HousePlanner Site of the Month

Our past featured sites
ecohomes + self build library








Site of the Month


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Past featured sites:
  • July 2012: Hannah Lobley -Hannah is a designer spaecialisiing in art commissions and bespoke products made entirely from recycled paper and books that are compressed and work like wood, creating fantastic patterns.

  • June 2012: May 2012 Architect in the House -organised by the Royal Institute of British Architects and Shelter, this innovative event gives you a one hour consultation with a local architect in exchange for a £40 donation to Shelter, the charity for the homeless.

  • May 2012 Project for Public Spaces -this month we are moving beyond house design to consider the wider urban environment and the subject of 'placemaking'.PPS is a nonprofit planning, design and educational organization dedicated to helping people create and sustain public spaces that build stronger communities. The site is a library of fantastic ideas for transforming and improving public spaces -dip in and read just a few.

  • April 2012 Community Self Build Agency -charitable organisation that aims to support people in housing need to develop the resources and skills to build their own homes. The agency works through campaigning with local authorities and through promoting training opportunities.

    March 2012: The Artful Bodger -the website of Peter Murray who hand makes craft products from spoons to Windsor chairs using traditional techniques and tools. Peter is based at Abbey Home Organic Farm and runs courses teaching green wood working and woodland craft, including spoon carving, stool making, pole lathe turning and chair making. He also specialises in countryside management, including coppicing, planting pruning, thinning, tree felling and hedgelaying.

  • December 2011: Assington Mill -offers short one to three-day courses in Suffolk on rural and traditional crafts from breadmaking to strawbale construction. They provide a welcoming setting where people can enjoy learning new skills, and have a great day out with like-minded people. The mill is set on a small 70-acre organic farm in one of Suffolk's beautiful secret valleys. Food is home-made and locally-sourced, much of it grown in the kitchen garden.

  • October 2011: Passivhaus Trust: The Passivhaus Trust is an independent, non-profit organisation that aims to promote the adoption of the German Passivhaus low energy, design standard and methodology in the UK. Its aim is to promote the principles of Passivhaus as a highly effective way of reducing energy use and carbon emissions from buildings in the UK.

  • CarbonlightSeptember 2011: Carbonlight Home
    By Velux, the manufacturer of roof windows, this pair of semi-detached homes in Kettering, Northants, are part of the Model Home 2020 project. They aim to prove that it is possible to build energy efficient, sustainable housing that is practical and appealing to the consumer, whilst being affordable to replicate as volume houses. Not surprisingly, they also explore the possibilities of roof windows, but that is no bad thing.

    July 2011: Earthborn -an environmentally friendly range of paints free from Volatile Organic Compounds for interior and exterior use. Featured in the Grand Designs episode with the modernist house of Pru Irvine and husband Richard , they have been widely used in eco projects ranging from Bedzed to Moss Grove organic hotel.

    June 2011: Propertywizza -a natty little tool that will give you a whole raft of information about the postcode of your choice - house prices, old maps, crime statistics, planning applications, schools, pubs etc -a great way to find about about an area you want to move to.

    May 2011: Little White Alice -in time for the holiday season, we bring you a development of six holiday eco cottages built to the highest energy efficient standards at Carnmenellis in Cornwall. The cottages blend the old with the new, mixing natural materials and handcrafted furnishings with technology and innovation.

  • April 2011: Home -the extraordinary film by Yann Arthus-Bertrand. Beautiful, haunting and totally scary -the film took two years in the making and is released free online. Shot entirely from an aerial view, the film shows the world through some fifty countries, illustrating the range of environmental issues faced by humanity. The English version is narrated by Glenn Close.

  • March 2011: Clayworks -a beautiful, simple website for a beatiful product. Clayworks supply pigmented clay plasters from Cornwall in a range of pre-mixed natural colours that will really bring the natural world inside.

