If you are thinking of extending or rebuilding your home, listening to other homeowners’ experiences will give you a heads up.
Lewis Visuals talked to Farnham homeowners Rita and Neeraj Malhotra who partly demolished an old house and rebuilt it into a dream home. Their home sits on a beautiful 3rd of an acre corner plot on Middle Bourne Lane.
Scroll down to the bottom or click here for the 360 Lewis Visuals Virtual Reality Video Tour
Mr & Mrs Malhotra bought the original house in January 2013 but were then financially unable to start the new design and remodel. They found getting used to the new location and town was a good thing. Little did they realise, how time-consuming the complete design, planning and construction process was going to be.
Neeraj tells us: “We took on a colleague’s architect first, but we never jelled and to change things was too difficult.” He continues: “With our original guy, he had done three design options and just said ‘pick one’ and we didn’t like any of them to be honest.”
Lewis Visuals has a team of five architectural technologists and technicians working together with the business owner and architectural designer Genevieve Wells. Genevieve explains: “Having a team of technicians makes the timing between stages easier for us to manage as there are many steps where we [client feedback, technician drawing, planning] wait for each other”.
Rita and Neeraj had other connections in Farnham and had heard Genevieve’s name more than once, so decided to contact her. They explain how the old architect just tried to build them a practical house and added: “Ah! Well, there is a difference between just an architect and an architectural designer”.
“Forget about the budget, just design us a great house”
When Rita and Neeraj first met with Genevieve, they said: “Forget about the budget, just design us a great house”. They continue: “Then we found out how much it was going to cost… but she sold us a dream”. Rita says: “Genevieve’s original design with the open plan at the front we really liked”.
About the design, Genevieve says: “I wanted to keep as much as possible of their existing roof to reduce the cost; as well as to listen to their needs and ‘wow’ factor”. She continues: “I also had to be sensitive to their neighbours; create kerb appeal and design for long-term family visits”.
Rita continues about the design: “I love how Genevieve gave me double doors wherever possible. I love double doors.” She also says: “The builder, recommended by Lewis Visuals, had quite a bit of input ‘why don’t you have this and that internally’ and then we picked tiles and so on”.
Neeraj was happy to work with Architectural Technologist Kyle Cummings, who was working on the construction drawings in CAD. Neeraj explains: “We could just call Kyle, and it was easy to make changes”.
Kyle Cummings, of Lewis Visuals, says: “This was an exciting project to work on with many challenging changes typical to any client, just larger”. He continues: “They were easy clients to work with, and we continued on a second smaller phase to add a garage”. Kyle likes the oak detailing combined with the render.
Three other technicians from Lewis Visuals were involved in the project: Kyle Cooper did the survey of the old existing building and the as is existing drawings; Anna Renc did the design stage drawings, and Kyle Cummings finished the project construction drawings.
Neeraj explains how the design done by Genevieve was quite tricky to implement and especially to build, and how people go: “How much did you pay for your architect?” and when they come to the house says: “Wow, who did this for you?” Rita says how they have referred Lewis Visuals to friends and passing-by-people.
The Malhotras share how they felt they were initially naive in not realising how big a job the landscaping would be. They had a quote from a landscaper saying that you have to spend 10% of the value of the house on landscaping. Reflecting, Neeraj says, “This is probably true to what we ended up paying.”
We ask how they lived during this upheaval. The Malhotras had a four-phase plan where they first lived in a cabin at the end of the garden and had to arrange for landscaping around that. The second phase was the house build and the third phase – currently happening – is the landscaping around the house. The fourth phase will be the garage and drive-way.
Rita explains: “Buying the house, we knew there had to be more space as we are a 4 – 6 person family: us, two kids and parents coming to live with us for six months”. Rita proudly presents her new home as ‘A working Indian house.’ She then says: “We designed it in such a way it is so easy to maintain.”
When asking about their budget, the Malhotras says that when they first started to think about the project, their budget was 150K and how naive they were. They explain how it was ultimately their decision; they could have turned around and said: “We are just not going to put that money in”. But that was not an option, and the home is not an investment, it is where they are going to live for many years to come.
So, they bought the house in 2013 and at the end of 2014 started to think about a new design. It was not until 2015 that Genevieve commenced to design and they got planning permission around February 2016.
Rita shares how building the house was not as stressful as they thought it was going to be, and how they had two containers on site. Part of the stress might have been the next door neighbour, but the new home is now further from the boundary.
Some 20 ladies from the lane have come over, and the whole road has been interested and followed what has been going on. Some new clients of Lewis Visuals have made an effort to come by.
We ask what would be the next step? After a short pause, Rita laughs and says, “maybe the fish tank which Genevieve was disappointed we didn’t build into a wall.” Then she adds, “some lovely colourful textiles”.
Rita says lessons learned were about all the stages, documents and how long time everything took. She also talks about how they didn’t expect everything to be done 100% right from the beginning and how they were supposed to have veluxes, but the roof was not big enough. Having gone through the ‘from design to implementation,’ the couple have learned how a picture is very different from how things work. In the end, it was all well worth it. The Malhotras finish our conversation by saying: “We love it here and want to share our experience”.
360 Lewis Visuals Virtual Reality Video Tour
Mr Curtis Ashley from CUE film productions came along and made a 360 Lewis Visuals Virtual Reality Video Tour, morphing from one room to another.
You can get in touch with CUE Film Productions via their web page.
Curtis is sharing offices with Lewis Visuals at Cambridge House in Farnham. He started his business in 2015, and the company offers film and video production; social media management; animation; web design and photography. Curtis says: “VR is the new thing coming and will feature a lot more especially as Google is pushing the VR side on YouTube.” Curtis is looking to expand his 360 VR Video tours to estate- and letting agents as a way to showcase without having to do the extra travel.