Hanse Haus are an excellent company with very high standards

Ray & Julie Etheridge - St Martin, Guernsey 

Originally living in Exmouth, Devon, it was a chance visit to Guernsey that led to Ray, Julie and their 2 boys moving there.  ‘We’d been running a large children’s nursery in Exmouth and needed a break so we sold the business, bought a motorhome and went off travelling around Europe.  Julie is a qualified teacher so she was able to ‘home school’ the boys and we had all kinds of experiences along the way.  We were at the port in France, and about to board the ferry back to the UK when we saw another ferry going to Guernsey.  We’d never been to the Channel Islands so decided to have one last adventure.  We loved the island instantly and decided we’d like to live here, even though it’s not very easy to buy property. There are 2 property markets, the local & the open market, on Guernsey.  If you’re not a license holder or born in Guernsey, you’re looking to buy on the open market, which is considerably more expensive.  We looked around and saw some houses that we liked but they were far too costly for a private home.  Then we saw the Blue Horizon Hotel in St Martin Parish and close to beautiful Moulin Huet Bay which was for sale.  We’d been considering what sort of business we’d be taking on, and decided to give the hotel a go. We took over The Blue Horizon 5 years ago and have really enjoyed living and working here.  Julie, myself and our 2 boys lived in 5 rooms of the hotel for almost 5 years.  It wasn’t the most ideal living space for a family though and in the end it was a financial decision to build a separate house in the grounds of the hotel.  I’m a lover of Guernsey granite so we looked to do a traditional build and our architect did the drawings for a house with rooms in the roof.  The plans were passed but then we started to reconsider.  Guernsey has its fair share of moisture in the air and we’d been faced with condensation and damp problems already. Our architect then mentioned Hanse Haus. I’d seen timber framed houses before but they seemed temporary somehow to me.  I was a builder myself before opening the nursery in the UK and had been used to bricks, blocks and mortar.  In no time a Hanse Haus sales person came over though and even brought a demonstration section of wall with him.  I was impressed with what I saw and heard.  Hanse Haus was clearly a well -established company with a long history behind them which really appealed to me. Apart from enabling us to release 5 rooms back to the hotel (2 bedrooms, a TV room, a laundry room & a staff room), which made good business sense, we made a quick decision to go with Hanse Haus for 2 primary reasons; they offered a fixed cost contract and a quick, efficient build time.  As we were building in the grounds of the hotel, this was paramount.  They said they would complete the project within 40 days and that’s exactly what they did.  We closed for this period, and were able to have the grounds looking immaculate again to reopen. We’ve lived in the house for just over a year now and couldn’t be happier with it.’, says Ray.

Background

Ray & Julie signed their contract with Hanse Haus in late 2010 and visited the factory and sample centre in Germany in January 2011.  The foundations were started then too (by a local contractor) and the house was delivered on 22nd February.  A turnkey build, it was completed on the 4th April. They opted for a modified version of Fenlands 1, a bungalow, which is one of the standard Hanse Haus brochure houses.  One wing of the bungalow was extended by about 2.5m to incorporate a study and also provide an en suite to the master bedroom.  In Germany, Ray spent two days choosing quality fixtures and fittings from standard Hanse Haus range.  A keen artist, Ray was inspired by the Dutch painter, Mondrian’s square design, which he said helped him immensely with choosing everything.  He stuck to a black and white theme except for a blue front door (although it does have square glass panels in it!), which he felt tied in with ‘Blue Horizon’.  “It was 2 long days but I came away feeling really pleased and that I’d chosen well”, says Ray. When the bungalow arrived in Guernsey, only weeks after Ray’s visit to Germany, the panels and material had to be unloaded at the harbour and transhipped onto an agricultural tractor and trailer. ‘Watching the house go up, was an incredible, thrilling experience.  The roof was by the 3rd day. It was all so quick and efficient - if you blinked you missed something’, says Ray. 

Specifications


Exterior


The bungalow is nestled in the beautiful grounds of The Blue Horizon Hotel, which is found on a peaceful no-through lane in Torteval Parish. The exterior has a white render.  The property has a pitched, tiled roof. The front of the property has a wooden decked area and a fenced in lawn separating it from the hotel. The exterior walls are 30 cm thick. The house has triple-glazed tilt/turn windows.

Interior

The bungalow provides 100 m² of living space. Entering via the front door and into the entrance hall, the large open plan living/dining room and Kitchen is to the left.  This room stretches the entire depth of the property.  The kitchen is to the rear, with a window to the back of the house, the dining area is central and the living room to the front.  The living room is also accessed via exterior sliding glass doors to the left of the front door. To the right of the central hallway, here is a family bathroom to the rear of the property, as well as a single bedroom and a study.  To the front is another single bedroom and the master bedroom with en suite bathroom. The entire bungalow has ceramic floor tiles.                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. 

Utilities


Heating
– There is a gas boiler and traditional radiators.  Ray and Julie made the decision not to have underfloor heating due to the mild climate on Guernsey.   

Water – Mains

Ventilation system – Yes

Insulation – Walls, ceilings and roofs are insulated with a Rockwall product.

Solar Panels – 2 solar panels – sufficient for all the hot water needed.

Rainwater Harvesting – There is no rainwater harvesting allowed on Guernsey.

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, 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?

‘Building with Hanse Haus has been a wonderful experience.  As a company, they have demonstarted their expertise throughout.  The professionalism of the crew was evident when the house was going up.  Their work ethic especially was incredible.  In fact, they were almost religious about speed, effort and building the house to the standard they expected of themselves.  When I asked them why they didn‘t take tea breaks, I was told, that if they stop working they loose momentum! I remember on one particular day, the heavens opened but the crew carried on.  Their drive, enthusiasm and commitment to the build was heartening to see. One day, when we move again, we’d like to build another Hanse Haus property.  I’d build on the great features, inlcuding the eco concepts of this build.  I’d like a bigger house  and would have more glass to make better use of the winter sun‘.  Ray Etheridge.'

Has your new home met your expectations?

‘We love living in this house.  Previously I was waking up with a cough every morning throughout the winter.  I’ve worked outside for much of my life and have developed respiratory problems, maybe even asthmatic tendencies.  Since living here though, I no longer have the cough and I know it’s because of the healthy living environment.  The ventilation system means there are no dust particles, the house is  brilliantly ventilated and is naturally warm and draught-free. Since the house went up, we’ve not seen any cracks at all.  Usually, you’d expect some settlement cracks….but not here.  The house is really quiet.  We don’t even hear the wind, which can be quite loud here and if I’m outside, I can’t even hear my son playing on his drum kit! It’s a very practical living environment, which with limited time, is just as we need it to be.  We spend most of our time in the lounge/dining room and open plan kitchen, which is really light.  The bathroom also gives me a lot of pleasure.  I often look around at the lack of blackened joints in the tiling! It’s also very cost effective to run, which is an obvious advantage.  We really couldn’t be happier’.  Ray Etheridge.

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


‘It’s worth noting that a Hanse Haus has to be managed.  Our house is really warm, which is one of the reasons we knew we’d made the right decision in not having underfloor heating.  We just don’t need it.  We put our heating on just once last winter when the temperature outside dropped to -2 but we didn’t need it on for long as it got too hot inside. The thermal efficiency and solar gain often means that if we don’t pull the curtains on a sunny day, it gets too hot inside.  Julie sometimes misses throwing the windows open but this would defeat the object of a property like this.  The air we’re breathing in, inside, is a constant supply of fresh, clean air hence I no longer have respiratory problems‘.  Ray Etheridge.

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