Our Story - a self build environmentally friendly new build family home
Been there, done that, got the t-shirt (well the baby and the bills)
As Architects, we were keen to build our own sustainable house for our growing family. Finding affordable land is extremely difficult but when a piece of land, with problematic planning history, came to market we jumped at the chance to try and develop our own home. The site owners had tried unsuccessfully to achieve planning permission over a number of years and appointed numerous professionals to assist them. At our first attempt, albeit via the appeal process, we achieved planning permission for a contemporary family home.
The house is arranged with the main family living accommodation at the front of the site, overlooking the garden. Large bi-fold doors will ensure the link between the garden and the family room. A formal living room, and home office, along with bedroom accommodation is located at the rear of the site, looking onto a smaller courtyard garden. The master bedroom and en-suite have been constructed within the roof space of the house, where the sloping ceilings create a surprisingly spacious master suite.
Following planning approval, detailed designs were undertaken to develop the house to achieve a Code for Sustainable Homes rating as we thought this would put us in the best position to advise our clients on the code’s requirements. We were also keen to incorporate Secure by Design and Lifetime Homes accreditation into the house. The lifetime homes accreditation ensures that the property can be enjoyed by a wide range of people at differing times of life. For us, it has meant that our pushchair was easy to get into and out of the house, and our elderly relatives can come and stay with us without worrying about climbing the stairs!
The property was developed to achieve a 25% betterment on current building regulations energy use requirements. This has been done by increasing the efficiency of the wall, floor and roof insulation, installing high performance glazing in the windows, and installing a solar hot water heating system end energy efficient boiler to supply the under floor heating system. We have reduced our water consumption by using rainwater harvesting to flush the toilets and feed the washing machine. Other keys aspects of the code include good day lighting, defensible space around the property, generous internal and external storage areas (for all the stuff that we can’t bring ourselves to throw away!), and defined space for refuse and recycling without comprising on the design or enjoyment of the property. All this seems like common sense, but all too often they are the bits that get forgotten. It’s the nitty gritty of how these things work that makes a house a home and creates useable, functional but interesting buildings.
Externally, the house is of traditional brick construction, with a feature wall of stone guiding visitors to the main entrance. Local craftsmen and suppliers enabled a high-quality family home to be developed at a very cost effective price using a range of high quality materials. A bespoke kitchen and fitted furniture were included as well to give the house a more unique look. During the construction phase, several unforeseen obstacles and design evolutions were required and working with their builders as well as the local Building Control Officers, these problems were promptly resolved without any real time or cost implications. The benefits of retaining professional assistance throughout the project cannot be overstated (especially if you have watched some of the popular television programmes)
As part of the development of your project, we welcome you to visit our home to see and feel for yourself what can be created, even on modest budgets.