It’s now their forever family home
One of the biggest life changes that causes homeowners to rethink their living situation can be the thought of starting a family.
Many parents see their needs and priorities change and have to make the difficult decision of whether or not they’ve outgrown their current space and need to find somewhere new.
Couple Ailsa and Paul Delaney bought their three-bed semi-detached home after their first child was born, but after later having twins, they realized they could benefit from having additional space.
But after initially putting their property on the market, the pair decided they would rather not move – and instead embarked on a huge Grand Designs-style extension and renovation project to turn their outgrown house into their forever family home.
Mum-of-three Ailsa spoke to the Manchester Evening News as part of their Where I Live series, where each week the publication speaks to a different homeowner across Greater Manchester to find about their home-buying journey, the costs involved and how they’ ve transformed their home from start to finish.
Ailsa, 42, who works as an executive assistant, has lived in Urmston, Trafford, all her life and bought her first home with her husband Paul back in 2002.
They were lucky enough to get a 100 per cent mortgage on their two-bed terrace house, which cost them £72,000. After having their first child, now 14, the couple decided it was time to move to a more family-friendly home.
“We decided to move after our firstborn. We didn’t have a garden or parking in our old house so that’s what made us want to move,” Ailsa told the Manchester Evening News.
“We wanted to stay in Urmston and be in the catchment area of the good schools. Ideally, I wanted to find a semi-detached 1920s or 30s build with a hallway because our terrace didn’t have a hallway. We put our house on the market in 2008 and then the recession hit which was a nightmare. We had to drop the price we were selling it for by quite a lot and it took us a year to sell it, but it worked in our favour.”
The back of the home now
House prices fell by 15.9 per cent in 2008, according to Nationwide, which was a big advantage for Ailsa and Paul when searching for their next home.
“This three-bed semi-detached house came on the market around the same time that we put ours up and it was too expensive, but by the time we got round to selling ours because of the financial crisis the price of it had dropped significantly ,” Ailsa explained. “It was actually the only house which was the style that I wanted in the area that I wanted with a big garden and the potential to extend in the future. We viewed two houses on the same day but my husband preferred the other one because it was a bit more modern but much smaller, but I had my heart set on this one.”
The couple bought the property for £162,000 back in 2009, but there was a lot of work to do.
“We bought it knowing it was a bit of a project and it’s taken a long time to actually get it to how we want it,” Ailsa said. “It was an old lady’s house who had unfortunately died. She kept it well but it was dated so everything needed updating and decorating. It was painted magnolia, it was full of swirly patterned carpet and psychedelic-style wallpaper.
“It needed a full new kitchen and the bathroom had a heater on the wall which was quite scary so we took that off quickly.”
The en-suite bathroom
But as their family grew, with the addition of their twins who are now 11, the couple realized they may have to move again.
“Just before the pandemic began we put the house on the market because we had three children and decided we wanted a four-bedroom house to have more space,” Ailsa said. “We put it on the market and then lockdown happened so we took it off. But then my husband and I rethought and realized we loved living here, we like our neighbors and the location – we’d just outgrown the house.
“So we then decided we wanted to extend our house, but we wanted to do something professional and special, so we got an architect round to help us.”
The couple had their first meeting with the architect in early 2020 to get ideas for how they could expand their existing space.
“I wanted something different and to make the most out of the garden. The garden is to the side of the house but with how it was previously there were no windows overlooking the garden, so you couldn’t see the garden at all unless you went out into it.
The open plan space
“We wanted a big open plan kitchen, dining and living area and for it to have lots of light. We also wanted a downstairs toilet and utility room.
“So that we could have an additional bedroom we decided on a loft conversion. We wanted a master bedroom with a hotel suite type feel with a dressing area and en-suite.”
Planning permission was approved in January 2021 but due to coronavirus restrictions, the process took much longer than anticipated.
“We started asking builders for quotes in around April 2021 and the building started in October 2021. We had supply chain issues which set us back quite a bit,” Ailsa said.
“The steel frames we were relying on took an extra month to be delivered and we couldn’t do anything until we got them. The outside of the house is Siberian Larch and with the war in Ukraine, we had a delay getting that material and the prices went up on everything too.
“We also had to move out due to the work. My husband and I were split up due to space so he lived with his sister and me and the kids stayed with my mum and dad. That was supposed to be a couple of weeks and it ended up being for four months.
The dining area
“When we moved back in it took us around six months to renovate the new space.”
All in all, it took around a year and a half from the initial meeting with the architect for the extension, roof conversion and renovation to be fully complete – and the couple ended up going well over budget.
“Initially when we spoke to the architect we said £90,000 all in including the kitchen and everything. The quote from the builder was just over £100,000, then we had to get the kitchen on top of that,” Ailsa admitted. “In the end, the build came to about £140,000 and then we had all the interiors done on top of that so we had to remortgage quite quickly. But now we’ve come through it we absolutely love it and it’s been so worth it .
“The extension is not something I’ve seen before. The whole corner of the old house has been knocked off completely and it’s built out at a 45-degree angle in an L shape. All the angles inside the room are really interesting.
“From the front, our house is quite unassuming, because of the angle of the extension you can’t really see it, so at a first glance, it just looks like every other house on the street. It’s only when you come in you see it and it’s quite surprising how big it is.”
Not only do the family have a beautiful home, but they’ve managed to add value to it too.
“One of my husband’s friends is an estate agent so we asked him if he’d mind coming round and evaluating it. We had it valued just before the pandemic when we were initially looking to sell it and it was around £310,000, but he said that it would be at least £500,000 now.”
Describing the layout of her home now, Ailsa explained: “You come through the arched porch and there’s the hallway with the stairs to the side. There’s the living room on the right, which is more of a cozy winter living room, and then down the hallway through to the back is where we’ve had the extension.
“The extension is an L shape so there’s the kitchen area, which is a nordic bluey green color with a patterned floor and then to the left is the dining area with bifold doors leading out into the garden, and then to the right is the living area.
The living area gets lots of natural light
“The new living area is my favourite. I love being outside but I get cold. So it’s nice to sit there because you’re looking out onto the garden and you feel like you are outside but there’s a roof and it’s warm.”
Ailsa added: “Upstairs on the first floor we’ve got the family bathroom and then three bedrooms, two doubles and one single. Then up in the loft conversion is the master bedroom with the bed area, a walk-in wardrobe area and an En-suite. My husband also has an office area up there.
“We weren’t going to do the garden but then we saw the state of it after the building work so it has been done. We asked the builders if they would do a patio area for us, level it and lay some artificial grass for the boys to play football and it looks really nice.”
During lockdown, Ailsa did an online interior course on color psychology, which has inspired the interior style of her home.
“My interior style has definitely evolved over time. I think now I’d describe it as Scandinavian style with some modern features. I like clean and simple with pops of color and a lot of contrast,” she said.
“Colour psychology is all about how different colors make you feel and how certain personalities are attracted to certain color palettes, and that helped me to narrow down the color palette that I wanted. I think our house has a spring look and feel to it.
“One bit of advice I’d give when renovating is to think about how you want to feel in a room rather than starting with what you want it to look like, think ‘do I want to feel warm and cosy’ or ‘do I want to feel excited’ and then work choose your color schemes from there.”