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Frank & Pauline Mace


Tanglewood is a breathtaking two-story, five-bedroom timber frame home built by Frank & Pauline Mace. Nestled in the beautiful location of Herefordshire, this house is an outstanding demonstration of an eco-friendly property that exceeds energy efficiency standards while remaining uniquely designed to the self-builder's specific needs.

Could you tell us any interesting facts or remarkable features about your project?

Tanglewood was built to Passivhaus standards with 10kw solar array and air source heat pumps for heating and hot water.

Frank & Pauline's Experience at the National Self Build & Renovation Centre

How many times have you visited The National Self Build and Renovation Centre before?

At least six times.

What would you say is the most helpful feature or resource at the NSBRC?

The staff and the exhibits.

Did you use any exhibitors at the NSBRC? If so, who?

Frame Technologies.

What did you enjoy most about your visit to the NSBRC?

The wealth of ideas to draw upon.

Would you recommend the NSBRC to a friend, and if so, what aspects of the Centre would you recommend and why?

Yes - the shows, for the one-to-one consultations with exhibitors as well as the guided tours.

Ground Floor Plans
First Floor Plans
Cross Sections

Frank & Pauline's Self Build Experience

What first inspired you to undertake project – what did you hope to achieve?

It all started with an unhappiness in all our previous houses of draught, potential damp and cold, the usual things for standard British built houses. Log cabins in the wilderness always struck a chord with deep snow and a warm fire crackling away in the hearth. A new concept came to the fore with passiv haus principles and so many years of quiet research and soaking up of new ideas gradually filtered a way into my subconscious brain. It was Paulines motorcycle accident in 2007 that forced a radical change in our thinking with the future potential need for "flat" living with no hills to climb and easy access.


What was the cost & size of the land?

£225,000 & 1 ½ acres.


How did you find the land - do you have any tips for others currently searching for a plot?

After a complete lack of finding a suitable house from existing properties for sale, a lucky motorcycle trip past the plot in Kington gave us the opportunity to contemplate self build and the realisation of a desire for a comfortable efficient house to our own design. We had always intended to be as hands on as much as possible due to a need to know exactly what we were getting for our bucks and not someone else's idea of what would suit us best. We saw it advertised in a local estate agents. Our tip would be to search every website.


Did you have any issues getting your planning permission granted or with building control? If so – why was this?

No major issues except for some curious ambiguities. In that our case officer did not like us using a slate clad upper floor (even though there were houses in the local that had slate tile cladding for their upper floors). We compromised on reconstituted timber effect boarding that looked like timber cladding but, from our point of view, needed no maintenance for at least 25 years.

Secondly a discrepancy between Planning authority and building control with regards to our cabin. Planning authority said we were ok to construct it at a distance of 2.5 metres from the boundary line, but building control said that, because it was made of timber, it had to be at least 3.5 metres from the boundary line. Because of this limitation, we had to resubmit our application, revised to move the cabin that extra metre, at our own cost?


Why did you choose your method of construction?

Due to the cost, speed and the ability for us to do as much work as we could ourselves over the structure.

We thought long and hard about building construction, starting off with european clay block, conventional UK brick and timber frame and for the reasons of cost, a simpler build with one supplier and the fact that, being factory built, the frame was up and ready to be worked on within two weeks from the timber frame arriving on site. This made it possible to be weather tight within two months.


Did you use a project manager, or did you choose to self project manage?

We chose to self project manage. We designed the house ourselves, on passivhaus principles and our own past experience of houses where pipe runs were too long due to poor placement of rooms and some rooms being cold where others were hot for similar reasons. We took on a designer to put our designs to paper and get us past the planning permission stage and later on an architect to tweak our design a tad. Once the planning permission was granted we proceeded to build our 2 bed 6x8m kit log cabin (we didn't want to live in a caravan while building the main house) to live in while we moved on to the main build, that was in 2015 having bought the plot in 2013.


What was your budget and were you able to stick to it?

Our budget was £1,000 per sqm, and came in at £1,100 per sqm. Total build costs were about £420,000 for our 388sqm house. Slightly over our intended sub £1000 per SQM however we did not skimp on equipment as it was our forever home and not for profit.


If you didn’t stick to your budget, what was the main reason for the overspend?

As we undertook this build ourselves over a period of some four to five years, we had set ourselves a target of £1000 per sqm. We did not skimp on Technological materials, electing for a 10kw solar array, a high spec ASHP, UFH both downstairs and upstairs, high spec triple glazing etc. We could have gone for lower quality or even lower spec products but felt that this was our once only build and hence went for the best we could afford. Even with this we came in at about £1100 sqm.


What is the value of the property now?



Did you reclaim the VAT, and if so, how much were you able to reclaim?

Yes - roughly £30k.


What aspects of the process did you find stressful – and do you have any tips on how to avoid the pitfalls you encountered?

None really, except issues with one contractor. Really research your contractors and ask previous clients.


What did you find most enjoyable about working on your project?

Knowing where everything went, and the ability to keep up a high standard. Consulting with a local timber frame company, Frame Technologies, saw the timber frame going up in September 2017 in record time of a week and a half. With the roofer following on right behind followed by the glaziers we were pretty watertight within a month or two and we could then carry on cladding the outside and insulating and platerboarding the inside. With all the internals done and finally decorated we moved in in late 2022/early 2023. With living in the comfortable log cabin, the main build seemed more like going to work every day so the end result didn't really have a definite day per se.


What is one of your favourite features about your project?

Our favourite feature, designed in, must be the balcony and roof overhang to the south, as this gives us shade in the summer as well as allowing low sun in during the winter and protection from the elements.


How did you tailor your home to suit your lifestyle?

As we are now in our later years and yet we still love family gatherings, we designed the house so that we could primarily live on the ground floor (Master bedroom, kitchen/diner, lounge room, study and utility area) and yet accommodate our family upstairs when they visited with a large upstairs living room for entertaining, four more bedrooms, with en-suites and family bathroom, and balcony access for views etc.


Is there a possibility you would ever undertake another project in the future?

We have succeeded in building our forever home and it has worked out well. If we were 40 years younger? I think we would have no qualms in doing it again, but at pensionable age we are both quite happy with what we've got.


If so, is there anything you would do differently?

No, not really.


What would your top tip be for other NSBRC Visitors about to embark on their first self build or home improvement journey?

Don't be afraid to do it. As you can imagine it has been hectic but well worth it and again proved the house for what we intended, comfortable living and a family gathering place.