THE BUILD SERIES: How to put together a proposal to convince someone to sell you part of their land. by Tash South

After the very exciting email from the vendors that they may be willing to sell some of their land to us, we eagerly awaited our meeting.

We could tell from the email we received from the vendors that the their decision to sell the land would rely heavily on what we proposed to put there. Instead of just turning up unprepared at our meeting, I wanted to show that we had carefully thought out and considered what we would propose to build in their back garden. So I got straight to work on a detailed proposal that we would present to them when we met. Having purchased the site plan on the Land Registry website I was able to roughly see how big the house could possibly be, and where the division of the garden between our land the vendors' would be.

Study your site plan carefully and work out the best proposal to put forward.

When putting together the proposal, I thought carefully about what I would allow someone to build in my back garden if I was in the vendors' position. I noted all these down, for example;

1. I wouldn't want a house that was higher than any of the other surrounding houses
2. I would want any overlooking to be at a minimum, or reduced wherever possible
3. I would want the new house to not be built right up to the shared boundary and be imposing

Taking the these three main points into consideration I decided to propose a modest family house. The height was kept low - even lower than the neighbouring house. I also showed clearly that we wanted a rear garden - this meant that our gardens would back on to one another, giving both properties some breathing space, reducing the feeling of any imposition.

To address the overlooking issue, I spent time researching online and looking at various architecture magazines.  I saw, that on a some timber-clad houses, alternate strips of the timber were continued over the windows to create a louvre effect, I loved this idea and decided to include it in my proposal on the rear windows as a solution to reduce the feeling of overlooking.

Think about the small details that will make a difference to neighbours – timber strips over the windows create a louvre effect to reduce the feeling of overlooking.

Once I had put myself in the vendors' shoes, I started to work on what we wanted for ourselves, my list was as follows;

At least three bedrooms, one en-suite
An open-plan kitchen-diner
A separated living room space
A small utility room - for all that laundry and clutter!
A garden, it didn't have to be huge, but a must.

Once I had all the above points clear in my mind, I started to work on the rough plans and layout, the house would be quite modest in size, but because the land sloped down quite dramatically from the street level it fronted, there was an opportunity to create a semi-basement level which would form the living space and open at the rear onto the garden, giving us three levels in total. The remaining two upper levels would then provide the space for the bedrooms and bathrooms. We did of course go on to hire an architect, but for this initial proposal stage, I decided to draw up the rough layouts and plans myself.

An open-plan kitchen-diner like this one is a must for me! Image Credit.

I included all the necessary drawings and details in the proposal, as well as a rough timeline showing the estimated time it would take to construct the house, once all the legal elements were completed - we naively estimated that the legal processes should be completed within about four to five months, and the house would be built in twelve. Which I'm sure you're not surprised to hear took way, way longer than that! Bear in mind that this happened in May 2014 and we are now in September 2016 and we are still tied up in legalities. Well, no-one said it would be easy! So be warned, the legal and planning process can take a long time, this is of course dependent on individual circumstances as well, but it really wouldn't hurt to factor in extra time for legalities to avoid disappointment.

We met with the vendors on a Saturday in May 2014, to find a lovely couple, who seemed just as excited about the prospect of creating a new home as we were. We sat down with them in their gorgeous home and discussed our proposal in detail, which I had printed out and taken along. They were very enthusiastic about it, and we only hoped that they would agree to sell us the land. We had a long conversation about what we might expect from the process, but neither of us had done this before! We left them to think about our proposal and their decision, we agreed that they would get back to us on whether they would accept our proposal and agree to sell us the land, and also their price... we had given them an indication on what we were prepared to pay by this point.

The next few days were tense, we waited and waited, checking our email inboxes way to frequently! Then finally a response - they had agreed to sell to us! Amazing news! We were beyond excited, even though the price they had asked for the land was more than we expected by about £15,000, we decided that we would stretch to the asking price for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. So, with everythIng agreed in principle, we wondered, 'where do we even start?'

Next time on the Build Blog, I'll delve more into the process and legalities of buying a plot of land. Boring, I know! But if you want to do this too, there is no escape from it!

See you next time.


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My Edit of Maison&Objet Paris 2016 by Tash South

At the beginning of September I was invited to attend the Maison&Objet trade show in Paris, one of my favourite cities. Maison&Objet is a major lifestyle event for professionals working in all fields of interiors where exhibitors offer a huge range of decoration, design, furniture, accessories, textiles, fragrances, children’s interiors, tableware and more. It’s an amazing platform, and a great place to source unique products and up-and-coming trends.

It was my first visit to Maison&Objet, and it is HUGE. I was totally blown away by the size of the show, eight halls in total. I even saw some people on scooters – motorised scooters!

Panoramic of Parc des Expositions, Paris where Maison&Objet is held.

The focus of the show this year was ‘House of Games’, Maison&Objet choose a theme each year to inspire and surprise guests. The House of Games stand was designed in a playful, off-beat, yet refined aesthetic. The lighting was kept low, but the pieces were playful, bright and cheerful.

Inside The House of Games. Image: M&O website.

Inside The House of Games. Image: M&O website.

This year, the M&O PARIS designer of the year, September 2016 was Ilse Crawford, her work is a testament to her ability to reconcile the experience of luxury with wellbeing. As designer of the year, Ilse was in charge of designing the Designers’ Studio, a work and networking space at M&O.

