James and Dani McDonald reveal why they were drawn to HUF HAUS, how the process worked and why they have become very loyal to the brand.
Interview with Dani and James McDonald
Dani and James had fallen in love with the concept of the HUF HAUS and also knew that at some stage they would want to move to the countryside. They liked the efficiency, the quiet build environment and the sense of bringing the outdoors inside. They knew they were sold on the idea and were determined to find the right plot to build the house.
Finding a Plot was a 10-Year Journey
Searching for the right plot became like a full-time job for Dani, who was travelling back and forth from London almost every week. As well as needing to fulfil their requirements in terms of access to mainline rail, being away from roads and other buildings, and being close to good schools, it had the limitations of needing to be accessible to the large vehicles and cranes that would be used in delivering and building the house on site.
As Dani didn’t want to live in a caravan it also needed to have a habitable dwelling on site for while the build was ongoing. When they sold their London residence they rented a property in the area and Dani was able to work tirelessly doing everything she could to secure a plot.
The original house on the plot
The HUF HAUS is Entirely Bespoke
All the elements of the HUF HAUS are bespoke, from the size and height, right down to the room shapes and fixtures and fittings.
A Visit to the HUF HAUS Factory is Required to Select Fixtures and Fittings
Although they already had the basic price of the house they had to travel to the show room to select the final finishes, such as taps, carpets and light fittings. With such an immense range on display, and barely a day to do it in, their choices were largely narrowed down by budget!
Dani and James' kitchen
Living on Site Prior to the Build was a Valuable Experience
Although the living conditions at the existing dwelling were challenging, the experiences from being on site and seeing how the light changed through the seasons was priceless and helped them make the right decisions about the design of the house. It shaped the aspect of the house and the decisions about where each of the rooms should be positioned.
Once Work Started On Site the Whole Process was Very Quick
From moving the earth to put the basement in, to moving into the house took just 5 and a half months. For Huf Hauses that don’t have the concrete basement the process is even easier.
The “Upside Down” Layout of the House was Chosen Because of the Views
Dani and James wanted the best of the views to be appreciated from the living areas, rather than from the bedrooms.
An added benefit of this is that the temperature of the basement bedrooms is ideal for sleeping in; cool in summer and warm in winter.
Ventilation is a Manual Process
In summer the heat can be removed through high level windows being opened to create a steady breeze. Despite the house having 105 windows, the large overhang over them prevents direct sunlight from coming in. It also has the benefit of stopping the rain hitting the windows, which means they don’t need to be cleaned as often!
HUF HAUS Make a Variety of Designs
The house which Dani and James own is a “butterfly” design, which is perhaps the most recognised of the Huf Haus brand. They also produce houses of more traditional styles and with “saltbox” type roofs. One thing they all have in common is that they are all built with bays – between 4 and 8.
The Huf Family Remain Very Involved With the Projects
The three Huf brothers are all trained architects, with Peter Huf being the architect for Dani and James’ house. They remain committed to providing an after care service and will call by when they’re in the UK to see how the building is performing and whether there are any issues.
Read the Manuals First!
With a whole new house full of new gadgets Dani found herself spending a lot of time reading manuals. She concedes it probably would have been sensible to have read the manuals in advance, however it took only a few weeks for everything to be set up to their requirements and running smoothly.
The Renewable Technology is Well Hidden
Although they toyed with the idea of using solar panels for heating they actually went with a ground source heat pump and heat exchanger. They also drilled a well in the garden which will be useful in times of hosepipe bans!
A HUF HAUS Every Time!
If they were to self-build again, James and Dani would only choose a HUF HAUS. They have been so impressed with the quality of materials used and with it coming in on time and on budget they found the whole process to be a pleasure.
Dani finds the house to be comfortable, accessible and respected by young and old alike, with visitors really enjoying their time there.
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