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News

Protection from flooding

The BRE has launced an innovative prototype home to help homeowners mitigate the risk of flood damage 

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East Kingskerswell development plans

Plans for new development in East Kingskerswell, Teignbridge, include allowances for self and custom build

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Could self build costs increase?

A new report from the FMB highlights a surge in the cost of materials since the referendum

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Custom build in East Staffordshire

New custom build development to launch in Burton upon Trent

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Planning overhaul in Scotland

Plans for major changes to Scotland's planning system have been unveiled

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Case Studies

Contemporary Timber Frame Home

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Passivhaus Family Farmhouse

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Steel Farm

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Merlin Haven

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Timber Frame Home, Ventnor

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Aldcliffe Yard, Lancaster

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Walthamstow Social Rent Scheme

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Prefabricated Passivhaus bungalow

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Cookham Dean, Berkshire

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Harvest House

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Bickleigh Eco Village, Devon

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Stoke-on-Trent Serviced Building Plots

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Forevergreen House

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Housing People Building Communities

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Sülzer Freunde, Cologne

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Berlin - 'Building Groups'

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Manor Farm, Kirton

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Straw-baling, Perthshire

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Findhorn

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Almere, Holland

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Hockerton

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Top tips

Custom Build Serviced Plots Loan Fund

Custom Build Serviced Plots Loan Fund Read more

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Merlin Haven

Background:

  • This three-storey detached home in Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire, was built for a retiring couple.
  • The homeowners were related to their architect and asked him to design a home for them.
  • The homeowners were comprehensively involved in the initial design process with a clear brief of what they wanted - however a main contractor did the majority of the build.
  • It was always an aspiration of the homeowners to build their own home and they were keen get their son-in-law involved.
  • The four-bedroom home has a double height space and is orientated to take advantage of the view across the Cotswolds.

Delivery:

  • The architect, 3bd, was instructed to take on the main design role and secured planning permission with no major issues.
  • Sylva Group provided the timber frame and project management expertise with a main contractor - R Williams Building & Ground Works Ltd - undertaking the building process.
  • The four-bedroom three-storey home sits on a 190m2 plot.
  • The construction consists of a concrete cast in-situ basement slab set into the side of the hill, with an advanced, closed panel timber frame above, finished in Cedar cladding.
  • The home incorporates a basement that is hidden from the front but has access to the rear garden given the steeply sloping nature of the site.
  • The homeowners wanted a living space designed with an open-plan feel throughout the ground floor, linked to three bedrooms and study space above by a double-height space which is glazed to take full advantage of the Cotswold views.
  • The timber frame is a version of Sylva's high-end 'Ever Green' system, incorporating thermally decoupled studs filled with Hemcrete and hemp fibre insulation. Roof rafters were fully filled with insulation and a final layer of insulation was installed under them providing a substantial level of thermal performance.
  • There is underfloor heating and a whole house Mechanical Ventilation Heat Recovery System (MVHR) to take advantage of the fabric first approach.
  • The interior was fitted out by the main contractor and is finished with glass balustrading, wooden floors, plus a modern kitchen and bathrooms, as well as a feature staircase.

Finance:

  • Build costs came to approximately £300,000.
  • The house has a build cost of £1,579 per m2.

Timescale:

  • April 2013 - Site clearance and construction starts
  • July 2013 - Work on internal fit-out starts
  • November 2013 - Home completed

Learning Points:

  • Having a friend or relation who is employed in the construction sector can be extremely helpful. They can offer advice or even get fully involved in helping you design and/or build your own home. 
  • The cantilever to the front required both steel and timber beams, so careful detailing was needed to stop thermal/cold bridges (breaks in the fabric layer of a building) which might compromise the high thermal performance.
  • In this case, the main contractor didn't have a great deal of experience in construction of basements/timber frames but it enlisted a number of trusted sub-contractors to work on these areas - and Sylva liaised effectively between them. However, self builders managing a similar project themselves should take care to ensure that sub-contractors are talking to each other and the self builder needs to sit in the middle of any decision making.

Related Links:

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