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Grocott and Murfit




A sustainable two bedroom self-build home

This two bedroom house with open-plan kitchen, living and dining space, sits on a plot of land within the small village of Billingford. Sited in the north west corner of the plot, the home is arranged around a south facing, 3 sided courtyard offering views across the length of the site and glimpses of the village church beyond. Billingford is Studio Bark’s 6th home to have permission granted under Paragraph 80 (formerly Paragraph 79/55) of the NPPF.

This two bedroom home is constructed using Studio Bark’s flat-pack U-Build system. U-Build was chosen in response to the client’s self-build ambitions which allowed them greater involvement with the build process.


The client’s dream home brief

The client brief was to blur the distinction between the home and the beautiful plot of land in which it sits. The design shelters external space but still lets the client enjoy the openness of the wider site. Arranged over two storeys, the proposal faces the south to maximise passive solar gains and natural ventilation. The client can close the courtyard with a large movable shutter which offers a changeable space depending on the desired use, whilst also helping to control solar gains to the south-facing rooms.

An indigenous fruit orchard will satisfy the client’s desire to grow and manage their own produce. It also provides a rich environment for new and existing ecosystems.


Energy efficient home building

The predominantly timber construction allows for a very low impact and low energy building.

Studio Bark incorporated best practice environmental strategies throughout the building: the use of ‘fabric-first’ detailing, natural ventilation, and passive solar gains. Controlled openings to the south with heavy-weight floor and surface finishes, effectively stores warmth from passive solar gains. These  get released slowly during the cooler parts of the day/night. The narrow plan with high-level openings makes the most of natural cross and stack ventilation, lessening the risk of overheating in the summer months. Heat is supplied through the use of a biomass boiler – locally sourced timber suppliers feed the boiler together with the additional power through photo-voltaic panels which are hidden on the roof.


U-Build self-build construction system

Unlike conventional single-use materials the U-Build system is re-useable, environmentally responsible, and gives a high level of cost certainty. The system doesn’t require expensive cranes, scaffolding, specialist or potentially disruptive equipment, offering a simple low impact solution for modern quality construction. Studio Bark used Computer aided cutting (CnC) to create a ‘flat pack’ system. In addition, the system minimises waste through efficient ‘nesting’ of the parts and the use of a 300mm repeating grid which fits perfectly on a standard sheet of plywood.

The U-Build boxes are incredibly easy to piece together – the (self)builder can assemble the system with just a mallet, a screwdriver and a spanner. Made of solid plywood or OSB, the builder bolts the system together with standard coach bolt fixings, the resulting structure is robust, resilient and cheap to maintain and/or replace if necessary.


What is Paragraph 80?

Billingford was built under Paragraph 80 of the National Planning Policy Framework. Find out more about our work with Paragraph 80 homes here, and get in touch if you think we can help you with your isolated home building project.

Explore our Paragraph 80 approved homes here.

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