Did you know that over three million people watch Grand Designs, 100,000 subscribe to websites announcing available plots of land, and a similar number buy self-build magazines?* Or that by contrast, just 12,000 self-build homes are completed in the UK each year – or 7.6 per cent of new housing supply?** Reading these figures, we’re well aware how fortunate we are to have this precious opportunity to self-build.

Nevertheless, this week it’s fair to say that the pressure to make decisions on key aspects of our build has been intense. It’s no wonder that books and websites about self-building all recommend “skill, drive and tenacity to take on the challenge and finish the job.” We confess to feeling quite overwhelmed at the moment. Have you experienced a similar sensation on a project of your own?

This week we had our first meeting with the Baufritz project manager for a detailed assessment of the build in the run-up to its delivery from Germany in June 2014. We spoke to lighting design experts and discussed an innovative control system called Lutron which aims to save energy using room occupancy sensors. We are still deliberating about which way is greenest on the heating solution. We are mired in facts, figures and uncomfortable trade-offs as we try to negotiate our way to a system that is cost effective, low-carbon emitting and yet sufficiently reliable to heat the house and, we hope, a fully occupied guest house.

All this before we take off to Germany next week to ‘shop’ for the house when we will face myriad decisions about the look and feel of the interior. Stamina and sound judgement are needed in spades!

Despite the truly appalling weather recently, on site Joe and team have dug the drainage channels for water, sewage, telecomms, electricity and are waiting for the structural engineer to come and assess the site… which currently resembles a huge chalky cowpat due to excessive rain. The fence has gone up against the hedge adjacent to the driveway, with a thick mesh barrier to stop car headlights penetrating through to the neighbour’s side, also making it dog-proof.

So that’s us this week, busy beavering away on our low carbon project in little old Lewes. Internationally, the European parliament voted this week to require member states to meet binding national targets on renewable energy, energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions.

In a decisive vote, 341 to 263 MEPs called for three binding targets for 2030:

  • a 40 per cent cut in greenhouse gases, compared with 1990 levels
  • at least 30 per cent of energy to come from renewable sources
  • and a 40 per cent improvement in energy efficiency

We’re very excited by this news. Sky House Sussex is hopefully leading by example in working towards those targets.

*Source: BBC News Magazine

**Source: Financial Times