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.
A regularly updating slideshow of recent pictures from the site (on mobiles and smaller devices scroll to see all images). For full image diary, with captions, see Gallery page.
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 we are now running just over 6 months late. Progress has been very slow this year as work on the hotel extension increased to enable it to open to receive the first guests in April. With the hotel complete, this month should have seen a big push to finish our house, with all hands on deck. The projections were that it could be ready to move into by June. But the rapid spread of the Covid-19 infection has taken us all by surprise. It's no one's fault, but it's hard for us not to feel bitter about the fact that we should have been living in the house for the past six months. Meanwhile, the hotel extension that contributed to our build being so late now lies closed and empty. Due to the lockdown and the stay home advice, our site has more or less closed. Individual workers may yet be able to come, working alone or apart, to do internal carpentry, plasterboarding, or plastering. We're not sure yet. The advice on construction work keeps changing and also building supplies are hard to get at the moment. Mike is continuing to do what he can - the installation of cables and wiring of junction boxes is almost complete. He's now moving on to any jobs he can find that would have been left to the end.
Last Christmas we assumed we'd be in well before Christmas 2020. Now - who knows?
Status outside: the stonework is complete - final pointing still to take place, weather and virus permitting; 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 almost complete; some of 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....
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...