A couple have built their dream home in the town of Sawbridgeworth in Hertforshire. The town has many luxury properties in the vicinity and so their home had to be something special to stand out from the crowd, especially as their neighbours are David and Victoria Beckham. The unique selling point of Richard Carr and Emma Stocker’s home is that it is the first private house in England which is clad in bronze.
The back gardens of the Bronze House back onto the extensive grounds of “Beckingham Palace”, David and Victoria’s English home. But this house also gives people a reason to stare, it is set away behind a grass verge and is located in a quiet cul-de-sac. The house has 5,000sq ft of living space which is set over two wings. These are covered with the bronze which weighs more than six tons and costs more than £90,000. The wings are then joined by a glass atrium which stands at 20ft high. They have a spiral staircase and a bespoke vertical chandelier. Although the house does have doors to smaller rooms at the sides it is mostly a vast open living space. The couple spent so much on architect drawings and the built itself that they have run out of money to furnish their home, they have brought their Ikea furniture from their rented home for the time being.
The Bronze House may have not have been built at all if the couple had not been gazumped on another property that they were interested in on the very same road. Then by sheer chance an old bungalow with a nice plot came on the market and the local estate agent suggested knocking down the bungalow and building a new house. Richard, a member of a Porsche owners club, knew an architect there and asked him to come up with a few ideas. That initial discussion was four years ago and they did have a battle with the planners, two years of designing and building followed and finally last summer they were able to move in.
Richard is keen to warn anybody else contemplating doing the same to stick to a tight budget as in his experience architects can certainly spend your money if you let them. Richard had no input into original design concept and admitted that he knew nothing about designing houses, only that he wanted something spacious. He left everything up to his architect and the couple loved the initial plans. However once building began costs soon started to mount up and they had to make a few adjustments otherwise they would not have enough money to finish it. So if they were running out of money, why did they coat the house in the expensive bronze you may ask? Well this was the only way that they could obtain planning as East Hertfordshire council’s planning department wanted the colour of the house to be sympathetic to the other houses in the street as well as following the same roof lines. So the bronze idea sprang to mind as it was a suitable colour but was also at the same time dramatically different.
Richard had to abandon the idea of having a basement, due to costs, and also alter the main stairway. A central bridge across the atrium was also altered and chose a cheaper form of glazing helped to keep within budget. The cheaper form of glazing chosen still cost an enormous £100,000. The total costs of the build came in at £800,000, not too bad considering the size of the house and this included the architect’s fees but not the costs of the plot in the beginning. It is though from local prices that he could have paid much more than £500,000 but this is not confirmed. The couple also employed a project manager to run the build as they have full time jobs.
Even though it was completed last summer the bronze has not reached its final colour yet as the couple were showed a sample of how it would look as it does not match it yet. Bronze weathers from bright and shiny to a dark brown when out in the elements. The couple love their new home and if they could change anything about it, it would have to be the staircase as Richard had to opt for a polished plaster finish instead of the preferred polished black concrete, but funds would not stretch that far. However what they are left with is a beautiful modern home unlike any other which Richard says proves that architecture is not simple for the very rich.