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).
For a full timeline of the build in pictures, with captions, take a look at the Gallery page.
Below is a regularly updated slideshow of recent pictures from the site
(on mobiles and smaller devices scroll to see all images).
For a complete image diary, with captions, see Gallery page.
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. However, work on the hotel was winding up, as the first guests were expected in April. With the hotel complete, April should have seen the start of a big push to finish our house, with all hands on deck. But the rapid spread of the Covid-19 infection took us all by surprise. As the lockdown was announced at the end of March, and with building supplies companies closing, work on our house ceased. Only Mike was still able to work, so he continued to do what he could, installing cables, wiring junction boxes, and doing any electrical jobs that he could find.
This month: With the electrical jobs taken as far as they could go, Mike moved on to building a mixing desk for his new studio, using upscaled shuttering-ply and timber offcuts. After that, he moved on to create a support frame in the attic for the water tank. Meanwhile, Fela the stonemason returned for a few days to finish the external pointing and fill in one or two gaps in the stonework. The lockdown restrictions are due to start easing on May 28th and construction is among the businesses that can begin to restart in the first phase, so we're keeping our fingers crossed that our build will restart soon...
Status outside: the stonework is complete - final pointing has taken place; external sills almost complete; the external wooden frame around the south-facing windows has been built; inside: fitting out of plant room 'nerve centre' and installation of electrical cables, switches and sockets is mostly complete; some of the pipework insulated; boarding and airtightness-taping of remaining windows/doors almost complete; upper floor ceilings plasterboarded; preliminary air test done.
Still to come: internal walls to be built and plasterboarded; remainder of plumbing and pipe insulation; bathroom(s) and kitchen installation; tiling (all floors to be tiled except stairs and mezzanine); soil and seed on roof and guttering installed; balcony to be constructed, then bronze cladding over wooden frame; external groundworks, including trenches for water, sewage and electrical connections; construction of porch steps and disabled ramp, external steps down to lower porch at rear and patio area outside kitchen door; garage foundations - and garage, if funds allow - and, finally, decorating....
Last Christmas we assumed we'd be in well before Christmas 2020.
Now, who knows?
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...