PUBLISHED: 10:41 15 September 2015 | UPDATED: 13:02 30 August 2017



Layton Bennett

Self-build veterans David and Sarah Wring almost bit off more than they could live in with this fabulous 1970s split-level house in Newquay

Imagine a dream home sitting just one minute from one of Cornwall’s favourite beaches; welcome to The Moorings.

The new owners of the 1970s detached house in Newquay, knew from the minute they entered the unloved house which sat one-minute’s walk to Porth Beach, it was for them.

The estate agent showed Sarah and I around, and he just couldn’t understand why we had fell in love in an instant,’ David Wring remembers of the first time they saw it. It was simple: this was not a rectangular box on a rectangular site.’

But they agreed from the outside it had little if no kerb appeal. Once through the door, however and the story couldn’t have been more different. The living room just blew us both away with its distinct 1970s architectural flamboyance.’

This flamboyance included a four-metre high ceiling on one elevation dropping back to 2.2m on the other.I was certain that back in the era of flares and The Osmonds when originally constructed, this was a ground-breaking design.

In our minds we both could easily see this building undergoing a modern transformation in order to breathe a new lease of life for it to stand proud again.’

But like most love stories, it wasn’t all smooth running. The fly in the ointment, or damp in the basement, was the state of the garden. The garden was horrendous, having been neglected for more than 30 years during its rented period,’ he says. This was a huge task, and to be completely honest seriously under estimated.

The rear property neighbours had not seen the property for more than 25 years - they were completely over the moon - it was at this stage I introduced our idea for a extension and they were in complete support!’

For the extension, the architect carried out a sun position site survey which showed where the sun rises and sets throughout the day – and the year – to enable them to make the most of the natural light in any additional building as well as the existing one. The house has been remodelled to absorb the new split level extension seamlessly to create a 21st century family home. It features three bedrooms, there’s a sound-proofed cinema room that doubles as a spare bedroom. There is a gym, a family bathroom that features a step-in spa, steam, Jacuzzi, body and hand shower unit. Upstairs there’s a master ensuite and the family bathroom includes a Novellini hydro massage bath, which David says is very yummy and feels like a really good massage’.

It was spot on,’ David says of his architect’s design. A brilliant design incorporating all our desires. This part of the redevelopment process can be fraught, but we always create a “look book” in which we have all the pictures of colours, fabrics, textures, kitchens, bathrooms, doors, staircase - every detail. This really helps to convey your dreams.’

As the plans were being considered, David – who is a highly experienced self-builder - began work on securing the perimeter, eventually coming up with his own design using Dung walling timber, used in the agriculture industry to build and retain dung.

Being a competent self builder I was to be faced with my biggest challenge to date and one that I seriously underestimated,’ he remembers. There were three key stages which really tested our reserve and professionalism: firstly excavating 720 tonnes of earth to create a split-levelled living indoor/outdoor area, 350 tonnes was removed from site, the remainder was redistributed to create landscaping.

In renovating a rear garden it’s incredibly difficult to move heavy items in or out, and when you have 30sq metres of concrete delivered you simply cannot wheelbarrow it around. We had to pump it over the house: a huge undertaking and extremely expensive.

Secondly the original build from the 1970s was to be internally remodelled: normally a simple task. However this home was built of what seemed to be Kryptonite and each and every wall was a real task with normal electric breaking tools simply bouncing off the construction. Heavy duty gear needed to be hired even for simple hole drilling. Thirdly living in the space to be converted was a lot more difficult than either of us and our daughter could have imagined.

The lack of privacy, the constant grind of work in the living space was often overbearing, having completed a project previously living in a caravan whilst the construction was underway looking back this was infinitely more desirable.’

But after eight months of solid slog a stunning split levelled build was completed. I’m exceptionally proud of this home, and the build itself but also the architect understood and fulfilled his part of the process by allowing us to lead the way and by listening to our brief we have achieved a prefect coastal development.’

This article first appeared in Cornwall Life September 2015.

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