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Skylarkin - Self build of a new contemporary family eco home

The Brief – the brief was to design a unique and contemporary environmentally friendly property which takes in the stunning views, but which also enables the owners to be able to afford to self build and live in their family home in Ponsanooth. The plot was sold in 2015 to its current owners; a young family with children who hoped to self-build their first home. We worked closely with our clients to design a four bedroom family home that would appear spacious internally whilst actually being both compact and cost effective, a challenging balance!

The Design –  the proposed site for ‘Skylarkin ’ is located approximately mid way up the side of the valley and offers outstanding views over Ponsanooth and the valley below. The design needed careful consideration to take advantage of the outstanding views whilst retaining privacy and preventing overlooking of the neighbouring properties. The positioning of the property on the steeply sloping site was also vital as significant ground and retaining works were required before construction on the property could begin.  

The proposed site, whilst being both within and well connected to the heart of the village, is certainly considered to be located on the outer fringes. It was therefore not considered essential to design a ‘traditional’ new property, as the site is surrounded by a mix of both modern and historic designs and gave the opportunity for us to work on a more contemporary home. A more traditional pitch roof appeared to dominate the skyline but the addition of a flat roof with overhanging eaves provides a modern and contemporary appearance that complements the house. It also keeps the roofline at low level, with the property being set into the hillside below and hidden by the screen of established trees to the front. 


Timber will be the principle construction material throughout the build, with the building being a combination of timber frame and Douglas fir posts and beams. The modern and contemporary design style of the proposed home is to be finished externally with timber cladding to blend with the natural environment of the woodland surrounding the home.  

Internally the property will continue the style of modern, contemporary living with clean lines and minimal finishes.  Set down at ground floor level, level access into the property is via a light and modern porch with storage space for coats and shoes.  The front door leads into an open plan Kitchen and Dining room. The Kitchen island unit backs onto the dining table with bench seating.  The corner glazing also incorporates sliding patio doors to allow access outside as well as opening up the views. A central corridor leads to a practical Utility room for laundry and storage with separate access to outside via a side door.  There is a Family Bathroom and also a separate Shower Room. The Master Bedroom has a long run of built-in wardrobes which also form a sound break between the Bedroom and Shower Room.  Stairs lead up to the first floor with built-in storage underneath. 

There is a good size Lounge at first floor level which also has space for an art and design table. The Lounge will be flooded with natural light from the corner glazing and windows which also open up the views. The first floor also incorporates three kids’ bedrooms designed to be compact yet functional; room for bunk beds with desk space and a wardrobe underneath. A WC services the first floor living accommodation.   Access out to the high-level rear garden is from the stair landing. 

Externally there is space for three cars to park as well as turning space. To the rear of the property, a  storage room for bikes and surf boards has been included as well as a separate bin and recycling store. The sloping site contains a range of small shrubs and some established trees which are to be retained. At the top of the garden is a level grassy area with even better views out over the surrounding countryside.

Green Agenda – the fundamental principal of sustainability underlies the design of the revised scheme for the new house. The building materials have low embodied energy with the building being a combination of timber frame and glulam and douglas fir posts and beams. Timber is a carbon neutral, high-performance material, light in weight, yet with excellent load bearing and thermal properties as well as recyclable. The envelope will be highly insulated and airtight with good quality double glazing and the property aims to improve on the basic levels required by the current building regulations.  The full height corner glazing to the property pre-heats the air and the property benefits from passive solar gain. To avoid overheating the roof sails out to offer shade in the summer months and patio doors combined with the windows provide rapid purge ventilation. Natural light is fundamental to the scheme with windows, patio doors and full height corner glazing allowing daylight into the property.  This reliance on natural daylight reduces the use of artificial light which will be via low energy LED’s. The hot water and heating will be provided to the property using an air source heat pump which heats both the water and the underfloor heating system. Efficient appliances will be installed throughout such as water saving toilets. Rainwater will be collected and re-used for watering the garden.

The trees are a valuable part of the site providing positive environmental benefits in the urban setting as well as ensuring the property is well screened from the neighbouring properties. The planning application has been designed to ensure no trees are damaged during and after the building works. 

Project work undertaken by CAD before construction could take place included arranging for a topographical survey of the site, design concept and sketch schemes, full planning consent, building regulations approval, construction drawings and specification of works.

Build Route – Self Build.

Completion Date – On site.

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