    February 2011: Observer Ethical Awards -vote now for your favourite ethical superheroes. Your chance to show your support for the people and companies putting the environment first -whether it's your green-minded local grocer, a school recycling project or a global brand with sustainability -voting closes March 11th.

  • January 2011: GROHE -we start the year with thoughts about the most valuable of commodities -water. GROHE not only make beautiful taps and showers, but the make great strides to saving water with their EcoJoy range as well as publishing some useful hints and tips on reducing water usage.

  • December 2010 Sheep Poo Paper -this Christmas, why not buy your cards from Creative Paper Wales the only craft paper mill in Wales. They are makers of beautiful handcrafted papers and paper products including the unique Sheep Poo Paper™. All their papers are made from recycled materials and processes are designed to live up to the highest environmental and quality standards possible.

  • Oct 2010 Hunsett Mill -a stunning extension of a listed Norfolk water pumping mill that has been shortlisted for the 2010 RIBA Manser Prize. The accommodation is available for holiday lets for up to nine people.

    Sept 2010: This month the theme is getting the message out -if you are involved in teaching then have a look at these sites, Eco Schools or Eco Schools Wales, who produce a number of tools, resources and case studies for teachers. Well worth registering your school on the scheme.

  • Aug 10: Aug 2010: Dusty Gedge -urban ecologist and leading exponent and speaker on the subject of green roofs, with a background as a circus performer, actor and broadcaster.

  • July 2010: CoolCaves -the ethical alternative to estate agents -work with a strong ethical agenda and donate 20% of their profits to the charity Centrepoint
  • May 2010 -those with limited space, such as balconies and patios, might like to try Boxed Gardens of Flax Bourton who can supply a range of garden containers in different styles, with different seasonal produce and organic soil.

  • March/April 2010 -a site dedicated to all aspects of buying a field -access, water supply, fences, creating a wildflower meadow and much more., a directory of woodlands for sale throughout the UK, along with the ins and outs of owning and maintaining a wood.

  • February 2010 -Ecobuild/Futurebuild -the world's biggest event dedicated to sustainable design, construction and the built environment is held at Earls Court in March. You can meet hundreds of suppliers of sustainable construction products and materials as well as attending a huge range of seminars and other events.

    January 2010 -A Frame Architecture -brainchild of Jeffrey Dutt, this company is fundamentally an eco-based design practice, dedicated to the design and pre-fabrication of garden buildings from sustainable and recycled materials.

  • December 2009 -Picocool -simply an illustrated listing of some of the latest coolest product and design ideas. Some are curious, some are astoundingly brilliant -sit back and enjoy.

  • November 2009 -Swaffham Turbine, Norfolk Turbine tours by Ecotricity -climb the 300 step spiral staircase inside Swaffham wind turbine up to its its 65m high public viewing platform. Designed by architects Norman Foster, the turbine was built in 1999 at the request of the town council. Since then, a second turbine has been added, and at 85m Swaffham II is the UK's tallest onshore wind turbine. Kids that climb the tower get a free goodie bag too.

  • Oct 2009 -Rolling shelves - this clever idea by Catherine Green Design really shows can innovative design can add something special. Cat Green is a London based design studio that aims to bring creative thinking to the workplace -have a look at some of their other ideas.

  • Sept 2009 100% Design -visit the show that the professional designers go to -held in London on 24th-27th September, this is the UK's leading architecture and design event showcasing everything for the modern building -world class interiors, along with innovative and sustainable architectural products, creative seminars and much more.

  • August 2009 Groundhouse, a stunning eco retreat designed by eco-consultant Daren Howarth and featured on Grand Designs. The three-bedroom passive solar earth sheltered house opens out on to organic gardens. It features a state of the art swedish dry toilet, and the kitchen is hand crafted from salvaged wood worktops.

  • July 2009 -Ben Hamilton-Baillie -Ben is an architect based in Bristol, UK who specialises in the establishment of what is known as "shared space" -transforming our neighbourhoods and the relationship between people and cars.

