The German company Huf Haus, might be internationally famous but the properties they create are certainly not numerous outside their home country.
Just 200 kits a year are exported with the majority of them travelling to the US.
So the UK branch of the Huf Haus owners club (it exists) is exclusive but even rarer are the owners of such homes in Scotland.
Certainly when Angus Macfarlane plumped for the company to design two properties being built at West Linton seven years ago he understood that there were perhaps only two North of the border already.
That total, he believes, has risen to seven in the intervening years but they are still a rarity in Scotland although they seem to command huge interest and affection, despite not being indigenous, and essentially flat packed homes.
Angus says “People seem to either love them or hate them, although no one has ever been rude enough to say that they don’t like my house. Most are very complimentary when they see inside.”
Macfarlane Homes was redeveloping the site of Rutherford House back in 2006 and considering what to build on the plots in the grounds. Angus, as MD of the company, had visited the Huf Haus factory and was an enthusiastic exponent of the concept of this way of building, particularly for this project, as one of the homes would be for himself and his wife Judy, plus their two teenage children.
He says “We weren’t at all sure whether or not planners would allow something like this but early on they said that what they didn’t want was a pastiche of the vernacular of Rutherford House; they would prefer something completely different, utilising a modern design and plenty of glass.”
An architect from Huf Haus was brought in to develop the plans for the two properties which involved intergrating existing buildings - one a small derelict cottage and the other a stable block, to two new homes. So although the buildings now look ultra modern you could say they were a renovation and extension of an older property. In both cases it has lent character and charm to the finished home, although they are principally full of cutting edge modernity.
Huf homes are largely constructed of wood and glass and are known for their energy efficiency, open plan living and most particularly, the ease of construction.
The company became famous in the UK after a Huf Haus was featured in the Channel 4 programme, Grand Designs in 2004 and there is currently a two year waiting list for people who wish to construct their own.
The appeal of the design is the freedom which a lack of central load bearing walls give the designers and the extensive use of glass walls. 1, Rutherford Gardens, as Angus’ home is addressed, is a perfect example of the principles involved.
The layout is flexible; the lower ground floor houses two bedrooms both with their own access to the garden. They share a guest bedroom at this level and there is also a utility room.
Upstairs and the ground floor houses a spectacular sitting room with its south facing balcony. This room is linked, via a glass hallway, to the old cottage, which contains the double height kitchen, dining and family room. This space has kept its original feel - it isn’t surrounded by expanse of glass but instead has retained the thick walls and smaller windows of the older building, and makes for a charming contrast.
There is a guest bedroom at this level in the new part of the house and upstairs are two more bedrooms, both with en suites and access to the balcony on three sides of the house.
Because the house was designed and built off site, Angus says that the actual construction was shockingly fast. “Ten or so lorries turned up with pieces of the house; whole walls or bits of roof, I think the ground floor came in five or six sections. All the groundwork had been prepared beforehand and within two and a half days of the lorries arriving the sections were all slotted together and the house was wind and water tight.”
But the speed of construction is not the only advantage of a Huf Haus and certainly wouldn’t explain their enduring popularity. Angus says “They are much more energy efficient than most homes, we are probably looking at a 30 per cent reduction in energy use. It’s just a very well thought out, comfortable house to live in, and being surrounded by glass makes you feel like you are living outside.”
He concedes that his Huf Haus has an added extra - the incorporation of the cottage which makes it unique and a lovely blend of old and new: “But all these homes are special in their own way.”