62Is­land Liv­ing

First time self-builder Jean Dry­dale chose to com­bine 21st-cen­tury build­ing tech­nol­ogy with a tra­di­tional cot­tage ver­nac­u­lar for her new home in Jersey

Homebuilding & Renovating - - CONTENTS - Words Ali­son Wall Pho­tog­ra­phy Si­mon Maxwell

A first-time self-builder com­bines tra­di­tional style with cut­ting-edge con­struc­tion with the help of a turnkey sup­plier

if you’ve ever won­dered what the ex­pe­ri­ence of com­mis­sion­ing a house from a turnkey sup­plier is like, you are not alone — it’s still un­com­mon for us in the UK, with just one in 20 self­builders us­ing this route*.

So when Jersey-based Jean Dry­dale was ap­proached by a rep­re­sen­ta­tive from Ger­man pack­age sup­plier Hanse Haus (who had been alerted to her build­ing project by her on­line plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion for a de­mo­li­tion and re­build), it’s per­haps not sur­pris­ing that her first re­ac­tion was one of cau­tion. “It sounded too good to be true,” says Jean, who wanted to visit sim­i­lar prop­er­ties they’d built lo­cally “to see what it was all about”. At the time there were no Hanse Haus homes on Jersey (there are now four on the is­land, in­clud­ing Jean’s). Luck­ily there were sev­eral on the neigh­bour­ing is­land of Guernsey for her to check out.

“Vis­it­ing a house half way through con­struc­tion and see­ing the in­su­la­tion go­ing in was par­tic­u­larly use­ful,” she says. The op­tion of go­ing down the most hands-off of all self-build routes was also at­trac­tive to Jean, who had re­cently been wid­owed.

“My hus­band had died and I needed some­where for my mother and I to live. But as far as self-build went, I didn’t have a clue — I was a bit daunted,” she says. Both mother and daugh­ter were liv­ing in a damp sin­gle block-built 1950s bun­ga­low that had very poor in­su­la­tion. How­ever, the prop­erty was sit­ting on a gen­er­ous ru­ral plot, with echoes of its agri­cul­tural past: even to­day, the gar­den con­tains a huge ap­ple crusher. And Jean did want to stay on the is­land where she’d lived all her life.

Com­mis­sion­ing the House

With the de­ci­sion about her self-build route made, Jean chose to com­mis­sion a lo­cal ar­chi­tect, John Lev­eridge from Axis Ma­son, to de­sign her house and work along­side the Ger­man com­pany. That com­bi­na­tion was to be a win­ning one, as Jean was keen to build in the lo­cal Jersey ver­nac­u­lar. “Also, our by-laws are dif­fer­ent to any in the world, although the plan­ners loved the fact that it is an eco house and the roof is so well-in­su­lated,” she ex­plains.

Jean and a Hanse Haus rep­re­sen­ta­tive took the three-hour flight to Ger­many to

visit the fac­tory and show houses, and to sign the con­tract. “An­other two-day visit to Ger­many al­lowed me to choose all the fix­tures and fit­tings for the house,” says Jean. “I’d done my home­work be­fore­hand and knew that I wanted an oak floor in the liv­ing room, as well as a wood­burn­ing stove [which was sup­plied lo­cally]. I also knew what kind of colour scheme I wanted through­out. It was a busy but very en­joy­able cou­ple of days. The vast ma­jor­ity of prod­ucts that I chose were in­cluded in the pack­age, although there was an op­tion to up­grade to more ex­pen­sive ones.”

rapid progress

April saw the de­mo­li­tion of the old bun­ga­low; ground­works were car­ried out dur­ing the sum­mer. By Novem­ber, the pre­fab­ri­cated house was ready and Jean went to the port at St He­lier to see her home ar­riv­ing by boat. “I could see the five con­tain­ers with my house in­side, and I was just buzzing with an­tic­i­pa­tion. Later that day I was driv­ing from a friend’s house to­wards our build plot and had to stop for a po­lice es­cort on the road. I soon re­alised that the num­bered lor­ries had my house in­side!”

