Tag Archives: SELF BUILD

Extension to Smithy cottage

 This project required a phased response. Initially the existing cottage was to undergo a scheme of wholesale refurbishment and modernisation in order for the clients to move in from their temporary rented home. Some of the rooms needed to be easily changed over once an extension was designed, approved and built; for instance the temporary kitchen is now the utility room.

Our brief was to create a large extension which would accommodate the main living spaces, master bedroom and a guest suite. The principle behind the concept was to orientate the structure to maximise the views over the adjacent Ogston Reservoir and surrounding woodland. This resulted in a modern, juxtaposed form, which contrasts with the original traditional stone cottage.

Our clients had been inspired by several elements of design from travelling and were keen to incorporate many such as ‘hit & miss’ timber cladding. To date, the house hasn’t generated a single energy bill after being fitted with Air Source Heat Pumps and Solar PV arrays on the roof. When the sun is shining, they are often in credit and receiving a return from the National Grid.

The Homestead

 A fast flowing watercourse that runs past the house provided an interesting challenge to what was otherwise a fairly straightforward brief! Our response was a glass-enclosed ‘floating’ bridge over the watercourse to more functional utility and bathroom spaces. The extension reads as a garden pavilion, providing an impressive entrance courtyard and improved access to a peaceful, leafy garden beyond.

Sophie’s House

Our clients wanted a fully accessible house for their daughter within the grounds of their existing home.

The design is conceptualized as a walled secret garden, continuing from the existing boundary wall, and forms the north elevation of the new house. The heavily insulated walls are clad on the north side in render and with larch on the south.

Slot glazing minimizes heat loss on all elevations except the southern aspect, which enjoys views over the ‘secret garden’ and access out onto a south-facing patio.

The energy efficient house is fitted with a simple strip of Solar Photovoltaic panels which take full advantage of the near perfect orientation.

Garden room

Our client’s front door opened directly into their kitchen. They wanted a porch, but, in their own words, “an interesting one”.

We looked at the house and the garden. There was an interesting view which the house design failed to capture, and an attractive tree on the front lawn.

We designed the porch to frame the new view with an angled wall opening up the space until it was big enough to fit a dining table. The angled wall means that the roof dips into the corner; this leaves a view of the tree from the house as well as the garden.

A large section of patent glazing over the kitchen window means that the space remains light and sunny.

North View

 Our clients wanted to construct a single story home for themselves, as their current house had become difficult for them to live in. They did not want to leave the village and their friends so hoped to build a suitable dwelling in their garden.

We suggested constructing a building with a mono-pitch roof off two low walls to the boundary. From the neighbours’ perspective, this would be no more invasive than the erection of a fence, which could be erected without planning consent.

The site had complicated planning issues to resolve. These included overlooking problems as well as an awkwardly shaped site. The Planning Authority were very resistant to the idea.

The roof pitch means that we were able to use sedum to create a living roof which is both attractive and thermally very efficient.

The Blue House

 A new house in Wash Green, Wirksworth on an awkward corner site.

Before the house was built, the view of Wash green on leaving Wirksworth was one of an ugly pre-cast concrete retaining wall.

The wall still exists, but by planning the house on the corner and on the permanent edge, a sense of continuity with the street is introduced and the view of the wall is lost.

A splash of colour is introduced to brighten the street scene (as can be found in the centre of the town), and cedar cladding is used to turn the corner and introduce a silver grey colouring, suggestive of the colour of the locally quarried limestone.

Moot Point

 So called because of our clients self-professed ability to pontificate over design ideas, rather than its proximity to the historic Moot Hall opposite, Moot Point is a new house in the historic Conservation Area of Wirksworth. The house is built along simple, passive and sustainable design principles.

The north facing elevation has few openings and extra insulation has been added. The south facing elevation is highly glazed to maximize solar gain. A conservatory is used to contribute to the heating, with the living and dining spaces opening into it a ground and first floor level. This is particularly effective in spring and autumn. All rainwater is filtered and recycled and timber was specified where allowed to keep construction materials in line with the projects sustainable aims.


Eloise was built in the garden of our client’s parent’s property, so that she would be able to look after them in their old age.

There was initial resistance from the Planning Authority to this idea because the building would create a break in the linear development set deep behind a stone wall which characterised the setting.

Eloise is designed therefore to have the feel of a ‘gatehouse’ which gives a rationale to its setting.

A large glazed south facing atrium is a focal point to the house and maximizes sunlight and views. Externally, earthy coloured render and timber cladding give the house a feel appropriate to it’s garden setting.

Stable Block Conversion

A tired and worn-out modern stable building is transformed to create a beautiful new home.

Our clients owned the stables and hoped to convert them into a stylish new home. However, because the building was outside the area considered by The Local Planning Authority as suitable for residential development, they were insistent that any conversion would need be undertaken without significant alteration or extension.

As we were not able to increase the “footprint” of the building, we suggested that the roof could be extended to create a sense of arrival, a “port-cochere.” This would provide covered space for parking, deliveries, log storage and for outdoor dining.

For the interior, we put it to the planning authority that if we could not change the plan form, we could instead excavate part of the building. This allowed us to introduce a variety of interior spaces, such as double height rooms and galleried areas with upper level rooms accessed over a bridge across the ground floor living space.

You now arrive at the house under the “port-cochere” and enter through the fully glazed gable wall into a hallway flooded with light. From the hallway you can go down half a level to the kitchen, or up half a level to a gallery overlooking a full height living space. From the gallery a short bridge connects you to the first floor bedrooms.