The Designers’ Studio by Iilse Crawford, a work and networking space at M&O.

M&O was an awesome experience and I had the opportunity to see some excellent examples of design from across Europe, and the rest of the world, so I’ve decided to put together this post to share my edit with you. Considering the size of the event, and the sheer volume of incredible design, editing my top finds was not an easy task! I’ve already written about the incredible Zaha Hadid Collection, but here are just some of my other favourites.


One. Team Lab

First up was the Forest of Resonating Lamps - One Stroke, an installation by
A huge mirrored room housed hundreds of Murano glass lamps hanging from the ceiling. Sensors determined the position of viewers within the room, and when standing close to one of the lamps for a period of time, it would change colour and become the starting point for the other lamps around it to start changing colour too, a magical experience. I spent way too long wandering around in this room when there was so much else to see!

Forest of Resonating Lamps

Forest of Resonating Lamps - changing colours

Two. ibride

The French company, ibride, immediately grabbed my attention, the pieces were interesting and unique - the brand bases it’s collection on surrealism. I loved how playful, quirky and unusual the pieces were. This year ibride released its’ first series of outdoor furniture – inspired by ethereal lines and aquatic curves.

Some pieces from the ibride range

ibride outdoor chair.

Three. Corita Rose

Next up was Corita Rose a textile design company with the most stunning and vivid designs printed onto velvet, linen and silk. Based in Dorset, the company was founded by artist and designer Caroline Ritchie and her husband Joshua. Caroline’s inspiration comes from different cultures and eras, from tribal and folk art, to heraldry and medieval designs. I was lucky to speak with Caroline at the show, and she told me about how, when she couldn’t find anything like she now produces in the shops, she just went out and made it herself – an amazingly talented lady!

Vibrant Corita Rose cushions.

Corita Rose textile design.

4. Nook London

Nook London is based in East London and was founded by Hattie Hollins in 2011. They offer vintage factory style lighting - Nostalgia Lights and Nostalgia Lights Reserve. Nook has recently expanded from lighting into more generalised homeware. The brand stands strong as a formidable pioneer of the vintage industrial style that I love to use when styling urban or loft living spaces.

Nook London - great turquoise colour on the flex!

Nook London: a unique take on a bedside lamp.

Five. Frederik Roijé

Clean, classy and innovative, Frederik Roijé’s collection of furniture, lighting and accessories ticked many of my boxes, especially as the inspiration for some of the pieces are city skylines.
I adored the simplicity of their pieces, and their attention to detail. The Storylines shelf and the Seatshell chair were particular favourites.

Frederik Roijé’s Storylines Bookshelf.

Frederik Roijé’s Seatshell chair.

Six. Woud

Based in Denmark, Woud work with a mix of young upcoming talents, as well as experienced designers to produce a stunning collection of products. Their range of beautiful pieces adds a touch of innovation to the simplicity anchored in their Nordic design heritage.

Stone Pendant, Split Dining Table and Pause Dining Chair by Woud.

Input Shelf by Woud.

Seven. Drugeot Labo

Drugeot Labo (France) create stunningly unique pieces from solid oak with 100% French origin. Their pieces are expertly made with the greatest care, and I could tell form speaking to them at the show, that they are so proud of the heritage and craftsmanship of their pieces. I loved their simple, but very clever designs.

Drugeot Labo Compass Desk Leans against the wall, and is ideal for small city spaces.

The Créneau side table can be used as a side table or as a bedside table.

Eight. Rina Menardi

Rina Menardi’s tactile ceramics stood out to me because of their organic shapes and beautiful colours. Based in Italy, Rina's work is always characterised by simple lines and inspired by nature.

Rina Menardi Ceramics

Nine. Les Gambettes

French company Les Gambettes introduced a fun collection of 50’s inspired retro designed furniture with bright colours and eye-catching prints: chairs, tables, desk and design accessories mixing metal, wood and of course, the most popular surface from the 50’s, Formica.

Les Gambettes' fun take on 50s Retro. Love the geometric wallpaper in this image.

Les Gambettes' Chaise Susie

Les Gambettes' Chaise Susie

Ten. Avenida Home

Avenida Home was founded by Isabel Saiz in Bath, England - they create highly individual pieces and are dedicated to supporting traditional craftsmanship throughout Europe. The collection is eclectic and surprising and I fell in love with their Jungle Collection wallpaper, which is based on a painting by the fabulous artist, Nathalie Lété.

The Avenida Home Jungle range.

Eleven. Elements Optimal

Element Optimal’s philosophy is creating great designs in line with the strong traditions of Danish craftsmanship, whilst promoting talented individuals from around the world. Each creation is made with outmost integrity and are original, simple, functional and timeless. Their adorable range for children was on display at the show.

Elements Optimal Elephant chair and table and balloon mirror.

Elements Optimal Bambi chair

Twelve. Nobodinoz

Barcelona based kid's brand, Nobodinoz offers a fun range of furniture, décor, toys and teepees. The colour palette sets the pace and allows for a wide range of playful combinations for a smart, modern kids’ spaces.

Nobodinoz bed in horizon thalassa blue.

Nobodinoz Teepees in Arizona black scales, Arizona zig zag and Arizona black honey sparks

M&O takes place in Paris in January and September and I really hope to return in 2017, but until then I look forward to using my finds in upcoming projects - including my own house when it's built!


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