N&P announces eco-build winner

Amanda Jarvis

March 14, 2006

Ben and Merry Albright from Herefordshire scooped the award and a cheque for £5,000 which recognises individually built, energy-saving homes.

It was second time lucky for Ben and Merry. They entered their first self-build, a beautiful two bedroom cottage, in a previous year’s N&P competition. This property was featured in Channel 4’s popular “Grand Designs” series.

Around 20,000 people “self-build” their own homes every year, but thousands more dream of having a home built to their own specification. Ben, a sales manager, and Merry, full-time mum to their one-year-old daughter Minerva, made environmentally-friendly features top priority in their second self-build home in Pembridge, Herefordshire.

They said: “Self-building is both a huge opportunity and a huge luxury, but it is possible to be ethical and ecological without being incredibly rich or slightly strange.”

N&P holds the competition annually to raise awareness of how homes can be built in a more responsible way. The effects of global warming, such as increased flooding, are making more people think about sustainable lifestyles, even if it’s just fitting energy-efficient light-bulbs.

Gary Lacey, group product manager at N&P, and one of the judges of the competition, said: “All of the entrants this year were of an extremely high quality but we felt that the Albright’s home was the outstanding entry.

“The house was constructed on an old industrial site, which included an air raid shelter, so a brownfield site was used rather than building on a green, virgin site. How the materials of the demolished buildings were recycled in the construction was particularly impressive. We really admired the way that local materials and local craftsman were used, particularly given that this cuts down on transport and fuel costs.

“Ben and Merry have shown that, with plenty of determination and imagination, building an eco-friendly house can be achieved by ‘normal’ people who want to live in an environmentally sustainable family home for the long term. Eco-friendly builds are not the sole preserve of the rich or those experimenting with construction designs.”

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