Ugly House to Lovely House with George Clarke: Couple attempt to transform 1930s London home

A couple transformed their dreary 1930s London home into ‘a brutalist’s dream’ by spending £250,000 on an enormous concrete extension on last night’s Ugly House to Lovely House with George Clarke – but unconvinced viewers likened the exterior to a bus garage. Matt and Kevin, from London, bought their drab […]

A couple transformed their dreary 1930s London home into ‘a brutalist’s dream’ by spending £250,000 on an enormous concrete extension on last night’s Ugly House to Lovely House with George Clarke – but unconvinced viewers likened the exterior to a bus garage.

Matt and Kevin, from London, bought their drab and dark detached three-bedroom house in Streatham in 2016, and hoped to make it their dream home in just eight months.

The couple said they wanted to make the riverside villa something which ‘really takes your breath away’ and were determined to stick to their budget by living in the house while the project was ongoing. 

But after starting the renovations in March 2017, they faced countless challenges, including an infestation of Japanese knotweed and problems pouring concrete for the walls and roof of their complex 110 square metre ‘Russian Doll’ three-tiered extension. 

Three years on, George returned to meet the couple as they unveiled their stunning new home with Matt explaining: ‘We’re 18 months over our time scale, and living on site throughout all of it has just been really tough. But it’s been worth it.’ 

After all their blood, sweat and tears, many viewers weren’t keen on the concrete extension into the garden, with some commenting that while they liked the interior of the house, the exterior reminded them of a ‘bus garage’. 

Married couple Matt and Kevin, from London, transformed their dreary 1930s home into ‘a brutalist’s dream’ by spending £250,000 on an enormous concrete extension on Ugly House to Lovely House with George Clarke

Host George Clark, who first visited the property in 2017, compared the three-bedroom home to a 'mad shed' and said it was 'the most bizarre house'. Pictured before

Host George Clark, who first visited the property in 2017, compared the three-bedroom home to a ‘mad shed’ and said it was ‘the most bizarre house’. Pictured before

One tweeted: ‘Ugly house to nearly as ugly house! Lovely inside but not a fan of the exterior sorry.’ 

‘Concrete Volumes’ … how soulless is that expression ??’ added another, who later tweeted again: ‘bus garage chic.’ 

A third agreed: ‘Oh my f**** jesus, I love a hate watch of Ugly house to Lovely House but three interconnected concrete volumes?! What!! Whhyyyy!!’ 

‘Thank God it looks amazing inside. You don’t have to look at the outside,’ a fourth quipped. 

After all their blood, sweat and tears, many viewers weren't keen on the concrete extension into the garden, with some commenting that while they liked the interior of the house, the exterior reminded them of a 'bus garage'

After all their blood, sweat and tears, many viewers weren’t keen on the concrete extension into the garden, with some commenting that while they liked the interior of the house, the exterior reminded them of a ‘bus garage’

NHS business coordinator Kevin and insurance professional Matt bought the large plot with the 1930s villa alongside a Thames tributary in 2016.  

Kevin, who says they’ve been motivated by the ‘challenge’ of the house, said: ‘It has very odd proportions and it’s definitely not what you’d expect from a riverside villa.’

Matt added: ‘We want to bring this house into the 21st century.’

Kevin said he didn’t like anything about the house initially, but added: ‘It’s all about vision for us, we want to make something really old and dated into something trendy and nice for the area and for us.’ 

The couple bought the dull and drab 1930s property in 2016 and planned to start their renovation of the space in 2017, with a deadline of just eight months

The couple bought the dull and drab 1930s property in 2016 and planned to start their renovation of the space in 2017, with a deadline of just eight months 

They transform the property by ploughing £250,000 into building three 'Russian doll' concrete extensions onto the back of their home

They transform the property by ploughing £250,000 into building three ‘Russian doll’ concrete extensions onto the back of their home 

While the rooms in the detached-home were a good size, the interiors of the home were drab and dated and the kitchen was tired and cramped.  

Upstairs, the problems went way beyond the aesthetics thanks to the house’s unique sloping roof which meant each of the three bedrooms felt small and squashed.  

The couple also compared the dilapidated conservatory to ‘a death trap’, and said they were willing to sacrifice some of the enormous back garden in order to double the size of their home.              

George tells them: ‘It’s the most bizarre house. It looks like a mad shed. You’ve got so much room to extend.’  

The couple decided to cut costs by staying in their property during the renovation, and moved all of their belongings into two rooms of the house
Matt and Kevin transform the run-down and drab property into a stunning luxurious space with opulent dark colours and playful home decor

Matt and Kevin transform the run-down and drab property into a stunning luxurious space with opulent dark colours and playful home decor. Pictured: one room before and after

Meanwhile Matt explained: ‘The build is about creating an amazing house and less about the garden.’

