What lovely original handles! I agree with the above comments regarding the door. Make sure you check the spindle hole size, as this may not be standard on an older handle. Uk standard latches take an 8mm square spindle and you can get a good quality brass latch from www.handleking.co.uk
Cladding doesn't have to be just UPVC planks any more. You can have plain cement panels installed, as I said earlier check out Marley's Website to see the innovative methods now used. Or Colour bond what you've got. Your cladding is most likely on Battens with insulation a waterproof membrane etc, so, no it's not a solid wall. That's not to say that you couldn't remove the windows, brick or block up and then put the windows back. However, you would need to take advice from a builder and get the necessary building regs.
If you go with the Cement panels for instance from Marley or any other company that supplies that type of facade, then you could render the remainder of the building for a more contemporary look.
With regards to your queries you have a multitude of options and permutations for how to arrange the space and extension.
The most important thing to consider is how the ground floor works as a 'whole' rather than looking at it in parts. This will then guide you into how to shape the building itself, windows and doors will place themselves.
From the photos it's a little difficult to exactly ascertain what needs to be done but an L shape extension should be very easy and will match your neighbour. There are certain planning constraints, either permitted development route or full planning may be required, but certainly possible.
If you have any plans, estate agent or otherwise, these are useful to see the current state of play, of if you would like to discuss this further, please feel free to contact me directly.
Seems like everyone is saying the same thing. It all comes down to your available space rather than just having an island because they're 'popular'. This is one of my bugbears really where people insist on having the latest must have feature in their houses but yet their houses just aren't big enough to take them - specifically, en-suites squeezed into new builds so the master is smaller than a kids bedroom - why?!?! Multi-fuel stoves in inner city properties that have readily available gas and kitchen islands that are 1 cabinet deep and 2 or so wide!
it does come down to space, if every body had space and money i bet everybody probably install an kitchen island ,and follow the trend,
i would love to have a island in my dream kitchen, just for an indoor barbecue, appliances eg: 1x big electrical griddle,2x miele cs1312bg modular grilling hob, 2 worktop pop up extractor fans,or, a small restaurant style extractor fan (designed by me ) and a small sink
this is part of my dream kitchen
It must be very frustrating but whilst the current neighbours might be fine with it, the planners have to protect future neighbours from being overlooked and they have to be careful not to set precedents in an area that could then be used to push through plans on other houses in the area where the neighbours do have objections.
The louvred doors look great - this could be an excellent solution.
In my experience, once the legal profession are involved a £1,500 variation to the contract will be the least of your worries. I am an ARB registered architect with 20+ years post-qualifying experience and carry £2m PI insurance, before anyone asks.
I like the glass ones best for an old meets new and in particular the dark grey framed ones, you can have the frames or wires in a variety of colours to match the front door.
since a year has gone by since your first post is there any news?
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