Extending An Old House

Extending an old house – how to do it right

Members' Skillshare

19/05/2022 - 19/05/2022
Introductory, Members only
Virtual event: held online
United Kingdom

Free (SPAB members only)

Event details

Thursday 19 May, 16.00-17.00

This session of the SPAB members skillshare will be led by architectural technologist, Nathan Oliver. Nathan will take us through how to approach extending an old house and aims to cover:

  • Preparation - selecting the right team
  • Freedom – let the team do what they are good at
  • Legislation - key statutory legislation to be aware of
  • Investigation - initial surveys and site investigations
  • To match in with the existing or go different Part 1 – architectural style and aesthetics
  • To match in with the existing or go different Part 2 – structure and systems of build
  • Sustainability – the extension and the existing host building
  • Energy - renewable sources of energy,
  • Material selection – options, behaviours, embodied energy and good health
  • Glazing – things to consider
  • Detailing – a small selection of key junctions to think through
  • Drainage – things to consider
  • Heating – options for staying warm and comfortable
  • Ventilation – you and the building need to breathe
  • Afterwards - post occupancy evaluation


About the speaker: Nathan graduated from university in 1997 and since then has continuously worked at a number of large and small architectural practices up and down the country. He started off working in Winchester, Hampshire and gained early experience working on old buildings such as vernacular Hampshire timber-framed barn conversions and smaller commercial developments of traditionally constructed buildings. He then moved to Sheffield and worked on large commercial, modern buildings [lots of steel, glass and concrete] and ended up working for Building Design Partnership [BDP – a major, award winning, international firm] where he was one of the senior designers on the c£550m Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. This ended in 2011 when the ‘credit crunch’ bit hard and central government funding was cut on public buildings, meaning Nathan was made redundant. Faced with the option of a long commute Nathan decided to take a chance and set up his own micro-architectural practice [one man band] and has been successfully working from home for over 10 years.

A lot of the schemes Nathan works on are now relatively small-scale domestic projects where there is a chance to fully engage with all stakeholders and the entire design and build process from start to finish, which is a lot more fun! However, Nathan quickly discovered that a lot of the existing building stock in Sheffield is actually quite old and often built from solid stone walls with timber-framed roofs. He wasn’t always sure of the right approach to take when designing a new scheme or working out how to fix things that had gone wrong. He decided that to properly assist his clients with upgrading their old buildings he needed to do some specialist training. As a result of this he travelled down to Bath and completed the SPAB Old House Eco Course in 2016. The course was groundbreaking and introduced Nathan to several key principles that have been instrumental in how he now approaches extending, adapting, and retrofitting old buildings, so they are done properly, sensitively, do not backfire, do not create more problems, and are suitable for modern family life in the 21st century.


About the skill-share: Run by members for members, these short and informal online sessions are a great way to learn from the expertise and experience of your fellow historic building enthusiasts. We are really grateful to everyone who has volunteered to lead a session so far. If you are interested in leading a session please get in touch with our membership team: membership[at]spab.org.uk

These sessions are only available to SPAB members, so you will need to log in to the website in order to register. Please get in touch if you don't have a log in set up yet.


IT requirements: Please note that this is an online session and will be held via Zoom. You don't need a Zoom account to take part, but you will need access to a computer, tablet, or smart phone.


Accessibility: please contact the SPAB before booking to discuss any special access requirements.

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