Little would Mary have known that the house she lived in from the age of 2 months would eventually be the plot on which she, along with husband Chris, built their award winning dream home.
Mary moved to the family home in 1947 as a 2 month old baby and continued to live there for many years with her family. However, she wasn’t always in the local area. Having met and married Chris, they decided to emigrate to Canada. They remained there for a year but subsequently decided to return to England.
They purchased a home just a short distance away from Mary’s parents. They made major changes to this home, demolishing 1/4 of the house and re-building it and later adding a large garage. Seven years later they again moved locally and purchased a significant Victorian home in ‘very original’ condition. They undertook a massive renovation, extending both the front and the rear of the property and built a four garage block in the grounds.
Chris carried out most of the works at the first house and a significant amount on the second. He also built the second half of the garages by himself. The end result was a wonderful family home set within 1 1/2 acres which Mary, Chris and their two children loved and enjoyed for 28 years.
Mary’s parents decided to move from the home in 2006 and so, when the opportunity to develop and build a retirement home presented itself on Mary’s childhood plot, they jumped at the chance and moved in during November 2006.
The dwelling to be demolished was one half of a pair of semi-detached bungalows. Co-incidentally, an approved Scandia-Hus contractor owned the other half. It was an ambitious plan to build a new bungalow and create two detached properties but something that Chris felt confident could be achieved.
Chris and Mary selected Scandia-Hus due to their proven energy efficiency, low carbon footprint and high comfort levels. They liked the style of the standard Chiddingstone chalet but wanted to make various changes to achieve the home they wanted, including creating large vaulted ceilings to optimize the space and re-creating a little more of the spacious home they had moved from. The internal layout was radically changed to accommodate their requirements. They also wanted to make allowances for the future and included large roof areas which could be used to create extra rooms should the need arise.
The desire for low running costs stimulated their commitment to incorporate as many sustainable elements as were available and practical. Chris has a background in engineering and this knowledge proved invaluable in understanding exactly what they wanted and how to best achieve it.
The application was submitted to their local Council, with Scandia-Hus handling the entire planning interface. The plans initially included an underground garage and plant room. However, the planner required these to be amended and after suggesting the garage be built above ground adjacent and at a slight angle to the bungalow, permission this was given. All this was done within the 8 week application period and resulted in approval being granted the first time.
Throughout the entire planning process, the council was supportive of the project and worked with Scandia-Hus to consent the initial application with the garage modification. Work commenced in mid April of 2007. Due to the ridge height maintenance, a huge amount of soil had to be removed before the shell could be erected. This also involved the removal of an Anderson shelter. Essential to the success of the project was the underpinning of the neighboring attached property prior to the demolition of the existing bungalow.
Chris and Mary had made the decision from the outset to only use trades which had been recommended, either by Scandia-Hus or people they knew. Chris is confident that this decision helped to ensure the project ran as smoothly as was possible.
Chris managed the project himself, assisted throughout by Scandia-Hus. Both Chris and Mary are delighted with the knowledge and expertise of Gavin Pearson, project manager at Scandia-Hus. They felt the level of support, experience and helpfulness he provided was influential in their ability to move into their new home ahead of the proposed finish date.
Equally important, Chris and Mary remained organized throughout the build and their no-nonsense approach and calm attitude, coupled with Chris’s technical background resulted in an ambitious build programme being successfully completed. The result is a beautiful retirement home set in a stunning Sussex location. A striking high vaulted dining hall greets you as you enter the home. The modern kitchen has been carefully thought out and the high vaulted living room provides the perfect area for relaxation. A large sun room leads off from the living area which benefits from the beautiful views of the Sussex countryside. The bedrooms and bathrooms all provide large, comfortable accommodation and have been finished to a high standard.
The success of the sustainable elements speaks for themselves with Chris and Mary’s home winning the LABC Sussex Best Sustainability Innovation Built In Quality Award. Short listed and pitched against specialist eco-developers and architects, this regional award is confirmation of the high quality products Chris and Mary included in the project.
Highly efficient solar panels were selected for water heating when appropriate, winter hot water and accommodation heating is achieved with a ground sourced heat pump supplying underfloor heating throughout. The system also provides passive cooling on the rare occasions the British climate dictates! ISO energy supplied and advised on the installation of 400m of collective pipe-work laid in the adjacent south facing paddock in 200m of trenching.
The Villavent heat recovery unit, which was supplied as part of his Scandia-Hus kit, enables heat to be recovered from exhausting stale air to heat the incoming filtered fresh air.
With growing water costs, Chris and Mary also installed a 5,000 litre water trap at the same time as the Bio-Disc effluent treatment unit.
Chris and Mary are delighted. Their ambitious dream of creating a versatile, sustainable property has resulted in an award winning, beautiful retirement home on the site where Mary spent her childhood. Although many hours of hard work went into it, they now feel ready to sit back and enjoy the benefits of their labour.