Building type Domestic
Building age post 2000
Location Easton, Woodbridge
Cost of work £55,000
District Suffolk Coastal
Features Biomass Boiler,Insulation and Glazing

This new build, 2 storey outbuilding, floor area 35m2, was built in the curtilage of a listed building at the edge of a small village in 2010.  The brief was to provide home office space  and guest quarters.  The design is traditional rural Suffolk, in keeping with the setting of a Victorian Thatched cottage: black stained weatherboard walls, red brick plinth, pan tiled roof, white painted bargeboards. The intention is to build an energy efficient building, using sustainable construction methods and materials and visually pleasing design features within a modest budget.

Sustainability Features

The entire project conforms to Building Regs April 2010. All timber is FSC certified. The walls are timber framed, 50 x 150 with breathable construction, the roof cut in situ using 50 x 220 rafters and a glu-lam ridge beam. KNAUF  “earthwool” recycled glass insulation and no formaldehyde binder is used in the walls and roof. The floor is insulated with 100mm of locally produced “Celotex” PIR insulation. External weatherboard and red bricks for the plinth were locally sourced, as were T & G timber boards for the upper floor. No formaldehyde content boards used anywhere in project.  All paints and finishes are low VOC or completely non-toxic.

Rainwater goods are “Lindab” galvanised steel: long life, recyclable, and not expensive.  Windows are Magnet timber with double glazed units, stained with 3 coats of “Auro 160” organically produced woodstain.

The building is heated by a wood burning stove by Stovax. No LPG, gas or oil. The double walled flue rises through the upper floor and provides warmth, with a backup for the upstairs only of a plug in electric radiator. The shower is electric, and handwashing is with cold water or warm from the kettle set on the stove.

A red cedar back porch with corrugated metal roof provides protection from the elements for a stack of firewood near the door in winter, and a lovely sun drenched space to enjoy a view of the countryside in good weather. The entire porch and external stair leading to the upper room is in naturally durable red cedar, treated with non toxic oil finish.


Design Process

Planning Permission was granted after much consultation with SCDC planners. The use of the building had to be ancillary to the existing dwelling, and the upstairs office accessible by an external staircase. The scale of the project does not detract from the original dwelling as the primary building on site. The use of corrugated metal panels was accepted to tie in with other buildings on site and because it is a “traditional material falling out of use. “The need for additional working space to sustain a live/work sustainable lifestyle was part of the Design and Access statement in the Application.





Green Lifestyle

The main reason to build was to create more working space to support a live/work lifestyle from home, eliminating commuting to London or rented office space elsewhere. We already try to combine errands, shopping and children’s activities to minimise driving, as well as lift sharing with friends whenever possible. The new building, heated by the wood stove, retains it’s heat very well, and we are pleased to note our LPG gas use has dropped significantly. We do a lot of timber harvesting, splitting and chopping ourselves, which saves money and seems to be good for mental and physical health! The building is not even one year old, so specifics re LPG use are not yet available.

There is no hot water, the shower is electric (we switched to a green supplier) but we could not justify the expense of photovoltaic panels to generate our own electricity. The roof area was not facing due south, and was not large enough for this to make sense-yet!



The new building is a joy to be in, lots of natural light and materials throughout. The red cedar wood, imported, is naturally durable and the deep red colour is very pleasing. It’s a great feeling to get warmth from the wood stove, and to know the walls are timber framed with recycled glass insulation. If we started again I would detail the upper floor differently and put better sound isolation measures in, so sound doesn’t travel between floors.

We are very happy with the open porch as a buffer zone from the elements and as a sun trap in the late afternoon.


Suppliers and Professional Services Used

Architect: Barbara Ann Spencer, Easton

Builder: Keith Thomas and Sons, Worlingworth

Wood burning Stove: The Fireplace, Framlingham

Engineer: JP Chick and Partners, Ipswich



Recommended for “Quality of Place” awards, will enter in 2011