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Charles Holland Architects

A Self Build House in Kent

CHA are working with the team behind Orchard Farm, an exciting new development of self-build houses planned near Ashford in Kent. We have developed two self-build prototypes, each offering a blueprint for a buildable, economic and characterful contemporary home.

Each house has been designed to conform to the ‘plot passport’ for the Orchard Farm site. The dimensions, orientation and siting all relate to a typical plot within the site but also offer a flexible model capable of adaption to a wide variety of sites.

The designs are flexible and can be adapted to use different materials and have different configurations. They include an indicative garden layout, car parking space and hard standing. 

A Two-Storey House


This design offers a blueprint for a small, two-storey self-build house in Kent. The form, materials and layout relate to vernacular aspects of Kentish houses whilst offering a practical and delightful modern family home. It has been developed through a long-standing interest in the domestic architecture of Kent. Our practice is based in Dover and most of our team live in the region. The house draws on the richness of this character, whilst responding to contemporary lifestyles and needs. 

 The Buildings of England East Kent describes the typical domestic architecture of the county as follows: 

 "Kentish tiled roofs sweep up in splendid style, often to centrally placed brick chimney stacks which give dignity to even quite small houses and on one side of a house they may be carried down to within a few feet of the ground to what is delightfully known as a cat slide roof. Such roofs display vast areas of rippling red tiles that are a source of unending pleasure."

Our self-build prototype offers a contemporary interpretation of this description. It has a large roof that sweeps down at the front. This roof is punctured by characterful dormer windows that bring light deep into the interior. In common with many in Kent, this house has an informal front and a more expansive rear which opens to the garden and to views beyond. It is also characterised by an expressive brick chimney, another contemporary re-working of a traditional reference. Overall, the house has something of the character of a cottage but one that has plenty of light, space and views. 


The house is a timber framed structure that can be finished in different materials. Our drawings illustrate the house clad in traditional timber weather boarding but it could also be clad in brick or other materials. The structure would use timber ‘I’ sections that allow for a deep layer of insulation to provide thermal efficiency. Windows would be timber-framed double or triple-glazed units. The roof has been conceived as having either traditional Kent Peg tiles or a metal standing-seam for the dormers.  



The interior of the house offers a compact, efficient yet delightful series of spaces. The ground floor contains a kitchen, dining room, living area plus WC and storage. Traditional features such as inglenook seating have been reinterpreted as contemporary but characterful spaces. The layout offers a mix of open-plan and more traditional rooms. 

The ground floor contains a generous double height space with the dormer window bringing in swathes of light. The plan has been designed with a range of built-in storage and furniture maximising its use, whilst being generous with space and light. The living room is also home to a contemporary inglenook, with a stove, book shelves and seating for relaxing in.

The upper floor has two large double bedrooms with built-in storage and wardrobe space. The front bedroom is built within a dormer giving a sense of inhabitation within the cat slide roof space and overlooking the street’s courtyard. The rear bedroom has two large windows overlooking the garden. 

The family bathroom is set in-between the two bedrooms and wraps against the chimney itself. A seat at the top of the stairs offers views of the surrounding countryside and a place to sit, pause and read. 

Both floors have the flexibility to move around; the kitchen and living room could swap on the ground floor and both double bedrooms could be planned to have their own en-suite each.


The house has been designed to be as thermally efficient as possible and to use materials with low embodied energy to offer a sustainable and practical contemporary model. Traditional forms and materials have been adapted and updated to meet contemporary targets and the house can be built to Passivhaus principles if required.

The chimney includes a mechanical ventilation heat recovery system. The chimney itself has 3 stacks; the first is for peak bio-mass fuel burning stove, the second for night-time and summer cooling and the third for mechanical heat recovery. 

Heat and power options include an air-source heat pump as well as solar thermal panels. Underfloor heating is assumed throughout. 


A Two-Storey House in Kent has a GEA footprint of 65m2, plot area of 402m2 and a total floor area across both floors of 110m2.

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