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We have outline planning consent for 20 houses at Achabeag – including a commitment to deliver six plots for affordable housing. The Achabeag partnership of Highland Small Communities Housing Trust, Roderick James Architects, and Ardtornish Estate, have built the first two – the Croft House, and Fair & Square – with help from Highland Council and the Scottish Government.

The two different house types are built to a very high standard – with exceptional levels of insulation, minimal heating requirements, met by a woodstove and off-peak electricity, heat storage in a thermal floor slab, and solar thermal panels for hot water. Their dramatic full-height internal living spaces have Douglas Fir structural frames and masses of natural light from roof glazing. Aluminium clad timber windows are virtually maintenance free. The timber for both was sourced mostly from local forests in the Lochaber area, the insulation – using recycled newspaper, collected by local schoolchildren – processed by Warmcel. Novel sloping exterior walls and pagoda-style roofs give both great charm and individuality.

Both houses have been built as prototypes and show houses for future developments across the country. We invited a wide range of suppliers to help build and fit them out to a standard well above that which was covered by the budget available. Several suppliers have helped enormously – contributing materials or products free of charge as their investment in the venture, with a view to being part of the team to deliver these house types much further afield, to self-builders, developers, local authorities, and social landlords.

Contributors so far are:

Roderick James Architects LLP www.rjarchitects.co.uk

BSW www.bsw.co.uk

Robertson www.robertson.co.uk

Allen Gordon & Co. www.allengordon.co.uk

Sungift Solar www.sungiftsolar.co.uk

Carpenter Oak www.carpenteroak.com

Warmcel www.warmcel.co.uk

Velux www.velux.co.uk

Warmup www.warmup.co.uk

Vent Axia www.vent-axia.com

Clearview www.clearviewstoves.com

CEF electrics www.cef.co.uk

Hager Ltd www.hager.co.uk

Deluce Lighting www.delucelighting.com

JTC kitchens www.jtcfurnituregroup.com

Smeg www.smeguk.com

Direct Slating www.directslatingsupplies.co.uk

Sheffield Insulation www.siginsulation.co.uk

Knauf www.knaufdrywall.co.uk

KRend www.k-rend.co.uk

Lindab www.lindab.com

Kastrup www.kastrupvinduet.dk

The build cost for the two prototypes is around £125,000 per house, but with further analysis we hope they could be built for a little over £100k each (depending on location, number being built, level of finish required, etc.). With an overall build budget here of £85k per house, and the overall cost of £125k per house, the value of these contributions is approximately £40k per house.

We are extremely grateful to all of the partners for their generosity.

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