With the lack of space in our modern cities homeowners are always looking for ways to improve the size of their homes. Quite often there are largish gardens which may be filled with summerhouses, log cabins or garden sheds which don’t always give the benefits the owners are looking for. This means maybe rethinking what to do with the available land and possibly removing or relocating these garden buildings. This can give an opportunity to have an extension to the house. Depending on the situation this could be one or two storeys high creating a massive amount of extra accommodation. Another possibility which has been seen on Grand Designs is to have a basement conversion and this can be quite popular in London and maybe an option in Chichester. As there are no exterior alterations then planning permission is not normally needed although building regulations is a must. There are many uses for these basement from family rooms, to an extra bedroom or even to use for storage similar to usage as a garden shed, but in my view, would be totally not cost effective and overly expensive. To go down this route you would need a basement already and if your house is Victorian there is very good chance you have one. Hopefully the water table is not too high in your area which will make it easier to waterproof but if you have a basement, certainly worth considering.
However, not everybody is in favour of these types of conversions, whether out of jealousy or concerns about the structure or other environmental issues. A multi million pound redevelopment scheme in Chelsea, London, received accusations that a planned development was totally at kilter to local architecture and would alter the local environment. How this can be so when the conversion is totally out of sight and usually in a basement which is already there is debatable.
This development in Paulton Square had created a living space which was 40 ft x 20 ft in the terraced house basement and extended under the garden, however, the local residents were not happy with this. Robin Lister, the property developer, had purchased the house 2 years beforehand and installed a temporary conveyor belt to take the soil away from the basement whilst the work under the garden went on. He had hoped to sell the property for in excess of £7 million.
However, the Chelsea Society, which exists as a conservation group to protect the historic character of the area were critical of the underground development. The secretary of the society, Terence Chichester, said that if you dig up the garden and then put in a basement then the ground will not be able to absorb rain water which is a great problem in our cities and suburbs. One of his arguments is that these types of development can affect the London plane trees, also, these conversions upset the traditional use of these grand houses as the cellars used to be for the servants quarters and not for living accommodation. I think they forget that we now live in the 21st century and not the late 19th century. Things have moved on since then and property owners are looking for different things in their homes.
It was suggested that a log cabin or even a state of the art garden shed might be a better idea for his garden. It certainly would be less controversial. Who would have thought that a garden shed could be a better proposition that an underground development. Despite my 39 years in making gardens shed and other related garden buildings in Chichester, if it was me, I would go for a converted basement every time.
I think we are all fully aware of the marketing ploys of the insurance companies from singing tenors, confused.com, to Sheila Wheels, to Churchill with the bulldog and Compare the market with a load of meerkats. I think the majority of people find them quite endearing and can’t get their jingles out of their heads. This is what they want so that you think of them when you come to renew your car insurance. The talking meerkats campaign has been particularly successful and is well viewed on YouTube as a range of cuddly toys and souvenirs are available and the fact there is a family of them is appealing to many people. Using this campaign they have built up a large following on the social media as well as on TV. To me I find it quite irritating and turn away when they are on TV.
If they were a genuine family in Chichester they would have a garden, possibly with a garden shed for them to sleep in, where they could get up to their activities. This to me, being in the garden shed business would mean I would be more likely to watch it. However, I do understand that most people just see garden sheds as a place to dump things in away from the house. The lawnmower, garden furniture and DIY tools should live down there not meerkats. It’s a good job we are all different.
Meerkats are part of the mongoose family and are quite nasty creatures, not at all cuddly in real life. They are really ruthless predators and will eat anything, apparently even their own young which is disgusting, you never want to trust a meekat, but that would not be any good for this advertising campaign. However, somehow the advertisers have made these nasty creatures appealing.
However, a family from Chichester have taken their love of meerkats to a different level by creating an haven for them in their garden. Mark Carthy turned the garden into an ideal home for these furry creatures and have erected a sandpit 4 ft deep, a grassed garden area and also added a water feature for the animals to play in. I’m not sure where they are living but a small garden shed or hut would give them protection in the colder months or at night.
These meerkats were a gift for his partner’s birthday. He was told that they would not be able to tame them but they have them eating out of their hands. So it would appear that even meerkats won’t bite the hand that feeds them. They hope in time that the meerkats will breed in their own little garden and, if so, this will mean an increase in the food bill which includes meat, fruit and insects.
To me I would not even have them anywhere near my garden and certainly not in my shed. It might seem cruel as they could shelter away from the cold as they normally live in desert type areas of the world but they should not really be in this country. Their natural habitat is the Kalahari Desert, and certainly not Chichester, and live in family groups of between 20 and up to 50. Under normal circumstances one will stand upright on guard, with the head swivelling about, whilst the rest search for food or hunt.