Self-Build Period Eco House

Project Details

  • Client: Mr Thomas
  • Location: East Sussex
  • Type: Eco-house
  • Category: Self Builders

Learn more about this project here.

What was your design concept?

My goal was to create an Edwardian house with the highest environmental standards – a period eco-house. The starting point was the house that existed on the site. It was built in 1907 and consequently had significant heat loss issues. The best way to address this was to insulate the brick fabric of the existing building externally and render over. This also meant that we could seamlessly integrate it with the new-build which doubled the size of the original house. I have long been an admirer of the Arts and Crafts architect C.F.A Voysey, who practised in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and is regarded as ‘a pioneer of Modernism’. Emulating his design cues allowed us to build a house which was both environmentally sustainable and also true to the era of its original construction.

Why did you choose natural stone?

Voysey used rough-cast render with stone window and door surrounds and metal windows on the majority of the country houses he designed. At first we didn’t think we could afford to use natural stone and so reluctantly specified cast stone.

I found Stamford Stone completely by chance. I discussed the design and showed the cast stone samples to an old friend who happens to have a weekend home in Stamford. He told me about Stamford Stone and I found to my surprise that the cost was comparable to the quotes I had for cast stone. I found the stone itself to be incomparably better than any cast stone alternative.

Most important for me was the way Stamford Stone guided me through the design process. Modern building regulations require that window and door surrounds are thermally broken to prevent thermal bridging – there has to be insulation separating the external stone from the internal stone. We managed to achieve this by replicating the external stone on the inside and covering the insulation with the metal window frames. Nobody would realise that the stone isn’t continuous from outside to inside. You can imagine that this required very careful design and very accurate stone masonry. We have over 100 window casements and each casement uses 10 individual pieces of stone.

Any top tips?

We’re very happy with the result and have received many compliments.

My advice to self-builders is to be prepared for a long haul – it will take longer than you think! The best way to mitigate this is by careful scheduling. Lead times for windows frames in particular are very long. The sooner the openings are created so that the exact sizes of the windows are known, the quicker the building will be weather tight.