I currently live in a terraced house and I’ve been monitoring my energy usage on a site from the Environmental Change Institute (http://www.imeasure.org.uk). Although clearly I’m interested in energy efficiency and perhaps I’m a careful energy user, I have what is classified as an A-Rated House (in terms of this estimated Energy Performance Certificate). I find this quite funny – I’m sure I live in a very ‘leaky’ house. The two things it’s really got going for it are being in that terrace layout where we don’t have two exterior walls that most detached houses have and its scale.
This Victorian terrace, originally for the railway workers, is really compact (even with an extension). While we do moan from time to time that there’s not enough storage space or we’d really like another bedroom, do we actually have a house that is the perfect size for us now? Every day we use all the space that we have. None of the rooms are poky but they are certainly not excessive either. Of course, thoughts of starting a family would mean that we would want more space in our new house but I’m keen to repeat what we have here, however tempting it would be to go crazy and add in an underground cinema and several guest bedroom suites. Who remembers the Majorie Dawes character from Little Britain? At her Fat Fighters group she would often repeat that a certain cake was half the calories so that means you can have twice as much! An energy efficient home may give us reduced bills but we really don’t want that to be an excuse to build something bigger.
That’s why my interview with architect and best-selling author Sarah Susanka was fascinating. When she was 14 her family relocated from Knockholt in Kent to Los Angeles in the USA. This change, at a pivotal stage of her life, was to have a lasting impact. Sarah’s high school was three times the size of her old village! She had stepped up a scale. This contrast has given her a unique perspective which has since led to the Not So Big series of books.
If you are just beginning your self build journey there is no doubt that spending time thinking about scale is really important. Often when budgets get out of hand it’s an elaborate and complex build that’s to blame. Download my latest podcast to hear my chat with Sarah.