Roger Harris bought the 1930’s bungalow "Highfield" in Cockburnspath as a retirement home. The decision to extend was arose from the need for a workshop studio space that could not be accommodated in the house, together with a second w.c and utility area that could relieve pressure on space in the kitchen. A stove for heating was originally proposed was omitted because the high levels of insulation used meant that relatively modest radiators fed by the existing oil boiler could cope.

Guidance was provided by Quercus through a number of approaches to the design and the end result was a room that was modern in concept and materials but with a form and colour palette that contrasted, without competing with, the bungalow, its neighbour. A flat roofed link was used to join the two and this has the store, w.c. and utility areas in it. The planning authority supported this approach and we were able to proceed to detailed design.

Ground conditions were quite a challenge in that we had to find and deal with existing drainage as well as providing new. The ventilation to the existing solum had to be maintained whilst using a ground slab construction for the main space to support machinery and suit ground levels. To form a support structure for insulated SIPS panels and to give character to a space in which fine woodworking was to take place it was decided to stretch the budget to have a traditional oak frame. Alba Green Oak Frame won this contract and were involved from an early stage in the design. Critical to this was the glazing of the gables without separate frames into the oak. Whilst Berwickshire has a very dry climate making construction easy, there can be strong winds and the design has already been put to a strong test. The building sits behind a very high privet hedge and only the standing seam metal roof can be seen from the street. Light flows in through the fully glazed south gable and rooflights whilst the north gable has double doors to the rear drive acting as a porch to the main house.

Quercus can offer project management of the build for a project where the client is able to participate in the construction, using its own builders and joiners and organising subcontracted firms. This route was chosen for this project to allow he Client to get hands on experience and because the unusual nature of the construction might challenge mainstream builders. Cost control is achieved by keeping an open book of materials purchased and time spent. Before the start a budget is set out and a programme drawn up. Whilst the programme slipped a bit, to allow time for decision on finishes, the building did come in on budget. The Client has a space he knows intimately and we have a gem for the portfolio..