Brundall Home

The historic home near Brundall, in Norfolk, was a challenging project, explain owners Victoria and Paul

Q: Can you tell us about your home?

A: It is a thatched cottage, with some parts dating back to the 16th century and later Victorian additions.

Q: How are you hoping to change it?

A: With a growing family we decided we needed an additional bedroom upstairs. We also wanted to create a large open-plan area downstairs for us to cook, eat and relax in. Some of the rooms are quite dark and we wanted the new area to have a very different feel of light and space.

Q: Why did you decide to use an architect?

A: It was a big project and so it needed the expertise of an architect. We also met with some companies who could provide an architect and then do the build but we felt the design process was so important that we wanted to choose the architect ourselves.

Q: How did you find the process of working with an architect?

A: It has been a long process, due to the building being listed following initial discussions with the council. Alastair has been our guide throughout the process: he has adapted and changed the design to fit our requirements and to ensure the build was granted permission.

Q: What did Alastair himself bring to the project?

A: A whole heap of patience for a start! The design has changed several times and over the course of the project so far our thoughts have changed slightly on what we want to achieve. At our very first meeting we said we were thinking about a conservatory-type space at a later date to create that outdoor feel. Alastair picked up on this and incorporated a glass corner which will give us just that. We live abroad and therefore most of our discussions are via email. Initially, I thought this would be difficult but he has grasped what we like and given us alternatives.

Q: Did the design and planning stages run smoothly?

A: Not exactly. It has certainly been a long road but I think it has worked out for the best in the end. The house was listed during the planning process which meant we can’t now open up the areas we had previously wanted to. Instead, a whole new space has been created to give us the area we wanted while also preserving the heritage of the house, which, in hindsight, I think is the right thing to do.

Q: Will you continue to work with Alastair throughout the build?

A: Yes, we intend to continue to work alongside him to complete the build. We won’t be in the country but we trust him and believe he knows what we want to achieve.

Q: Would you advise other people embarking upon a similar project to use an architect?

A: I don’t see how we could have done this without an architect. He has been our guide, as well as tweaking the design when needed. Changes made during the design stage will be far less costly compared to changing things once the build starts so we see it as a good investment.