Jayne and Ian couldn’t believe their luck when a cold, damp bungalow surrounded by towering leylandii came up for sale. “The bungalow was very ordinary but the location was absolutely fantastic,” says Jayne. “We had always wanted to build our own house so we took a huge risk and bought it, not knowing whether we would get planning permission.”
The 1960s bungalow was set low in a hillside garden with stunning views across miles of National Park land. “It wasn’t somewhere you could develop and make a lot of money on, but we didn’t want it to make a profit. This was to be our home and we knew we would never find another location quite like it,” says Jayne. Yet before committing to the sale, she took one fortuitous precautionary measure.
“I emailed the planning authority to find out whether we could turn the existing windows into one big wall of glass, because that would be the key element of anything we did.” Fortunately, the fact that there was already a lot of glazing on the southern aspect went in their favour and before long Ian and Jayne, both dentists, had moved into the bungalow.
Although they realised they wouldn’t be able to knock down the bungalow and start again, they had already started to plan a major remodel of the property which would focus on the glorious view. Their preparation, research and willingness to work with the National Park Authority paid off and the plans were passed first time.
A number of eco aspects were built into the design, including the use of reclaimed materials, photovoltaic solar panels, argon-filled windows, high insulation and a double-sided woodburning stove with a back boiler. The stove provides most of the heating for the house, including masses of hot water which, in turn, supplies the underfloor heating.
The layout of the interior changed beyond all recognition as the bungalow was virtually dismantled and rebuilt. The main aim was to exchange smaller rooms for large open living areas and conventional windows for a wall of glass. “We wanted a sociable, flexible house in which all the rooms were used, and where the outside was as much a part of our lifestyle as the inside,” says Jayne. “The views here are amazing, and the house takes second place to outside.”
Although the cost of the build was ultimately more than double their original estimate, Ian and Jayne have no regrets. “We are in it for the long term and wanted to get everything right from the outset,” says Jayne. “It would have been easier if we had been allowed to knock down the old building and start again, and we wouldn’t have had to pay VAT, but it would have set a precedent for the rest of the National Park. As it turned out we have a house which fulfils everything we wanted. I wake up in the morning and have to pinch myself to make sure it’s real.”