They said they’re hoping to complete their ‘forever home’ in just eight months with a huge budget of £250,000, telling George: ‘We want all the comforts and features that you would expect in a big family house.’  

The couple recruited a team of architects to bring their vision to life, bringing in ‘super creative’ team Billy and Kat.

Kevin explained: ‘We want something with a bit of style and a bit of class. I would rather people dislike it rather than feel indifferent to it.’

The architects unveiled the design of the new house, with the existing property painted black and the team designing an enormous concrete extension into the garden. 

Appearing on the programme tomorrow night, Kevin and Matt say they want to create a home which people either love or hate

Appearing on the programme tomorrow night, Kevin and Matt say they want to create a home which people either love or hate

Kevin said he ‘loves’ the Russian doll style home, which sees a three volume extension providing an extra 110 square metres of extra living space across two floors.

On the ground floor, each room has different function including utility room and a snug, while upstairs there were two new large  bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms and walk-in wardrobes. 

Matt said: ‘It’s more than we could have imagined generally.’ 

And, with the first signs of spring, the couple wasted no time in getting started and the conservatory was quickly demolished. 

The couple say they were inspired by the challenge the 1930s villa, complete with a faux brick chimney and dark brown carpets, presented them

The couple say they were inspired by the challenge the 1930s villa, complete with a faux brick chimney and dark brown carpets, presented them  

They decided to cost the build in phases and in order to make sure the project stayed on budget, they planed to live in the project while the renovation is underway.

They moved their whole living space upstairs into two rooms of the house and confessed they hoped to cope with just a flannel and a sink instead of a shower, and used a kettle and microwave for food while a working kitchen is build.  

But it’s wasn’t long before they encountered a challenge after discovering an infestation of Japanese knotweed in their garden.

The weed can cause serious damage to anything in its path with its fast growth rate and huge roots, while any contaminated soil is classed as hazardous waste.  

While the rooms on the first floor of the home are spacious, the three bedrooms feel cramped and small due to the property's unique sloping roof

While the rooms on the first floor of the home are spacious, the three bedrooms feel cramped and small due to the property’s unique sloping roof 

The couple didn’t take any chances and treat the entire footprint as if it was all contaminated, with Matt explaining: ‘As the building site does fall within a radius of the knotweed plants, it’s not something we can ignore. We need to find some specialised companies to help us deal with it and get rid of the waste.’ 

Five weeks on, around 90 tonnes of soil had been excavated for an enormous cost of  £18,000. 

On top of that, the pads and foundations needed to be lined with a special membrane to prevent the return of the weeds.   

Weeks later, George returned to the house and calls the foundations for the extension ‘absolutely huge’, adding: ‘You don’t do ordinary or normal do you?’

Due to the complications, it took two months just to get basic foundations down, with George warning the couple they needed to hurry up with their work.

He explained: ‘The builders have got to build while the sun is shining and get you water tight before the bad weather comes.’ 

Within a month, the foundations were finished and the next stage begun as the builders raised the steel frame for the eventual concrete shell.

Matt said: ‘The issue has been with the main frame, which is the frame closest to the house. it is just one huge piece of steel. It’s as big as a house and it has to be put up in one piece.’

While the detached home is branded 'bizarre' by George, the couple said they were excited to extend their home into the enormous garden

While the detached home is branded ‘bizarre’ by George, the couple said they were excited to extend their home into the enormous garden 

And two weeks later, the frame was finally up and the shuttering, which holds the concrete walls, could start.

Even though specialist concreters were called in to the shuttering, tensions were high, with Matt explaining: ‘The whole thing does feel as bit nervous.

‘You can take the shuttering off and you can have cracks and gaps. It’s a bit like baking. Once it’s poured and the shuttering is up, there’s not a lot you can do.

He went on to admit: ‘There is a concern, can they do everything for the budget? We don’t really have any way to pay for extra things so…that’s probably our biggest concern.’

Among the features the couple said they were looking forward to demolishing was a dilapidated conservatory at the back of their home

Among the features the couple said they were looking forward to demolishing was a dilapidated conservatory at the back of their home 

As the project progressed, there was light at the end of the tunnel and, with the sheets revealed and the shutters in place, the concrete pour could finally get underway.

Kat said: ‘There’s a lot of complexity in this, because each of the blocks needs to be done in stages. This adds a little bit to the schedule. Everything needs to be done well because the finish will be exposed.’

Once the concrete was poured, each section needed 24 hours to settle and dry and, at £90,000, a third of their total budget, all Matt and Kevin could do is pray it has come out okay.

Matt said: ‘It looks amazing, I love it the way it is. I love the chips and seeing the original marks.’ 

