‘We used to run a business so we are both practical people,’ said Rosalyne. ‘Although it was our first build, we were never daunted by anything, we just applied common sense. For example, we didn’t want to have to paint anything outside, so how would we do it? In the end we realised we could have frame built of oak inside and anodised aluminium outside. We didn’t want to live in a white box. We wanted the house to have character and an organic influence.’
One of the biggest challenges was getting the materials to site. Although Rosalyne and Ian wanted to use island-based trades people and suppliers where possible, they were also prepared to ferry in materials – and skilled crafts people – to achieve the high quality they were after.
To make it more appealing for those travelling long distances, Ian and Rosalyne offered accommodation to those who were literally prepared to go the extra mile. In the meantime, Ian found himself learning new skills to keep the process moving – including driving a JCB. ‘It’s the best piece of kit I’ve ever had,’ said Ian. ‘I’ve never enjoyed driving anything so much. It was the key to everything: We dug holes with it, carried glass with it and moved trees with it. It was invaluable.’
Once the foundations were laid it took six days for the green oak and sweet chestnut frame to be constructed ready for the roof covering. Apart from the south-facing glazed atrium space, the Welsh slate section of the roof was on in time for Rosalyne and Ian to sit on there and watch the Manx Grand Prix, which passes close to the house.
While the block work was going up, the open south facing elevation was protected with a temporary wood frame and plastic wall.
The glazing, sourced from a small German company, had to be measured to the millimetre and Ian has nothing but praise for the supplier. ‘They were brilliant,’ he says. ‘They spent a week measuring it, then they turned up in a van which was the dog’s dinner – you could have built anything from the back of it. They were here for months.’
But the time spent getting crucial details right was time well spent. Ian and Rosalyne have a house which is unique and built with the future in mind.
‘As a society faced with soaring oil prices we should be moving forward, not looking backwards,’ says Ian. The house is not only visually striking, with its photovoltaic panels, glass and aluminium, but also a flagship of energy efficiency.
The solar photovoltaic panels are capable of producing a maximum of 13KW of electrical power and four solar hot water panels drive domestic hot water.
A 6Kw Proven wind turbine sited 300m away in an open field is net metered to the MEA grid along with the photovoltaic array. The system allows any surplus energy generated to be sold back to the national grid. If not enough is produced, power can be purchased from the MEA, all automatically controlled by a smart electrical meter. ‘So far, we have produced way more electrical energy than we have used’, says Ian.