Built in Cornwall
PUBLISHED: 15:40 04 June 2013 | UPDATED: 15:40 04 June 2013
Looking to move from their family home of 45 years – itself built by former builder-turned funeral director Billy – the Winns were looking to retire to a sea view. Originally looking at Marazion for their perfect retirement home, they found a mundic bungalow looking out onto St Michael’s Mount which they lost no time demolishing before going shopping for a new house.
And discovered Hanse Haus, the German ‘kit houses’ which are bespoke designed and partially built in Germany before being erected in a matter of weeks on site. Their shopping list was for a two-bedroom house, open plan living area and a granny flat suitable for Jenny’s mother. And of course, a sea view. This beautiful bespoke home features 180 degrees of west-facing views onto the Mount, and Penzance viewed over Cornish farmed fields. The living area is on the second floor – with an open plan living area and kitchen, looking out onto a spacious balcony, making the most of the incredible views – which on a good day stretch to the full width of this sliver of Cornwall to the towans of Carbis Bay.
“My son looked into it and came up with several companies and Hanse Haus were the one that came out quickly,” says Jenny. “Within a week of enquiring, an architect came over from Germany and started the plan, which was completed by a local architect. We designed it ourselves – they built it to what we wanted: they did everything we asked them to do. .”
The company also used local electricians and plumbers, all working to the company’s high quality and fast building style.
As part of the system, Jenny and Billy spent two days in Germany choosing everything from their sanitary wear, staircase and front door design, handles and flooring to deciding where to put every single on of their plug and TV points and light fittings – a nerve-wracking experience as once chosen, the holes are made in the pre-created walls and can’t easily be altered if mistakes are made.
“The ground works took six weeks and they had a month off for Christmas. The staircase went in fully built through the roof hole on the second day. Within two weeks the house was more or less watertight,” says Billy who was on site every day to watch the building go up.
In total, the workmen spent nine weeks working on it and by then the carpets were in, it was tiled and decorated. This represented half the time it took to get their kitchen installed by a separate company.
The main living area feels snug despite the floor space, thanks in part to the eaves where the kitchen is fitted. In the bedrooms there is also sloping ceilings - a reminder that you are in a very, very posh loft. The west-facing wall is dominated by large floor length windows and sliding doors, which lead out onto the balcony. A well-used telescope sits by one window alongside a bed for Max, their eight-year-old Burmese Mountain collie cross. The huge windows appear undressed – all the better to see the incredible view – but near-invisible blinds sit on the windows which can be lowered to cut out some of the incredible light to allow them to watch television. Two bedrooms come off the main living space and hallway: a master with en-suite, and a guest bedroom, purposely designed with a bathroom next door to allow guests to use it without going through the bedroom. On the first floor is a bespoke self-contained flat for Jenny’s 91-year-old mum, offers similar views, alongside a self-contained utility room, additional bathroom and study, which they admit to using little, thanks to the incredible space they occupy on the second floor.
The back of the house which faces St Michael’s Mount, resembles a chalet with the pitched roof covering the first floor and creating interesting lines within the house. At the front, to comply with the planners, the house looks more conservative and in keeping with the mostly bespoke designed houses it is nestled amongst.
The house has all the latest technological advances designed to reduce energy bills: triple glazing, under floor heating: air exchange – which extracts the heat from the stale air in the house and injects it into fresh air coming into the house. The OptiMyst stove they bought, Jenny admits, is used as a focal point, rather than to provide warmth. There’s no letterbox in the door to prevent draft.
The longest – and most frustrating part was the planning application – which the company took on for the couple – but took around 12 months from start to finish, with the first design rejected by planners. Buying from a German company meant paying in euros, but the price, once agreed, was fixed for a year to avoid the currency fluctuations which could increase (as well as decrease) the real cost of their house. The end result is a beautiful home whatever the season, and as I discovered on a dull day in April, whatever the weather. n