Renovation – Rainhill

Alison and Phil Ball, both working at family company Heating & Boiler Services Ltd, had always dreamed of creating a light and contemporary family living space in their home in Rainhill near Liverpool.

When the couple moved into the early-‘80s detached property in 2011, they soon realised that the existing layout would not suit their requirements for a family home. With no doors from the conservatory at the back of the house to the adjoining living area, the downstairs of the property was boiling hot in summer and freezing cold in winter – so much so that the conservatory actually doubled up as a wine cooler in the winter months!

A few years after moving in, Alison and Phil made the decision to knock down the conservatory and extend the back of the house, in order to put their own stamp on their dream home.

In July 2017, the couple enlisted the help of local architect Dave Price at DP Design Services to help them realise their vision of creating one big open-plan living space, spanning the width of the back of the property. This would comprise a large kitchen with a breakfast bar island and a contemporary yet cosy family area.

Planning permission went through fairly quickly, even though the couple had to apply to two councils due to the location of the home. Alison said: “The only requirement was for all the windows and doors at the back of the property to be triple-glazed, which we duly did. This does make it nice and toasty when they’re all shut, but luckily we designed the space so that when they are open it’s perfectly airy.”

Phil set about with father Graham – a joiner by trade – to undertake the majority of the building works. With the help of friend John Kingdon, the trio dug the foundations for the extension while roofing and plastering were completed by Andrew Cross at local company Xperia Construction.

Due to his contacts from his work as a joiner, Graham specified the best building products for the project, ordering Keylite Roof Windows from his builders’ merchants Huws Gray in St Helens.

Graham recommended Keylite’s Roof Windows as the ideal solution to complement the style of the extension and to let light and air into the space, and although Alison also loved the look of Keylite’s Roof Lanterns, she felt that the roof windows worked much better in this setting due to the sloping roof of the extension.

Alison and Phil settled on the Keylite triple glazed, centre pivot PVC roof window, installing four into their pitched roof.

Alison said: “My vision was always for a large open-plan kitchen and living area that had a clean and contemporary feel, while also being really cosy and a great place for the family to spend most of our time.

“Sadly, Graham passed away during the course of the build, but Phil and various friends of ours continued to work tirelessly to finish the job – laying the bricks, building the roof, fitting the windows, doors and kitchen, and undertaking all rendering and plastering themselves.”

The project took the best part of three years in total, and just recently the couple fitted decking to the outside patio and tidied up the garden, so that they can use the outside space as an extension of the indoor living area.

Reflecting on their self-build journey, Alison said: “The sheer scale of the building process was quite daunting but well worth the upheaval in the end. My only advice to anyone who wants to undertake a similar project is to perhaps commission a local builder to do the work if you wanted it completed in a shorter timescale.

“Phil and friends have been fantastic, but with two young children at home the worry of living in a building site for so long was quite difficult at times. In hindsight, we perhaps should’ve moved out for a bit, but with Phil working on the extension as well as working on his day-job full-time, we always knew it would be a lengthy process.

My favourite part of the entire extension is Keylite’s Roof Windows. I just think they set off the space so beautifully and cast a wonderful light across the whole space, which we wouldn’t have been able to achieve without them.

“The fact they are triple-glazed with expanding thermal collar and warm edge glazing supplied as standard also means the thermal performance is second-to-none, and the aesthetics of them really set off the room so nicely – fully transforming the space and helping bring the outside in.”


Style – Contemporary open-plan kitchen and family room extension

Location – Rainhill, near Liverpool

Build time – 3 years

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