Hanse Haus have been incredibly efficient from start to finish.

Helen and Richard Gurd - Chard, Somerset

“Watching our old Chalet Bungalow being knocked down in just 3 hours was quite a daunting experience.  We’d lived in it quite happily for the past 5 years but with 3 children, space had become an issue and we decided it was time for something bigger.  
The bungalow also had zero insulation, which meant that we were constantly feeding the Rayburn with wood to keep the place warm – it was labour intensive and with a camping and caravan site and log cabin retreat to run, it was taking up far too much time. We wanted to build our own bespoke house but had concerns about the time it would take and the cost.  Then, our local district councillor mentioned Hanse Haus to us and since then we didn’t look back.  Our plans were passed in February ’08, we signed a contract with Hanse Haus in April ’08 and the house was built in November ’08. We then moved into our new home for Christmas”.  Helen Gurd.

Helen and Richard Gurd’s house is located on their camping and touring caravan park, called Alpine Grove Woodland Park, near Chard in South Somerset.  The house stands at one end of the quiet 8.5 acre woodland site and has the site reception and shop attached to it.
With the business to run as well as the park to maintain, and three children to add to the mix, Helen and Richard needed their house to be spacious, functional and somewhat low maintenance. “We employed an architect to do our drawings but had a few issues with the Planning Department at South Somerset & Yeovil Council when they told us that they couldn’t pass the house on the basis of it’s size, shape and roof design.  We were told that the new house could only be 15% bigger than the original property but after 4 weeks and numerous discussions, our plans were passed and the house we’ve ended up with is 25% bigger than the old one.  Obviously we had to compromise on some things, but ultimately we’ve got the house we wanted.
Fortunately, we were able to live in one of our log cabins whilst it was being built so we didn’t have to move far and we were on-site throughout the process.  With between 4 and 6 builders working on it at any one time, the entire house and shop/reception annex was built within 6 weeks.  It was a highly organised procedure, which for us, was altogether stress-free.  There were a few small things that weren’t quite as we’d wanted but being so close by we were able to tell them quickly enough and they were able to make the necessary changes.  Otherwise, it was just a case of letting them get on with it”, said Helen.

On entering into the leafy setting of the park, the part European/part English style house is situated to one end.  Despite a previous dwelling, Helen and Richard had concrete supplied by a local contractor and then laid a new foundation pad themselves.
The exterior walls are 25.7 cm thick and comprise a mixture of cream-coloured render and stonework on the outside, which lends itself to the natural setting. The house has triple-glazed PVC windows with a foil.
It has a pitched tiled roof and copper guttering. Although it’s a modern house, it has many traditional features.

The house provides 235.95 SqM of living space with a +42.89 SqM attic, which is not converted.
The ground floor is accessed through a porch and into a spacious dining hall.  Both the lounge, with a brick built fireplace and wood-burner, and double patio doors to the rear, and the open plan kitchen/breakfast room lead off the dining hall.  The shop/reception/office is accessed via the kitchen/breakfast room and also through an external door from the campsite.  There’s also a separate WC and large utility/boiler room on the ground floor. Downstairs is fitted with ceramic floor tiles throughout with carpet in the lounge.
Upstairs comprises of 4 spacious bedrooms, a family bathroom and large, open landing.  The master bedroom has an en suite bathroom and dressing area.  A children’s playroom/guestroom, which is situated in the loft space above the shop/reception, is accessed through one of the bedrooms.
The bedrooms and landing is laid with carpet throughout and the bathrooms have ceramic tiles.  The stairs are made of solid oak and the entire house benefits from under-floor heating.
The interior walls are 12 cm thick and the house also boasts the Hanse Haus solid wall system, which combines the advantages of a timber frame and solid wall construction.  “The walls have a stud every 300mm and they are completely glued on both sides with OSB boards. That makes them loadbearing and the fixing of wall units, including heavy kitchen units for example, is possible everywhere“, says Hanse Haus architect, Bianca Keil.

Heating  –  An Air to Water Boiler provides heat and domestic hot water, which is stored in a buffer tank.  There is no need for any gas or oil.  With under floor heating as fuelled by the Air to Water boiler, the ambient room temperature can be around 2 °C lower than with radiator heating, which whilst keeping you warm, also means 8 to 10 % less heating costs.
Water  –  As well as water heated by the Air to Water boiler, Richard and Helen’s house benefits from a rainwater harvesting system, which supplies water for the laundry, flushing toilets, general cleaning and garden irrigation meaning that approx. 50% of the ground water can be saved.  The rainwater doesn’t require immediate percolation but is retained on the property.  This storage and recycling facility makes sound ecological sense.
Ventilation  –  “We have installed a mechanical exhaust air system. This system is used for the demand-based supply of air to and extraction of air from low and ultra low energy houses. Used air, which is often contaminated with pollutants, such as moisture and odours from kitchens, bathrooms, etc, is continuously extracted. This regulated room ventilation increases a sense of well being, as it guarantees room air quality and hygiene and what’s more it leads to a reduction in heating energy requirements”, says Bruno Kleinheinz, Hanse Haus sales director for the UK and Ireland.
Insulation  –  The walls, ceilings and roofs are insulated with a ROCKWOOL product, which is produced using rocks (basalt).  ROCKWOOL is liquified then bloated for insulation pruposes.  It’s more expensive than it’s GLASSWOOL equivalent but is fireproof up to and above 1000 oC.  What’s more, it’s a very effective insulator and ensures low heating demand in the house. Chemical-freeOnly the roof rafters and the battens were impregnated with BOR salt to protect the wood against humidity, otherwise, no wood preservation was used and all materials are chemical-free.
Energy Efficient  –  Consisting of a timber frame, as well as timber stairs, side and main doors, and given that wood has the lowest energy consumption and the lowest CO2 emission of any commonly used building material, the main structure of Richard & Helen’s house can be described as energy efficient.  More than this though, the rainwater harvesting system means that they are conserving water for domestic needs and due to the Rockwool insulation system, heating energy requirements are reduced. ”Added to this, the short construction time on-site meant that there was minimal disturbance on the surrounding environment.  What’s more, the entire house can also be rebuilt and recycled“, says Bruno Kleinheinz.

So, what are your overall thoughts on building with Hanse Haus?

”Undoubtedly, Hanse Haus have been incredibly efficient from start to finish.  Our first trip to Germany involved many decisions on fixtures and fittings, which was a bit daunting at first but the staff took any confusion out of it for us and were able to make solid recommendations on what would work best and helped us visualise what it would all look like. Another great benefit is that we knew exactly what we were getting into financially and despite the Pound falling against the Euro during the build, Hanse Haus were very honourable and stuck to the original pricing structure.  What’s more, the builders were so well organised and genuinely hard working, which meant that the house was finnished on time and with minimal hiccups along the way.  Having experienced this, we certainly wouldn’t use an English builder again.  All in all, the house has definitely exceeded our expectations“, says Helen.




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