Inspiration and advice for your building project
Kerrie Daykin and Emile Borgonha turned to a German package supplier for their eco-friendly self-build.
Three years ago, shortly after Kerrie and Emile were married, they shared a dream to build their own house in a quiet countryside location. “I have always lived in the country,” Kerrie says, “and Emile wanted a relaxing retreat from his hectic London job.”
Determined to find the perfect plot, Kerrie looked at over 50 properties and building sites before a local agent pointed her in the direction of a run-down bungalow in Ifold. Surrounded by woodland, the 1.3-acre site came with planning permission for a second home.
It was Kerrie’s parents who came up with a plan of action to bring the couple’s dream within the financial bounds of possibility. “They suggested we modernised the bungalow, sold it off with a third of an acre, and then used the money to build a new house on the remaining acre,” explains Kerrie.
After successfully purchasing the bungalow, Kerrie spotted a magazine advertisement illustrating a chalet-style new house. “It was a stunning A-frame house manufactured by German housebuilder Baufritz, with overhanging roofs and a first floor balcony at one end,” she recalls. “We had been thinking about building a traditional oak frame property, but this house was so unique: a breathtaking contemporary design with outstanding green credentials. It was also important to us that we built a house in harmony with the woodland setting, with large enough windows to make the outside integrate with the inside in one seamless flow, and this fitted the bill perfectly.”
And so on completion of the bungalow sale, the couple engaged Baufritz to create the perfect design for the site. “They positioned the house to make best use of the sunlight,” says Kerrie. This southernmost orientation is complemented by the house’s most striking feature, the overhanging roof. It was designed to protect the interiors from overheating through the plentiful composite tilt and turn windows in summer, while still allowing the low winter sun to penetrate the open plan interiors.
Obtaining planning permission was relatively easy. “The local authority was happy because it was one of the first eco-friendly houses in the area, with solar panels, an air-source heat pump and a woodburning stove,” Kerrie continues. The house is also highly insulated and was constructed using natural building materials.
Problems with their first groundworker coupled with a change in the exchange rate – a strong Euro pushed the price of the house up by 10 per cent – hit the couple hard. It was a huge blow and it took sheer determination and vision to keep on track: “There was a low point when we looked at other options but I am so glad we ploughed on,” says Kerrie. “Nothing compares to the quality of this house, which has so much energy and light. It was worth every penny and every fraught moment. We’re glad we stayed positive.