We are delighted and proud to have been shortlisted for the „Best Timber Frame House" in the 2014 Build It Awards with the wonderful house we built for the Minton family in Purley.
In 2012, with no plot identified, Connie and Drew Minton, first time buyers, planned to build a bespoke house for their family with these key requirements: 5 bedroom home with sufficient space for the family; Energy efficient house with low heating cost; House and interiors to be made of healthy and sustainable materials to provide a healthy environment with minimum environmental impact; located reasonably close to the centre of London with easy access to public transport and good schools; Quick build with target move-in date of June 2013.
Mintons decided to take the route of a high quality pre-fabricated build and selected the German off-site manufacturer Stommel Haus owing to their credentials in energy efficiency and use of sustainable and healthy materials, as well as their track record of building in-budget and on-time and the compelling beauty of the finished structure.
After a long search they finally found a plot with planning permission in a conservation area in Purley, Surrey. The planning permission was for a very traditional "Mock Tudor" house. Given the time target and stringent planning rules, Mintons did not venture a change in planning permission, even though the house design didn't match their dream architecture. Stommel Haus was briefed with the task of prefabricating a very energy efficient timber house with the constraints of the given design: Contract signed 09/2012, assembly start on 26/02/2013; moving in 15/06/2013.
Mintons call their house "Trojan House" because it looks like a traditional "Mock Tudor" house so common in and around London and inside it is a stunning timber house with excellent energy efficiency. The interiors were designed by Mintons and executed by Stommel Haus:
5 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, open plan living area with kitchen, dining room and living room, study, play room and utility room
Garage with loft.
The house is built primarily with untreated polar spruce. The structure is a diffusion open sandwich structure with a timber frame in the centre. There are no membranes which could cause condensation. The inside of the exterior walls display the beauty of the untreated 50 mm thick polar spruce. The render on the outside is a specific product for timber wall constructions. Recycled glass with plant based adhesives is used as insulation in the walls and recycled newspaper is used as insulation in the roof. The house has triple glazing timber windows and excellent air tightness exceeding Building Regulations.
The ceilings and most of the exterior walls display the beauty of the untreated wood.
The house has under-floor heating on all storeys. Heat and hot water is generated with an air source heat pump. The house has a "rain water manager": rain water is collected in an underground tank with 6500 litres and is used for washing machine, toilets and outside taps accounting for 50% of water usage. The house has a PV system with 4 KW peak. The EPC shows A-class energy rating.
The flooring downstairs, dining table and benches and master bedroom suite are made from reclaimed wood. Some of this wood comes from the refurbished Kings Cross Station. The kitchen worktop is made from 70% recycled glass. The floor covering on the first and second floors is made of sea-grass.
Mintons even "recycled" the old Anderson air-raid shelter found on the plot during groundworks as a wine cellar. There is an air-tight cat flap for the two cats called Fish and Chips.
The owners comment:
"Our dream was to build a family home for us, our two little boys with space for kittens, big enough to grow with us and to surround ourselves with family and friends. We wanted our house to be future proof - built to last, healthy, beautiful and ecologically sound. But we also wanted it to be within easy commuting distance to central London where we work.
A tall order, which we met with Stommel. We fell in love with Stommel houses a while ago - we adore the sense of wellbeing exuding from the polar spruce, the wood smell, the wonderful climate inside the houses and the beautiful craftsmanship. The fact that they are ecologically sound is of course a prerequisite.
When we found a plot with planning permission for a traditional mock tudor design house in a conservation area and Stommel confirmed that they could build it we were over the moon. Building with Stommel has been a great experience - they have been on time, on budget, helpful and exceeding all our expectations in terms of build quality. But they also managed to turn our dream into reality within the tight planning constraints in a London conservation area, which is notoriously challenging and required a creative and flexible approach.
A year on living in the house we are blissfully happy - the climate inside the house is just amazing, cool in the summer, warm in the winter, never too dry and people who come to visit comment on the wood smell, the beauty of the rafters and purlins and the calming and relaxing feel of the house. A year on we still feel like we are on holiday and the house has become a sanctuary to us. But what really excites us is that we have created such a generous amount of beautiful living space with very little impact on the environment compared to building a traditional house, and that it costs hardly anything to run in terms of electricity, generated by our solar PV and an air source heat pump. We use rainwater for toilets, washing machine and outside tap, which has more than halved our water bill and helps avoid flooding at the same time. If we could do it all again we would not change a thing."
The house is the first "Mock Tudor" house built by a German premium off-site-manufacturer of timber frame houses in the UK. It is a fantastic example of a bespoke home built in a very short time frame (3.5 months) which.
It's energy efficiency is excellent, scoring a SAP A rating with 92 points. A high performance, super quiet air source heat pump and under floor heating on all 3 storeys provide a comfortable temperature throughout the year - with even the option to cool the house in very hot temperatures in summer.
Mintons recycle the rain water and use it to flush the toilets, for the washing and the outside taps.
The build is very sustainable and eco friendly: The house is made primarily of untreated Polar spruce heartwood from FSC certified forests in Finland. There is about 60 tons of timber used in the house binding a lot of CO2. The insulation in the walls is made of recycled glass; the insulation in the roof is recycled newspaper. The flooring is covered with sea grass and reclaimed wood. The house was prefabricated in Germany where all scrap timber, insulation and Fermacell is recycled and there is minimal waste on site.
Stommel Haus has a great expertise in building healthy timber houses with more than 40 years of experience. The construction is very energy efficient and sustainable and also quite unusual: The walls are constructed as a diffusion open sandwich wall with a timber frame in the centre. With no membranes in the wall which could collect any condensation, the walls are "breathable" creating a fantastic interior atmosphere. Although very air-tight ("breathability" and "air-tightness" are no contradiction), no mechanical ventilation is required.
The house is constructed according to the latest DIN standards for timber construction totally devoid of chemical treatment. The walls and ceiling panels are pre-fabricated in the sheltered environment of a factory and can be assembled with no need of cutting any wood on site. The ceiling panels are let down by the crane joining the dove tail joints in the wall plates. There are no metal joints in the ceilings, resulting in a very tight and air-tight join and a very pleasing appearance. With its construction, Stommel Haus builds contemporary bespoke designs with almost no limits in architecture. Each and every house leaving the factory is different. The design of Minton's house was very unusual for Stommel Haus because of its Traditional Mock Tudor design.