Roof line restrictions didn’t stop this couple building a house on three levels – they simply dug down.
Sue and Roy Mellick saw the potential their three-bedroom house afforded when they purchased it 25 years ago. Although not the best house they saw, it had the room to expand – something they knew they would need with a growing family.
Ten years later, they seized the opportunity to purchase a piece of land at the end of their garden which gave access to the road behind the house. “It cost £5,000,” says Roy, “and it had a covenant on it stating that we couldn’t build on it, but I did manage to get planning permission to put up a garage. With this precedent established, I made sure that the covenant was worded in such a way that when the vendor died it would be null and void.”
Roy’s vision led to him purchasing his second piece of land alongisde the first. “Every year I would see our neighbour clearing the leaves at the far end of his garden and every year he would complain about it, so I suggested he sell me the land. We did this for three years and in the third year he asked if I was serious.” Having paid £20,000 for it, Roy wasn’t sure what he was going to do with it but with a dream to fulfil of building their own ideal home, buying the land was the first tentative step. The dream was becoming more of a reality when the owner of the covenant died. Roy bought the covenant for £15,000 and although he knew that selling it to a developer would have enabled them to clear their mortgage, they decided to follow their dream to plan and build the house themselves.
One of the major factors in Roy and Sue building their own house was to provide Sue with a purpose-built area where she could carry on her curtain making business, giving her enough room to work and store materials. “You need lots of space for curtain making,” explains Sue, who originally started her business when her children were small as she wanted to work from home.
They decided to approach Scandia-Hus to help them realise their dream as they had seen and liked Scandia-Hus houses that had been built in their area. “We knocked on doors and asked to look at them,” says Roy. Having taken on board their requirements, a three storey building was suggested to give Sue the space she required. The planners turned it down because they felt the roof line would not fit in with the rest of the buildings on the road. “So, Scandia said ‘if we can’t go up, let’s go down,’ and they designed us a house with a basement,” says Sue. Planning permission was granted for the new design without any hitches and excavation started for the basement in June 2000.
The basement, now a home to Sue’s curtain making business, also doubles as a cinema housing Roy’s retirement present of a projector. “I bought myself a 9ft x 4ft screen to go on the end wall in the basement – so now we have cinema nights,” says Roy. “We issue tickets and offer popcorn,” says Sue, “It’s fun and everyone enjoys it.” With Sky TV in there as well, it’s no wonder friends were coming round when the World Cup was on!
The couple saved money buying and fitting the shower and bathrooms themselves, with the exception of the spa bath. Once the house was finished the couple used the VAT refund to pay for their sloping garden to be landscaped. “We love our house. It’s just what we have always wanted,” says Sue.