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Homes: Wood you believe it? Karen and Kenny got their dream eco house on Millport thanks to a Polish timber frame company - and much hard work.


Building your own home is anything but easy. Right from the start, it's all about planning, prep and patience.

But play your cards right and you could just end up with a home like Karen and Kenny Mapes.

Starting their self-build project back 2005, the couple have spent the best part of three years moulding their ideal home on the Isle of Cumbrae out of nothing.

And the end result speaks for itself - with the Mapes now proud owners of a bespoke, four-bedroom eco home.

Using Polish timber frame company Budimex Danwood, Kenny and Karen were not only able to create their own home but also include the latest energy saving ideas. And they now have a real family home like nobody else.

Kenny, 50, said: "It's fair to say that it's all been a fairly long process but we now have the home that we've wanted for so long. For years we looked for a suitable plot onCumbrae thatwe could develop and eventually we found one two and half years ago.

"At the same time we had been looking into the type of house we wanted to build and knew roughly the style and shape we were after.

"There were planning restrictions in place as Millport is a conservation area but knowing that from the start was really handy.

"We heard about Danwood homes through a friend and also knew they were building a similar property on Arran so we went over and were impressed with what we saw.

"What appealed was the efficiency of the build - things like the insulation and the way it was put together. There's not many homes like this in Scotland but, in our opinion, there should be more. Not only are they energy efficient but they look good too."

Designing their perfect home around one of Dan-Wood's standard plans, Kenny and Karen were able to shape their property exactly to their needs.

Making their living area open plan, losing a balcony and even widening the staircase created an individual look.

But it's the eco plans that have made all the difference. Kenny said: "We changed Dan-Wood's standard plan quite a bit to come up with a home we wanted, making sure too that it could take our energy saving pump.

"We felt it was daft not to make a new house as energy efficient as possible, given all the environmental concerns, and so fitted an air source heat pump to the house.

"They're popular in Scandinavia but here they're relatively rare, which is strange as they suit the Scottish climate just as well. We've been told that it's really only when the temperature dips below minus four that it becomes less efficient and with that not happening all that often in Millport, we took that risk.

"If we had gone with a ground source heat pump, I'm sure it would have been alot more restrictive because you have to dig massive coils into your garden.

"So far as installation was concerned it was a lot easier and already it's made a vast difference to our energy supply.

Of course it was expensive initially but when you look at the long-term gains, you really can't lose.

"It's nice to have built a house that completely suits us and it's been worth all the effort we all put in."

Coming from a three-bedroom flat in Millport, the Mapes can't get over how much extra room they have.

With four bedrooms, living room and dining area, kitchen, utility, family bathroom, ensuite and downstairs wet room, there's plenty of room for kids Kevin, 14, and 12-year-old Julie as well as Karen's mum when she comes to stay.

And with Karen and Kenny running the local bike and toy shop there's also plenty of storage for stock.

Kenny said: "Our old tenement flat was fairly big but we had already extended it in a bid to accommodate all our needs and we still didn't have things like a proper dining area.

"When we decided to build our own home we had a rough idea what to expect from doing renovations on our other homes but it ended up being in a different league altogether. I didn't think I would have a lot to do but you can't help but get involved.

"Now that we've done it, we know now a lot more about the building process. You have to learn quickly and it all starts at the foundations stage.

"But luckily for us Dan-Wood were excellent and the quality of the finish was very high. They did everything for us including the tiling and erected the house in 12 weeks. Now all the hard work has paid off."


'When we first decided to build our own home we had a rough idea what to expect from renovations on our other homes but this was in a different league altogether'


ECO FRIENDLY... The Mapes' home on Millport has everything they need
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 12, 2008
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