Battling the odds

"The overall quality of finish is outstanding"

David and Julie Cox have gone to great lengths to achieve their perfect family home - choosing an attentive architect, a sympathetic builder, weathering heavy rain - but the right location was always at the heart of their project.

"We spent a few years seeing if there was anywhere we'd like to live better than here and the answer was no, there isn't!" says David. "We realised we had everything we needed here on the south west coast of Cumbria: our friends, the sea and the countryside."

Building a home wasn't in the plan at the start, but the couple discovered land for sale in the grounds of a local, listed manor house. They were instantly drawn to the peaceful, rural location near the coast, but also liked being within walking distance of the village and train station.

The Coxes bought the land in early 2011 and went on to look for an architect. They found Carrock Design & Build online and were drawn to the firm for their design experience with period properties. The fact they were builders too also hugely appealed.

"It was important we chose a contractor who worked in the period style," says David. "We wanted our home constructed by skilled craftsmen who could provide us with a highly detailed finish."

The couple briefed Malcolm Iredale, architect and managing director of Carrock, to design an ‘intelligent' five-bedroom house with a gym and cellar, incorporating a biomass heating system and the latest technology for lighting, sound, vision and security.

One of the biggest challenges was the sloping site as there were planning restrictions to the height of the property.

"We suggested building a basement level instead - although there are still eight different internal floor levels," says Malcolm.

"We realised we had everything we need here"

The summer months in 2012 should have been kind to the groundworkers when they got started, but from the beginning they fought problems, discovering two underground springs, and then encountering unseasonal heavy rain.

"We had to dig deep into the bedrock to build the stepped reinforced raft foundation, and reinforced concrete and block retaining walls for the basement," Malcolm explains. "But it took two days to pump out the water and the problem was eventually resolved when we put in the perimeter drainage."

Then the rain began and didn't stop for another three months, and the basement turned into a swimming pool.

"We built a protective shelter around the foundations to dry the structure out," Malcolm adds.

The project picked up pace again and was finished just over a year later in March 2014. The finished house is testimony to Carrock's design prowess and diligence. Locally sourced red sandstone and stone contrast with the cream rendered walls and slate roof. The inside of the house is so detailed too that no snagging has been needed.

"The overall quality of finish is outstanding," says David. "We're very pleased with how all the spaces work together exactly as we intended them to - particularly when the children are home and we're entertaining - we're all very happy here."

Stay up to date with consumer news

For regular consumer updates from FMB, sign-up here with your email address.