A century old village school in Pett was converted into a house three decades ago, but no work had been done on it since. It was up to D&P Construction SE Ltd to transform it into a modern family home.

Schoolhouse home conversion
The old village school in Pett is now a modern home with a stylish grip on the past.

Blending the old and new so that the result is functional, beautiful and true to the original form is not an easy task, but the rewards are plentiful. “The job was not a straightforward new-build project; this was a lot more detailed and involved,” says Daniel Levey, Director of FMB member company D&P Construction SE Ltd. But it was the perfect chance to showcase the company’s expertise in this area.

Indeed, Daniel's team prizes attention to detail and is enthusiastic about applying contemporary styles and products to the rejuvenation and accentuation of period properties. So they were excited to work on key elements such as the vaulted ceilings, angled doors and cedar cladding.

The design, which came from Manning-Duffie Architecture Ltd, required creative planning. For example, the contemporary two-storey extension needed to be added onto an existing single-storey building but, before it could be completed, the D&P team first had to dig down 1.2m below ground level so that the extension’s ridge line couldn’t be seen from the roadside view. This meant the lower section of the extension became a retaining wall and required a detailed tanking design installed onto the traditional blockwork walls.

Contemporary and stylish

School house conversion
D&P Construction SE Ltd prioritised thermal efficiencies throughout the old building and new extension.

It was important for the rear extension to be contemporary and stylish. Black aluminium frames  complemented the vibrant cedar cladding while the crisp black joinery flowed back into the existing property, where the old 1970s' style casements were replaced with timber sliding sash windows.

The casements were draughty and had poor sound and thermal values so the sash windows boosted thermal values considerably. The new windows also replicated the style of the original windows. An impressive 4m-high fixed framed window was also added to replace a draughty and damp porch.

Throughout the project D&P favoured the use of modern materials and methods, which saved time on the job, of course, but also improved the overall thermal effi ciency of the building. With the Government’s energy efficiency targets in mind, Daniel says: “Whenever possible, we encourage efficiency and try to reduce our carbon footprint. We are always interested in exploring new methods and using new products”.

For example, instead of using a traditional wet screed system, the team opted for a modern fibrous ellecta board, which is laid like chipboard flooring over insulated grooved underfloor heating boards. This method enabled faster installation as there was no curing time so work could continue unimpeded. The boards, rather than the wet screed, also improve the efficiency of the underfloor heating as it can heat up the floor above faster, reducing the amount of energy required from the boiler system.

In addition to the thermally efficient doors and windows, the existing building had all the external walls tanked to stop damp ingress and an extra internal framework added to help the building’s thermal efficiency stand up to contemporary requirements.

“This project truly was the perfect blend of past and present and perfectly executed by D&P Construction SE Ltd, whose ethos is all about that mix of contemporary and traditional building methods and styles,” Daniel concludes.

This article was original published in the December 2020 / January 2021 edition of the Master Builder magazine. Members can login to view a copy.