Dated 1930s house makes way for sensational self-build

This is a text book example of how to create an energy-efficient home for life. Sharon Dale reports. Pictures by Gary Longbottom.

Finding everything on their property shopping list was always going to be a tough challenge for David and Carol Fordham. Keen to downsize from their historic farmhouse, which came with six acres, they wanted a low-maintenance home with minimal running costs and in walking distance of Easingwold.

The house at the rear with large areas of glazing framed in zinc cladding

Not overlooked, a large garden and space for a workshop were also must-haves. The Fordhams had almost given up hope when they found an unlikely candidate – a detached and dated 1930s house in a quiet, rural spot.

“It was the right location but it needed a lot of work and the aspect wasn’t right so the only option was to start again,” says David.

Demolishing the old building to make way for a new home began with a discussion with Hambleton District Council, who were happy with the idea. York-based Brierley Groom Architects were chosen based on their enthusiasm, experience and their previous projects.

“We wanted a smaller house but we wanted it to be big enough to 
accommodate our grown-up children when they come to visit us. We also 
wanted to make the most of the views,” says Carol.

The house at the front with a second sitting room over the garage.

Architect Peter Summers, who came up with the design for the 2,500 sq ft property, says: “The existing dwelling did not make the best use of a wonderful site so we took the opportunity to re-orientate the new house so that it could take advantage of the views and links to the generous garden.”

From the front, the house appears to be two storey but at the rear there are three levels, thanks to clever use of the sloping site and conversion 
of the roof space. The property is constructed 
from insulated blockwork covered in self-coloured KRend render that doesn’t 
need painting. The fascias and gutters are aluminium and a slate roof with overhanging eaves tops the building.

Large amounts of glazing to the rear make the most of the exceptional views, which stretch to Menwith Hill and the White Horse at Kilburn.

Most of the windows and doors are by Velfac and are grey powder-coated aluminium on the outside and timber composite inside. The contemporary bays are framed with zinc cladding by York-based Varla.

The ground floor sitting room with wood-burning stove and the dresser painted by Carol.

Peter Summers says: “The windows offer the best of both worlds as aluminium on the outside of the frames is durable and low maintenance. The manufacturer states that they will last 40 years or more. The wood inner frames contribute to increased thermal values, providing great energy performance.”

Inside, there is a double-height glazed entrance hall, which floods the oak and glass staircase with light. A sitting room overlooks the garden and there is a utility room and a large, open-plan kitchen/dining room with glazed doors leading on to the garden. On the first floor, there are three bedrooms and a second sitting room.

“The architect came up with the idea of fitting some decorative oak beams in the first-floor sitting room and that has worked really well as it adds character,” says David.

The rooms in the roof on the top floor include a master bedroom, an en-suite shower room and a study.

The window designed by the architect echoes the shape of the apex

The old property was heated by LPG but the Fordhams installed a more energy-efficient air source heat pump to provide hot water and run the underfloor heating and there’s a Pure Vision wood-burning stove, which sits in a contemporary fireplace designed by the architect.

A mechanical ventilation and heat recovery system fills the house with warmed, fresh and filtered air.

David and Carol had tackled a self-build before, so the project didn’t hold any fear and they’d also done their homework by visiting the Homebuilding and Renovating Show and the National Self-Build and Renovation Centre in Swindon.

“We built a stone house near Grassington and we also renovated the farmhouse so we had some experience and the builders, Honeybourne Developments, were excellent. Everything went very smoothly,” says David.

The build took just nine months and cost £330,000, while the original house that stood on the site cost £345,000 bringing the total spend to £675,000.

The only hold-up was the landscaping at the rear, which they had planned to leave until the house was built.

The kitchen by MKM with lights from John Lewis.

“We ended up doing it first because the builder, Carl Massey, helpfully pointed out that we wouldn’t be able to get the huge digger round the back of the house once it was built,” says David.

Carol, a keen gardener, hired garden designer David Webster to help turn the enormous, overgrown plot into a beautiful space with a wildflower area.

Inside the house, the decor is stylish and modern with a mix of new and vintage furniture, including a much-loved old dresser that Carol painted grey to match the sitting room colour scheme. All the walls are painted in Little Greene whites livened up with artwork, including some of Carol’s own paintings.

The floors are a mix of bamboo, porcelain tiles and carpet and the kitchen cabinets and appliances are from MKM and cost £18,000.

The unusual internal doors were sourced from Galtres timber in Easingwold and most of the curtains and blinds were made to measure by online store

Carol says: “We involved our children in choosing the fabrics because, although they are grown up and live elsewhere, this is our family home and we wanted them to feel part of it.”

Useful Contacts:

Brierley Groom Architects,

Main contractor and project manager, Honeybourne Developments,

Varla zinc cladding,

Steelwork, Theakstone Engineering, Beningborough, tel: 01904 470550

Garden designer David Webster,

Landscaping and turfing, All Seasons, Husthwaite,

Wood-burning stove from Stoves and Fireplaces, Northallerton,

Interior doors, handles and paving, Galtres Timber,

Bathrooms, Watermark, York,

MKM kitchens,

Porcelain tiles,

Staircase, TK Stairs, Beverley,

Air source heat pump, GoEcoRenewables, York,

Ventilation and heat recovery system,

David and Carol in the kitchen with units from MKM and a silestone worktop

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