Journeys: Graham Road, Hackney E8

img_0786Graham Road, Hackney, London

Value             £2,000,000
Architect       Amrita Mahindroo, DROO Projects
Build             East Eight Construction
Size              2,093 sqft extended to 2,200 sqft
Use               Formerly 3 shabby bedsits converted into 3 stunning flats 1×3 bed, 1×2 and 1×1
Time             October 2015-October 2016

This month we completed a fantastic new residential Hackney development – our Graham Road flats. This was a story with a couple of twists – Hackney Council’s extra ventilation regulation notice for one, but we are hugely proud of these three gorgeous units, now owned by three happy new E8 residents.

The Area

Graham road

Almost a perfect pin drop between Hackney Central and Dalston Junction, the plot is on Graham Road, E8, which makes a densely populated route through the Hackney community. Graham Road and Mapledene is a conservation area and the road is very much characteristic of residential properties in the east London area, making our plans for a three unit extension and renovation a viable goal.

The Plot

We attempted to buy this particular property several times before reaching exchange and each time we came close, the vendor changed her mind and withdrew the sale. It had been in the ownership of the same family for three generations and having had her first dealings only with a dodgy agent, the vendor was not filled with confidence. Finally, after persuasive and trust-building discussions between Nicole Bremner and the vendor, we purchased it in October 2015 and were ready to build straight away. The plot had already been an HMO, comprising shabby bedsits, so we knew flats would be the best option here and an uplift welcome.

The Potential

CGI Living

Planning had been granted for three flats; a three-bed across the lower and ground floors with garden access, a one-bed on the first floor and a two-bed on the second and new loft area on the third floor. As soon as we had permission, the flats went on the market off-plan with Foxtons and with our CGIs reflecting a taste of what was to come, coupled with the buzzing allure of the Hackney area, we had sold one of them within two hours, the one-bed sold the same day and the three-bed within five days. The buyers of the three-bed pulled out and we had two offers at the same level that same day.

We worked with a fantastic architect on this project with whom we have completed many successful projects in the past – Amrita Mahindroo from DROO Projects. The focus was on creating beautiful, desirable contemporary units which were immediately liveable. Very few adjustments were needed (except a particular Italian discontinued tile we had to find a replacement for!) and we were hugely proud of the results.

The Snag…

Nicole scaffold

Anyone in the world of property development will know that when stripping back to original structures it’s common to hit a few snags. Our snag however, came not in the form of the build process, but in Hackney’s stringent fire ventilation regulation. To convert this house into three flats, we had to install a sprinkler system throughout – something we had not budgeted for and, curiously, had not been flagged up in the planning process with Hackney Council. Now, weeks on and well into the build, we were notified following routine inspection that we would have to install this plus a fire ventilation system, potentially thickening the wall cavities and, crucially, reducing internal sqft.

Under pressure to find a quick and cost-effective solution whilst the build moved on, and still unsure of the real necessity to add in this further system in addition to the sprinklers, we looked to a contact at WSP for advice on this regulation. They inspected the premises and our schedule of works and, finding it catered more than adequately for fire safety already, produced a report for us to present to the council. This report was enough for Hackney Council to relax the requirement and we could proceed with our build.

Final touches

When the build was complete, we needed some great photos taken. First of all we had architectural images produced by  Ed Reeve, always meticulous. He’s fascinating to watch!

Ed collage

Images: Ed Reeve | @editphoto

We then had our brilliant E8 neighbour and contact Joao Botelho dress the ground floor and some additional photos from his colleague Rei Moon (images at the top). We learned a lot on this project and are hugely proud of the results!

Marina Conway-Gordon