Ger­man in­no­va­tion finds ideal home in York­shire

Rod Kelly used Ger­man in­ge­nu­ity to help him cre­ate the per­fect York­shire home with a dif­fer­ence. Sharon Dale re­ports.

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY -

IT is said that travel broad­ens the mind and af­ter hol­i­day­ing in Ger­many, Rod Kelly’s ar­chi­tec­tural hori­zons were cer­tainly ex­panded.

So when it came to build­ing his own home, he shunned bricks and mor­tar for a pre­fab­ri­cated post and beam house man­u­fac­tured in Ger­many.

The strik­ing be­spoke prop­erty is a mix of Ger­man know-how and York­shire ideas and is an ex­cit­ing new ad­di­tion to the land­scape in the vil­lage of Up­per Cum­ber­worth, Hud­der­s­field.

“We used to go to the Lake Con­stance area of Ger­many and stopped at quite a few dif­fer­ent post and beam houses there. I was re­ally im­pressed with the way they were built and with the amount of nat­u­ral light in­side.

“They just felt great and the space was re­ally well thought out,” says Rod, who al­ready had some self-build ex­pe­ri­ence.

He and wife Mau­reen built a large, tra­di­tional stone prop­erty near Holm­firth and lived there for al­most 30 years.

“The chil­dren had grown up, I got the itch to build again, which is when I started look­ing for land and ideas,” he says.

He found a plot on the site of a re­dun­dant un­der­ground reser­voir owned by York­shire Wa­ter. It was up for auc­tion at £180,000 but bid­ding was in­tense and he paid £250,000 seven years ago. The land also came with per­mis­sion for three houses, but Rod wanted just the one, with a gen­er­ous gar­den and Kirklees Coun­cil agreed it was a good idea.

Even though the pro­posed prop­erty was to­tally dif­fer­ent to its neigh­bours and didn’t fit the ver­nac­u­lar, the coun­cil was keen to push de­sign bound­aries and granted per­mis­sion for the spec­tac­u­lar An­glo/Ger­man ecofriendly home.

“We hired a plan­ning con­sul­tant to put the case for­ward, but Kirklees Coun­cil was re­ally in­ter­ested in the house and very re­cep­tive to some­thing new. In fact, the Build­ing Con­trol depart­ment put us for­ward for sus­tain­abil­ity awards in recog­ni­tion of the high stan­dard of con­struc­tion,” says Rod, who found a Bri­tish agent for a post and beam house man­u­fac­turer in Ger­many and vis­ited the fac­tory where the com­po­nents would be built.

He worked with de­sign­ers there to cre­ate a be­spoke house that suit both his needs and the un­usual site.

The reser­voir was a mas­sive con­crete struc­ture with a vaulted ceil­ing and the Kellys were keen to in­cor­po­rate some of the space by us­ing it to cre­ate a lower ground floor with a sunken pa­tio.

“We had a struc­tural en­gi­neer’s re­port and ev­ery­thing was fine. We also put in a float­ing con­crete pad for the house to sit on,” says Rod, who runs a com­mer­cial heat­ing busi­ness in South York­shire.

With a firm base ready, a team of con­struc­tion work­ers from Ger­many came over with three lor­ries car­ry­ing the pre­fab­ri­cated house that had been made in the fac­tory com­plete with win­dows, in­ter­nal walls with sock­ets, floor­ing and doors.

It took just one week to erect the ba­sic shell topped with a con­crete-tiled roof and neigh­bours watched in amaze­ment at Cum­ber­worth Lodge’s speedy and efficient con­struc­tion.

The prop­erty ap­pears sim­i­lar to the HufHaus, made fa­mous in Bri­tain by Chan­nel 4’s Grand De­signs, but un­like the steel­framed Huf, it uses su­per­strength lay­ers of lam­i­nated tim­ber that won’t shrink or ex­pand. It is also highly in­su­lated and the in­ter­nal walls and ceil­ings pro­vide highly-ef­fec­tive sound proof­ing.

It is built on a grid sys­tem with posts two to three me­tres apart round the build­ing, which means you can eas­ily al­ter the lay­out of the in­ter­nal walls to suit your needs.

When the Ger­man team left, Rod took over and pro­ject man­aged the fit out. He brought in con­trac­tors to plumb, wire and fit the house with lux­ury bath­rooms and an In-Toto kitchen. The mas­ter bed­room suite, which has doors onto a large tri­an­gu­lar bal­cony with views over the sur­round­ing coun­try­side, is five-star ho­tel stan­dard with its own mini bar plus dress­ing room and en-suite.

He also added en­er­gy­gen­er­at­ing fea­tures in­clud­ing a ground source heat pump us­ing two bore holes 100 me­tres deep at a cost of £25,000 and so­lar ther­mal pan­els. The pumps run the un­der-floor heat­ing through­out the house and, to­gether with the so­lar pan­els, sup­ply all the hot wa­ter. The to­tal en­ergy bill for Cum­ber­worth Lodge is just £900. Out­side, Rod pushed the bud­get fur­ther with a gar­den room and garage to match the three-bed­room house, plus out­door light­ing and land­scap­ing.

The cost of the land was £250,000, the ba­sic Ger­man shell was £200,000 and Rod splashed out £380,000 on the fit out, eco ad­di­tions and ex­te­rior.

The pre-fab­ri­cated shell came at a pre­mium. Rod says it was 50 per cent more than tra­di­tional brick and block con­struc­tion, but well worth the ex­tra.

“It’s more ex­pen­sive to build this way, but far less has­sle and very quick, and the at­ten­tion to de­tail that the Ger­mans have is in­cred­i­ble. They con­sider ever as­pect of the build and the qual­ity is sec­ond to none.”

Cum­ber­worth Lodge is now on the mar­ket for £795,000 af­ter Rod and Mau­reen de­cided to down­size. “I spent a lot and I’m prob­a­bly sell­ing it short, but we’re in our 60s and need some­thing half this size,” says Rod. “But I don’t want to leave it be­cause I can’t imag­ine find­ing any­thing else that would give me the same amount of light and feel­ing of space. Other houses seem very dingy by com­par­i­son. This place is so light and that makes you feel so much bet­ter. I hope it will en­cour­age other peo­ple to have a go at build­ing some­thing sim­i­lar. These houses look good and they en­hance your qual­ity of life.” Rod’s Use­ful Con­tacts

Meis­ter­stuck Haus (UK) Tel: 0845 003 1383

Clif­ford Cooper Plumb­ing & Heat­ing. Tel: 01422 372576

Smart Elec­tri­cal & Alarms. Tel: 07702 753136

Velta Un­der­floor Heat­ing. Tel: 01484 860811

In-Toto Kitchens. Tel: 01924 465541

David Rhodes (build­ing works). Tel: 01484 605123

Lapi­cida for stone floor­ing. Tel: 01423 400100

Viess­mann ground source heat pump. Tel: 01952 675000

So­lark­ing UK for so­lar pan­els. Tel: 0800 678 3757

Far­rar Bam­forth Ar­chi­tects. Tel: 01484 424008

Bland & Swift Struc­tural. Tel: 0113 231 0999

Floor & Wall Tiler, Paul Mid­wood. Tel: 07761 323168.

The shell of the house was pre-fab­ri­cated in Ger­many but the fit-out, eco-ad­di­tions and land­scap­ing were done by own­ers Rod and Mau­reen Kelly. Cum­ber­worth Lodge is highly in­su­lated and ground source heat pumps and so­lar pan­els fur­ther slash the en­ergy bills.


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