Made in Germany, delivered to your plot in Yorkshire
This eco-friendly home was made in Germany and erected on its Yorkshire plot in just under four days. The result Sharon Dale reports.
FANS of Grand Designs will know that building your own home is often stressful and fraught with uncertainty.
The weather can cause delays, tradesmen can let you down and budgets spiral out of control as you tackle unforseen problems.
Having constructed a traditional bricks and mortar house, Stephen and Fiona Verrill were keen to find an alternative when they came to tackle a second selfbuild.
“We built our own house 20 years ago, but with this property we wanted to try something different and most of all we wanted to try and cut down on heating bills,” says Stephen.
His solution now stands on a plot in Bishop Monkton, near Ripon. It took just under four days to erect.
A team of German builders arrived on Tuesday last week along with a lorry carrying the property that had been prefabricated in the Meisterstueck Haus factory in Hamlin.
There was a slight hiccup when the lorry proved too big for Stephen’s drive, but within a few hours the German team, had organised a smaller wagon to transfer the component parts to site.
These included the floor, the non-porous roof and the insulated and clad external and internal walls fully-fitted with windows and a front door along with ducting for electrics and plumbing and pre-drilled sockets.
These were put together and the exterior given a final coat of render to create an air and water tight shell that is now ready for its first fix of plumbing and electrics.
To say Stephen is pleased with his new home is an understatement. He’s overwhelmed and struggling to find enough superlatives to describe it.
“It’s amazing. I can’t tell you how delighted I am. The attention to detail is phenomenal.
“Plus they are so organised and efficient. Even when the lorry couldn’t get to us they sorted it out immediately. As for the builders, they wouldn’t even let us make them a cup of tea. ‘There is no time for tea,’ they said. ‘We are here to work’ and they did from 6.30am to 8pm every day, non-stop.”
The cost to design, make and erect the four-bedroom, twobathroom eco-friendly house shell complete with balcony off the master bedroom was £120,000. The concrete base slab, which Stephen installed cost £10,000.
As adept Diyers, the Verill’s are planning to do most of the interior fit-out themselves from plumbing and wiring to kitchen fitting and skimming the Fermacell plasterboard.
This should cost between £40,000 and £60,000 bringing the whole project in at between £170,000 and £190,000.
“It’s not that much cheaper to build this way. I had a price from a conventional builder for £230,000, but it is an incredibly efficient way of building.
“On a conventional build, you have builders sit in their van because it’s raining, they go off on other jobs and then they tell you it’s going to take another three weeks and it’s going to cost you more.
“There is none of that when you buy a pre-manufactured house. You get the house on a fixed day and for a fixed price.”
The quality control is also second to none, thanks to the off-site manufacturing.
“The Germans are perfectionists and that shows,” says motor engineer Stephen, whose Anglo/ German build started with a trip to a property exhibition.
“I saw the Meisterstueck stand but I was very cautious and went out to Germany to look at the factory and check them out. I’ve got to say I was impressed.”
The company, which now has an office in Oxfordshire, offers a bespoke option but also has a number of set designs on its books.
They are all made from sustainable timber with high levels of insulation and can be clad in different materials to suit local planning requirements, which in the Verrill’s case was crucial.
Planning permission to create two more houses on the family’s farmstead was hard-won and took 12 years.
Though the planning officer was enthusiastic about this energy efficient property, a number of villagers weren’t, even though they have been spared months of noisy, messy construction work.
“It’s far less messy than a conventional build. There are no cement mixers, security fences or equipment.
“No buying building materials. Everything is done in the factory.
“That’s another huge advantage.
“On a normal build you are faced with endless questions about where to put everything from light switches to sockets. With this, we went through all that on the plans,” says Stephen.
The factory conditions also ensure maximum air tightness. The hardwood windows are triple glazed and the front door, says Stephen, is “like opening a safe. It’s that solid.”
Heating costs are expected to be minimal especially as Stephen isn’t installing central heating or a boiler.
Instead he is relying on a wood burning stove and an electric water heater.
“I don’t think we’ll need heating as it is so air tight but if we do, the house is all set up to take one.”
Lesley Gross, of Meisterstueck Haus, says: “That’s one of the great benefits. The house has fantastic u values which means it needs minimal heating. Resale values are equivalent or better than a conventionally-built house because our homes are lowenergy and cost very little to run.”
Meisterstueck has built six houses in Britain over the last two years, some are timber-framed like the Verril’s and others are post and beam with large areas of glazing, similar to the Huf Haus seen on Grand Designs. A timber framed property starts at £120,000 for a shell and a post and beam from £233,000. A fit out can be arranged from £60,000.
The Verrills are already considering putting another Meisterstueck house on the farmstead, which belonged to Stephen’s late parents.
“My father started trying to get planning permission and we carried on with the application after he passed away. My mother died just after we got the okay. I wondered whether to go ahead at all but I did because it was something I wanted to do for them,” he says.
“I think they’d be really pleased with what we’ve achieved. It’s exciting and different and a real credit to everyone involved.”
Stephen and Fiona Verrill’s pre-fabricated house made in Germany. Bottom left to right: Meisterstueck-haus also manufacture post and beam houses with large areas of glazing. Stephen and Fiona’s house being loaded onto the lorry – which turned out to be too big for their drive.