Re­tir­ing in style with self-built green home

Deb­bie Jef­frey re­ports on a strik­ing mod­ern de­sign that makes use of tra­di­tional ma­te­ri­als and the lat­est tech­niques to save en­ergy, which has be­come a lo­cal land­mark.

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY -

ON a hill­top, over­look­ing the small mar­ket town of Penis­ton stands an ad­di­tion to the land­scape that has caused quite a stir.

With very lit­tle mod­ern ar­chi­tec­ture in the area, passersby of­ten stop to gape at Roger and Linda Brown’s house.

Its walls may be of tra­di­tional lo­cal stone, but the prop­erty also boasts ver­ti­cal red cedar cladding, grey alu­minium-framed win­dows and a curved “liv­ing” roof topped with colour­ful se­dum.

It is a prop­erty that spans three gen­er­a­tions: self-built by the Browns as a home for their re­tire­ment, it was de­signed by the cou­ple’s ar­chi­tect son, Andrew, and built on the one-acre site of a 1940s’ bun­ga­low which pre­vi­ously be­longed to Roger’s fa­ther, who lived there for 45 years.

“I also lived there my­self un­til I mar­ried,” ex­plains Roger, now 62, “and when I in­her­ited the bun­ga­low we de­cided to ex­tend and ren­o­vate the prop­erty for our own re­tire­ment. ”

How­ever, fail­ing foun­da­tions meant that de­mo­li­tion was in­evitable and the pro­ject be­came a new build in­stead. The re­place­ment house was gen­er­ated from the foot­print of the orig­i­nal bun­ga­low with the ad­di­tion of side and first floor ex­ten­sions.

A sweep­ing dou­ble-curved roof knits to­gether these var­i­ous el­e­ments.

“We asked Andrew to come up with a de­sign and, other than list­ing the rooms we wanted, gave him a free hand,” says Linda.

“The site is on the edge of a Con­ser­va­tion Area, and we were con­cerned that the plan­ners might not ap­prove a mod­ern house, but they were very open to the idea.”

One of the only changes that plan­ners made to Andrew’s orig­i­nal de­sign in­volved us­ing lo­cally-quar­ried York­shire stone in­stead of the pro­posed whiteren­dered block­work.

This in­evitably im­pacted on the fi­nal bud­get,par­tic­u­larly as the stone slabs, which form the outer leaf of the house, are of fine pol­ished ash­lar.

A gen­er­ous in­su­lated cav­ity and an in­ner skin of dense con­crete block­work com­plete the ex­tremely thick ex­ter­nal walls, and their high ther­mal mass helps to reg­u­late the tem­per­a­ture of the rooms.

In­ter­nally, the lay­out has been in­verted so that the three bed­rooms are on the ground floor with the main liv­ing space up­stairs — tak­ing full ad­van­tage of the views The liv­ing space also gives ac­cess

to a decked south-fac­ing ter­race above the garage.

The open plan lay­out show­cases the roof struc­ture with its ex­posed glu­lam beams, and per­mits views down into the dou­ble­height kitchen/diner from the first floor study space, be­hind which a del­i­cately sus­pended oak and sy­camore stair­case rises up to form the cen­tre­piece of the house.

“I knew from the start that this would be a hands-on pro­ject, ” says Roger, an en­gi­neer by trade. Helped by Linda and sev­eral good friends, he was re­spon­si­ble for vir­tu­ally ev­ery as­pect of the build — from pour­ing the foun­da­tions to lay­ing the se­dum on the roof.

The cou­ple lived in a car­a­van on site for the two-year build pro­gramme, which cost £175,000. The land was worth £150,000, which brought the to­tal build cost to £325,000.

De­mol­ish­ing his fa­ther’s old bun­ga­low proved to be an un­com­fort­able process for Roger, but with the rub­ble carted away and new stan­dard strip foun­da­tions in place, the build­ing work be­gan in earnest.

Once the sub­stan­tial block­work and stone walls had been con­structed, the 9.5-me­tre­long glu­lam beams for the roof struc­ture were craned into po­si­tion.

“One of the most dif­fi­cult jobs was lay­ing the se­dum, be­cause the roof is such an un­usual an­gle and it was ex­tremely windy in Fe­bru­ary, ” re­calls Roger, “but the colours are in­cred­i­ble — a mix­ture of green, yel­low and pink hues which tie the house into the land­scape. ”

The house also boasts a rain­wa­ter re­cy­cling sys­tem and the dou­ble curve of the su­perin­su­lated roof falls away to the north el­e­va­tion – re­duc­ing heat loss to the cold face and open­ing out the south­ern el­e­va­tion to

make the most of so­lar gain – and the south-fac­ing glaz­ing is shaded from high-sum­mer sun by a large over­hang of translu­cent sheet, which also cre­ates an all-weather out­side area on the up­per ter­race.

High lev­els of in­su­la­tion and ther­mal mass, com­bined with a heat re­cov­ery ven­ti­la­tion sys­tem and an air­tight fab­ric, help to com­bat ris­ing fuel bills.

In fact, the house has proved so easy to keep warm that the cou­ple have only needed to turn on their un­der­floor heat­ing once since mov­ing in, and also have a pre-heat hot-wa­ter sys­tem de­signed to min­imise wa­ter wastage.

The cou­ple chose lo­callysourced oak floors, doors and mould­ings with Euro­pean white­wood roof beams and red cedar ex­ter­nal cladding from sus­tain­able forests.

Build­ing an eco-friendly house hasn’t pre­vented the cou­ple from adding some fun and friv­o­lous touches, how­ever. For 20 years they ran their own busi­ness mak­ing cop­per lights for gar­dens, and light­ing in­evitably plays an im­por­tant role in the over­all de­sign of their new home. Strips of blue LEDs il­lu­mi­nate the oak and sy­camore treads of the fea­ture stair­case, with red LED lights po­si­tioned be­hind an opaque acrylic sheet be­neath the oak break­fast bar in the kitchen.

“Build­ing this house has been a once-in-a-life­time ad­ven­ture,” says Linda, “and a self-build pro­ject was the per­fect way to ease us into re­tire­ment. We’ve both de­vel­oped mus­cles from so much hard phys­i­cal labour,but now that the house is fin­ished we’re def­i­nitely plan­ning to have a much more re­laxed pace of life. ”

Ar­chi­tect Andrew Brown, De­sign Space Ar­chi­tects: 01937 558213

Un­der-floor heat­ing Nu-Heat: 0800 731 1976

Glu­lam roof beams Lamisell: 01409 220333

Alu­minium win­dows AM Pro­files: 01246 856000

Se­dum roof Ever­green Roof Gar­dens: 01903 600122

Ash­lar stone John­sons Well­field Quar­ries: 01484 652311

Fold­ing slid­ing doors Fold­ing Slid­ing Door Co: 0845 644 6630 V

Struc­tural en­gi­neers Richard Rhodes & Part­ners: 0161 427 8388

Electrics JMS Elec­tri­cal: 01226 763628.

Roger and Linda Brown, right, built High­field as their re­tire­ment home, in place of a 1940s’ bun­ga­low that once be­longed to Roger’s fa­ther. A lo­cal York­shire stone has been used for the main body of the build­ing, while the en­ergy-sav­ing fea­tures in­clude a colour­ful se­dum roof and a heat-re­cov­ery ven­ti­la­tion sys­tem.


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