Eco self-build for energy-efficient living

Timber Frame Eco Self Build

Deryck and Barbara Lovegrove were planning a low-maintenance new home on their existing plot in the Highlands, and approached Fleming Homes as partners on their timber-frame eco self-build. By incorporating many environmentally friendly features and making best use of the site, the couple have achieved a beautiful home with amazing views that easily withstands the tough Scottish weather.

The brief
The Lovegroves were experienced self-builders, now looking to build an easy-maintenance, smaller home for their retirement years. Their priority was single-level living and energy efficiency, combined with plenty of space to welcome friends and family.

Not finding what they wanted in the local area, they decided to build their new property on their existing plot. At 200m above sea level in the Scottish Highlands, low external maintenance was a must. The couple were also keen to make the front elevation south-facing, to maximise solar gains, which meant skewing the house across the plot.

Deryck and Barbara first met Fleming Homes by chance at the Scottish Home Show in Aberdeen. They were impressed by the “dynamic and helpful” Hayden Martin, and say working with Fleming was “one of our best decisions”. Fleming’s MD Hayden was equally impressed by the Lovegroves: “They weren’t typical self-builders, in that they were very, very well-informed about the process, and were seeking a partner to implement their clear ideas. This meant we worked with their expertise to provide solutions, rather than the usual situation of the client working with our expertise.”

The chance meeting with Hayden was followed up with a quotation, a site visit and an order, and the process took off rapidly from there.

Planning Permission Sorted – Full Steam Ahead!
Despite being seasoned self-builders, Deryck admits: “it was still a daunting prospect. We easily got outline planning permission, but a new planning officer kept stalling on full permission.

As Hayden explained: “When we first met, the Lovegroves were working on planning conditions, and needed a route forward with the building warrant, which we were able to supply. Our first task was to address all the technical aspects of the build covered in the building warrant process. Deryck was very particular with his design, so this warrant process was tailored to suit his needs. We had a short time frame to turn the building warrant around, as the Lovegroves had a start date when we received the order!”

Happily, Fleming Homes’ experience with the planning process helped to unstick the project. “We were lucky enough to get a very practical building control officer,” says Hayden, “and the building warrant went through smoothly. I later sent the council a letter of satisfaction for a very well managed building warrant process.”

Preparation and project management
The Lovegroves were also unusually fortunate to have their son Philip, who is a chartered surveyor and professionally qualified project manager, to give his oversight and expertise to the build. “Deryck, Barbara and Phil took the time to get a great team together, and they managed us well,” says Hayden. “Their calm but assertive management meant that their role as the home owner was greatly respected by all trades.”

Deryck says the build went “incredibly smoothly, aided by weeks of dry, sunny weather, and a site that had been impeccably prepared by our groundworks contractor. The most enjoyable part of the whole experience was watching our conception taking shape before our eyes and enjoying the day-to-day crack with the various people employed on the project. It was a very happy and positive experience that delivered us the retirement house of our dreams, and which came in both on time and on budget.”

The project took 9 months from kit arrival on the site to completion, with Fleming Homes’ role covering building warrant, high spec full kit supply and erection to wind and watertight.

Happy clients, hats off all round!
Both sides agree that a strong working partnership and teamwork made all the difference to the success of the Lovegroves’ new home. “The Fleming Homes team went out of their way to help us throughout the project,” says Deryck. “It’s one of the finest and most client-focused commercial firms we have encountered.”

Hayden says: “Working closely alongside the client and all their trades as part of a self-build team make this one of the best projects I’ve ever been involved with. Deryck used us as a sounding board often, but he was so well informed that his decisions were always the right ones for his project. Hats off to Deryck and Barbara – they’re awesome! I always refer to them as the prototype self-builders.”

Read the complete case study as features in SelfBuild & Design Magazine.

Contact Fleming Homes today to progress your timber frame self-build home.