The Builders, Mark Jones Perspective.
Build One is an employee owned company specialising in ecological timber framed houses. We cut our teeth working on various innovative projects within the Findhorn Foundation, a community in the north of Scotland and part of the worldwide eco-village network. We are now very familiar with both the principles and practices of ecological building as it currently stands in the UK.
We were delighted when R & J asked us to build their house. They had been trying for some time to get something off the ground with many disappointments along the way. They knew us and had seen our work, and they had decided not to go out to tender. Our quote was compared to that of an independent Quantity Surveyor, and found to be favourable, so it was all systems go.
The architect lives 400 miles away and visited about once a month so it was crucial that all communication followed strict guidelines. Ground rules were established early on and we all stuck to them, which mainly accounts for why things went so well. In general these were that the client visits site by appointment only, and that all communication between client and builder goes via the architect in written form. This initially felt quite awkward and formal, especially given the nature of the Findhorn community, which has an atmosphere of openness and direct communication between individuals. In reality it gave us all a framework within which accountability, trust, and eventually friendship could flourish. Of course we would discuss various issues and snags that arose, directly with R & J, but the conversation would always end with â€œOK, I’ll get Andrew to confirm that in writingâ€. This format tended to negate the cause of most disputes that typically arise between client and builder, namely misunderstanding, differing assumptions and lack of clarity.
I believe that most builders take pride in their work and want the client to be happy. R & J were perfect clients; they weren’t pushovers and wanted to understand the process, but they were always ready to reach a compromise when a snag did occur. Problems did of course arise, as is par for the course in most building projects. The fact that no cross words were uttered, speaks volumes for the goodwill that was brought to the project by all concerned. (For a large part of the project, we had a Discovery Channel film crew on site, filming their â€œVillage Greenâ€ series, which added an interesting dynamic, as they filmed us warts and all ! )
All of us at Build One thoroughly enjoyed this project. The atmosphere on site was great, and we completed on time and to budget, gaining valued friends along the way. We hope that we will be involved in many more projects like this.
Nick & Henrietta’s House. Case Study
The new 8 sided conical roofed house is a low embodied energy, part recycled steel frame and part timber frame, timber clad, super insulated, vapour permeable structure with a prominent south facing, passive solar conservatory buffer space.
The compact 8 sided octagon plan with 12.4m diameter on a tight site forms a minimal exposed surface envelop to accommodate a three bedroom home with an additional art room / study, open plan kitchen dining living room, a utility room and an entrance draft lobby.
The house is made from locally harvested un-treated soft wood, clad with Scottish Larch and insulated with efficient Warmcell cellulose recycled newspaper insulation within the hydroscopic vapour permeable building fabric and triple glazed thermal envelop windows and doors..
E argon filled double glazing forms the conservatory envelope and that in turn opens up to the main living spaces via large 3.7m wide bio fold double glazed doors allowing valuable warm sun light to penetrate into the heart of the house.
The open plan double height living space on the ground floor houses an efficient Hwam Vivaldi wood burning stove providing a strong social focus within the large space and acts a as winter counter poise to the passive solar gain of the conservatory space.
Nontoxic water based wall emulsion paints and OS natural stains throughout the house and OS hard wax / oiled oak timber floors to the living room have contributed to the light spacious and healthy feel of the interior.
Appropriate Energy Systems AES solar hot panels mounted on the standing seam zinc roof provide most of the domestic hot water heated by the sun.
All household black and grey sewage is treated in the eco village solar aquatic biological sewage treatment plant. The Eco Village community wind farm turbine supplies the house’s renewable electricity.
As ever the greatest area of learning & enjoyment has been the supportive working relationships between the architect, client and John Duncan Construction throughout the procurement and building process.