Robins Yard was an interesting project where we worked in collaboration with self-builders, Ruth Reed and Ian Leighton, to provide them with the timber frame they needed to build their dream home.

We asked Ruth some questions about the self-build process to give a clearer idea of what to expect when embarking on the self-build journey.

 

Q – Why did you decide to build with Frame Technologies?

In 1998, I successfully completed a self-build project working with Frame Technologies and Simon Orrells. The project went so well that once we decided to undertake another self-build, Frame Technologies was an obvious choice. The personal end-to-end service that Simon provides allows for a smooth process, so we made sure to involve them immediately after receiving planning permission.

 

Q – What were the main features you wanted to include in this project?

Ensuring our self-build was made from sustainable materials and achieved high energy efficiency was crucial for us. This would allow for significantly lower bills throughout the home’s lifetime and reduce our carbon emissions. Additionally, we wanted our new forever home to be ideal for entertaining loved ones and suitable for homeworking. Because of these dreams, we didn’t want to compromise on space and the planners wanted us to keep the footprint of the house down to the size of previous approvals on the site.

 

Q – Why did you choose TechVantageTM S timber frame system for your home?

We decided on the TechVantageTM S timber frame system because it was able to meet so many of our needs. Its ability to provide such impressive air tightness in all areas of the home was essential for us to be able to successfully build an eco-home and keep our energy bills down.

The main selling point of the system for us was how compact the panels themselves are. We knew we were working with a challenging space and wanted to ensure we could use as much of it as possible. The fact that this system has all the insulation so tightly packed between the sheathing board and wood fibre board meant that there wouldn’t be any unnecessary thick walls taking up extra room.

 

Q – What did you find to be the benefits of self-building?

The opportunity for complete creative freedom in design is a wonderful benefit that comes alongside picking the self-building route. For us, as self-build architects, it allowed for the chance to explore different design features – something which we found exciting and gave us an incredible sense of creative freedom.

Using timber frame and going down the sustainable route was extremely important to us. Building Robins Yard as an eco-home not only allowed us to reduce our environmental footprint and bills but has also offered a higher level of comfort. Typically, the house sits at 21°C without any extra heating and stays around 20°C in the winter months – which with Shropshire’s climate is quite an achievement!

In summer, with strategically opened windows, the house will get up to 24°C, remaining a nice temperature. The triple-glazed windows in our home help us achieve this and are an unexpected favourite feature of mine. They make the house nice and quiet and allow us to disconnect from the outside world when we’d like to.

 

Q – What was the toughest part of the build?

We had to get out of our comfort zone during this build, as self-builders often do, taking on many different roles throughout the project. As architects, we were accustomed to the design, planning, and project management, but not the hands-on construction work. However, we embraced the challenge and learned an array of new skills in the process – such as installing our own insulation.

 

Q – You got so close to achieving Passivhaus standards, what stopped you from attaining it in the end?

We faced two main obstacles when it came to attaining Passivhaus standards. The first was unfortunately out of our control – the electrician we employed drilled a hole in the house while they were working – between the garage and our utility room. As a result, you can feel some cold air passing between these areas.

The other is entirely our doing, and a sacrifice we made… for our cats! The cat flap we installed was not of Passivhaus standards, but ultimately after negotiations with our cats and looking into the cost of Passivhaus-compliant cat flaps we decided that we would make the sacrifice. This isn’t something we regret at all and is actually one of my favourite examples of unexpected challenges you can come to face during the self-build process!

 

Q – How did being an architect help you during the process of designing and building your own house?

As a self-build architect, I entered the project with an already extensive understanding of the challenges we could face throughout the course of the build. We used our knowledge to optimise the space within our home by building vertically and adopting a spacious Scandinavian- open-plan layout. We also incorporated some striking and unconventional design elements. One standout feature is the internal balcony, which I particularly love as it connects our office space to the living area while maximising functional space.

 

 

If you are interested to learn more about our Robins Yard project, you can read the full case study on our website here. Ruth also featured on our Frame Technologies Podcast in the episode ‘In conversation with Architect, Ruth Reed’, which you can listen to here.

 

At Frame Technologies, we pride ourselves on offering industry-leading advice with high-level customer care. We work closely with our clients to support them through their build journey. If you’d like to learn more about what we can do for your project, contact us here.