Renovation: Before & After Room #5 Cottage Audrey Westcott
An outhouse in poor shape was radically transformed from utterly uninhabitable to a beautifully liveable annex.
Unused for many years, the small outside cottage on Audrey Westcott’s property in Rosebank, Cape Town, was in very bad condition. Sporting a leaky roof as well as rotten windows and doors, it seemed like an endless list of problems. ‘It had an old linoleum floor and the plumbing and electrical supplies were very limited,’ says Audrey. ‘Also, there was no hot water and only one plug point in the entire cottage.’ All key issues when it came to her objective, which was to renovate with rental accommodation in mind.
‘We worked out that if we broke through to the store room in the main house, we could significantly increase the size of the cottage by creating a separate bedroom and kitchen area,’ she explains. To add to her building bugbears, the renovation was scheduled in winter, which was ‘tricky, as the roof had to be replaced’.
‘Being an old Victorian house, the walls were very brittle, so when we started to bash through an opening to the main house, a large section of the wall collapsed and had to be rebuilt,’ she says of the challenges of working with older buildings. But there were silver linings, too: ‘Most of the walls had to be re-plastered, so we used the opportunity to chase in extra plug points.’
Another savvy solution was discovered when all the windows and doors had to be replaced in the cottage. ‘Instead of incurring extra costs by making the openings bigger, we added plaster bands around the windows on the exterior of the cottage,’ Audrey says. ‘This makes the windows appear larger than they are and helps to unify the cottage with the surrounding buildings.’
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