Roger and Anna-Stina Ponsford’s new timber frame eco home may be compact, but it’s thoroughly energy efficient and took just five months to build.

At less than 14m wide, Roger and Anna-Stina’s plot of land may be relatively small, but the house they have built on it makes excellent use of the available space, not to mention it’s extremely sustainable, too. But this isn’t the couple’s first build project, and when they decided that they wanted to build again they didn’t have far to look.

“We’d self-built our previous house in an orchard back in 1976,” explains Roger, a qualified quantity surveyor who was importing timber frame houses from Sweden at the time. “We enjoyed living there for more than 30 years and had no plans to ever build again,” Roger continues, “but as we grew older our thoughts turned to downsizing both the house and garden, and the ideal solution was to build something on our own land and just move next door.”

The Project

  • Name: Roger and Anna-Stina Ponsford
  • Build cost: £225,000 (£1,940/m²)
  • Build time: 5 months
  • Location: Surrey

Externally the Ponsfords wanted to mirror the appearance of their old house, which has a distinctive Swedish appeal in a road where Edwardian terraced cottages prevail. Weatherboarding, a steeply pitched roof covered in pantiles and a painted timber balcony were inspired by the predecessor, but the new house has a far more contemporary feel.

Obtaining planning permission this time around did, however, prove difficult. It took Roger almost three years and extensive negotiation before his application was approved, helped by the support of a local councillor on the planning committee.

Roger had worked in Sweden for almost 10 years prior, advising companies on how they could build in more sustainable ways, and both he and Anna-Stina were determined to place a strong emphasis on low carbon emissions for their new house. They minimised the amount of concrete in the foundations and insulated the whole building envelope so that the house’s heating requirement is now slightly under 2kW. The couple specified Swedish timber triple-glazed windows, as well as an air-to-water heat pump with a heat exchanger to ventilate the house efficiently. “Apart from being a smaller house the carbon emissions are around 0.4 tons per year, when the average is usually five tons annually,” explains Roger.

The build took less than five months to complete, with Roger keeping a close eye on every stage and employing individual trades. The couple’s careful attention to detail ensured that their budget also remained on track, with a final build cost of £225,000 — just £5,000 over the original projection. Future running costs for the house are set to be extremely low, meaning the couple have successfully achieved their goal for a low-maintenance, energy-efficient home designed for two.

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