From then on, progress was rapid, even when the is­land was hit by a heavy thun­der­storm on day one. “It was incredible to watch, and so fast,” says Jean. “I left the site mid-morn­ing to go for cof­fee and by the time I came back, two sides of the house had been in­stalled. I had to run to take pho­tos be­fore the whole house was up. By lunchtime I was walk­ing through the front door of my new home.”

Day two saw the ceil­ing cas­settes in­stalled; on day three, the first floor was built and Jean could walk around her bed­room for the first time. “By day five the roof was on and the house was to­tally wa­ter­tight.”

In to­tal, Hanse Haus took nine weeks to fit out the five-bed house, work­ing along­side lo­cal con­trac­tors. Vale Gar­den Houses in­stalled a be­spoke hard­wood orangery and en­trance porch, while lo­cal firm Romer­ils sup­plied the kitchen and an­other Jersey sup­plier, Her­itage Joinery, in­stalled a cus­tom-made oak stair­case. “Hanse Haus pro­vide a great deal of choice, but I chose some items specif­i­cally to en­hance the Vic­to­rian-style ar­chi­tec­ture,” she ex­plains.

“A lo­cal build­ing con­trac­tor, Houze Con­struc­tion, built and fit­ted the six dormer win­dows, slated the roof and fit­ted the gut­ter­ing. Those dormer win­dows are very typ­i­cal of the is­land. The tri­an­gu­lar win­dows are also a very lo­cal ar­chi­tec­tural fea­ture, as is the porch. Peo­ple say that the house looks like it’s been here for­ever.”

En­ergy Ef­fi­ciency

The ex­te­rior of the house may look Vic­to­rian, but in terms of en­ergy ef­fi­ciency it is cut­ting edge. All the walls are fully in­su­lated with thick min­eral fi­bre, which is bonded within the walls to pre­vent sink­ing or slip­page and the as­so­ci­ated risk of ther­mal bridg­ing (weak spots in the build­ing fabric where heat could trans­fer to the ex­te­rior). The walls are also de­signed to be fully load­bear­ing. Hanse Haus ar­chi­tect Bianca Keil ex­plains: “The walls have a stud ev­ery 300mm that are com­pletely glued on both sides with OSB (ori­ented strand board). That makes them load­bear­ing and means that the fix­ing of wall units, in­clud­ing heavy kitchen units, is pos­si­ble ev­ery­where.”

The home boasts sev­eral other eco-friendly fea­tures in­clud­ing an air source heat pump (which runs the un­der­floor heat­ing), triple glaz­ing and a whole house ven­ti­la­tion with heat re­cov­ery sys­tem. The in­ter­nal walls, ceil­ing and roof are all in­su­lated with min­eral wool, while a white Sto ren­der sys­tem is used to in­su­late the ex­ter­nal walls.

It’s also a home free of chem­i­cals. The roof rafters and bat­tens were im­preg­nated with BOR salt to pro­tect the tim­bers against hu­mid­ity; oth­er­wise, no wood preser­va­tive was used and all the ma­te­ri­als are chem­i­cal-free.

“The house re­ally comes into its own in the win­ter,” says Jean. “As Hanse Haus pointed out, I didn’t need a wood­burner, but I chose to have it as a fea­ture. The house is so well in­su­lated and the wood­burner throws out so much heat that I only lit it six times last win­ter. When I moved in, I wasn’t sure what to ex­pect, but the house has a lovely feel to it. Ev­ery room has fresh air and it has the same tem­per­a­ture through­out. And I re­ally en­joy the open plan liv­ing, es­pe­cially the kitchen, liv­ing and din­ing ar­eas where we have the morn­ing and af­ter­noon sun. I have a home for life that I am very proud of.”

The Home­owner Jean Dry­dale The project Tra­di­tional-style self-build Lo­ca­tion Jersey Build time 12 months Con­struc­tion sys­tem SIPs Size 288 m2 Build cost £875,000 Value £600,000+

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