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Case Studies

Contemporary Timber Frame Home

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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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Timber Frame Home, Ventnor

Background:

  • This house, located in Ventnor on the Isle of Wight, was project managed and designed by Arid Design to a particular brief provided by the homeowner. The in-house team at Arid developed the design 'hand-in-hand' with the homeowner to ensure it met with his aspirations.
  • Although the homeowner worked away on business for a certain amount of the delivery process (while sub-contractors carried out construction), he became fully involved in the project by site managing where possible, helping install studwork partitioning and taking responsibility for the external landscaping.
  • The design of the house had to work within the constraints of a previous planning approval in terms of size and height. The approved two-storey dwelling was built on the site of a bungalow that was demolished due to structural failure.

Delivery:

  • The homeowner purchased the site with planning permission; the plot was one of two that had gained permission to replace a bungalow that had been demolished due to structural failure. The plots were sold off and developed separately. Arid Design was brought in at this stage by the homeowner to re-design the building to his requirements whilst maintaining the same footprint and overall height of the approved scheme. This process was relatively difficult as the first floor was contained within the pitched roof with a 'chalet bungalow' style appearance to match in with the street scene. There was a need to achieve quality-sized bedrooms with en-suites and a master suite with an oak frame structure and balcony.
  • The building has relatively complicated foundations due to the existing ground conditions which precluded standard concrete strip foundations and piling. The final engineered solution saw mass concrete pads which averaged three metres deep with reinforced concrete ground beams. Although the site had a detail stability survey based on trial holes and a design-in-principal prior to purchase, the actual conditions experienced were significantly different and the design had to be altered.
  • The house was principally supplied and installed by Sydenhams using a timber frame system, however the' master suite wing' was formed with a 'cut roof' over oak trusses and purlins, this - coupled with a glazed gable leading to an external balcony - made for a complicated 'hybrid' design that needed a high level of detailing and co-ordination with Arid. Due to the large open plan areas on the ground floor and large external openings, it was also necessary for the timber frame design to include elements of concealed steelwork.
  • The house has a brick plinth with K Rend self-finished render up to eaves level, the gables and dormers are finished with HardiPlank boarding.
  • The natural slate roof has in-line ventilators for extractors and vent pipes to keep its clean lines.
  • The windows and doors were an important component of the design, they were purpose-made locally in oak.
  • The home from the outside is relatively traditional but the opposite can be said for the internal areas. The house benefits from four bedrooms (two en-suite), a study, living room, family room/kitchen, utility room, WC and bathroom. A large open-plan kitchen/family room leads directly to the garden, and access to the living room is via a 1.5 metre sliding glass door which slides into the wall allowing this area to merge into the open-plan area without doors to obstruct movement.
  • The staircase has movement-activated LED lights in the stair string so even if you can't find the switch you still have light on the stairs.
  • The master bedroom suite has an oak structure with visible oak trusses and purlins, coupled with the fully-glazed gable with oak bi-fold doors that fully open to give access to the balcony.
  • The building was designed to the latest building regulations including its thermal performance, a rainwater harvesting tank was installed to allow the occupiers to water their gardens with collected water.
  • All normal services - including electricity, gas, water and telecommunications - were installed within the building.

Finance:

  • The homeowner paid approximately £140,000 for the land.
  • Total build costs (including professional fees) came to approximately £260,000 (excluding VAT).
  • The house covers an area of 220m2, giving a build cost of £1,182 per m2.

Timescale:

  • March 2013 - Plot purchased
  • July 2013 - Planning approved
  • October 2013 - Work commences on site
  • November 2013 - Foundations completed
  • December 2013 - Timber frame erection commences
  • March 2014 - Roof, external masonry and windows completed
  • April 2014 - First-fix* internal joinery completed
  • May 2014 - First-fix* plumbing and electrics completed
  • August 2014 - Second-fix** joinery, plumbing and electrics completed
  • August 2014 - Decoration completed
  • August 2014 - External works completed
  • August 2014 - NHBC Solo (a comprehensive home warranty for people who are building their own home which provides ten years' protection for self builders and subsequent purchasers) signed off

*First fix usually comprises all the work needed to take a building from foundation to putting plaster on the internal walls. This includes constructing walls, floors and ceilings, and inserting cables for electrical supply and pipes for water supply.

**Second fix usually comprises all the work after the plastering to a finished house. Electrical fixtures are connected to the cables, sinks and baths connected to the pipes, and doors fitted into doorframes.

Learning Points:

  • When purchasing a plot, do so with as much knowledge about the site as possible, the owner of this home was very diligent on this project, however the actual ground encountered by the project management team was significantly worse than the ground report that was provided by the vendors resulting in an additional £20,000 in foundation costs.
  • With many self build projects, purchasers will be reliant on 'stage releases' from the mortgage companies. With this project, the 'stage release' stages were based on a traditional build and not timber frame. This caused significant issues, as the sequence of build, due to the envelope being dry much sooner than traditional build, meant funds were not being released in the right order. This left periods when the homeowner had to find interim funding from other sources; for some people this may not be an option available.
  • With new build projects, self builders need to ensure they allow enough funding to cover the VAT as this usually will not be claimed back until the end of the project, which could leave a significant hole in your finances - usually during the finishing stages. Plan ahead and make sure this has been allowed for.
  • Ideally, when you are considering start dates for your self build project, try to maximise the May - October months for your groundworks and to get your building to a position that it is in the dry. This was not possible on this project due to other factors which meant the timber frame was being erected in December and January (this period in 2013 was a very wet one!). Building during these months might often extend the build programme and increase costs.
  • On this project, the design and project management team worked very closely with the homeowner to ensure decisions were made on kitchens, bathrooms, electrical/media requirements and the like as early as possible. By doing this, very competitive quotes were able to be obtained to ensure that works were not held up on site. This is an area which can have massive implications on cost and timeframes so get it agreed as soon as possible.

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