Building your own home isn't everybody's first thought when it comes to getting on the property ladder – but for Mike and Kate Woods it was the ideal way to go about it.
Constructed from Insulated Concrete Form (ICF) rather than the traditional block and brick method, this property in Colton, just outside Abbots Bromley, is a sustainable and efficient eco-friendly alternative.
It will save the family thousands on bills each year compared to the 120-year-old farmhouse they previously rented for four years – just metres away.
Mike, aged 32, said: "The owners of the farmhouse wanted to sell it and offered it to us first. We were going to buy it but realised that after the cost of purchasing it we’d also have the cost of renovating it and it just would have been too much.
"So instead we asked to buy some of the land and they agreed to split the plot in two. Two acres for us and five acres to be sold with the house."
Originally the plan was to convert stables which sat on the site, but Mike and Kate decided that would not be big enough.
Instead they moved on to the idea of building a standard construction property.
It wasn't until their planning permission had been granted that a friend spoke to them about an eco-build instead.
Mike said: "Someone was due to build the house but we couldn't tie down dates. Then my friend Matt approached me about an eco-build as he works for Eco Builds and Renewables Ltd (EBRL) – a family run local business dealing with all things sustainable.
"With a baby on the way we wanted something that was quick to build and the idea of a suitable and future proof home appealed. I'm no eco-warrior but with the bills dramatically reduced it's almost like having a pay rise."
After first discussing this in autumn 2016, a date was set to start work in early 2017. On January 20 they began laying the foundations and six months later it was complete.
The property has an open plan living room and kitchen-diner, a separate lounge-snug, utility and plant room as well as four bedrooms and four bathrooms.
Mike said: "There was a mixture of excitement and trepidation about going for an eco-build and seeing blocks of polystyrene was odd as they looked like Lego. But when rooms became rooms, that’s when it got real.
"EBRL took it from the drawing stages to handing me the keys and that was a big plus. Having a project manager was great and we touched base every day.
"There were a couple of bumps in the road, as you'd expect, but nothing big. Standard construction takes so much longer and it's all worked out a dream really.
"It has the wow factor for us. We love that the house has an open plan living area and the energy efficiency is great. We also found out the house is now worth twice what we spent after having it valued."
Matt Gavin, contracts director at EBRL, said: "I had been a salesman all my life then began air conditioning training at the age of 34 and started working at my father-in-law's business, EBRL, which he started 40 odd years ago.
"We specialise in construction and renewable energy projects, while looking to reduce the environmental and energy cost of any structure.
"We use a fabric-first approach to building, and using insulated concrete forms comes with a great deal of benefits for the environment, as well as the end user of the property.
"This property now has the best air-tightness result achieved on a new build this year in the county. It scored 2.31m3(h.m2) while the average new build constructed by traditional methods typically attains 4m3(h.m2) and higher.
"Air permeability refers to how much air leaks out of the property, with a lower value being beneficial in that it reduces the need for mechanical heating. The property also has a low 'u-value' - the lower this figure the better-insulated the property is.
"This means it is less affected by the external temperature, reducing the need for mechanical heating in winter or mechanical cooling in summer."