When David and Anne Walker decided to relocate they were only really certain about two things: that they wanted to downsize, and to also enjoy some of the best views that the Wester Ross coastline has to offer. The Ayrshire couple’s third – and final, insists David – self build project ‘Mayar Bhan’ undoubtedly succeeds on the all-important size and views front, yet it is so much more besides.
In fact, the Walkers’ new, three bedroom, one-and-a- half storey house is an exemplary eco home into the bargain, boasting such features as mainframe post and beam construction and timber cladding using locally sourced and chemically untreated timber.
The main consideration for the couple once they had bought the acre site was to build a house that would take full advantage of the wonderful views across Gruinard Bay. And in order to capture the views, David was convinced that they would probably have to go down the bespoke design route. “This is our third self build house,” David explains. “The first two were kit houses, but the thing about a standard kit house is that you can’t have a lot of windows — there isn’t a lot of open space in kit construction. So, we decided to speak to some architects.”
One of these architects was Inverness based Neil Sutherland, who was forging a formidable reputation in northern Scotland. “When we phoned Neil to describe what we wanted, we explained that we didn’t want a hall, or a separate dining room,” David reflects.
And this is what the Walkers got. In addition, they also got a house orientated to capture the coastal views lying to the north of the site. In design terms the couple also enjoy an open plan living, kitchen and dining area on ground level; a fully glazed south-facing double-height entrance wing, harbouring a cosy en suite bedroom for Anne’s mother; and two en suite bedrooms located on the upper level, featuring full-height windows framing the views, and private balconies.
The construction process wasn’t without its difficulties. “When we came to installing the sewage system, we realised that the substructure was clay so this meant that we couldn’t put a soakaway in. So we had to put in this mound sewage system,” explains David.
The main element of the construction process which caused David most concern was the lack of supervision he was able to exercise on site, due to the fact that the couple were living over 300 miles away.
Building in a rural location was also a difficult experience for the Walkers. “It’s a different mode of working here but we’re pleased to have gone down this route — although I will say that this is definitely my third and final house!” explains David.
Anne is enthusiastic in her endorsement of the house, and indeed now works for the local builders that helped construct it. “I’m proud of the fact that we used local materials and tradesmen, and I really care about the eco aspects of the house,” she explains.