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  • Robin and Miyuki Walden enlisted the services of German package supplier Hanse Haus to build a prefabricated barn-style home on a woodland site in the Cotswolds.
  • In order to appease the local planners, the Waldens’ architect designed the home to take its cue from the nearby agricultural buildings, using Cor-ten steel cladding.
  • The energy-efficient home is highly insulated and airtight.
  • The couple also specified a wide range of eco technologies in order to keep their running costs to a minimum.

As far as package builds go, Fox Furlong – the new barn-style home of Robin and Miyuki Walden in rural Gloucestershire – is quite different from anything that has been done previously. Traditionally associated with prioritising process over design quality, ‘imported’ packages have often struggled to gain credibility from both planners and the design community. Thanks, however, to the open-minded creatives at German supplier Hanse Haus, along with the vision of Cotswolds-based architect Renato Lusardi from Studio Lusardi, Robin and Miyuki have a striking Cor-ten steel and timber-clad new home. It’s sympathetic to its sensitive location too, taking the form of a contemporary barn.

“Our journey first began when we went to one of the Homebuilding & Renovating Shows, as we were interested in self-build after a friend of ours had done it. After moving up from London we were living in a farmhouse which was very exposed to the elements and was so cold and cost us a fortune in heating, which is why we wanted to look for something which was of high quality with low running costs,” explains Miyuki.

The Benefits of Using a Package Company
Visiting the Homebuilding & Renovating Shows, the couple had the opportunity to speak with various package suppliers and immediately realised that this was the best build route for them, offering both a hands-off approach and an energy-efficient home that came with the added benefits of a quick build time and a fixed price.

“I knew the kind of house I wanted and I didn’t have the confidence that the UK companies were able to provide the same standard of house as the German manufacturers,” says Miyuki. “The insulation levels, for instance, that Hanse Haus offers is significant; for me they were really incomparable.”  Robin takes up the story: “The great advantage of the prefab system is that you are also much more aware of the final cost than you are with building the usual way. This was, for us, a massive plus. That’s not to say there are no surprises, as when you start to add extras on to match what you really want aesthetics-wise that’s when you notice a sharp rise in costs, but being able to visually see what the price is from the outset means that you don’t get hit with it later down the line.”

After flying out to visit the Hanse Haus factory in Germany to choose their fixtures and fittings, the house, in true prefab style, was built in the company’s factory before being shipped over and erected on site. “The team on site were so responsive and reliable,” says Robin. “The lorries arrived on 17 March 2013 and the roof was on within five days — we were moved in at the end of July. None of that would have been possible without the dedication showed by the five-man team. It’s a method I really believe in and it’s definitely one of the ways forward for building over here.” “We lived in the bungalow on site during the project to oversee everything,” says Miyuki who acted as lead throughout the build.

The Homeowner’s view
The spaces work so well — that’s what’s really magic about it. Because you’re designing for yourself you’re not having to compromise on space — all rooms have a purpose. In our old house we had a lot of wasted space, but not here. The only room we don’t use everyday is the guest room. The house really works so well for us and having two teenagers, who get to have their own space too. The house was designed to look over the wood, so the windows to the side make the most of this. The open plan kitchen, dining and sitting area is a huge success, which we all enjoy as the centre of our family life. The kitchen was designed to accommodate an island of a certain length so that it works perfectly for demonstrations for the cookery business, and it’s a space that the whole family really live in and where we spend time together. The void in the ceiling (which is open to the first floor landing) works really well as it gives more light and an added sense of space. One tends to focus on the rooms but the wide landing upstairs and the spacious hall downstairs make a difference too.
We can’t speak highly enough of the fast, efficient build and the high standards of the very detailed finish. The key to success with a project like this though is to take your time. You can’t change your mind so you need to plan everything carefully at the beginning and don’t rush it. If you’re in a hurry then this is not the way to do it.

HANSE HAUS: Made in Germany – Built in the UK

Hanse Haus are a supplier of bespoke, pre-manufactured, high efficiency homes and have been turning customers’ self-build dreams into reality since 1929. They have built more than 30,000 houses in the process and each one benefits from specialist and highly efficient design and construction processes which translate into minimal running costs and an exceptionally healthy living environment.

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Proud to exhibit at the Homebuilding & Renovating Shows. Hanse Haus are a supplier of bespoke, pre-manufactured, high efficiency homes and have been turning customers’ self-build dreams into reality since 1929. They have built more than 30,000 houses in the process and each one benefits from specialist and highly efficient design and construction processes which translate into minimal running costs and an exceptionally healthy living environment.