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and took a lot of time and effort.” Eventually someone from the planning office spent time walking around the farm with John discussing various potential plots. The couple were advised to go for full planning permission “to show our commitment, and what the house would look like.” It was a “large upfront cost,” and he admits, “if it hadn’t worked out it would have been another chunk of money sunk.” They also needed support from the local community, which thankfully was present. Once they’d got permission, the house design itself “sailed through.” However there was one more major investment when they made the decision to use kit frame supplier Scotframe for the build, which meant a structural reset. They had already paid a structural engineer to prepare drawings, but these had to be redone by Scotframe’s team. “That was just down to our inexperience really and bad advice from out professionals involved at the time,” John explains.


A DESIGN FOR LIFE


John and Helen had a very clear idea of what they wanted when it came to the layout and look. “We kind of sketched it up and gave it to the architect to make it look professional, but the actual design was basically done by ourselves,” says John.


They knew what shape they wanted the house to be and how it would be laid out. A particular focus was designing a home that would suit their son for the rest of his life. The house is a square


52 www.sbhonline.co.uk


shape, with two storeys at the front and three single storey ‘wings’ surrounding a sheltered courtyard. “It’s a really safe, secure outside space outside so the kids can run in and out,” says John. One of the ‘wings’ is home to an indoor swimming pool, which is brilliant for their family life. Additionally, although their son doesn’t use a wheelchair, they ensured the house has level thresholds throughout so he could move about with as few potential trip hazards as possible.


They also included a bedroom and bathroom downstairs. “He’s probably going to live with us when he’s an adult so it can hopefully be a more independent space for him,” says John. At the moment he has a bedroom upstairs alongside his brothers. The other key requirement was a big open living space. “He used to get quite upset when we left the room, and now we’re all in one big room,” John explains. “It’s quite noisy, but we love it!”


After getting the initial drawings done they decided to work with a different designer after struggling to agree with the initial architect on the design features. They began working with architectural technician Matthew Cowan instead, who John says “looked at the house as the end result.” For example, with the upstairs bedrooms the couple originally wanted large apertures in the master bedroom and smaller ones for the boys, but he advised them to consider how that would look from outside.


“He did lots of little tweaks that really improved the overall feel of the house,” says may/june 2021


LOW POINT


“A few things on the plumbing side, a couple of little leaks – small things. And the day when the water came through. All quite easily resolved, but it was stressful.”


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