These houses really are the future

Billy & Jenny Winn - Penzance, Cornwall

Now semi-retired, Jenny & Billy Winn have spent their whole lives in the beautiful area that is West Cornwall.  Once in the building business themselves, Jenny & Billy then ran a Funeral Directors for many years.  “We knew that eventually we wanted a home with a sea view”, says Billy.  And, they’ve certainly achieved that!

Their new build is situated just outside of Marazion and enjoys spectacular, uninterrupted views across the bay to Penzance and over St Michaels Mount.

“We looked at a few properties in the area but they were all very small and had limited or no parking facilities.  Then, in December 2010, we found this plot which had a small 1930’s built bungalow on it.  Most importantly, it was in the right location with the wonderful view, so we went for it”, says Jenny.
A friend had previously built a pre-manufactured house, which helped make Jenny & Billy’s decision to do the same.  “With such a fast build time and fixed cost, as well as the associated warmth of timber-framed buildings, it made sense to go with a pre-manufactured house rather than a traditional build.  These houses really are the future”, says Billy.
The couple’s son, Simon, began to do some research online and came up with a number of possible manufacturers, including HANSE HAUS.  Having designed the house himself, which incorporates a granny flat for Jenny’s elderly mother, Billy sent his drawings out although several companies came back saying they were unable to build to his design.  Others quoted a vast sum of money.  “We had an exceptionally quick response from Hanse Haus on the other hand, who had a can-do approach.  Within just one week, a Hanse Haus architect travelled from Germany to discuss the build with us.   From there, a UK-based Hanse Haus planning and design officer did the drawings and submitted the planning application on our behalf.

By this point, and having also visited a nearby Hanse Haus property and having spoken to the owner, we signed the contract with Hanse Haus.  That was in March 2011”, says Billy.

Having now lived in their house since Easter 2012, Jenny & Billy haven’t looked back once, gazing outward instead, from their floor to ceiling triple-glazed windows, at that wonderful sea view.  “It feels a bit like we’re on holiday here”, says Jenny.  “We enjoy being in the house so much that we haven’t even finished clearing out our old house”.


The plans for Jenny & Billy’s house were put in, in June 2011 and were passed on 27th September, which was the last possible day for the application.  A few minor changes were made.  The planning officer didn’t want 2 dormer windows at the front of the house so the drawings were adjusted to one dormer window with a roof light in place of the other one.  The pitch of the roof also had to be altered for a bit more height.

“We’d been advised not to demolish the existing bungalow until planning had come through, but as soon as it was, we knocked it down,”, says Billy.  At this point, the order went through to the Hanse Haus factory in order for Jenny and Billy’s new home to be given a time slot on the production line.

The groundworkers then began to prepare the plot at the end of October last year and a delivery date of 6th December was given.  “From day 1, I watched the house going up, which given the weather, and particularly the wind, in December, was remarkable.  There were a few days where it was so rough that the erection crew had to down tools.  Knowing so many people in the area, we had lots of spectators to witness the house going up.  It was especially fascinating to see each roof rafter being craned on separately because of the varied design cuts of the roof.  This meant that the house wasn’t 100% watertight (which usually happens within a maximum of 3 days) before the crew left site and went home for Christmas.  Within 9 weeks though – discounting the Christmas break – the entire house was finished.  It seemed a bit dark inside at first but once the scaffolding was down, the light flooded in”, says Billy.

Although the house was finished in February, their chosen power provider held things up as far as Jenny & Billy’s move in date went.  “It was 6th April, Good Friday, when we spent our first night at the house.  We also moved my mother in to the granny flat on the ground floor.  It’s a big change for her at the age of 92, but she loves the house, as do we”, adds Jenny.



The house sits on a 780 sqm plot of land, neighbouring open farmland and enjoying magnificent sea views.  It’s beautifully landscaped with a mixture of gravel, paving, flower beds and turf.

The exterior has a white render and a pitched, tiled roof.

The rear of the property, which is landscaped with a paved patio area, grassed garden, and vegetable patch, can be accessed from either side of the house.

The exterior walls are 30cm thick.
The house has triple-glazed tilt n’ turn windows.


The house provides 256 sqms of living space.

