publication date: May 18, 2015
author/source: Guest article from Jewson

Jewson case study

Grand Design’s presenter Kevin McLeod followed the progress of this ground-breaking eco self build project by Peter Berkin and his wife Chard, aired on Channel 4 in September 2014. Nearing retirement, the couple’s vision for this ambitious project was to build an eco round house in the grounds of their existing home, which they planned to sell to fund the build and retire mortgage-free for a life of self-sufficiency – happily, this was achieved with help from Jewson. 

Designed by architect and friend Andrew Armes, of architecture AA, ‘The Round House’ as it is now known, was constructed on a shallow bed of shingle with a layer of steel reinforced pre-shaped polystyrene that is filled with a relatively thin layer of concrete. This provided a circular concrete raft that the house sits inside, insulating from the ground up.

With the precision-engineered timber frame going up, it was at this point that Jewson became involved with the project as a result of an enquiry. Jewson Sales Representative Alan Rapp visited the couple at the site to establish exactly how Jewson could help and was assigned as their dedicated point of contact to guide them through their self build journey. 

Jewson’s service for self builders is designed to take the pressure off. Alan explains: “We think ahead for customers.  We advise and discuss building material options, provide professional advice on sustainable building techniques and offer guidance on key suppliers both nationally and locally. We assist at all stages of the build, from discussing initial concepts, right down to helping to formulate delivery plans.” 

Never having built before, Peter Berkin was particularly keen to build a sustainable home as independently as possible, he explained: “As a total amateur trying to project manage, site manage and hands-on build, I found Alan’s support invaluable. It was amazing throughout the build how often he turned up on site just as I needed something!” 

Jewson’s Alan Rapp gave one particular example: “I arrived at site one day and Peter explained he wanted to undertake the stonework for himself. As a building contractor of 30+years I was able to guide him through the process, discussing materials, and even getting down to the detail of pointing with a hessian rag. I have to say Peter did a great job.” 

Jewson advised on and supplied a whole series of building materials including plaster and plasterboard, cement, sand, aggregates, timber, floorboards, below ground drainage, rainwater drainage, wall ties and paint. Peter also wanted to achieve very high levels of insulation and air-tightness with minimal thermal bridging to take the building as close as possible to Passivhaus status. 

The Round House, which, at its highest points stands at 4m tall, houses a large open plan living space with kitchen and utility room, three guest bedrooms and a master bedroom with split level bathroom. There is also an impressive workshop added to the side of the house, which accommodates Peter’s plane that he is building. 

Constructed with walls clad in larch, a local honey coloured stonemasonry plinth and a wildflower roof, the centre of The Roundhouse forms a stunning partially glazed winter garden.

First-time yet successful self builder, Peter Berkin finished off by saying: “It was the level of service that really made the difference. Even weeks after the filming of Grand Designs, Alan has continued to help with odds and ends needed as I worked through the finishing detail and endless snagging list! We would welcome him here for a coffee any day.” 

Merchants can offer self build customers a wealth of knowledge and expertise. To book a self build consultation with Jewson’s dedicated team visit or your local Jewson branch.

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