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A House on the Hill (by the sea)

Low Energy Houses

Dumfries & Galloway Council Design Awards 2023 – Commendation

The existing site contained a ruined barn and a house which had been reconstructed following a fire. The existing house posed a number of challenges including an awkward layout, a lack of headroom on the upper floor and windows which did not do justice to the spectacular views from the site. The house was also over two storeys which the clients considered to be less than ideal in the long term. An options appraisal was carried out which considered both extension / alteration and demolition / new build options. Following this the clients decided to make the bold move of replacing the existing house with a simple, single storey energy efficient home. 

The design of the house is a modern take on simple, familiar dual pitched forms using traditional materials like white render and natural slate. Robust materials were essential for such an exposed location, with triple glazed, aluminium clad timber framed windows selected to maximise both energy efficiency and durability. The structure of the house is timber framed and some timber cladding is used externally.

The design of the house makes the most of a limited budget by minimising wasteful circulation space, placing the main living space in the centre of the plan with the other rooms accessed off it. Large windows capture the view to the north-west towards Barn Heugh, Kirkandrews Bay and beyond. An essential aspect of the client brief was the library which features bespoke shelving. The clients wanted the master bedroom to be large enough to function as a second sitting room with the sea views to the south-west reserved for this room only. 

Sustainability was an important consideration for the project. Heating is provided by an air source heat pump with a wood burning stove providing occasional ‘mood’ heating on winter evenings. A roof mounted photovoltaic array provides on site renewable generation. The clients report that, during the first full year of occupation, they have generated more electricity than they have used. The house has an EPC rating of ‘A 102’. An EPC rating of over 100 is considered to be carbon-negative.

“If you’ve never built a house from scratch before, our advice is to engage a local architect. We appointed Graeme in this vital role, and it was the best thing we did. Graeme brought a sense of calm and professionalism to what can be a daunting experience. We found Graeme to be approachable, flexible, and very patient. Graeme’s excellent working relationships with the main contractor and local trades kept our project on budget and on time. You can’t hope for better than that.”

– Rob and Anna

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