Couple spend £250,000 building their own eco-friendly home with a yearly energy bill of just £940


A couple have spent £250,000 building their own eco-friendly house – and say it is the house of the future.

Retired teachers Geoff and Sandie Stratford, who live in Lincoln, bought a two bedroom bungalow in 2011 before knocking it down to build the state-of-the-art three bedroom eco home, Hawthorn Cottage on the site.

Sandie, 66, and Geoff, 71, had the timber frame house built with FSC certified timber and decided from the outset to cut off the gas supply.

Retired teachers Geoff and Sandie Stratford, (pictured) who live in Lincoln, bought a two bedroom bungalow in 2011 before knocking it down to build the state-of-the-art three bedroom eco home, Hawthorn Cottage on the site

Retired teachers Geoff and Sandie Stratford, (pictured) who live in Lincoln, bought a two bedroom bungalow in 2011 before knocking it down to build the state-of-the-art three bedroom eco home, Hawthorn Cottage on the site

Geoff said: ‘The vision for the house came from our understanding that we’re in a dire climate emergency: we need to reduce our carbon footprint as much as we possibly can.

‘We didn’t do this to save money.

‘There’s no reason why this shouldn’t be the house of the present as well as the future.

‘Most people can’t afford to build their own home never mind a nice eco home, but developers absolutely should be putting up this kind of house all the time. It is affordable, especially if it was done at scale. Most houses should have solar panels and air source or ground source heating.

Geoff holding a piece of the special insulation that was placed around the house during the build

Geoff holding a piece of the special insulation that was placed around the house during the build

Geoff holding a piece of the special insulation that was placed around the house during the build

‘All the features we’ve got could be in most houses in just a few years’ time if developers put their minds to it.

‘Most people aren’t in a position to do what we’ve done, but we’ve tried to illustrate some of the technology and options available.

‘We do feel very lucky, we take great delight in showing people around, showing the standard that developers should follow.’

Geoff and Sandie first came up with the project in 2011 and moved in to Hawthorn Cottage in 2018.

The concrete floor being poured over the insulation and underfloor heating pipes during the build process

The concrete floor being poured over the insulation and underfloor heating pipes during the build process

The concrete floor being poured over the insulation and underfloor heating pipes during the build process

The banks of solar panels on the roof of the property

The banks of solar panels on the roof of the property

The banks of solar panels on the roof of the property

Geoff and Sandie in their recycled shed watering some seedlings

Geoff and Sandie in their recycled shed watering some seedlings

Geoff and Sandie in their recycled shed watering some seedlings

Before selling their home they were able to plan the build with a firm of local architects.

The original two bedroom bungalow on the site was completely demolished in December 2016 with Geoff and Sandie moving in in 2018, after sofa surfing with neighbours while the new cottage was finished.

The bungalow was transformed into a stunning three bedroom home with a range of eco features across the building.

In an effort to minimise the amount of waste left over from the bungalow, Geoff and Sandie reused the six internal doors from the bungalow for the upstairs of the new cottage as well as turning timber beams and left over garage walls into raised flower beds.

Copper, aluminium and steel from the demolition was sold as scrap metal for recycling in an effort to ensure that nothing was wasted.

The building is air-tight and insulated throughout, with the windows and doors being triple glazed.

The house boasts an open plan living, kitchen, dining area, three bedrooms, a utility room, family bathroom and a granny annex.

The house boasts an open plan living, kitchen, dining area, three bedrooms, a utility room, family bathroom and a granny annex

The house boasts an open plan living, kitchen, dining area, three bedrooms, a utility room, family bathroom and a granny annex

The house boasts an open plan living, kitchen, dining area, three bedrooms, a utility room, family bathroom and a granny annex

Sandie demonstrates how well the special permeable paving stones work to allow water to pass through into the rainwater harvesting tank below them

Sandie demonstrates how well the special permeable paving stones work to allow water to pass through into the rainwater harvesting tank below them

Sandie demonstrates how well the special permeable paving stones work to allow water to pass through into the rainwater harvesting tank below them

The controller for the rainwater harvest tank that feeds the rainwater into the house to supply the toilets and washing machine

The controller for the rainwater harvest tank that feeds the rainwater into the house to supply the toilets and washing machine

The controller for the rainwater harvest tank that feeds the rainwater into the house to supply the toilets and washing machine

Hawthorn Cottage is powered by a combination of fourteen solar panels and grid electricity from a green energy provider.