  • eco builderJune 2009 -Tree House Clapham -the diary by Will Anderson of his ecohouse project in London, that was first published in the Independent in 2004-2006 and went on to become the bestselling "Diary of an Ecobuilder" -essential reading for anyone planning their own eco-house.

  • May 2009 -Climate Change and Your Home -this interactive site, run by English Heritage, gives owners of traditionally built houses information on the potential impacts of climate changes and guidance on ways to reduce the impact of your property. You can customise the site by giiving simple details about the type and location of your own home and pages are adjusted to respond to the details provided. A number of useful publications are also available in pdf format.

  • April 2009 -Segen -specialists in microgeneration, including solar pv, small wind, and hydro electricity. The site is full of useful information from from the technicalities of doing an installation to sources of funding. They also do a very informative free newsletter.

  • March 2009: Lindahl Lodge -bespoke environmentally friendly timber frame structures -everything from a Woodman's cabin, an art studio, a meditation hut, a cosy hideaway or a tree hut-they will do the complete package.

  • Feb 2009: Gypsywaggons -the website of a unique project dedicated to Romani waggons and the many craftsmen who built these wooden relics. It is a kaleidoscope of Gypsy waggon photographs with nearly 300 vans (many are for sale), and it is rapidly growing. It is visited yearly by more than 9 million people worldwide and it is a fascinating insight into the ornate wooden wheeled homes of Travellers for over 100 years.

  • January 2009: Arcosanti -we do not often feature non-UK sites but this is one of particular significance. Arcosanti is an experimental town in the Arizona desert, founded in 1978 by architect Paoli Soleri . It is probably the worlds largest self-build project and is a leader in experimental environmental design. You can volunteer to assist on the project and attend one of their hands-on workshop programmes.
  • December 2008: Greenshop -the home to a number of sellers of eco products: Aura Natual Paints, Greenshop Solar, Rainharvesting Systems and Consolar who are all housed in an exemplar green building. You can see a number of features in use -photovoltaics, wood chip boiler, green roof, rainwater harvesting. The shop is located at Bisley, just outside Stroud.
  • November 08: Allan Lake -extraordinary hand-made sculptural furniture in native british hardwoods sourced from sustained woodlands, from Yorkshire based furniture maker/designer Allan Lake.
  • October 08: Carpenter Oak: featured a second time around on the HousePlanner -this leading provider of contemporary oak framed buildings has been featured three times on Grand Designs. This month they are selling a full size Roman Ballista on ebay -see for more details.
  • Sept 08: Hen and Hammock -sustainable garden furniture -with some beautiful gift ideas, the environment is core to their range of products, and we especially like the attention given to their manufacturers in their "meet the producer" section
  • Aug 08: -everything you ever wanted to know about green roofs by Dusty Gedge the green roof maestro -you can purchase and download his book online too. If you are planning a green roof, then this is the site for you.
  • July 08: Living Tomorrow -visit the House of the Future -exhibition of an innovative house at Vilvorde near Brussels.
  • June 08: Baumraum -an architect led German company that specialises in design and construction of treehouses and constructions in natural locations.
  • May 08: What Green Home -reviews eco-friendly homes for sale in the UK and overseas, with provides news, opinion and features on sustainable property development worldwide.
  • April 08: East Cambusmoon Farm -Steve and Deb's excellent blog about their new low energy house, being built to AECB standard on a farm near Loch Lomond in Scotland.
  • March 08: Eco Merchant -if you are after natural home insulation, Eco Merchant offers a range of different types -Thermafleece, Warmcel Cellulose, Isonat Hemp, Isovlas Flax and Steico Natural Home Insulation. They also do natural paints, rainwater collection systems, eco damp proof membrane and other natural building products.
  • Feb 08: Ben Law Woodsman -Ben offers a variety of timber products from Prickly Nut Woods in West Sussex -roundwood poles, chestnut lathes and shingles, green oak frames -Ben was the builder of a beautiful chestnut and oak house that was featured on Channel 4's Grand Designs.
  • Jan 08: The Plant Hire Guide is a very useful soure of information if you need to hire large equipment ,with a directory of providers arrangement by county.


