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Latest Grand Design arrives in form of ‘compact’ London home

October 26 2017

Latest Grand Design arrives in form of ‘compact’ London home
Channel 4’s Grand Designs has aired one of its most ‘compact’ homes yet in the form of London’s smallest two-bed house - occupying a plot of just 9.5x4m.

Built by Perthshire construction firm JML Contracts the small home was delivered speedily and sustainably through the use of Structural Insulated Panels, ensuring the requisite thermal efficiency to meet Passive House standards.

Factory built in Auchterarder the home was designed and cut in advance before being shipped to the capital to be slotted together ‘jigsaw-style’ to precise engineering tolerances.

JML director John Langley commented: “SIPs is one technology which could help to reshape the future of housebuilding in the UK but the country still lags behind in its uptake. The previously slow adoption of SIPs is largely down to the higher upfront costs, however the long-term benefits for residents, landlords and the environment significantly outweigh these initial outlays. These benefits include low energy usage due to the excellent insulation, limited thermal bridging, and inherently air-tight characteristics.”

Designer and home owner Joe Stuart of Warehome added: “After a thorough build up tweaking the design with the engineering team to get it completely right, the factory team was able to turn around the manufacturing incredibly quickly. The design of the kit was suited to the tight site, and the team was on call for any support required whilst I built the kit over 400 miles away! The structure was erected by hand within a week.”

In this manner the project was delivered in just 23 months at a cost of £250k.
In 2016 12,000 self-build homes were built, equivalent to between 7 and 12% of the homes built that year
In 2016 12,000 self-build homes were built, equivalent to between 7 and 12% of the homes built that year
The self and custom-build market is expected to increase in value by 70% to £5.2bn by 2020
The self and custom-build market is expected to increase in value by 70% to £5.2bn by 2020


#1 Posted by Real on 26 Oct 2017 at 14:58 PM
Opportunistic but failed attempt to promote a building system that, contrary to what is stated, does not have long-term benefits whatsoever. Despite being a fairly novel construction system, SIPS has proven to lack quality, robustness, durability and flexibility. Think how this low-quality product will (not) perform in 5-10 years time, or how incapable it is to accommodate any future changes to the building (unlike timber-frame or masonry construction which can be easily disassembled, altered or repaired). SIPS is simply a cheap (though expensive), dumb, toxic and unsustainable way of building.
Nairn's Bairn
#2 Posted by Nairn's Bairn on 26 Oct 2017 at 15:58 PM
Oddly, although much was made of the SIPS in the programme (and all the above stuff about 'tweaking to get it completely right') he then constructed a traditional insitu timber frame inside to accommodate additional insulation "to meet the standards". Why not just order a better SIPS? Or build the whole thing in timber frame and save a fortune?

And what's with the no-handrail thing on Grand Designs - do they not need protective barriers in England? Heaven help you coming in with wet shoes from that external enclosure at the top..

Volume Housebuilder
#3 Posted by Volume Housebuilder on 27 Oct 2017 at 08:06 AM
23 Months (almost 2 years)
to deliver a 2 bed house
at a build cost of 250k

no offence but who in their right mind would think that was good

Rem Koolbag
#4 Posted by Rem Koolbag on 27 Oct 2017 at 10:04 AM
UR- Joe Stuart is not an architect. The program refers to him as a design engineer or similar.
Architect is a protected title in the UK. A publication such as Urban Realm should know this and strive to be more accurate in its reporting.

As for the project, the final sentence sums up the ludicrous nature of procurement, in 'the capital' at least. As no.3 comments - £250K and 'just' 23 months? Goodness me.
#5 Posted by UR on 27 Oct 2017 at 12:23 PM
@Rem - Of course, well spotted.
#6 Posted by John on 27 Oct 2017 at 17:32 PM
A Fanatastic achievement to JML and all the team for creating such a unique self build in London , and completing it on a a budget of £250,000 WHOW! . Who cares if it took 18 months or two years? With house prices in London likely to give anyone a brain heomorage , unless your Lord Sugar , i say hats off too all of you involved in delivering this unique design and home.
#7 Posted by diana on 27 Oct 2017 at 17:43 PM
Ive even heard Kevin McCloud referred to as an architect and he tries pretty hard to sound like one . He's just a paint finish man. But nobody seems to care in the UK . Professional qualifications matter nothing if you have a high profile and good PR.
Here you.
#8 Posted by Here you. on 27 Oct 2017 at 18:13 PM
Seems a bit strange to be rattling on about the sustainability credentials of a house that isn't fit to last a potentially more protracted changing lifestyle of its users. What happens when the bold Joe gets amorous in his new swanky bedroom and has kids, or gets old? He either can't get a stair lift installed to get him to his 1st floor kitchen or his bairns plummet to their death down between his balustrade & handrail'less stairs? Does he patch it and move out?
Nairn's Bairn
#9 Posted by Nairn's Bairn on 28 Oct 2017 at 16:15 PM
As with many GD projects, I don't think this one was finished, which explains the lack of protective barriers at the stair and the suicide doors at the kitchen, also the approved planning drawings for this Newham house stipulate a green roof, which we didn't see completed on GD.
What's interesting are the things that you wouldn't be permitted on a new-build in Scotland - no accessible entrance, no accessible apartment, bathroom or kitchen, windows on the boundary, timber cladding on the boundary etc, and how they managed cavity barriers at each split-level floor is mindboggling (i.e they probably didn't). I don't think this is a particularly good example of affordable small-scale living - Joe the developer will only have been saved from disaster by the unfathomable London property prices.
(PS if you're a masochist follow the link above and have a look at Joe's previous schemes that got refused - really bad stuff.)
#10 Posted by John on 16 Apr 2018 at 01:38 AM
I have a more positive view.
If he wants to do it himself rather than bring in a gang of people, then 23 a month build is what it is.
If he chooses tricky windows and other systems he is going to spend more than others would.
And on the SIP system, there are instances where they have deteriorated quickly, but this is due to moisture ventilation problems problems not being handled in the implementation. If you say the materials are unsustainable then you are standing with people who won't buy or drive a car, or use petrochemicals in anything, that's a very small crowd and a very unfair assessment to make of Joe.
I liked what Joe did, it showed courage and ambition and acceptance that this kind of endeavor has risks. I don't mind the time take or the money spend. But I would like for him to have paid more respect to costs. If I was there I wiould have said 'Joe, it doesn't all have to be accomplished in this project. Let this project be what it needs to be and take your new thoughts and energy into the build up for the next project.' On the other hand, with Kevin hanging around, the temptation to try to hard must be hard to resist.

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