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Laurencekirk by Tony Allen, Owner

After considering quite a few sites, I finally decided to go with the one at Wester Waterlair.  I had looked at a lot before I found this, but they were either too close to neighbouring properties, or literally a "green field site", with no trees or natural cover. This was the best of the bunch, it was originally a croft, with a cottage, bothy and a steading. The house and steading had been extensively "remodelled" by the previous owner; the house had a spiral staircase made from scaffold poles and elm planks, topped off with a flat roof made from concrete, old carpets and plastic sheeting, and the steading had a 30' x 20' pool with a grape vine and a peach tree. Believe me, it sounds a lot better than it looked. or performed-when it rained, it would continue to rain for two hours inside the house after the rain had stopped!

I contacted Vic Peterkin at Peterkin Homes to assess the site, and then broke the news to him that I would really like to build an art deco house there. It is not often that the opportunity arises to build and design a new home! I was inspired by the Midland Hotel in Morecambe, having been dragged on a caravan holiday by my parents at a tender age, I was fascinated by the faded beauty of this great building, and even though it was showing it's age, with rotting windows and peeling paint, I could recognise an inspiring piece of architecture.

Vic recommended Ashleigh Wilson of AB Roger & Young from Brechin, with whom he had a good working relationship.  Once the initial design had been agreed, we looked at the build options. I have a plumbing and heating company, and have oft been amazed at the complex (expensive), elegant (very expensive) and convoluted methods that are used in new builds! It was decided that the best form of heating would be a quality, high performance closed panel timber frame system (insulation is the most important component of a heating system: the insulation is a fixed price at the point of construction, but fuel costs rise every year!) with underfloor heating, heat recovery system, and conventional oil boiler( very easy to repair!), and thermal efficient windows.

Vic Peterkin suggested Scotframe for the house kit. This was less than straightforward, as the house was art deco, had a round tower 9m high, a graded staircase on a long curve with stepped windows, parapet walls concealing a hidden monopitch steel roof. The design was passed to Scotframe to produce the specification, and they suggested that we use the JJL floor joists supplied as flooring cassettes, which reduces on site construction time, and was a real bonus for installing the heat recovery system, as it was a real headache working out how to run the 100mm insulated ducting to every room-with JJl joists, it was possible to cut 150mm dia hole through the joists, which would have been impossible with standard joists.

Another time saver with the Val-U-Therm® closed panel system from Scotframe was the fact that very large panels were made in the factory, and then craned in to position on site, the whole of the lower floor was erected in 3 1/2 hours, fixed, secured and no need to insulate! As the house design was art deco, the windows were an important feature-trying to achieve the look and the finish was difficult-I had tried several suppliers to no avail: I needed small astragals with minimal frames, preferably timber, totally draught proof, painted finish on the outside, natural finish on the inside. After a bit of head scratching, Scotframe found a manufacturer whose windows matched the criteria. Once the kit was erected and the windows were in, the roof panels were fitted, it was wind and watertight, which was a good job, as the winter was horrendous-it snowed for two weeks non-stop and the steading roof collapsed!

Even with a hard winter, work continued inside, the first fix was completed within three weeks, the underfloor heating was fitted, gypsum screed poured downstairs, render then chipboard flooring upstairs. Once spring appeared(late!) the outside works could be started.  The whole of the external blockwork was smooth rendered and then painted arctic white. It was an amazing sight the day the scaffolding came down! The house is unusual in that it has five corners and appears to have no roof-and each corner is different, viewed from the front corner, it looks like a tower with a curved extension, viewed from the upper garden it looks like the Odeon cinema I used to frequent on a Saturday morning!
It is a good house to live in-it is so solid and draught proof I have to look out of a window to see what the weather is up to, and it is inexpensive to heat, due to the gain from the large windows heating the gypsum slab, it usually uses around 1000 litres of kerosene a year, which is not a lot for a 220 sq m house.

Wait until you see the next one..................................... notes Tony Allen, Owner.
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