  • December 07: Beco Wallform -innovative insulated concrete formwork system -clip together the polystyrene blocks and pour concrete down the middle.
  • November 07: Rammed Earth Enterprise -Roland Keable's rammed earth projects and research papers. Roland is an expert in the material, which in his words is beautiful, affordable, locally sourced and reduces our dependence on cement, a leading carbon dioxide emitter.
  • October 07: -find strawbale homes by location with this map -the map also features earth, timber, cob and hemcrete and other types of natural house.
  • Sept 07: Association of Environmentally Conscious Building -AECB is a membership organisation for anyone involved in sustainable construction, whether architects, builders or suppliers. Site has members contact details, awards, events, discussion forum, fact sheets and a wealth of useful information.
  • August 07: Blue Forest -high quality tree houses and eco lodges made in East Sussex.
  • July 07: Natural Discovery -specialists in sustainable tourism offering holidays in environmentally friendly lodges and eco homes.
  • June: 07: Direct Gov: Greener Home -an entire section of the Government's public service website is now given over to the topic of greening your home. There is advice on choosing energy saving appliances, DIY projects, insulation, renewable energy, green furniture and things to look out for when moving home.
  • May 07: Walter Segal Self Build Trust -pioneers in timber frame self build solutions, the WSST has eveloved into a national network of people interested in community self build. The website has a number of useful articles on the topic.
  • April 07: Old House Store -builders merchant for traditional and ecological materials -ideal for the sympathetic and authentic conservation/ repair of old buildings, but equally suitable for new-build projects. Good guides on the use of lime products
  • March 07: Clear Water Revival -a fascinating site showing the possibilities in natural garden swimming pools and ponds.
  • Feb 07: Ecology Building Society -a mutual society based in Yorkshire whose prime focus is to promote an ecological approach to the built environment and foster sustainable communities.
  • Jan 07: Amazon Nails -not for profit organisation offering design advice, consultancy service and training courses on strawbale construction. Also publish a useful free pdf guide.