Four weeks later, tensions on site are even worse because the walls are still not finished and there is still no sign of a roof.

JAPANESE KNOTWEED HAS BAMBOO-LIKE STEMS AND SMALL WHITE FLOWERS

Japanese Knotweed is a species of plant that has bamboo-like stems and small white flowers.

Native to Japan, the plant is considered an invasive species. 

The plant, scientific name Fallopia japonica, was brought to Britain by the Victorians as an ornamental garden plant and to line railway tracks to stabilise the soil.

It has no natural enemies in the UK, whereas in Asia it is controlled by fungus and insects.

In the US it is scheduled as an invasive weed in 12 states, and can be found in a further 29.

It is incredibly durable and fast-growing, and can seriously damage buildings and construction sites if left unchecked.

The notorious plant strangles other plants and can kill entire gardens. 

Capable of growing eight inches in one day it deprives other plants of their key nutrients and water. 

Billy said:  ‘A pitched roof is challenging because concrete is liquid, the way it sets, the time it takes. The good thing is the energy is good. Hopefully it’s all going to work out quite nicely.’

George said he was genuinely worried that the project was nowhere near being finished in the two month deadline, telling the men: ‘I don’t want to be Mr. Negative but I want to be Mr. Realistic.

‘With no roof and a complicated roof to build, to me….that’s at least three to four months work. It could just start running away with you. 

‘Now is crunch time. We’re coming into winter, you haven’t got the roof on yet. Even if it drifts by a couple of weeks, that could be a £10,000.’ 

After three years, Kevin and Matt, with the help of their architects Billy and Kat are able to transform their home into a stunning and chic charcoal black masterpiece

After three years, Kevin and Matt, with the help of their architects Billy and Kat are able to transform their home into a stunning and chic charcoal black masterpiece

Matt said: ‘I think the roof has just taken a lot longer to construct. I’m shocked by how much preparation has to go into pouring the roof.’ 

He continued: ‘In terms of the budget, we’ve got very little left. Kev has had to pick up extra shifts. 

‘So far we haven’t had to go back to the bank or borrow any more money but at the moment it does feel very tight. Every penny of wages leftover is going into this.

‘I’m just hoping now we have the weather for the next week or so. It’s starting to get cold, it feels really close to having it done. The roof does feel like the final hurdle.’ 

When George returned to visit the couple in 2020, he was amazed to hear the build had only just finished – 18 months behind schedule. 

The couple's incredible extension features three separate areas, including a cosy garden snug decorated with chic white walls and pops of baby pink and raspberry tones

The couple’s incredible extension features three separate areas, including a cosy garden snug decorated with chic white walls and pops of baby pink and raspberry tones

Meanwhile in another part of their mammoth extension, the couple constructed a stunning kitchen with a huge concrete breakfast bar built into the floor

Meanwhile in another part of their mammoth extension, the couple constructed a stunning kitchen with a huge concrete breakfast bar built into the floor

Due to financial issues and problems with their builders, what Kevin and Matt thought would be an eight month project turned into an epic three years. 

The new charcoal facade was a clever way to unify the building, but it’s at the rear where the untreated concrete extension transforms the house.

The tired and cramped pine kitchen along with the entire ugly back of the house has vanished.

Instead, the couple have created an open plan, concrete haven with a three volume extension with cathedral like space which was flooded with light.

The original house also saw an enormous renovation, with the windows replaced and rooms painted in deep and lavish jewel tones of emerald and ruby

The original house also saw an enormous renovation, with the windows replaced and rooms painted in deep and lavish jewel tones of emerald and ruby

The extension was made up of three interconnected of three spaces,  including a garden snug, dining and living area, and separate kitchen, complete with a stunning utility room.  

Kevin called the journey ‘amazing’, before Matt added: ‘It’s a bit surreal. There were points where it felt like it would never end.’ 

The dark and narrow hallway opens out into the huge extension at the back of the property, with Matt saying: ‘I love the fact when you come through the corridor, it opens up in all directions and creates a real sense of space because everything is getting bigger. 

‘We didn’t want it to feel like one big open space, which wouldn’t feel very exciting but what we have got is distinct spaces that are open at the same time.’  

Meanwhile the couple built a stunning master suite with an en-suite bathroom and walk in wardrobe in the upper floor of their concrete extension

Meanwhile the couple built a stunning master suite with an en-suite bathroom and walk in wardrobe in the upper floor of their concrete extension  

And upstairs, they’d sacrificed one of the original bedrooms and instead of a large master suite, paired it with a large adjoining bathroom.   

The couple ended up spending ‘a bit more’ but say they managed to cut back on costs elsewhere, meaning the project came out on budget. 

George revealed his joy for the couple, with Matt adding: ‘We’re really luck with that, there were points it could have gone completely different.’  

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