Access, is via the front door, a door at the side of the property and via a back door leading directly into the back garden.

The front door enters into an entrance hall, which runs the depth of the property.  To the left is the Oak staircase and beyond that, access to the granny flat comprising of an open-plan kitchen, dining and sitting room.  The kitchen, supplied locally, is beige with granite work surface.  The sitting area has double patio doors into the back garden and enjoys the sweeping views out to sea and over St Michaels Mount.  Accessed via the kitchen area is a wet room containing shower and WC to the side of the property and a double bedroom with a window to the front of the property.
To the right of the front door is access to the garage, which also houses the machinery for the house.  Beyond that is a utility room and also a double bedroom/spare room with a patio doors to the rear.
Upstairs is Jenny & Billy’s living area.  Directly in front of the stairs is a double bedroom, with walk-in cupboard and skylight to the front of the house.  Beyond that room is a family bathroom with shower unit and WC, and window to the side of the property.  At the back of the house, and to make the most of the wonderful views, is a large living area with multi-aspect, floor to ceiling windows and double patio doors leading to a spacious balcony, which overhangs the patio area below.

Light and airy, the living room is open plan to the kitchen and dining area.  With a mixture of dark aubergine and cream gloss units/cupboards, the kitchen, which was sourced locally is striking and includes an island unit with hob.

To the left of the kitchen is the master bedroom with a dormer window overlooking the driveway at the front and a large walk-in wardrobe.  There is also an en suite bathroom with shower unit and WC.

The ground floor hallway and bathrooms are fitted with ceramic floor tiles.  The bathrooms also have large ceramic wall tiles with contrasting dark grey floor tiles.  The rest of the house has fitted carpets throughout.               

There is underfloor heating throughout.

The interior walls are 12 cm thick and the house also boasts the Hanse Haus solid wall system, which combines the advantages of timber SIP 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  –  The house has an air source heat pump.  There is underfloor heating throughout.

Water  –  Mains

Ventilation system
  –  The house boasts an air ventilation system with heat recovery.

Insulation  –  Walls, ceilings and roofs are insulated with a GLASSWOOL product, which is produced with 90% natural mineral raw materials, like for example, sand and more than 50% recycled glass. The GLASSWOOL product recently gained recognition as an environmental product due to it’s high content of waste glass and also gained a quality control mark to confirm that it’s harmless to health.  What’s more, the type of insulation ensures low heating demand in the house.
Solar Panels  –  There are no solar panels or rainwater harvesting.

Chemical-free  –  Only 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 SIP construction, as well as timber stairs, and given that wood has the lowest energy consumption and the lowest CO2 emission of any commonly used building material, the main structure of the house can be described as energy efficient.  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.

What are your overall thoughts on building with Hanse Haus?

“It’s been a fantastic experience.  It was the can-do attitude that encouraged us to go with Hanse Haus from the start, and that same attitude was maintained throughout.  We were especially impressed with the crew who were very tidy and efficient.

After the house had been built, which took 9 weeks in total compared to the 10 weeks it took for the kitchen to be fitted by a local company, we were told that the roof light was too high to pass building regs.  We accept that a few small problems will always be encountered with any building project and the Hanse Haus crew made light work of the necessary alterations.  They came from Germany, arriving at 8am on a Sunday morning and finished at midnight.  They even left the room neat and tidy and you can’t see where the roof light was moved.We would build with Hanse Haus again”.   Jenny Winn.

Has your new home met your expectations?
“Yes it has – we’re very pleased with it.  It feels a bit like we’re on holiday and we don’t want to leave.  Everything about the house is good quality and we especially like the doors, which are heavy and well made.  We’re situated on an exposed piece of land, and we do notice the wind a lot.  That’s the only negative thing about it”.  Billy Winn.
Given your experience, can you offer any tips to other self builders?

“Be aware that the power companies and BT can take an extremely long time before they make the necessary connections – this is what held us up in terms of moving in.

You can also make the move-in process quicker by having dry screed on the floors so that you don’t have to wait like you do with wet screed.
If there’s one thing we would have done differently with regards to design, it would have been to make the bedrooms slightly bigger.  With such wonderful views though, we find that we enjoy the living area most of all though”.  Jenny Winn.




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