It was clear to us from the outset that Hanse Haus offered a superior standard

Alan and Doreen Longworth – Reading





Last year was a big year for Alan and Doreen Longworth. Having returned from a 3-year trip travelling around Australia and New Zealand in the latter part of 2009, they bought their plot of land in January 2010, got married in May, signed their contract with Hanse Haus in June, watched their house being built in September/October and moved in, in November.  It’s not like they didn’t know anything about self build though, as Alan used to be a builder himself before working as a project manager for one of Hanse Haus’ main competitors.  The fact that they then chose Hanse Haus as their build partner was, says Alan, “based on the fact that Hanse Haus, as a manufacturer, offer a complete service without the use of any subcontractors, and also a fixed price contract along with a fast build time”.
Alan has lived in the Reading area for the past 40 years and built his own house  previously, only a short distance away from the new build.  When retiring though, in 2006, Alan and Doreen knew they wanted to sell up, release some capital and take the opportunity to travel.  Originally, they planned to buy another, smaller property but couldn’t find what they wanted and were put off by paying stamp duty.  When they returned from their travels, they saw a plot of land for sale – which had existing planning consent for a house - and quickly decided they’d buy it and self build.
“We knew that we wanted to go down the timber frame, pre-manufactured route and having built many houses myself, I knew what I liked and what sort of standard I wanted.  I had planned to project manage the build myself but when we read about Hanse Haus in one of the self build magazines, in March last year, and having had such a quick, efficient response from our original enquiry, we decided to go for the stress-free option.  Only 2 weeks later, we were on a plane to Germany to visit the Hanse Haus show homes and factory.  That was less than a year ago – and we haven’t looked back since”, says Alan Longworth.




“On our initial trip to Germany, we took our own design with us, which was subject to planning consent although we then ended up leaving it with the architect at Hanse Haus for improvement.  They prepared 2 possible schemes, accommodating everything we had wanted but incorporating an additional living area in the roof, as well as a winter room, which we’d seen in some of the show homes, and had been tempted by.
On our second visit to Germany in early June, last year, we signed a 100% refundable planning permission contract with Hanse Haus and only days later, the Hanse Haus planning advisor phoned to say that we had got planning consent for our chosen revised design.
Hanse Haus then worked on the engineered drawings and calculations for the foundations, etc.  The detail was set out and we chose to go with the UK groundworkers as recommended by Hanse Haus.  They started to prepare the site in mid-August and worked with incredible efficiency.  The project manager came from Germany on 27th September to inspect and sign off the concrete slab and the house was delivered the next day, on 28th September.
The quality and speed of the build was amazing.  By the end of the third day, the roof was on.  I met with the project manager on site, every morning for a brief review of the build although everything went like clockwork and my role was merely to observe the house going up.  We were working towards a completion date of 23rd November but such is the precision and accuracy of the whole process, after just one week, we were told, it would all be finished by 22nd November…….and it was.  The project manager had also agreed for our kitchen contractor and carpenter for the fitted wardrobes to start work a week before the house was officially handed over, which meant that everything could be completed and ready for us to move in, as soon as possible.  We spent our first night at the house on 29th November”.  Alan Longworth.








The house sits on a 350 m² plot of land.




The exterior has a light yellow render and a pitched, grey tiled roof.




There is off-road parking on the paved driveway and to the rear of the property - accessed from the inside the house, or around either side of the house – is a low maintenance, paved garden with eating area, water feature and plants.
The exterior walls are 30 cm thick.




The house has triple-glazed windows.









The house provides 180 m² of living space over the ground floor, which is split level and the first floor, which is also split level into the roof space.
Access is via the front door, a side door, and both the winter room and the sitting room, to the rear of the house.
The front door leads into a wide spacious hall area.  To the left is a large WC and a few stairs leading down to the master bedroom, which overlooks the front driveway.  The master bedroom also has an en suite bathroom.  Also on this split level is a cupboard/clock room housing the water tank.
Directly ahead, in the main hall area, is a glass door leading into the open plan kitchen and dining room, incorporating the flat-roofed, winter room.  This room stretches the depth of the house with a window in the kitchen overlooking the front driveway, whilst the ceiling to floor glass doors and windows in the winter room look out to the paved garden at the rear of the property.
To the left of the dining area are a few stairs down to the spacious and light sitting room, which also has floor to ceiling windows and doors accessing the rear garden/outdoor eating area.
The main staircase, which is made from Beech leads up from the main hall area, to the first floor.  To the left is a double bedroom overlooking the front of the house and straight ahead is a family bathroom.  To the right is another double bedroom with a window to the rear of the house.  A second, although much shorter flight of stairs leads to the converted attic space which is open plan incorporating an office and additional sitting area and has 2 sky lights.
The ground floor of the house has a mixture of wood flooring and large ceramic tiles, as well as fitted carpet in the master bedroom and sitting room.  Upstairs, the landing has wooden flooring, the bathroom has ceramic tiles and the bedrooms have fitted carpets.
The ground floor has underfloor heating.




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 to water heat pump.  There is no boiler.




Water  –  Mains water




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, which supplement the heating of water in the winter months and shoudl provide adequate heat in the summer, hence keeping running costs down.
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?




“Hanse Haus have been efficient from start to finish.  This includes everything from the initial communication and supplying of information to the architectural design and the actual build.  It was clear to us from the outset that Hanse Haus offered a superior standard – sadly, no UK company could fulfil the same quality and efficient level of build.
Hanse Haus also have so many suppliers that when it comes to choosing what fixtures and fittings you want, you don’t have to go to the effort of travelling far and wide sourcing products.  Instead, when visiting the sample centre in Germany, they are incredibly patient and offer excellent advice on the products, according to your own ideas”.  Alan Longworth.
Has your new home met your expectations?




“This house has absolutely met our expectations – over and above, in fact.  We walk around it and it just feels right.  It’s not necessarily easy to achieve a house that you feel totally comfortable in and love to spend time in but this really does.  And, even though the winter room wasn’t part of our original plan, it’s become our favourite area in the house.  It’s the focal point for the open plan kitchen and dining room and seems to be where we end up sitting and relaxing after every meal”. Doreen Longworth.
"We’ve only lived here for a few months, although we’ve had some really cold weather, particularly in December.  Even though it was 3- to 5- oC outside at times, we kept lovely and warm.  Also, where we’d been used to waiting for the water to warm up after turning on the tap, the instant hot water in this house is wonderful, and it’s a standard expectation in the German culture.
The house is built to Code 4 for Sustainable Homes which meant that we had to spend a bit more on the build but we’ll gain from cheaper running costs, especially as fuel prices are going through the roof.  We’ve worked out that our total energy costs have been about £4 a day, and that’s throughout the winter months”.  Alan Longworth.
Given your experience, can you offer any tips to other self builders?



“It’s vital that you’re well planned for everything in advance.  If not, you could end up upsetting the sequence of the whole process, which will inevitably cost you time and money.  I don’t mean this to sound overwhelming and even if you’ve never had any experience of self build before, there’s no reason to be put off as Hanse Haus really can take care of everything for you. Just keep a close eye on the things that will effect your experience of living in the house – like the position of electrical sockets and light switches.  It can be hard to imagine, when you’re sitting with nothing more than a piece of paper in front of you, where you want the light switches to be, but again, you’re advised on this sort of thing, and you do get a short period of time to make any alterations. Also, make sure you get your kitchen details in place, as well as things like fitted wardrobes so that you can bring everything in to play when you go to Germany on a pre-selection visit. Finally, I would say that the Turnkey option is the way to go.  Even with my own experience, it was the best button we pressed!”.  Alan Longworth 





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