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Highland haven

After a fruitless search for their perfect home in rural Scotland, John and Jeanette Fenwick decided to self build their own Passivhaus instead

When John and Jeanette Fenwick sold their traditional terraced abode in Newcastle, they decided that it was high time to take the plunge and fulfil their long-held ambition to move across the Scottish border. “We have always adored Scotland, and the north west Highlands in particular,” says Jeanette. “We’re keen walkers and photographers, and we love the relaxed pace of life and lack of people up in this area. We knew we wanted to head up here to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.”

A quest for the perfect house

Armed with the money generated from the sale of their previous property, the couple were in a fortunate position with the necessary funds already at their disposal. They headed up to the Highlands in search of a house and a new life. However, an initial perusal of an area to the north of Inverness – the Black Isle – proved unsuccessful. None of the available dwellings quite seemed to fit their requirements. “We wanted a home that had walks on the doorstep and vistas of beautiful surrounding scenery,” says John. “But many of the houses we looked at were in built-up areas that could really have been positioned anywhere in the UK. They just didn’t seem to have the wow-factor views we wanted.”

After some time spent looking, the Fenwicks’ hunt took a different direction. John started investigating kit homes on the internet and searching for building plots within easy reach of the Highlands capital, Inverness, which is situated on the east coast. “We have friends who relocated to Applecross, which is in a stunning area of north west Scotland,” he explains. Unfortunately, this particular region proved to be too remote for the Fenwicks. “We feel that as we get older, it makes sense to be closer to medical services,” he says. “Also, we didn’t want to be plagued by midges, and they tend to be much more problematic in western Scotland.”

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About Build It

The February edition of Build It magazine will help you get your self build, renovation or extension project off on the right foot. It’s packed with inspiration and advice, including: • A run-down barn transformed in to a stunning contemporary home (page 22) • A beginners guide to self build (page 62) • 8 hot ideas for stoves & fires (page 69) • Create your ideal kitchen with our in-depth guide (page 74) • Get room sizes right (page 96) … and more!