The heating for the cottage is from an air source heat pump which extracts heat from the air and takes it into water for underfloor heating, radiators, and a large hot water tank.

Mechanical ventilation and heat exchange extracts stale warm air from the kitchens and bathrooms via ceiling vents and feeds warmed fresh air into the bedrooms and living rooms via other ceiling vents.

This means that their yearly energy bill comes to £940 a year – £2.57 a day.

Geoff said: ‘Once you have the technology in it does save money.

Geoff and Sandie Stratford bought a two bedroom bungalow in 2014 (pictured) before knocking it down to build the state-of-the-art three bedroom eco home, Hawthorn Cottage

Geoff and Sandie Stratford bought a two bedroom bungalow in 2014 (pictured) before knocking it down to build the state-of-the-art three bedroom eco home, Hawthorn Cottage

Geoff and Sandie Stratford bought a two bedroom bungalow in 2014 (pictured) before knocking it down to build the state-of-the-art three bedroom eco home, Hawthorn Cottage

‘The technology can be expensive to start with but overall it’s cheaper to run.’

The couple are able to off-set the cost of this from the money they earn from the electricity generated by their solar panels and a renewable heat incentive which pays them money each quarter for the amount of clean energy their system produces.

What eco features are found in the house?

The building is air-tight and insulated throughout. 

The windows and doors are triple glazed.

The heating for the cottage is from an air source heat pump.

The pump extracts heat from the air and takes it into water for underfloor heating, radiators, and a large hot water tank.

It has fourteen solar panels.

The patio doors from the couple’s previous home were reused to make a greenhouse.

There’s a 3,000 litre tank in the back garden that collects rainwater from the roof that is used to flush toilets and provide water for the laundry.

The couple even shunned concrete by deciding to use permeable paving on their drive and patio.

 

Geoff and Sandie have even been able to harness rainwater, installing a 3,000 litre tank in the back garden that collects rainwater from the roof that is used to flush toilets and provide water for the laundry.

In the garden, water butts collect rain from each of the two shed roofs provide water for garden use.

The patio doors from their previous home were reused to make a greenhouse.

The couple even shunned concrete by deciding to use permeable paving on the front drive and patio to reduce the risk of flooding.

Geoff and Sandie try to grow as many of their own vegetables as possible.

Sandie said: ‘I don’t feel that living like this is a challenge. I feel privileged to live in a beautiful house. I feel satisfied and pleased that we’ve been able to reuse old things from the previous bungalow.

‘We could have sold them to a reclamation yard but there was just something nice about them, it felt right to keep them.

‘We try to live as sustainably as we can in the house and in the garden.

‘It’s a very little garden but last year we grew beetroot, tomato, courgettes, runner beans, leeks, Swiss chard, fennel, chives, thyme and other herbs.

‘We compost everything and we even had to change our waste system in the kitchen.

Geoff and Sandie in front of their recycled shed watering some seedlings

Geoff and Sandie in front of their recycled shed watering some seedlings

Geoff and Sandie in front of their recycled shed watering some seedlings

The triple glazing that is installed throughout the whole eco friendly house

The triple glazing that is installed throughout the whole eco friendly house

The triple glazing that is installed throughout the whole eco friendly house

The special paving bricks that enable rapid drainage of water through to the rainwater harvesting tank underneath them that feeds rainwater to the washing machine and toilets

The special paving bricks that enable rapid drainage of water through to the rainwater harvesting tank underneath them that feeds rainwater to the washing machine and toilets

The special paving bricks that enable rapid drainage of water through to the rainwater harvesting tank underneath them that feeds rainwater to the washing machine and toilets

Geoff and Sandie Stratford's eco home is so cosy that a heating company refused to sell them a log burner - and they pay no gas bills

Geoff and Sandie Stratford's eco home is so cosy that a heating company refused to sell them a log burner - and they pay no gas bills

Geoff and Sandie Stratford’s eco home is so cosy that a heating company refused to sell them a log burner – and they pay no gas bills

‘Our compost kept filling three or four times a day, our landfill was hardly worth putting out for the bin collection so we swapped over and used the large plastic container for compost, the other for recycling and reserved a small one for landfill.’

The couple added that they’re hard pressed to choose a favourite room.

Geoff said: ‘It’s difficult to say what our favourite room is but the living room is probably where we spend most of our time. We enjoy looking out on the garden with it’s full of nature.

‘Living here is a privilege and we just hope that we’ve shown people some of the options available to live more sustainably.’