PERSUADING THE PLANNERS
The Seatons had clear ideas of what they wanted to establish on the four-and-a-half acre plot; namely a home that would bring together the best of timber and masonry design. “I made some sketches and took them to our architect. He then worked closely with our chosen oak frame provider, Oakwrights – who we felt comfortable with right from the start – to devise a proposal that we could take the planners,” says Guy. Before the couple could get the go-ahead they had to prove to the council that building a new property was more financially viable than refurbishing the existing one. “The cottage was very old and had really low ceilings so to get it habitable we’d have had to change the floor levels and it would have taken a lot of work,” says Guy.
The Seatons hired a quantity surveyor to help them get a realistic idea of the costs involved in renovating as well as building a new house. “Our quantity surveyor made some calculations and gave us some figures. We were able to show that it would cost us more to transform the cottage into a modern and energy-efficient property than to start again,” says Guy. The planners granted permission for the couple’s new home in spring 2012 and work was scheduled to start in the summer of that year.
However, discharging the conditions the local authority put on the build delayed the scheme. “We had labour ready and waiting to go and we couldn’t afford to lose them,” says Guy, who acted quickly to move the project forward. In particular the council wanted more information on how the house would blend into the setting and asked them to produce a landscape plan. “At that stage we had no idea where shrubs would go – we were more worried about pouring concrete,” says Guy. The couple put a design together in order to placate the planners, but they were also instructed to conduct a bat survey and had to work around a tree protection order. “These were small nuisances,” explains Guy. “We managed to start on the outbuildings first to give us time to have the conditions discharged.”