XUL Architecture rebuild a semi-detached house in North London

by Francesca

XUL Architecture rebuild semi-detached Hampstead Garden Suburb house and create a spectacular light-filled home which includes a spa, sauna and table tennis room.

North London based XUL Architecture have demolished and rebuilt this family home in East Finchley creating a light-filled house with views to the garden.

Located in a quiet cul-de-sac, just outside the Hampstead Garden Suburb, the family of five had purchased the house which needed a full refurbishment. They decided to live in the property first for a year to better understand their needs.

House renovations are common in London as there is a wide variety of traditional housing stock that rarely suits the size and activity of a family in the 21st Century. When considering their renovation, this family turned to XUL Architecture to explore the best layout for their needs. With the considerable renovation suggestions, XUL produced a cost for two options: to renovate or demolish.

As a semi-detached property, there is often a pre-conception that demolition is not an option, however with steel structures to support the neighbouring house it can prove to be an option that is best for the project.

“By demolishing the existing building, the new home would be classified as a Self-Build project which does not attract VAT. This reduced the cost to the homeowner by 20%. When compared against a renovation project which would be charged VAT, this was a more favourable approach. The end value of a new build is also higher than of an extended house.” — Sebastian Sandler, XUL’s Managing Director

This social family wanted an open plan kitchen, dining and family area that would allow them to entertain. They also needed a large playroom for the kids that would work with them as they grow. The house has a beautiful garden but the existing arrangement was not making the most of the views so it was important to open up as much of the rear spaces to the garden and to create a view of the garden from the front entrance so that light carried throughout.

The lower level at the rear provided an ideal opportunity to add a basement looking out on to the garden. The Self-Build home reinstated the front elevation with minor alterations and extensions to match the neighbouring property. A full basement provides a guest bedroom with seating area, games room with gym, spa consisting of sauna, steam room, shower, relaxation area and utility with storage. With nine additional rooms, XUL increased the net internal area from 158.85m2 to a total of 378.60m2 (a 138% increase).

The tilted skylight above the dining room is angled to maximise the ingress of light. It was designed to have an integrated electric blind for moments when the sun would be too strong.

A mirror-clad light tunnel in the children’s bathroom fills this internal room with natural daylight. The bathroom is within the centre of the house, therefore would usually be a dark space, however, the space above the bath is opened drawing light down from the skylight via a series of angled mirrors. At night the mirrors reflect LED lights which are set within the tunnel.

It was important to create close communication with the semi-detached neighbours as they would be affected by a demolition project. XUL presented the project to the local community in its early stages which proved effective in dealing with queries and helped to gain planning permission from Barnet Council with minimum objections.


Structural Engineer: Halstead Associates Quantity Surveyor: Wheelers Group
M&E Consultant: Judd Consulting 


Aluminium windows & doors: HedgeHog Windows PVC windows: Galaxy Windows
Lightwell glazing: The Natural Daylight Company Sauna & Steam room: Oceanic Sauna & Steam Kitchen: Braverman Kitchens

Staircase & external balustrade: Railing London Lighting: iGuzzini
Ironmongery: SDS
Sanitary ware: Empress Bathrooms Tiling: Porcelain Tiles
Joinery: Village Cabinets
Blinds: Village Fabrics
Sliding pocket door system: Selo UK Aluminium cladding: ICB Fabrications

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