Case Studies


Lights, camera, action – as Modern Living Projects feature on Inside Out Homes

It could have been the scene from a TV show. (Indeed, the TV show came a little later!)

A van drives down a main street and a passenger in a passing car suddenly orders the driver to “follow that vehicle”.

The van was driven by Dean Gatiss, owner of Modern Living Projects and in hot pursuit was Sameena Nawaz, who lives in Jesmond. Fast forward 18 months and Sameena’s home has featured on national television largely thanks to the skill and expertise of Dean and his team who have transformed her six bedroom home beyond their wildest dreams.

The project was showcased in Inside Out Homes on Channel 4 and has been critically acclaimed by architect and the show’s presenter, Zac Monro.

The end result was a magnificent side and rear extension that included three sliding glass panels that extended right across the back of the house, the design and build of a stunning garden studio, groundworks, cedar fencing, indoor and outdoor tiling, doors, steel structure and electrics. Incredibly, to fulfil the project, the team were only on-site for 14 weeks.

Where possible, the company used none-standard building materials and its daring approach was seen by the installation of a full nine metre glass roof – virtually unheard of in most building projects and believed to be the longest roof light installed in a domestic project in the UK. In another unconventional move, the steel also had to be fabricated on-site and the speciality glass, which is sourced from Belgium, is then fitted in place.

Sameena, said: “We have created a new way of living where the interior and exterior merge into one. It is far more than just having more space and better views. We actually now feel that we are much closer to nature. It is the simple things like being more aware of and hearing the birds, butterflies and bees. Slowly but surely, we are adapting to a new way of life that brings with it calmness and a sense of well being and relaxation – something that we could not have achieved with a conventional extension.

“With my husband, Abid, who was the true driving force behind the project, we had been talking about developing our home for a number of years but life, work and other commitments meant that we just did not get around to it. We had done some initial research but nothing was moving forward.

“We were in one of those periods again when we were considering the options. I had in my mind an image of what I wanted to achieve and one day when I was in town I suddenly noticed the exact open plan transformation I was hoping to achieve right in front of me – on Dean’s van!

“It was simply too good an opportunity to miss. We managed to catch up with the vehicle and took a picture which included both the image and the contact details.”

“We talked things through with Dean and we very much liked his approach and vision and the fact that he was also very challenging. He was much more forward thinking than other builders we had encountered. However, we were still not ready to move forward.”


– Dean Gatiss owner of Modern Living Projects with Zac Monro, Architect and presenter of Channel 4s Inside Out Homes.


It was sometime later and following a visit Sameena made to a company specialising in home development, that Channel 4 contacted her and expressed interest in assisting the transformation of the house into one where the interior and exterior seamlessly blended into one. Having agreed to meet with Zac Monro, Sameena then commissioned Mawson Kerr, a firm of architects from Newcastle, who then drew up the plans. The next task was to identify a builder and Sameena remembered the meeting that she and Abid had with Modern Living Projects.

“We put the tender for the work out to three companies, all of whom were different in terms of resource, expertise and approach. Ultimately, we awarded the contract to Dean Gatiss and his team because we loved the fact that they were bold, imaginative and had so many new, fresh ideas, that added value to what we were looking to achieve.

“All of their work is very individual and for that reason we were very pleased to take up the opportunity presented to us by Dean to visit the homes of other clients that had commissioned the firm and to hear first hand about the project and what it was like to work with Dean. This was invaluable and gave us the peace of mind that we were in very good hands.

“Another great idea was that they presented the proposed design on large mood boards so that we could get a real feel for the project and made us quickly realise that we were going to create something very special.”

“However, you do not really know how the relationship will develop until you start to work together. Given that you are basically inviting a team of people into your home for an extended period of time, it is vitally important that you get on together, otherwise tensions could exist.

“The key to a great working relationship is communication. That is where the company really came into its own. Apart from the fact that we spoke every day, there was a planning meeting every Friday during which we received a full update on the project, work to be planned for the following week, issues that needed to be overcome, budget update and forecast. They were very honest with us, never giving false expectations over timescales.”

Mawson Kerr were particularly impressed by Dean as he was always available to offer guidance and an alternative view – something most builders are very reluctant to do – a lot of which was acted upon.

A great rapport was also struck up with Zac Monro who said that the role of the builder in a project of this nature is all important.

He said: “The project wouldn’t have been possible without a really good builder, and we were very lucky with Modern Living Projects as they turned out to be exactly what we were looking for. They were a vital part of the team.”

The last word is with Dean Gatiss: “Quite simply, we have a real desire to create the ‘WOW’ factor for every project we do. It could be so easy to go down the conventional building route but we are truly passionate about what we do.”


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