Who Are We?
And Why Skye?
We are Mike Coe and Lizzie Stoodley and this website was set up to document the creation of our new home in Portree. When we embarked on the project in 2017 there were no passivhaus dwellings on Skye, so this was to be the first - if no one beat us to it. It's certainly the first passivhaus in Portree.
This isn't our first building project. We moved here from Worcestershire, where we built what was one of the UK's most energy-efficient homes, The Cropthorne Autonomous House . It was a highly experimental house for a first build, with rainwater-harvesting and composting toilets in addition to the non-standard passivhaus building techniques. It took four years to complete and a lot of hard work. We learnt a great deal about the building process and about energy-efficient design. Happily, 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 and we expected to remain in it for many years. 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...
To find out what motivated us to leave a house we loved, to move all this way, to put ourselves through a stressful build once more, and why passivhaus was the obvious choice, watch the first two Video Reports and visit the Design page, which will be updated to include images showing how the house was built and explanations of why certain materials and techniques were used.
For a progress report and any updates on how the house is performing, see the short blog on this page and take a look at the slideshow (this page).
We also post updates of any significant events on Twitter (see below).
During the build an (almost-in-real-time) webcam recorded the action on site. This has now moved to the roof of the finished house to become the almost-in-real-time CuillinCam (see below). Enjoy the view across our work-in-progress green roof to Portree harbour, The Lump (Am Meall) and its Apothecary Tower - site of the Skye Games and Skye Live Festival - and the distant Cuillin Hills.
The project has moved much more slowly overall than we'd hoped. Unfortunately, the building company's resources were 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 came and went. By the beginning of March 2020 our project was running just over five months late. Work on the hotel was winding up, however, and April 2020 should have seen the start of a big push to finish our house....
Unfortunately, the Covid-19 virus had other ideas. Its rapid spread took the whole world by surprise. The first UK pandemic lockdown was announced at the end of March 2020. Building supply companies closed, and all construction work ceased.
To fill the lockdown vacuum and keep the project moving forward, Mike continued to do what he could, installing cables, wiring junction boxes, and doing any electrical jobs that he could find. He built a mixing desk for the new studio from upscaled shuttering-ply and timber offcuts. Then constructed a support frame in the attic for the water tank and the timber framework for a wall in the storage cupboard in the kitchen. He was just beginning to run out of materials and things to build with them when, on May 29th 2020, Scotland entered Phase 1 of the easing of lockdown restrictions. Construction was allowed to restart and the builders returned. But we were now seven months late....
At Christmas 2019 we had assumed we'd be in well before Christmas 2020, but it wasn't until March 2021 that we were finally able to begin moving furniture in and then, eventually, ourselves. The final building inspection took place in early July 2021 - we can now, at last, call Portree Passivhaus our home.
Above is a slideshow of recent pictures
(on mobiles and smaller devices scroll to see all images).
So... has Building Control signed off the house yet?
YES!! At last....
...or, at least, they should have signed it off by the time anyone reads this....
We managed to find someone to sign off Mike's electrical installation after a lot of hunting around, so the building control officer was then able to come and make his final inspection. He found one or two minor 'problems', which were quickly resolved, and we believe our completion certificate is due any day now.
It's such a relief to be able to announce that we're officially living here. We still have a lot of tweaking and settling in to do internally, but we're now able to enjoy all the good things about living in a passivhaus once more. It's been a long slog, but we're happy with how it's turned out.
Externally, construction of the disabled ramp, steps and patio is now complete. An arrangement has been made with RK Joinery to build the garage. And then there's the installation of the ground-mounted PV array and the battery storage system....
But then all the building work really will be complete, apart from a few snagging issues, which should be picked up over the next few months.
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...