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.
Have we moved in yet? Not quite, but that long-overdue event might occur before the end of the month.
Internally: the decorating is almost complete - just the odd skirting edge to paint here and windowsill to polyxoil there. The two porches are proving difficult to complete as they're very damp - the builder has been tasked with sorting this out. Mike (wearing his electrician's hat) has installed most of the lights, switches and sockets and the kitchen hob, ovens and dishwasher; and (wearing his plumber's hat) he's installed the bathroom sinks and toilets - just the showers, lights and heated towel rails and the bathrooms are ready. The whole house needs a deep clean, but with that done we could move in.
We're still waiting for the water company to connect our supply, and for the electricity meter to be installed. The Covid-19 lockdown has halted progress on these two vital connections. We may decide to move in anyway, using the temporary supplies coming from the bungalow....
Externally: the landscaping has been completed and the final surface of the drive (tar planings) has been laid, although we're waiting for a roller to become available to roll it flat. Construction of the disabled ramp, steps and patio began, but work has come to a stop - we're not quite sure why. We're also still waiting for the downpipes to arrive and be fitted. The foundations for the garage (behind the house) have been laid, but construction of the garage itself is on hold until funds allow.
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...