Book ahead Car parking on site. Suitable for disabled, though wheelchairs must pass over a gravel forecourt
When we looked for a home in Beaminster, we did not envisage new-build or renovation. We came across Minterne, in a wonderful spot surrounded by fields on a no-through lane just outside Beaminster. We soon found that the existing house, built in late ‘50s and extended many times, would require major renovation. Sue’s career in international development had given her direct experience of the devastating global impact of climate change, so we knew that we must make the house as energy-efficient as possible. But our engineer found that the whole building was structurally unsound and remedial works would not be cost-effective. So, we decided to demolish it and build a new home, inspired and encouraged by houses we saw through West Dorset Eco Homes.
To reduce the impact of demolition, we invited neighbours and friends to a “house wrecking party” and encouraged them to salvage items they wanted. People took door handles, bathroom fittings, chicken houses, even the staircase ! The roof tiles were salvaged and now cover the bat attic over the renovated car port. Windows and doors were recycled by the builders, as was the Aga, and the main body of the house was crushed on site to form hard core for parking areas and the deck construction.
The new house has high levels of insulation and triple glazing to passive-house standard. Energy efficiency measures include solar PV with batteries; Ecodan Air Source Heat Pump and Zehndher Mechanical ventilation/heat retrieval system to bring fresh air to each room and extract heat from the stale air. The house has an A level 97% energy rating and air tightness rating of under 1m3. Water supply is from a new borehole. We moved in at September 2020, though building works continued into December. We are still in process of getting the various eco systems to work effectively together, but already feel the benefits of living in a highly energy-efficient building. We are now focused on the garden, trying to make it as wildlife friendly as possiblen, not easy for people unfamiliar with gardening.
Sue Wardell and Mark Oppe
For more information see suewardell.com
To find the house, start at The Square in the centre of Beaminster. On the North side of the Square, find the entrance to ’Fore Place’ or ’Fleet Street. Drive up Fleet Street for nearly half a mile. At a fork with a house behind it, take the right fork (Hurst). Just after the last house on the right, turn right at a ‘Whatley’ signpost. At the bottom of that short road, turn left up a narrow road. Ubuntu is the first house on the left.