The couple tight budget was a concern. To make savings, the family lived in a caravan during the build. But their main solution was to adapt cost-effective materials such as cross-laminated timber (CLT). Its delivery was somewhat problematic. The wood was carried on a 40ft lorry, which had to negotiate the long and narrow lane to the site. Once unloaded, it became apparent that the contractors had never worked with the material before. ‘CLT was a first for Northern Ireland and for us,’ Micah explained. ‘No one working on the house had even seen it before.’ Micah worked on the site every day in consultation with the main contractor. He and his small but dedicated team overcame any problems without delaying the project. ‘CLT is a beautiful material and so versatile. The walls, roof, stairs and some built-in furniture are made from it,’ he said.
The breakfast bar is built with timber offcuts. Image: Bradley Quinn
To make their money stretch even further, the couple employed cost-saving ideas throughout their Grand Designs modern barn. Timber offcuts from the window and door openings did not go to waste. They became part of the staircase, and breakfast bar in the kitchen. Inexpensive Ikea kitchen cabinets were upgraded with a concrete worksurface that Micah made himself. ‘It’s a beautiful surface that only cost £35,’ he said. The wall tiles, painted by the family while living in the caravan, are leftover pieces of the larch cladding. Keeping a close eye on every cost limited the couple’s final spend to an impressively low £245,000.
Micah, Elaine and their children in the timber porch. Image: Bradley Quinn
Making it sustainable
Micah and Elaine committed to enhancing the building’s energy-efficiency and sustainability. ‘It is super insulated and triple-glazed. Air tightness was high on the agenda,’ Micah said. A mechanical ventilation system with heat recovery (MVHR) provides warm, filtered fresh air. ‘It’s so simple. But it’s a lovely atmosphere to live in.’
The house runs north to south along its length. Light floods into the front of the building in the morning. In the afternoon and evening it reaches the back. There is as much glazing as possible to the southern end of the building – including in the triangular apex. This takes advantage of both the solar gain and the stunning views.
Both the walls and ceiling are clad in timber boards. Image: Bradley Quinn