In the beginning was the dormer.
There seemed to be no escaping them in rural Scotland. At one point we got the strong impression that “Scottish vernacular” was being defined as “anything with dormers”. Flicking through the standard designs of some of the timber frame house builders it looked like “traditional” meant lots of fiddly, heat-stealing, leaky roof detailing. Not for us, thank you!
The McKay House
At one point we came across the McKay House . Built on the coast near Aberdeen, it has a lot of the features we were looking for. A modern take on the traditional long house, single storey with rooms in the roof, skylights and lots of glass, a mix of full height and half height rooms. Not to mention a whole raft of modern techniques and technologies for keeping the place warm. It was clearly going to cost an arm and a leg to have someone design and build something similar.
So with some relief we came across Andy Black’s Firefly Wood . Designs based on traditional long house vernacular (with roof lights) but with imaginative modern additions caught our eye.
The Moraig design was obviously the one for us. Timber framed, L-shaped, well insulated, choice of external finishes and with very nice internal finishes. Full height hallway and a bridge connecting the two bedrooms. And not a dormer in sight.
Outside, we’ll have a slate path all the way round with a patio area at the front to catch the sun. Eventually at the rear there’ll be a terrace but that will have to be built up a little bit – the plot slopes away to the north.
Externally, we’re going for off white rendered walls with slate grey window frames. The living room will be clad in local sandstone from the quarry at Swinton, a mix called Blaxter.
Internally, we’ll have light oak and slate floors. Downstairs the heating will be underfloor; upstairs we’re hoping not to have to put anything in but we’ll have pipework ready for radiators if need be. In the living room we’ll have the mandatory wood burning stove. See the page on Keeping Warm  for more details on the insulation.
The whole house is about 146 sq metres. Downstairs is about 100 sq metres.