A stunning Durham home that was two years in the making
PUBLISHED: 23:33 26 October 2012 | UPDATED: 22:13 20 February 2013
It took two years of hard work to build this home near Durham but it was worth the effort, as Helen Johnson reports. All pictures courtesy of JW Wood Estates Agents
Richard and Lynne Hutchins built a house to their own design in the centre of Durham city. Richard said: We thought that if we were going to the trouble of building it ourselves, we might as well make it something that was different.
Richard didnt actually get his hands dirty he project managed, bringing in experts to do the work. First, they took their ideas to an architect. He drew up just what we wanted, Richard said. We liked the central tower, that echoed the Gala Theatre. And we liked that it sat comfortably in the site, and didnt dominate it.
After obtaining planning permission, construction began, but the project wasnt without its difficulties. It was a difficult house to build, Richard said. We didnt realise it would be so hard until we opened up the ground. We had to pile down to forty-five feet. Then we had to level the site and put in retaining walls. Our engineer said it was the most difficult project of his career. We did it to build the house we way we wanted it.
The house took two years to complete but was worth the wait says Lynne. It was just how I wanted it. Its warm, easy to manage and easy to keep clean. In 2009, it won an Environment Award from County Durham, in recognition of the contribution it has made to improving the quality of the countys environment.
It has a Swedish feel, with cedar cladding and lots of glass which gives a lot of warmth.
One wall is all glass the atrium leading to the bedrooms. The floor above is also glass, so the light flows through. At first, your brain says theres nothing there, but you soon get used to it, said Richard. We saw the idea in Barcelona.
And Lynne added: Internally, I knew exactly what I wanted. It was nice to say, I like that, Ill have it. We have natural wood floors and I had the TV unit made to my design. I even had the blind cords painted to match the blinds and windows, because I wanted the colours to flow through the house.
It took a long time to find the right log effect gas fire, but because we were living in rented accommodation, we could enjoy taking the time to get what we wanted. Now when people come round, they say that they can see me in it.
They wanted the house to be energy efficient and Richard says it has an eco-friendly low carbon roof. But, he added: In my experience, its the simple things that bring down the fuel bills, not the high tech stuff you see on TV. It has a timber frame, which is easier to make airtight and energy efficient thats why the Scandinavians do it.
And we put in lots of insulation. Its prosaic, but it works. Many a time its been freezing cold outside, but we havent needed the heating on. We wanted aesthetics and practicality. It looks good, its energy efficient, modern and easy to maintain, and enjoyable and comfortable to live in. The gardens very sheltered and has lots of birds and wildlife.
The garden is an extension of the house, with the walls rendered in the same way and bifold doors leading from the house. Its like a little oasis, so quiet, Lynne said.
We use the garden a lot for eating, or having coffee, or just sitting for a chat. Its easy to maintain and very relaxing. I feel very content there and I like it at night, because its all lit up. Its also excellent for parties, as the doors lead straight out onto the decking.
On a cold winters night, Richards favourite seat is near the gas/log stove. In the summer, he enjoys opening the doors onto the garden but while its good to be at home, they also enjoy the attractions of Durham.
Living here is great because of the access to the town centre theres no parking the car, Lynne said. I often walk along the river, or pop into town for a coffee. Its two minutes walk into the city, to the theatre, markets, or just coffee. Its also nice for the children to be able to walk into town.
All pictures courtesy of JW Wood Estates Agents