After having their design for a dream home rejected on two sites, a retired couple succeeded in creating a modern, sustainable and visually ‘transparent’ self-build on a rural site in north Devon. James Parker reports


ark and Melanie Goldman’s self-build story is a real example of how persevering with a plan can reap

rewards, and refine your design. Although they had previously extended a house in Surrey before moving to Devon and converting a stone barn into holiday cottages, this was their first experience of a total new build, and it wasn’t exactly a small project.

Despite the substantial nature of the task, project managing their imposing, modern four- bedroom home near Torrington, north Devon, was a challenge that Mark and Melanie relished. They had refined their design through two failed attempts to get planning permission on other sites, and by the time they secured this plot in 2015, then occupied by an old bungalow, they knew exactly what they wanted to do. As Mark explains, “Over time you actually evolve a much better design. I think the result wouldn’t be so nice if we’d started on this with no experience of doing it before.” He says that they “spent a lot of time designing and refining it, because we knew what it was like with builders – if you have to change things mid-flight it can be very time-consuming and very expensive.”

They had decided to move after living in the area for 12 years and he says “had always wanted to build own our home”. As well as creating a ‘forever home’ for themselves, Mark and Melanie’s big ambition was to create a highly sustainable, as well as low-maintenance, building. So, in addition to a well-insulated fabric, they decided to invest in the very ‘eco’ solution of ground source heating. From an early stage they engaged renewables specialist RES (Devon) to advise them on the right products and installation to help them realise their green dream.

However this wasn’t just an ethical way to save on bills, it also helped the scheme get through planning. Says Mark: “Ground source ticks all the boxes, and the planners were very


The house is completely see- through, thanks to an eaves- height, fully-glazed hallway


The Goldmans’ new home has a steel frame to front and back to support the glazing


The delay caused by the struggle to get the house’s big glass ‘walls’ installed correctly

“Ground source heating ticks all the boxes – and the planners were very good; they pretty much gave us a free hand to do what we wanted” – Mark Goldman

good. They gave us pretty much a free hand to do what we wanted.” This was also in part because the plot, surrounded by trees, is largely not visible to others.

Melanie says that their key design intention was to create “open-plan type living”, but also “have the ability to cosy down if we wanted to.” Now retired, this couple who met working in the IT industry therefore wanted a layout with a mix of spacious open plan areas and cosy spaces, to suit their lifestyle. Melanie: “There’s just the two of us, but we like entertaining, so we wanted a house that would open up and lend itself to that.” So as

november/december 2017

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