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.
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.