John and Debbie turned their former nursery school 2 acre site into a community resource. John’s particular skill is finding second-hand materials and repurposing them in creative ways, while Debbie has a gift for designing and planting cosy natural spaces for human activities and wildlife diversity.
Many of the wooden windows in their house are delapidated. John’s solution has been to screw polycarbonate sheet as double glazing on the outside of the windows. These not only prevent further rot, they also appear to work more effectively than the few UPVC replacements in stopping condensation and insulating the house. This DIY solution cost only £300 to rescue all the wooden windows in the house.
John fitted his own solar 4kWp PV panel array, using a simple mounting method called the Hamburg Roof – but using repurposed roofing from another building. The panels are slotted in flush with the tiled roof rather than being clamped to a rack above it. This replaced a ton of concrete tiles with light industrial steel cladding, salvaged from a building being demolished, and used the German mount manufacturer's system of passive ventilation to prevent the panels getting too hot.
The garden is watered with harvested rainwater in a 4000 litre store in butts and re-used 1000 litre IBC's from local dairy farms. The slope of the land provides a gravity fed system, and filters made from nylon net curtain and scrap sinks, deliver plenty of water for the polytunnel and outdoor vegetable beds.
The house is an example how a little ingenuity and hunting around can achieve much at very little cost.