On a beautiful September day I took a stroll over from my office to discover that the outer structure of the new project is almost complete, the glazing is installed, and the builders are now awaiting the arrival of the steel sheeting for the roof. Work can then start on the interior details.
The self-build housing project, called Build Three, the first of its kind on the Field of Dreams, is a collaboration between three separate homeowners – Michael Sharpe, the project manager with extensive building experience on the Field; Will Russell and his partner Angie Alexandra; and the White family: Michael, Kathy and their daughter Bella. Together they designed the houses to have some features they will share, notably a common heating boiler, and yet each house will retain an individual style and design on the inside.
The three-house terrace is built to high ecological standards, with warm-cell insulation (made substantially from recyled newspaper) and solar panels – energy conservation is also helped by the shared walls. Their high-efficiency, wood pellet stove will heat all three houses with carbon-neutral fuel made from wood by-products. This kind of stove would probably be too expensive for an individual house but makes sense when the cost is split three ways.
The project was overseen by architect Nicole Edmonds but the homeowners devised the plans themselves and are now busy working on the project together. When I saw Michael White, although untrained, he was working on cladding and flooring under the supervision of a team of skilled craftspeople.
The hands-on approach that the three groups have taken, not only reduces costs, but also gives them all a much better relationship with their homes once they are complete. As Will Russell told me, “It’s been a long journey but I just think there’s some sense of deep satisfaction to be part of the whole process from beginning to end. It’s all about the quality that you put into it – the Findhorn thing of ‘work is love in action’. It’s fantastic, I’m blissed out.”
The group hope to move into all three houses around the start of 2006.
Good luck and good weather to the project.