House Lessans wins Grand Designs House of the Year award, with realistic £335,000 budget

House Lessans

House Lessans in Northern Ireland’s County Down beat a host of homes to be awarded House of the Year by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), announced in a special four-episode programme of Channel 4’s Grand Designs.

The home, an unassuming yet elegant barn-style house, was built for a very realistic budget of £335,000 on the family’s farm in the rolling Co Down landscape. Scooping the prize demonstrates that quality and design are achievable on a modest budget – good news for any would-be Self Builder, as presenter Kevin McCloud commented that it was built at half the cost of an average but quality Self Build.

The home was in the Down to Earth category of the show, and was designed by Kieran McGonigle of architectural practice McGonigle McGrath. Its L-shaped design utilises a limited colour palette and affordable budget materials, such as concrete bricks, to create a show-stopping house, that offers a new way to build in the countryside.

The owners of the property, Sylvia and Michael, wanted to create a paired-down home large enough for visiting grown children to stay in on the remains of the existing small farmstead. The concrete blockwork and and zinc roofs help the building bed into its rural landscape, with the L-shape creating an intimate courtyard space, and double-height ceilings bringing airiness to the design.

RIBA President, Alan Jones, said: “House Lessans demonstrates that life enhancing architecture does not have to cost the earth. Executed with incredible clarity and restraint, McGonigle McGrath have used simple and cheap materials to create a truly bespoke home that resonates with its owners and its context. Even with the tightest of budgets, House Lessans shows that a dream home, designed by a talented architect, can be a reality.”

Catch up on Grand Designs House of the Year on Channel 4.

Cullinan Studio wins prestigious offsite award with Push-Pull house

Push-Pull House

The Structural Timber Association has awarded Cullinan Studio the Custom and Self-Build Project of the Year category for its Push-Pull House in its Structural Timber Awards.

Run annually, Structural Timber Awards is a professional event that celebrates the best in timber frame technology, that includes a self-build category in acknowledgement of the sheer number of owner-commissioned homes that use timber frame as their construction method.

Timber frame is experiencing a boom as more and more organisation start to appreciate the benefits of offsite construction – where the entire building is precision made in a factory, ensuring efficiencies in time, quality and energy.

Push-Pull House

Cullinan Studio’s Push-Pull House is on a large plot in Amersham, in an area where the Arts and Crafts style dominates. The house is a playfully creative solution to the family’s brief to create a light-filled new-build, built using Cross Laminated Timber (CLT).

CLT uses layers of glued timber to create a strong and stable timber product, with the frame exposed throughout the interior. One of the advantages of CLT is that it is easily able to create long-spans, and the large house uses this to the maximum effect, creating uninterrupted roof spans and double-height walls that bring natural light deep inside the house, maximised by high clerestory windows. The exterior is clad in dark stained accoya boards that are fixed over a locally-sourced brick.

Judges’ comments included:

  • “Form and function clearly do not need to compromise design.”
  • “The choice of CLT delivers on not only sustainability but critically it works aesthetically.”
  • “A great design and end product.”
  • “This is a complex, three-dimensional design solution that manages to appear simple, elegant and appropriate to its location.

The head of the judging panel and Chief Executive of the Structural Timber Association, Andrew Carpenter said of the night: “The depth of expertise across all categories was impressive and the exceptional number of entries clearly demonstrates the upturn in the industry.”

Structural Timber Association and Self Build support

For anyone considering a timber frame home, the Structural Timber Association has a self build section on its website offering advice, with links to finding members that operate in the realm of Custom and Self Build.

 

Sign up for your Right to Build at the portal! 

Shropshire Self Build site one step closer to market

Shropshire London Road site

Anyone wanting to Self Build in Shropshire will want to keep an eye on Shrewsbury, where Shropshire Council is planning to bring on a 47 plot Self-Build site, off London Road.

Shropshire Council recently ratified a decision to invest in the infrastructure for the site, meaning that the development can now be submitted for planning permission. This will include full permission for infrastructure by the end of the year, enabling the roads, landscaping and services to be put in, together with outline permission for the individual plots.

It is expected that each plot will come with a Plot Passport, setting out boundary and height restriction on some of the plots, otherwise the individual will be able to design their own unique home.

The 4.41 hectare site has excellent links with Shrewsbury, and slopes down towards the River Severn making it an appealing location.

If things work out the council is hoping to bring the plots to market in 2020, with 37 Self Build plots, and 10 affordable-housing plots on offer.”

 

Shropshire currently has around 80 people on its Custom and Self Build Register, with around 500 from previous registers. Many of the people registered have identified Shrewsbury, pictured, as a desirable place to build, creating local demand.

Councillor Robert Macey, Shropshire Council’s cabinet member for housing and strategic planning, said: “This is a really exciting initiative. The London Road development will be an exemplar scheme, which is eagerly anticipated by other councils that are contemplating their own Self Build schemes. It’s the first-of-its-kind for Shropshire Council and is intended to showcase the potential for future self build developments.

“We’re aiming to provide a low-density Self Build, low-carbon, hybrid and unique development scheme for people that want to build their own homes and we hope this will provide a stepping stone to further Self Build plots in the future.

Proactive in Self Build

Shropshire County Council has an excellent reputation for working to help more people Self Build, both through bringing projects on, but also in the fact that it contacts people on its register with a quarterly newsletter sharing advice and information about upcoming sites.

The council also carries information about available plots on its website, and has an innovative single affordable plots policy for qualifying Self Builders. Together, this work led to it winning Best Council for Custom and Self Builders’ at the prestigious Build It Awards in 2018.

 

Anyone interested in the London Road site should sign up  with Shropshire County Council’s Custom and Self Build register and keep an eye on the local press and the plots page on the council’s website. We hasten to add that by being on the register does not guarantee you a plot as demand is high.