The house was finished exactly when they said it would be

Pete & Sue Sadler - Egham, Surrey

It all began when Sue Sadler wanted more wardrobe space.  First of all, Sue and her husband Pete looked at altering part of the chimney breast and extending to allow for more space in their 1930’s house but the more they looked into it, the more complicated it became.  They had completely refurbished, re-wired and re-plumbed the house when they first moved in, 28 years ago, and have since extended on to the kitchen, built a conservatory and a double garage.
“This time, we toyed with the idea of moving but knew we wouldn’t get a plot this size.  Then we thought we’d extend, to allow for more wardrobe space as well as other things (!).  We had a quote, which was £70,000 just to re-do the roof.  Eventually, we rationalised, that even with added space, we’d still be living in a 1930’s house with just one bathroom, and decided it was more cost effective to knock the house down and start again.  What’s more, on new builds, things like bathrooms, kitchens and flooring are free of VAT, which can make a big difference to the total cost, and we knew we’d also have a guarantee on the building.  We were really dreading the mess of another extension so a new build, especially a pre-manufactured one, was especially appealing.
We did some research on the internet and within just 15 minutes of making an enquiry to Hanse Haus, the agent called us back and within days we received an info pack along with a DVD about Hanse Haus homes.  We then showed Hanse Haus our design/plans and within 2 weeks we had a quote for the entire build.  The whole process as well as the product they were offering, and at the price quoted, was very impressive.
Based on experience, we knew exactly what we wanted in terms of design, layout and functionality of the house.  I drew the whole house to scale (taken from architectural drawings) including where furniture would be positioned, and did a 20-page specification with details of where we wanted every light switch, electrical socket, alarm, etc.  We took this to the Hanse Haus headquarters in Germany in April 2010 and were very impressed by the factory.  We also chose all of our fixtures and fittings in the sample centre, many of which were standard products although some of which were upgrades.  We recorded everything we selected by taking a photo of it.
Six weeks after our visit, in June last year, we signed the contract with Hanse Haus and just over 3 months later, we were moving into our new home. Quite astonishing!”, says Pete Sadler.


As soon as Pete and Sue Sadler had signed their contract, they moved out of their old house (on 1st July 2010) and by 5th July, it was being demolished.  Groundworkers, Penni and Paul, as recommended by Hanse Haus, laid the foundations and concrete slab.
The Sadlers’ went into rented accommodation close by and were on site every day from 17th August when their new house was delivered.  “The house arrived from Germany in 4 lorries.  Unfortunately, the lorry containing the scaffolding had broken down but the construction crew worked exceptionally hard and still managed to get the house up on schedule.  By the end of the second day, it was water-tight.  Where traditional builds can take months on end, and are subject to all weathers in the process, it was nice to know that our house was weather proof from the outset.  Also, the timber used is kiln dried, therefore we know we don’t have to worry about woodworm or dry rot at any point”, says Pete Sadler.
“There were a few minor hiccups during the build.  For example, the drains needed to be rerouted and the guttering had to be altered slightly.  The crew, who were all really lovely, cleverly came up with solutions though.  They obviously understood engineering very well and were highly skilled”, adds Sue Sadler.             


The house sits on just under an acre of land. The exterior has a cream-coloured render and a pitched, grey slate, tiled roof. The property is accessed from the main road with electric wooden gates.  The paved driveway has parking for several cars. There is a large garden to the rear and the sides of the house and also a swimming pool. The exterior walls are 30 cm thick. The house has triple-glazed tilt n’ turn windows.


The house provides 196 m² of total living space. Access, is via the front door, side doors in the utility room and also in the office, and double, sliding doors in the dining area to the rear of the house.
The front door leads into a wide, spacious hall.  To the left and to the right are two double bedrooms, both with windows overlooking the drive at the front of the property.  One of the rooms has an ensuite shower room and WC.
There is another shower room and WC on the left hand side, with disability access from the hallway.   Beyond that on the left is a spacious utility room with fitted cupboards and a door to the side.
The oak staircase is opposite, on the right hand side and beyond that is an office with floor to ceiling doors to the garden/side of the property.
Leading straight ahead through the hall is a glass door to the open plan kitchen, dining and living room.  This room stretches the entire width of the house and has 2 sets of glass, floor to ceiling sliding doors to the rear of the house and the swimming pool.  The sitting area also has windows to the side of the house and the kitchen has windows to the other side.
Downstairs has oak flooring throughout the main areas with carpet in the bedrooms and ceramic floor tiles in the bathrooms, utility room and the kitchen.
There is underfloor heating throughout. Upstairs, there is a double room to the front of the house, which is lined with fitted wardrobes and has a window overlooking the front driveway.  There is also an airing cupboard (with floor tiles and underfloor heating with it’s own thermostat – a little  extra that Sue Sadler wasn’t expecting but is delighted with!!) and also access into the roof space containing the plant room.
To the rear of the house is the Master bedroom, which has double glass doors to a balcony overlooking the side garden.  There is a frosted glass door into the en suite bathroom, including a large open shower, with a window to the back, overlooking the swimming pool.  The bathroom has dark grey floor and wall tiles.  The bedrooms and landing are fitted with carpets.
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 300 mm 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.
The house has a conventional condensing boiler.


Ventilation system  –
  The house boasts a controlled air ventilation system, which means that humid and odorous air is extracted from rooms such as the kitchen, bathroom and toilet through a short, central duct and fed outdoors.  The required supply of fresh air is then provided by decentralised outside air openings known as fresh-valves.
The many benefits of the controlled air ventilation system include the following:-
High levels of humidity and the resultant problems such as the build up of mould on walls in living areas and bathrooms are prevented.
By defining the air exchange rate, you can automatically control the warm-air heating needs, leading to a reduction in heating energy requirements.
The regulated room ventilation increases a sense of wellbeing as the room air hygiene is guaranteed.
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 2 solar panels on the south-facing pitched roof.

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.


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

“They were fantastic – very efficient and professional throughout.  They were also very accommodating when small changes needed to be made.  For example, we persuaded them to let us put the kitchen (Hanse Haus don’t do their own kitchens) in during construction so that we could move in on completion day.  The house was finished exactly when they said it would be, which meant that we could move out of our rented accommodation.  Even the snagging was phenomenal.  We would do it all over again. Who knows, perhaps when we retire!”.  Pete Sadler.
Has your new home met your expectations?

“It’s exceeded our expectations, particularly the kitchen.  We’re also really happy with the staircase.  Everything is very solid and well made.  Our old house was very dark so we love how light this house is.  We used to collect antiques but realised that our tastes had changed.  We love the modern design.  It’s too early to say how cost effective the house is to run but it feels really warm.  We even had the windows open when it was snowing in December!”.  Sue Sadler.
Given your experience, can you offer any tips to other self builders?

“You must pre-plan everything – from the toilet roll holders to the towel rails – costs can mount up. In the end, we were just £600 out from our original costings.  Also, dealing with things like building regs, and how to go about setting up mains and gas supplies for example, can be a bit tricky. We had excellent advice from the groundworkers and in fact, Penni saved us £8000 with one stroke.  I’d highly recommend P&P groundworkers”.  Pete Sadler.




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