The classic 17th century two-up two-down buildings are reminiscence of most residential streets in Europe, particularly England. These London row houses are flat-fronted structures and come in a range of different sizes from the outside. But all their interiors are pretty much configured the same way.
The two-up two-down apartments are set up in rows (usually referred to as terraces in England and Ireland) and are generally built by the same developer. Some of the more upscale apartments have a front bow window and a kitchen that flows out to the backyard, creating a more L-shaped design.
The floor plan of each apartment unit is laid out exactly as their name suggests. The ground floor contains a living room and a kitchen, which are usually the two rooms down. In contrast, the top floor houses two bedrooms and a bathroom, a Modern-day (Originally, the houses were built with a convenience set outside the house).
If you lived in these apartments, you would not have had to deal with neighbours living below or above you. Your neighbours were only at your side. And, if you were lucky enough to get the first or last apartment, you had a neighbour on just one side of you.
Therefore, you would not have had to deal with hearing your neighbours footsteps above your ceiling or sounds coming below you. This reminds me of stories where neighbours kids used sticks to hit their ceiling, disturbing your peace.
How To Spot Two-Up Two-Down Apartments
Despite the different styles and materials used for most two-up two-down buildings, there are specific characteristics from the roof down to the ground, which can help you quickly identify one when you see it:
1. The Chimneys
We hardly ever see chimneys being built into modern homes because space heaters and new forms of insulation have replaced fireplaces and asbestos. Chimneys dated back to the 12th century Romans and existed up until the 1960s. Two-up two-down apartments were built before the invention of space heaters; therefore, they have the characteristic chimney’s built into the design.
These apartments came with shared chimneys. That means two apartment units made use of one chimney. These chimneys were often placed halfway down the slope of the roof in between apartments, so they stood directly above the fireplace.
The houses were built around these shared chimneys, with each room having its fireplace. England/Ireland are cold countries, so this shared heating arrangement was very efficient and economical. If you wanted to add extra rooms to your apartments, those rooms would usually be cold, except you built another chimney. Each apartment had a stove in the kitchen and three other fireplaces all connected to this huge chimney.
2. The Roofs
The roofs on the Two-Up and Two-Down houses have a pitched steep with gable ends, allowing room for additional space to carve out a loft. The roofs also come with dormer windows that have tiny pointed bargeboards.
3. The Upper Floor
The top floor at the front of the apartment is usually covered in a type of mock timber frame pattern or a plain render with designs embossed into it. The window bays and sills are tall and thin, while the barge-boards on the gable end at the top are usually plain.
4. The Sash Windows
The much older apartments come with sash windows that have an upper section divided with glazing bars while the lower part stays plain. The sash windows give a beautiful rustic appearance against the clear pane below, which also provides a clear view for residents.
The windows for the houses built in the early 1900s are side-hinged casement frames with distinctive little openings along the top filled with glass in different coloured patterns.
5. The Front Doors
The front door leading to the living room typically has the upper two-thirds parts of the door arched and covered with glazed glass. The panels have raised mouldings around the edge to make them appear deeper. If the houses don’t come with an external porch, the doors are usually recessed into the house.
Remodelling Your Two-Up Two-Down Apartment
You can double the value of your two-up-two-down apartments by remodelling them even though these types of apartments have been getting demolished and redeveloped in recent years. There are still places where groups have come together and campaigned that this historical architecture is left standing. Examples of places where these types of architecture can be found are Openshaw, Manchester.
There are many benefits of remodelling any two-up-two-down house/apartments which include:
Increase life expectancy:
Eliminating the need to use coal for heating helps drastically reduce air pollution both indoor and outdoor. There is a lot of evidence linking the emissions from coal/wood to carcinogenic compounds, which cause life-threatening health problems. Therefore, replacing the need to use the chimney with modern heating systems when remodelling prevents many health complications.
Increase the home value:
If you ever plan to sell this type of apartment, remodelling the home first helps increase the value. You do not need to remodel the entire home because you want to make a profit. But, remodelling parts of the hike such as the kitchen, bathroom, changing the front door etc., can see the value of the apartment skyrocket.
Increase the home’s efficiency: Adding things like a heat pump, new doors/windows, and more insulation are certain things that can increase the energy efficiency in the home—decreasing the cost of energy and saving you money in the long term.
Old are apartments such as these two-up-and-two-down apartments have parts of it that have deteriorated over time. Therefore installing new fixtures such as a new roof or fixing a crack in the foundation can avert future disasters, keeping every person that lives in the home safe.
Because most of the Two-Up Two-Down apartment buildings can be quite cramped up, there are some common ideas and projects you can incorporate to maximize space in your apartment. So if you are looking to remodel your Two-Up Two-Down styled home, here is what you need to know;
Picking a New Layout
If you want to change the layout of your home, a great place to start will be the lower floor level. Whatever groundwork you need to get done lying underneath the floor. So if you need to fit any insulation between the joists, you should do so before relaying the floorboards. It would help to be extra careful with this approach, so there is no damage done to the wood.
Another tip on remodelling and expanding, which I culled from a blog on Online Writers Rating website, is to eliminate corridors wherever possible if you want to expand the layout of your apartment. For small spaces, you can consider switching up to an open-plan living and kitchen area so that you can get to utilize most areas of your home.
Converting the Roof Into a Loft
The flat roof dormers on most row houses are not the easiest for conversion projects; however, with the right details and design, they turn out pretty good and add some elegance to your apartment.
As I stated earlier, the roofs are steep-pitched and have gable ends, allowing you room to carve out a loft, which could serve as an extra room. Rear dormers windows found by the side of the roof quickly fall under permitted development rights, so it is usually not a problem if you wish to remodel the roof to increase the amount of habitable space.
When carving out the design for the loft, it is vital to bear in mind the location of the staircase. You will need to consider following the line of the existing ground to the first-floor flight so that you can link it to the needed flight leading to the loft.
The Extension Plan
Planners rarely approve the Two-Up Two-Down building extensions plans for the fact that it would involve encroaching into neighbouring properties. However, if your house happens to be at the end of either side of the row, then you are more likely to get the green light for an extension plan. Because there might be sufficient space to add more room to the sides of the building
Another great way to get some extension is by utilizing your backyard. It is also a perfect spot to get in more natural light into the house. You can use glass glazed roofs, so you get to have a beautiful view of the garden and the sky above.
The keep features to bear in mind when getting the best out of your Two-Up Two-Down apartment is the sustainability of your house, the best way to enhance natural light and, of course, boosting the use of existing spaces. You also need to ensure that your home has efficient insulation and ventilation.
Finally, your expansion plans will only take place after you get a permit. To find out what limitations and approvals apply to your building before starting any work.