Cotswolds Passive House

Finding a Cotswolds Architect

When relocating to the Cotswolds, Susie and Sam Andrews found a two-bed property which needed a large extension to make it habitable for their family of five. Then they set out to find a local architect to plan the renovations. When introduced to Jonathan here, they were delighted we already had experience of low energy design. Susie says, “We felt the first Architect we worked with was very fixed and didn’t really take our ideas on board. Whereas Jonathan brought three or four concept sketches, and it was excellent – he so clearly listened to what we wanted. We found the first design session incredibly collaborative.” At that meeting, we progressed the idea of designing a new-build to fit within their budget, stretching their budget further because it was zero-rated for VAT. Given the original house had structural mould problems and needed too much work, it made perfect sense to replace it with a new low carbon passive house, which also gave us the opportunity to reposition the house.

Interpreting the family’s requirements

To achieve as much living space as they needed downstairs, we designed a single-storey, high vaulted-ceiling kitchen space, adjoining the two-storey main house. To bring the outside in, the design included clear lines of sight from the oversized ground floor entrance hallway through the kitchen and playroom to the garden. We planned the whole flow to suit their lifestyle. The feature staircase leads up to a large picture window on the landing, making the most of the view. Four of the bedrooms are on the first floor, with a fifth bedroom and second shower room on the ground floor. Susie explains, “The domestic vernacular was important to us, because although the house is modern, we needed it to function well too, living a busy life with young children.”

Planning consent to construction

To achieve planning consent, we worked with our local planning consultant which went smoothly. Then at the tender stage, we helped Susie and Sam interview four building contractors before selecting DJP Construction to complete the work, because they had already built low carbon buildings. Susie says, “Jonathan and our quantity surveyor held our hands through the process of finding the right builder. David [from DJP] in particular was really personable, engaged and knowledgeable; we felt we got on with him well at that first meeting.” Thanks to a successful team approach, the build progressed really well and the house was ready to move in before Christmas.

Moving into the passive house

Since moving into their new home, the Andrews found the extra space has transformed their lives, after being in the rental for three years. Susie explains, “Above all, we wanted spaces for people to be alone and space for us to do things together.” The benefits of the passive house are clear. Susie remarks that they barely use the heating upstairs, in spite of a cold snap after they moved in. “It always feels warm and really comfortable and the MVHR unit isn’t noisy either.” To sum up how they feel about their new home, Susie says, “It’s fascinating how design can affect so much, way beyond the visual aspects. Yes, it’s beautiful, but the house is also enabling us to live better.”

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