Jo and John Lewis’ resplendent Baronial-style self-build not only boasts glorious views over dramatic Scottish countryside, but an innovative, eco friendly construction system.

When Jo Lewis finally decided to take the plunge and sate her long-standing yen to create a family home to share with husband John and children Alexander, 10, and Oliver, nine, she was spared the often arduous task of plot hunting. Instead, the elevated hillside setting, which now features her major self-build project ‘Alexander House’, was once part of family farmland.

The Project

  • Name: Jo and John Lewis
  • Build cost: £1,000,000
  • Build time: 1 year 9 months
  • Location: Perthshire

“It’s where I used to go when I was young and needed a place to escape. It’s always been a place that de-stresses me,” she says. And in an outcome of reassuring symmetry, the project, which began in 2007, and which Jo managed herself remotely from Hampshire, was also relatively pain-free.

A ruined farm steading on the site was beyond repair, and so Jo decided, reluctantly, that they would have to start from scratch. “We had three designs by different architects and picked the design by Robert Adam of ADAM Architecture,” explains Jo.

“The site was presented as a blank canvas. All I knew at the earliest stage was that I wanted a courtyard — when you’re up this high in the hills you need an area where the wind is not going to howl around your ears. And in terms of space, the initial brief included five/six bedrooms and bathrooms, and a housekeeper’s flat.” Jo did indeed get the house she had hoped for, with the new home being described as a modern, minimalist take on the Scottish Baronial mansion.

Essentially, the new three storey house (the second storey of which is situated within the attic space) follows a U-shaped plan, comprised of two distinct wings, with a connecting hub between, all centred around the courtyard. This arrangement means the visual impact of the house is minimised from a distance.

“The construction went relatively smoothly. Once we received planning permission in 2007, the process took around 18 months,” explains Jo. “First of all we had to put in a road and then we had to check with Doug, our water diviner, to make sure water was available on site.” A borehole was subsequently created to provide a private water source for the house.

“I was based off site but worked on the project closely. I’ve completed a few self-build projects but nothing on this scale,” says Jo. “Fortunately it all worked very well, as our architect had produced very detailed drawings. Also, my mum and dad live down the hill so I popped up to the site when I was staying with them. Mum also used to take progress pictures and email these to me; I think she quite enjoyed her role!”

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