Price Family, Herefordshire
The Price family waited almost 20 years to get planning permission to build on their farmland, so when planning law changed in 2016, farmers David and Sarah Price gave the plots to their sons Ben (30) and Joe (32), to build their own homes.
Until then, their small Herefordshire hamlet was considered open countryside by the local authority, who rejected their planning application in 2002. Their subsequent appeal was also unsuccessful.
The changes in planning law meant that the plot, which is located in the corner of a field between and opposite other buildings, was classed as infill. The Price family recruited Dean Benbow of Warren Benbow Architects, who had success with similar planning applications in the village. Dean advised them on what the planners were likely to accept, and although planning was ultimately granted, there were almost 20 conditions to address before breaking ground.
“Both our sons lived at home and worked on the farm when we first started planning the builds, and Joe still does, so it was essential that they lived nearby. Not many houses come up for sale in the village and prices are rising all the time, so we knew that building houses for them was an ideal way to find them somewhere to live,” says Sarah Price, who project managed the build along with her son Ben.
Designed with a mirrored floorplan, the structure of the two houses is almost identical, built using a timber frame and coated in Forest of Dean Pennant sandstone and western red cedar cladding, the stone rising to different heights to differentiate the two houses. Roofs are covered with slate tiles, with aluminium window frames that are grey externally and white on the inside. They have four bedrooms, open-plan kitchen/diner and integral garages.
“The village has a real mix of architectural styles, so there was no particular finish we had to stick to, but the council did insist we did not use render. We selected timber cladding instead, as the barn nearby has timber boarding, although that is black,” says Sarah.
Built in the style of an agricultural barn, the houses have lots of glazing facing views up the field to the rear, with a patio on the same level as the interior to create the fluid inside/outside transition.
The interior has been decorated so that a similar colour scheme runs throughout the house, whilst each room maintains its own identity and feel, achieving a look that is modern yet timeless.
Joe, Ben and his partner Samantha continued to live at the family farm during the build, with Ben and mother Sarah visiting the site sometimes twice a day to monitor progress and answer questions. Architect Dean Benbow also helped manage the project, and provided lots of guidance and advice to Ben and Sarah.
Builder Malcolm Roberts of Robford Construction was chosen to build the houses, who the family knew from work he had done around the village. Despite never having built two houses concurrently before, the fact that materials were used across the two builds made the organisation of deliveries more straightforward. Materials were included in the quote but Ben and Sarah often chose to source products themselves, saving money where they could. “Malcolm priced for everything in the tender, but we managed to get some bargains by sourcing things ourselves, such as bathrooms which we found on the internet, and the cladding came from Vincent Timber in Birmingham,” says Ben.
Groundworks began in October 2017 with digging of trench foundations, and the frame construction began soon after. Installation of the first floor panels of the timber frame was delayed by a week due to seven inches of snow. Despite the adverse weather conditions however the overall progress was good, and the roof was felted and battened by Christmas. “Malcolm and all his subcontractors must have been sick and tired of me being on site and asking questions, but they were all great!” remarks Ben.
Structure & Performance
Rigid board insulation in the walls achieves a U-value of 0.15 W/m2K, and quilt insulation, a type of multi-foil, is used in the floor. Airtightness of 3.2 m3/hr has been achieved, exceeding Building Regulations, while solar photovoltaic panels have been installed to produce green electricity.
Joe helped to choose the timber and stone cladding, and the interiors in his own house, but when it came to the overall design of the houses he left it to Ben and Sarah.
Taylor Lane is a timber frame company in Hereford with a good reputation. One month after the company was chosen to supply the timber frame for the Prices’ project, Ben began working for them as business development manager. “Taylor Lane is a big employer in this area, they are pretty well known. It was brilliant to start working for them as we started our build,” says Ben.
Attic trusses above the garage mean that a larger fourth bedroom can be created in the future, while panels in the timber frame can be removed to allow other changes to be made, explains Ben: “The small fourth bedroom can become a walk-in wardrobe for the main bedroom, and a corridor created to give access to a room above the garage, if we need the space.”
Sarah was very hands-on when the time came for choosing interior schemes, colours and furniture, with considerable input into Joe’s interior design scheme. “My parents’ house is a fairly traditional farmhouse, so Mum has never really had the chance to do something like this before. She really enjoyed it. We worked together a lot to find the best products,” explains Ben.
Local builder’s merchant Tudors was approached to design the kitchen, which has duck egg blue cabinets and an island containing the induction hob, with a flush fit extractor above. Porcelain grey tiles designed to look like slate have been installed throughout much of the ground floor, with underfloor heating here and in the bathrooms, which also have tiled floors. Carpets are fitted in the separate living room, stairs and bedrooms to create a cosy feel underfoot. “I loved working closely with Ben on this,” says Sarah. “I am very proud of what we have achieved, and I would love to do it again.”
The ground floor also has a utility room located close to the kitchen, a WC and a hallway that leads into the open kitchen area and the staircase, which was supplied by Taylor Lane.
First published in SelfBuild & Design, March 2020 issue. Reproduced with kind permission.