Architecture
26/Oct/2022
7 minutes

Top Tips on Rennovating a Mews House

Dating back to the 18th century, mews houses were once used to stable horses, provide accommodation for servants and were tucked away out of sight.

Fast-forward to today, mews houses are one of the most sought-after properties people seek to purchase due to their huge amounts of charm and well sought after locations in London.

Owning a mews house provides numerous advantages when living in a busy city like London. However, they can also present various challenges especially when it comes to adding more light and space into the property.

In this article, we aim to give you potential solutions to the frequently asked questions when it comes to mews properties while sharing some tips on how we would recommend renovating a mews property.

Let’s dive in!

Firstly, what is a mews house and why are they so significant?

To understand what a mews property is we should look at their history. Dating back to the 18th and 19th Century, these properties were once used as coach houses, providing stables for horses and accommodation for servants in the living quarters.

The coach houses were usually built around the back of homes of the wealthy and were provided somewhere for horses and carriages to be stored and serviced.

A key feature of mews houses is their two rows of properties facing one and other with each row backing onto a larger residence. This was otherwise known as a “service street.”

Nowadays people are attracted to the element of quiet the mews provide especially in busy areas such as Chelsea, Knightsbridge and Mayfair. Originally, this was not the purpose of properties – in fact quite the opposite!

What are the pros of living in a mews house?

The below list is subjective as people purchase properties based on different tastes and their individual needs but as a general overview:

Architectural Charm

Mews houses present a part of history in London and as such have very distinct characteristics making them a very attractive property to purchase. Many of the houses are protected by Local Authorities and therefore have a design code that must be adhered to. This means that the look of a mews will never be significantly altered and therefore they will maintain their charm – you won’t have to worry about eyesore extensions by your neighbours!

Privacy

Of course, there are more secluded homes you could purchase further out in the countryside, but mews properties strike a great balance between living in a busy city and maintaining privacy. This is a great advantage if you want to live in a bustling city like London but would like your home to be tucked away.

Location

As mentioned in this article, mews houses are located in some of the most well-located areas around the city. There are plenty to choose from dotted around London so you could take your pick from your favourite areas!

What are the cons of living in a mews house?

These wonderful houses do come with their disadvantages and may not be suitable for everyone looking to live in London. As a general overview:

Compact size

Mews houses are a set size and have quite a specific square meterage. It can be difficult to see past this when considering a mews house as adding more space can be quite challenging. While of course for many the idea of compact in living in London is great prospect, this may not be the best choice for everyone, especially for those who are looking to grow a family.

Lack of outdoor space

If owning a home with a garden space is on the top of your priority list when it comes to purchasing a house, a mews property may not be for you. While some mews houses may have a terrace garden, as an overview, most do not have green space and this may be something you want to consider before going ahead.

Lack of natural daylight

This is often the most common disadvantage people see when it comes to mews properties and indeed it is a big one given how much a lack of natural daylight can affect our day to day lives. The properties have small and strategically placed windows on the front façade. Unless you can find a corner located mews, in general, some spaces within the property can feel a bit dark.

Lack of parking

Unfortunately, most mews properties no longer have their original garage space as most have been incorporated to provide more living space. This means that you would have to seek on street parking or other solutions as the properties are situated on private driveways.

What should I be aware of when renovating a mews?

There are numerous considerations you need to bare in mind before starting work on any mews property. Given the significant heritage of these properties, a lot are situated within conservation areas and have a rigid protocol that needs to be followed when it comes to renovation works. Any external changes will require planning permission, which can be time consuming and could also be rejected.

Also, if your mews is part of a private estate, you may have to apply for a licence to alter.

If your external changes are quite significant, you may need to carry out the paper work to get a Party Wall Agreement.

As always, we recommend consulting a professional such as an architectural designer or planning consultant to see what you can and cannot do before proceeding with any works.

How much would it cost to renovate a mews?

Indeed, this would depend on the scope of works you are looking to carry out, the spec of the products you are looking to use and the original condition of the mews property you are looking to renovate. As a general rule of thumb:

  • Anywhere up to £3,000 pounds per SQM for extensive renovations
  • Anywhere up to £5,000 pounds per SQM for a basement
  • Anywhere up to £2,500 per SQM for more minor internal renovations.

This is a very broad guide and we strongly recommend discussing your budget with your architectural designer to achieve the best possible outcome.

How would you go about adding more light to a mews?

As mentioned in the “cons” section of this article, mews properties do have a lack of natural daylight especially if there are no windows at the rear of the property. This however can be made better with some clever solutions along with some more obvious ones.

Adding rooflights to the property for the upper floor can allow more daylight into the bedroom spaces. Enlarging the windows on the front façade can also be a massive help.

On the ground floor, if you do not need your garage space, there is the opportunity to utilise this as part of your living area and therefore add additional ground floor windows.

Incorporating floor to ceiling French doors, light shafts and adding Juliet balconies could also be explored.

There is not a one fits all solution when it comes to adding light to a mews property but we recommend doing a bit of research and contacting a professional.

How would you go about adding more space to a mews?

This can be the trickiest to approach when it comes to a mews property.

As mentioned above, an easy fix to do to add space in your mews is to transform the garage space if it has not been done already or if it is not needed. This will massively improve the space in your living areas.

A more complex approach could be adding a basement. However, this should be carefully considered for a host of different reasons including cost, planning approval and practicality.

A basement would substantially increase your floor area, however, to reiterate the above point, while this can be achieved in some circumstances, adding a basement may not be possible in others. Definitely is not an easy fix!

Our advice would be to discuss with your architectural designer and get a structural engineer on board to see what is possible.

Do not use a builder that does not have extensive experience when it comes to constructing basements!

Also, please make sure that you get all the required consents from the local authority before you even think about excavating and make sure you have the correct insurance to cover these works.

We hope the above tips have been useful if you are considering purchasing and renovating a mews property. Along with the above alterations and clever interior design, a mews property could be one of the best investments and a great home in London.

Have any further questions? Feel free to drop us a line and we would love to help you out!

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