Project Details

  • Location: Whepstead, West Suffolk
  • House size: 170 square metres
  • Package type: supply-only
  • Building work: 18 months
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Frame Technologies property, The Cedar House
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External shot of Frame Technologies property, The Cedar House
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External shot of Frame Technologies property, The Cedar House
The Cedar House
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The Cedar House
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The Cedar House is a striking 2-bed, two storey house constructed by homeowner Suzanne Richardson and her brother John Rands using Frame Technologies’ TechVantage™ T timber frame system, built to Passive House standards.

The Cedar House is a two-storey self-build project in Whepstead, West Suffolk, using Frame Technologies’ unique timber frame system, TechVantage™ T.

This home is a really striking addition on the Suffolk landscape, using 14,000 cedar shingles which wrap the roof and walls. To place these, 28,000 nails have been used, each nailed in place by hand by homeowner Suzanne Richardson and her brother John.

The couple wanted their new home to have a real ‘wow’ factor. The very low eave-lines to the east and north elevations make the building almost invisible from the road, adding to the sense of awe as you approach the property.

Once inside, the cleverly interconnected volumes are laid out; the vaulted kitchen expands upwards, a staircase in front of you with a roof light gives you full-height, a picture-frame window in the distance connects you to the pond, and the sliding and corner glazing to the living area provides almost panoramic views of the garden.

Passive House standards

Homeowners Suzanne and Steve Richardson decided to build their house as they couldn’t find a suitable property when they moved back to the UK from France after ten years.

“Having viewed several houses online and during trips back to the UK, I had my eye on a plot of land that I had fallen in love with. I was disappointed when I heard it was under offer, but a few months later I decided to look it up again in the hope it may be back on the market. I was so surprised when it was, and I immediately booked to travel back to England to view it. When I finally saw it, I knew it was perfect and I put in an offer on the same day,” explains Suzanne.

For their new property, the couple wanted to create a sustainable and energy-efficient home, and the project includes lots of positive aspects which helped ease the total carbon consumed in construction.

The couple use Frame Technologies for a supply-only package, opting for their unique timber frame system, TechVantage™ T. This is a super insulated, breathable twin frame panel system allowing for thermal bridging. In between the timber frame, a 300mm-deep mineral wool insulation provides excellent thermal properties and sequesters carbon from the atmosphere. This means that The Cedar House is well-insulated and requires minimal heating during winter months, vastly reducing the self-builders’ carbon emissions and heating costs.

The Passive House design approach looks to optimise solar gains in winter, but needs to consider overheating in summer. The design relies on a solar shading system to the south and west elevations using a beautiful oak-framed and oak-slatted structure.

The cedar shingles that wrap the entire house were the perfect choice for lots of reasons. While they provided ease of installation for the self-builders who wanted to do a lot of the work themselves, they also have low embodied energy. Carbon sequestration captures and stores atmospheric carbon dioxide, which is one way this home plays its part in reducing global climate change.

The building is very low carbon and is estimated to be around 710kgCO2e/m2 up to Practical Completion. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) aspirational target for 2030 for all new domestic buildings is to be under 750kgCO2e/m2, so The Cedar House already surpasses this.

Suzanne says: “We now realise with the increased cost of living and electricity that we made the right choice of a timber frame, fabric first approach. We have created a truly unique, energy-efficient home; it is built to Passive House standards, doesn’t need any heating, and sits and breathes in perfect harmony with its wilderness.”

A wildlife haven

For their home, Suzanne and Steve also wanted to optimise the countryside views and create a wildlife haven. Suzanne describes: “The plot was a large one coming in at just under an acre. This meant that half of our budget was taken before we’d even started building, but we made it work by keeping costs low in other ways, as the land was as important as the house was going to be. After digging a large pond, installing a couple of beehives and also incorporating two swift boxes into the fabric of the building, the plot has been transformed into a true wildlife haven.”

A hands-on approach

There were low project costs as my brother John and I shared a lot of the building work. Suzanne explains: “Not everyone is lucky enough to have someone to help them, but I am ever so grateful to my talented brother for allowing me to be able to truly say ‘I built my own home with my bare hands’. I now stand in pride and gaze on the wonder of it.”

Frame Technologies knew that the owner wanted to be very involved with the project.  The company’s MD, Simon Orrells says: “Suzanne and her brother were so practical and they each took the different build stages completely in their stride. They both gave each other the confidence to complete the project. They did a fantastic job erecting the timber frame as our TechVantage™ T is a complicated one to build!

“This project really shows what can be achieved when you’re determined and put your mind to it.  It’s a fantastic achievement and a stunning house.”

The technical details

TechVantage™ T, which is constructed using two 90mm studs with a 90mm separation, fully fitted with natural breathable insulation, was the preferred timber frame system to deliver the project. TechVantage™ T allowed for a super insulated breathable twin frame panel system and achieves a U-value of 0.12. There is a mechanical heat recovery system and a 20mm air gap along every edge to let the building breathe.

The couple chose to work with Matt at COCOON Architects (formerly Studio TeePee) who helped them achieve their dream home. Simon at Frame Technologies worked in partnership with Matt to assist with the design and supported with building regulations and planning challenges, which was critical to its success. Matt hadn’t worked with a twin frame panel system before, so early involvement with Frame Technologies allowed them to assist with the technical details and value engineer the build, which resulted in cost savings down the line.

This house is a fantastic example of a stunning, truly energy-efficient home. If you’d like to know more about how you can build your dream home with us, contact us today.