Who Are We?
And Why Skye?
We are Mike Coe and Lizzie Stoodley and this website will document the creation of our new home in Portree. It should be the first truly passivhaus dwelling on the Isle of Skye - if no one beats us to it (for an explanation of what a passivhaus is and how it works, see the Design pages).
This isn't our first building project. We moved here from Worcestershire, where we built one of the UK's most energy-efficient homes, The Cropthorne Autonomous House . For a highly experimental first build, with rainwater-harvesting and composting toilets in addition to the non-standard passivhaus building techniques, it was a great success. There were no 'Grand Designs' style disasters, the house performed very well and there was nothing we wished we'd done differently. It was a delightful house to live in. We said, many times, that we would never again want to put ourselves through all the stress, hard work and uncertainty that goes with building a house. And yet, here we are...
You can follow the build - almost in real-time - on the Live Webcam (see this page) and in the slideshow of this month's highlights (see this page). We also try to post regular updates on Twitter (see below).
And, for a full image timeline of the build, with captions, take a look at the Photo Diary.
Below is a regularly updated slideshow of recent pictures from the site (on mobiles and smaller devices scroll to see all images).
For a fuller selection of images, with captions, see Photo Diary.
Did we make it in by Christmas? No, we didn't. The building team stopped for their Christmas break on 22 December and are due back on 4 January - Tier 4 Covid-19 restrictions permitting. Mike and I continued working throughout the holidays. Internally: the remaining work is largely decorating, which we've taken on ourselves to save money. The main room is nearing completion, as are the stairwells and bedrooms. Still to come are the mezzanine and office, the upper and lower halls, the bathrooms and toilet. With those complete, we could move in - although we're still waiting for the water company to connect our water supply, and for the electricity meter to be installed. Hopefully, we'll get those two vital connections early in 2021.... Externally: the construction of the disabled ramp, steps, patio and the groundworks/landscaping are still to be completed - again, hopefully, some time early in 2021....
General progress update: the project has moved much more slowly overall than we'd hoped. Unfortunately, the building company's resources have been stretched between our house build and work on a large local hotel extension that started at around the same time. Our mid-September 2019 completion date in the original contract came and went, and at the beginning of March our project was running just over five months late. Work on the hotel was winding up and April should have seen the start of a big push to finish our house, with all hands on deck....
Unfortunately, the rapid spread of the Covid-19 infection took us all by surprise. The lockdown was announced at the end of March, building supply companies closed, and work on our house ceased. Mike continued to do what he could, installing cables, wiring junction boxes, and doing any electrical jobs that he could find. He then moved on to building a mixing desk for the new studio, using upscaled shuttering-ply and timber offcuts. Then he built the support frame in the attic for the water tank and the timber framework for a wall in the storage cupboard in the kitchen.
On May 29th it was announced that Scotland was entering Phase 1 of the easing of lockdown restrictions. Construction was allowed to restart if everything was in place to ensure a safe working environment. Work slowly began to restart in June, but we were then even further behind.
Last Christmas we assumed we'd be in well before Christmas 2020.
Now, who knows? Watch this space....
In the second video report Mike shows you the Isle of Skye from his own unique perspective, and explains all about the site and what drew us to it. Plus, there's a full rundown on the design of the new house. But not everything in the garden is necessarily rosy...