One day we will all get to that age when, having lived a long and fulfilling life, we will desire nothing more from our time left on Earth than to add a cosy little conservatory to the back of our homes. Then, having built a cosy little conservatory, we will hardly ever use it because for 11-months a year the British weather system is more frigid than an ice-skating recluse on Christmas day.
Indeed, the UK’s coalition government seem to have identified that the cause of the recent global financial meltdown and on-going double-triple-sherbet-dip recession is not avaricious bankers, an out-of-control credit culture, or soaring house-prices unchecked by salary realities. Instead, they believe it to be rather stingy planning regulations. The thinking is that by loosening building permissions, more home-owners would spend on fitting a downstairs toilet or a new kitchen to boost their property’s value and thereby create work for builders and suppliers.
In short, if you want to help the economy then you’ve got to knock down some walls.
You Can Choose Your Friends but Not Your Family or Your Neighbours
Perhaps the UK’s most famous house extension is that of a Great White shark sticking out of a roof in quaint suburban Oxfordshire. Much to the chagrin of Oxford City Council, this land shark is fast becoming a national icon. However, if your attempts to top up your tan by basking in the back garden are impeded by a shark, you may want to hammer its head too.
But sometimes seeming craziness can be the mother of invention. One school teacher in Ilford felt her home was running out of space as her kids grew bigger but she knew she could not afford to move, yet she did not want to eat into her garden with an extension. The solution? Extend underground. With an additional 4mx10m subterranean space she gained more room above ground in which to live. Indeed, underground houses using the earth as an insulating material are not an entirely new idea in the world of UK home extensions.
Extensionaliamus! When Fan Obsessions Get Out of Control
Houses are not just 4-walls and a roof as it is more about what we keep within them that makes a house a home. Steve Petrick has decorated his home with ghosts, ghouls and Daniel Radcliffe’s. Petrick is possibly the world’s biggest Harry Potter fan and is so spellbound by the series that he has spent over $13,000 on trinkets, totems and memorabilia. His body too has become a shrine to the children’s book, inscribing himself with the Hogwarts tattoo, Sirius Black’s prison number and J.K. Rowling’s signature. Indeed, his collection dominates his house to such an extent that he is looking to extend his home to accommodate his love for his passion.
Manchester United footballer Gary Neville found himself the victim of Liverpool FC super-fans when he employed builders to help renovate his home. Two brothers secretly created a shrine to Liverpool (including a scarf and club fanzine) underneath the Liverpool hating defender’s swimming pool. Neville was said to be less than impressed.
It’s Not All in Your Mind; Your Mind is All in Your Property
It seems that a person’s home may be a more accurate definition of who they are than the place they grew up in or the education to which they were subjected. Man generally has always altered his wider environment to suit his needs, but individual humans also mould and modify their domestic surroundings – including house, gardens and home extensions. Manchester, Bristol and other Russell Group university academics have contributed to an analysis of what home really means to us and how it reflects our values and beliefs. They discovered that on the one hand, “belonging” is a core human need and in an increasingly fractured and corporatised society it is not always a need that is fed by the world around us; therefore the opportunity to decorate our homes in such a way that reflects our tastes facilitates a sense of belonging. However, it is perhaps a false sense as we find belonging in something we have ourselves created: an extension of ourselves.
Increasingly, it seems home is who you are.
Nick Thorping is a homeowner who believes that home is where the heart is but people often find that and extension(s) are needed to fit that ever expanding heart in. He suggests that if you are researching home extensions; Manchester experts can advise you on how best to get the space that you need.
Photo of house by Kevin Saff
Photo of the headington shark by Squirmelia