This family approached Quercus because of our green credentials and because we have a good track record of working with self builders. Their Victorian cottage had been extended to north and south in the 1970’s with useful but not attractive flat roof extensions. There is also a west facing conservatory. Their desire was to have all the bedrooms on the upper floor, improve the circulation and investigate renewable technologies.

After extensive exploration of ideas a scheme was decided that replaced the north wing with a two storey structure. It has two bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms over living room, office and utility and has been constructed as phase one so that the family can move into it whilst phase two alterations can be made to the cottage. Initially the planners were resistant to the proposal as the roof line was higher than the cottage. Their policy is that extensions should be subservient to the original building. The quality of the design, which has a pitched slate roof and timber horizontal cladding on an oak frame, won them over however. Alba Green Oak frame came on board at an early stage as it was felt that they had a critical contribution to make to the design process.

The plan is to have a pellet boiler located in an outbuilding with a store for a years supply built in. The flow and return pipes to the north wing feed manifolds supplying underfloor heating and a twin coil cylinder for domestic hot water. A solar water heater and wood stove with back boiler supplement the supply to the cylinder to reduce costs and ensure space and water heating in the event of a disruption of electricity supply. There is also to be an array of PV panels on the south pitch of the north wing.

The intention was for Quercus to build the whole project but it was thought that it was a buyers market and a competitive tender could lead to a lower cost. The baseworks was let as a preparatory contract to allow more time to find the right builder for the superstructure of the north wing. Using sustainable materials, avoidance of toxins, green insulation and Scottish sources of timber can lead to higher quotes if the contractor is unfamiliar with the availability and construction methods involved. The search for the right firm was a long one.