Mr & Mrs Searles spotted an opportunity to build their dream home when they bought a property and land in their village in July 2005. The couple had lived in the village for 30 years when the owner of the property passed away and, as a consequence, they were able to buy the property and the surrounding land.
There were big restrictions regarding the planning regulations for the plot as, although it had been part of the village for hundreds of years, it was outside the village framework and deemed to be in the countryside with restrictions to limit new building. If permission to do anything were to be granted, it would be to build a replacement house with a maximum size increase of 15%. The Searles knew they wanted a timber-frame house and decided on Scandia-Hus. Having looked through the standard designs, they decided they liked the style of the Courtfield but, as that was too large, they went for a chalet bungalow based on the Halland. Scandia-Hus drew up plans together with the Searles for a bespoke design to meet their requirements.
These plans were first submitted for an informal consultation in February 2006 but they were told they would not be approved as the building was too large. Scandia-Hus modified the plans accordingly and they were submitted for approval. They went to full committee with the planning department and committee coming to do a site visit. The planning committee rejected the application as they wanted a design more in keeping with the countryside location.
Mr & Mrs Searles then appointed a local architect to come up with a design sympathetic to the local vernacular with dual aspect windows throughout and a partial basement for storage. The final design met with the Searles’ wishes and finally, the plans were approved under delegated powers and building could commence.
They took the decision to move onto the site in April 2006 and submitted the final plans in late 2006. They moved in April 2008, having spent 2 years living in the existing house.
The house was to be built with their retirement in mind. They had extended houses previously but this was the first time they had ever self-built and the first time they lived in a brand new house. They were used to living in older houses and they wanted the new home to have a traditional feel. The build wasn’t without a long list of planning issues – houses had been on the site since at least the 1820s and until 1920 it consisted of 2 separate plots. In the late 1920s the only remaining cottage was knocked down and a brick house was built on the corner of the plot. The owners of that house lived in it for 70 years and the owner remained there until he died at the age of 97.
Firstly the basement needed to be dug out – not an easy task with water and clay being an issue. They opted for a concrete basement with a timber frame on top. At this point, seeing the potential size of a full basement, they changed their mind and re-submitted plans for a full basement for which they received planning approval within a week.
The plot had become seriously overgrown and you could not even reach the boundaries due to the amount of rubbish and dead trees on site. Work began by excavating the site which took 2 weeks, a further 3 weeks were taken to create the basement shell and a further 2 weeks to complete the concrete basement structure. In doing so, 150 lorry loads taken from the basement hole were used to level off the plot.
Possibly the most amount of time was spent turning the finished Timber Frame design into something totally in keeping with the East Anglian landscape.
A mix of finishing was used – trowelled finish render, brick and boarding. The bricks were selected to match the buff style frequently used in East Anglia. The roof used a mixture of colours to create a Huntingdon mix to blend in better – these were made in Turkey. The bricks were from Belgium.
This new home is a very appealing advert for modern construction methods, not only stylish and elegant but highly sustainable. The timber-frame structure demonstrates very high thermal performance and coupled with triple-glazed windows and a mechanical ventilation heat recovery system means the finished building is extremely energy efficient. The well-insulated pre-cast basement makes the footprint area even more efficient.
The end result is a stunning traditional style with hidden depths. The building control department were so impressed with the end product that they nominated it for an award.
The success of the sympathetic design speaks for itself with Mr & Mrs Searles’ home winning the LABC East Anglia Best Individual House Award.
The couple are delighted with their new home and very proud of what they have achieved.