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Student scoops Build It award for house

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: December 04, 2013

  • BUILDING GONG: Josh Penk receives his award from Tim Smith, managing director of sponsors Brandon Hire, and ceremony host Alan Davies.

  • The house that Josh built in Lanlivery.

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AN ARCHITECTURE student from Lanlivery who constructed a sustainable woodland house on a shoestring has won a top award.

Josh Penk won the Best Self-Build Project at this year's Build It magazine awards held in Swindon and hosted by comedian and actor Alan Davies.

The former Fowey Community College student, who is currently studying in London, took over three years to build the house at Lanlivery at a cost of £82,000, and it is currently valued at £500,000.

Josh was just 19 when he started the house-building project and judges said the home was beautifully designed, and hugely inspiring to any novice self-builder.

"It's very ecofriendly and there are no synthetic materials, so it's extremely breathable," said Josh, who worked on the project with his friend Andrew and his father Martin, who is a director of the Bodmin-based Arco2 architectural firm. "Building had always been on the cards for me. The plot has been in the family for quite some time," said Josh, who worked at Arco2 as a trainee before starting the project.

"It was important to learn the system of building. My dad's practice does all the elements of a job, from planning to production," added Josh, who drew up his own home's design at the same time.

The result was a single-storey, two-bedroom property built in a curve, using a post-and-beam system with cedar cladding and a spectacular, glazed south elevation.

"I knew that a single storey would be easier to keep low impact, and it was also much simpler to stick to a small budget. But primarily, it was a stylistic decision inspired by the design of Japanese homes."

Josh's family gained permission for the plot in the 1980s and had laid services at the time, which helped with the budget. Nevertheless, the original permission had lapsed, and he had to reapply for full consent – which was granted.

In keeping with the ethos of the whole project, he undertook his own tree, soil contamination and mining surveys – with a little help from a geologist neighbour. In fact, Josh avoided using consultants and subcontractors throughout – with the exception of a plumber and an electrician to do the final fix, commission and sign off.

While he remains an architecture student, Josh's house is let to his aunt, but he returns in the holidays to enjoy the result of his hard work.

"It's nice when I get to spend time here," he said.

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  • Cab82  |  December 10 2013, 9:44AM

    This is a highly individual project set in gorgeous surrounds - and hopefully it will inspire other young people to consider self build (or indeed the government's custom build initiative) as a route to getting onto the housing ladder. The full story of Joshua's project is available online at http://tinyurl.com/nqkunag

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