Dream became a reality yesterday when we completed the purchase of what will be our new home in the Suffolk village of Debenham. Now we have to work out exactly how we are going to refurbish a 1960s bungalow as an eco home for the 21st century.
We have been thinking about having an energy-efficient home for a long time. I recently found an article Lesley had written for the environmental magazine Vole in 1980 about heat pumps and geothermal energy. It mentions insulation and controlled ventilation too.
England has been slow to adopt these technologies, at least in the commercial housing market. Social housing has a better record.
There are some commercial eco housing developments in East Anglia now, but they are scattered and the work of smaller house building companies. We looked at several and liked what we saw but they were in the wrong places for us.
Our definition of sustainable is wider than just the house. There has to be decent food shop in walking distance and a reasonably frequent bus service into the nearest down.
We have been putting down roots in just such a place for the past dozen years. We came to Debenham and have lived happily in a Victorian cottage in the centre, overlooking the Market Green. We are involved in local things and it would have been madness to move away.
The new houses here did not match what we wanted and the older houses in the core of the village are hard to convert. It is a conservation area and most of the buildings are also listed making energy efficiency very hard.
Then a friend rang to say the buyer of a bungalow had dropped out and it was about to go on the market with an estate agent. My first reaction was that I did not want a bungalow nor a large garden but I was persuaded to look.
Lesley already knew the bungalow from committee meetings. I looked and could see the possibilities: it was a place where we could live in Debenham. It is less than 200 metres from the Co-op supermarket and there is a bus stop at the bottom of the drive.
So now it is ours and we are starting on what everyone around us says is an “exciting project”. I am going to blog about it because I enjoy writing blogs and to share the experience with others who may be thinking of doing something similar.