After struggling to find a home to match their needs, Hanse Haus customers from Elstree began to look into the possibilities of self building. ‘We started looking for a 4-bed property with a garage, and a kitchen big enough to eat in. We also wanted to be within walking distance of the station and thought we’d find somewhere that needed a coat of paint but not much else. That wasn’t the case! There was just nothing like that available on the market so we started to think about the alternatives.’
The couple started researching for a suitable build partner and found Hanse Haus along with other manufacturers on the internet. ‘We then went to the Homebuilding & Renovating Show at the NEC and also Ecobuild at Excel where we talked to the various building companies. We showed the sales re­pre­sentatives our own concept design and this is when Hanse Haus first stood out. Where others took one look at the vaulted ceilings and multi-levelled roof structure and said they couldn’t do it, Hanse Haus had a can-do approach and invited us to Germany to discuss it further with one of their architects. Their attitude was refreshing and inspiring from the outset and no other manufacturer offered what they did both in terms of the package and costs. The Hanse architect in Germany was able to ‘tidy up’ our design and also suggest improvements here and there.’
Once the plot had been purchased, planning granted and the existing dilapidated 1950s home on it demolished, Hanse approved ground workers started to lay new foundations & drains. ‘A pre-manufactured house can be finished up to nine months quicker than a traditional build and we had no concerns over budget as Hanse Haus offered a fixed cost contract, which didn’t even vary with the fluctuating exchange rate. We were able to build a modern, functional, highly energy efficient yet very comfortable home, which is suitable for family life in the 21st Century. Now that we’re living in it, our new home really has exceeded our expectations.’

Has your new home met your expectations?

‘Yes, the house has certainly met our expectations. We feel a real sense of calm and tranquility here. It’s really quiet and even though there are train lines nearby, we can’t hear them at all. This house is quite a selfish house in that, we designed it especially for us. It works for our lifestyle and felt like our home as soon as it went up.‘

Given your experience, can you offer any tips to other self builders?

‘It’s really important that you know what you’re signing up for from the outset. If you’re hoping that when you move into your new home, you’ll walk in and get your TV to work at the press of a button, be aware that, even with a turnkey service, this isn’t always the case. We had many issues with all the utilities companies (not just BT), which meant days of hanging around waiting for them to arrive with the right team of workers and the right equipment to make the necessary connections. This of course all amounts to extra time and cost. We would also re­commend a ‘condition survey’ on neighbours’ houses, especially when you’re building a basement as this can prevent any argument further down the line about potential damage to foundations/building.’

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

‘From the start, Hanse Haus stood out in saying that they can build almost anything in terms of design and they followed through on this. They have a can-do attitude, which is very appealing. They also offer a great range of fixtures and fittings – even the standard spec is top quality. We found that the staff at their sample centre gave excellent guidance and were very clear and honest about what was needed and what wasn’t – they didn’t try to sell us anything we didn’t need or want. Hanse Haus really know what they’re doing when it comes to building energy efficient homes. Although our house doesn’t meet passive standards, (mainly because we wanted so many doors and extra windows) it does have passivhaus features, including the entrance lobby which acts as an airlock, and the heat pump.
Coupled with the insulated shell, and the solar panels, the house is very economical to run. There is absolutely no wastage here. In fact, we’re our own little power station. Our project manager was excellent. Despite the problems with the plumbing and electrical work, he did everything he possibly could to assist the process and never once said it wasn’t his responsibility. Hanse Haus have been a very dedicated company and are determined to leave us with a high standard product. At times this has even meant flying an engineer over from Germany at the drop of a hat, to fit a simple part.
All in all, it’s been a really good experience. We would recommend Hanse Haus and would build with them again ourselves. We placed our confidence in them from the start, and would do that again.’
Complete start to finish build time – 20 weeks (including base­ment).


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