The more formal living room is at the front of the house


The master bedroom looks out over the garden and features a Juliet balcony

area where the new house would sit. “We had to take all the topsoil off, store it at the back and take all the muck away – truck loads of it,” Peter says. “It was so wet we had an 18 tonne digger here that was sinking.”

Despite Mother Nature’s best attempts and a slight delay while they waited for a concrete pump, they managed to get the beam and block foundations finished by January 2013. In February the timber frame was put up by Potton, who supplied all the materials and crew for the job and completed it within two months. By April 2013 they were ready to start on the roof, exterior work and first fix, which went on longer than they anticipated and took them to September. “We bumped into a bunch of things,” explains Peter. “We had to stop doing the rendering for three weeks because it’s self- coloured and you’ve got a small window in terms of the temperature you can do that in.” Peter and Debbie took longer deciding on the right heating and hot water system. They visited several self-build trade shows before eventually deciding on underfloor heating upstairs and down. They also wanted to make sure they had enough hot water to supply the home’s four bathrooms. They looked at various systems including ground source but the capital cost was too high, given that they also found gas down the road and therefore brought that up to the site. Explaining the system they eventually decided on, Peter says: “We’ve got a 500 litre tank in two parts – low temperature at the bottom, high at the top. Low does the underfloor heating, and high does the hot water.” The tank has various inputs: Peter and Debbie have connected solar thermal – which Peter says is “brilliant” – and the gas boiler. It


also has the potential for solid fuel. The process of installing the underfloor heating also caused some issues. The way Potton build means the first floor system has to be installed from underneath, but Peter recalls that the plumbers initially objected, saying they “don’t do work above their head”. He says it took about two or three months to get a ‘yes’ from them.


Peter and Debbie’s house was somewhat of a hybrid of three Potton homes which, say the couple, has consequently led Potton to offer a greater range of bespoke house designs. “The through-room – the family/kitchen/breakfast/utility room at the back of the house, was the initial driver behind the design,” says Debbie. The house had been designed to follow a ‘heritage’ template, which meant having structural timber posts in all the rooms – something they weren’t keen on. Sean looked over the plans and said they could use the construction from another design but keep the ‘heritage’ design’s style, leaving them with just two structural posts in the kitchen area and a beam that they wanted to keep. “It’s almost a SIPs design,” Peter explains. “We’ve got the timber frame, all the insulation but none of the compromise.”

They also borrowed a feature from a barn that Potton were working on which Sean took them to see, installing a semi-vaulted ceiling in the master bedroom as opposed to a full A-frame, which they were reluctant to include in case their cats would use it as a climbing frame! Peter also found it useful to visit the barn as it allowed him to “see the construction methods and understand how all the services are run”.

july/august 2018

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