  • December 06: Milestone -claim to be the first UK manufacturer of kitchens made entirely from recycled products -including doors from recycled yoghourt pots and worktops made from coffee cups!
  • November 06: I Count -coalition for action to stop climate change and coordinators of the demonstration in Trafalgar Squre on 4th November -not just about buildings, but very important nonetheless.
  • October 06: Papers and Paints -small London-based company that specialises in paint and colour. They offer one of the widest ranges of paint colours anywhere, and can also colour match samples brought to them, or measure colours on a client's own premises. Excellent range of historic colour swatches too.
  • September 06: The Garden Escape -make very elegant small timber framed garden buildings designed for use as a home office or gym.
  • August 06: National Green Specification: very useful source of information on materials by NGS who are developing a ready made specification of green products and methods of construction.
  • July 06: English Heritage -huge resource from the Government body dedicated to the conservation of Britain's historic buildings.
  • June 06: Plotsearch -subscription service providing a national building plot register, that aims to be the most comprehensive and up to date UK source of Self Build opportunities.
  • May 06: Accordia -amazing new high density housing in Cambridge by Countryside -why can't all new housing be this good?
  • April 06: Quiet Revolution -uniquely beautiful domestic scale wind turbine that is destined to change our approach to renewable energy.
  • March 06: Climate Prediction -contribute your computing power to the BBC experiment to model climate change and the effects of global warming.
  • Feb 06: Vitra -for over 50 years Vitra have been selling classic modern furniture by great designers, from Charles and Ray Eames to Frank Gehry.
  • Jan 06: Grand Designs Live -the exhibition and show from the channel 4 TV series at Excel London -arranged in five sections -interiors, self-build, kitchens and bathrooms, gardens and shopping arcade.
  • Dec 05: Housebuilders Update -a very useful blog from author Mark Brinkley and Ovolo Publishing with loads of useful stuff, including items ranging from climate change to how to avoid getting stung by your builder.
  • Nov 05: The Big White House -the self build project built by Darron Coppin and Tom Watkins at the Sussex coastal village of Pett Leveland featured on Chennel 4's Grand Designs -also has details of their next project, The Sea House.
  • Oct 05: -time for a clear out before Christmas? Why not auction your unwanted items with the worlds best known online seller.
  • Sept 05: Centre for Alternative Technology -Environmental charity based at the Eco Centre at Machynlleth in North Wales, with working examples of wind, water and solar power, energy conservation, environmentally sound buildings, self build, organic growing and alternative sewage systems -the centre provides advice and runs residential courses.
  • August 05: Carpenter Oak -specialists in green oak construction -projects range from the solar canopy at the Earth Centre to Rupert and Julie McGann's Cruciform House in Berkshire featured on Channel 4s Grand Designs.
  • July 05: Developing Skills -self build courses in association with Homebuilding and Renovation Magazine.
  • June 05: Pavillions of Splendour -everything you need to know about buying a listed building.
  • May 05: TRADA -the Timber Research and Development Association -as they say 'all you need to know about timber'.
  • April 05: Victoria Plumb -extensive online bathroom store, selling showers, taps, mirrors, baths, suites at discounted prices.
  • March 05: Huf Haus -post and beam system build kit house from Germany.
  • Feb 05: Ecology Building Society - a mutual building society dedicated to improving the environment by promoting sustainable housing and sustainable communities. Savings placed with the Ecology fund mortgage lending on energy efficient housing, ecological renovation and low-impact lifestyles.
  • Jan 05: Association for Environment Conscious Building - aims to encourage greater environmental awareness within the UK building construction industry.
  • Dec 04: B&Q -the number one DIY store in the UK has a huge website with just about everything you can imagine -from paintbrushes to bathroom suites. Also featured special offers for the Christmas season.
  • Nov 04: Anything Left Handed -really ought to be called everything left handed -they sell a variety of implements for left handed users -everything from kitchen implements to gardening tools -the original left handed shop since 1968.
  • Oct 04: Natural Carpets Ltd | Alternative flooring company -fed up with carpet suppliers who offer only artificial non biodegradable products -here's the answer -two companies specialising in natural carpet products.
  • July 04: Trannon | Roy Tam Design -two sites this month -eco furniture in ash by award winning designers Roy Tam and David Colwell.
  • June 04: Green Building Store -based in Meltham, Yorks, the store features everything from natural paints to water saving WCs.
  • May 04: Cloud 8 -a detailed account of the construction of a contemporary house in the Chilterns -a very useful resource for anyone planning to build their own house.
  • April 04 -Sanded Floors and -two sites featuring a specialist floor sanding service in London -everything you might need to know about sanding floors with lots of guidance on how to do it yourself.
  • March 04 -Chez Jallot is a manor house in central France. It is being rebuilt and refurbished by Doug Ibbs and Denise Daniel, and the work is being filmed by Channel 4's Grand Designs. Their website is a diary of all the activities concerned with work, with the history of the building and it's return to former glory. It is an historical building, with many interesting features - all of which will be restored in due course, incorporating many modern features with a view to energy conservation principles and environmental concerns ­ the "green issues".

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Featured books:

The Housebuilder's Bible: An Insider's Guide to the Construction Jungle, 8th Edition
Mark Brinkley
Paperback - Ovolo Publishing Ltd
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House Plus: Imaginative Ideas for Extending Your Home
Phyllis Richardson
Thames and Hudson Ltd
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Self Build: Design and Build Your Own Home
Julian Owen
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Modern House 2
by Clare Melhuish
Phaidon Press Inc
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