Being an architect, I have always wanted to build my own house. We all do! There is always something about an “off the peg” house which isn’t quite right – not enough light, poor flow, mean windows etc. The chance to design everything from scratch would be wonderful.

The snag however, which is a common problem for aspiring self-builders, was finding an affordable plot of land in SW Sheffield. After about 15 years of trying, we realised that our budget was probably about £100k short of being able to complete the project.

Plan B was to buy a “wreck” in an area close to where we currently live and adapt it to our needs – to provide a 4 bedroomed family house with a well-insulated fabric and healthy internal environment. I have been interested in the Passivhaus approach to building design since hearing about it in 2010. I became a certified Passivhaus designer in 2012 and now apply the approach to as many buildings as possible in my architectural practice – Lomas + Mitchell Architects.

My wife Jill found the house – she never gave up on the dream of doing a project. The house is an early 1960’s brick-faced, detached house. It is quite boxy, with an attached single garage to the side and has a tiled, pitched roof which has a bedroom within the roof space.

The house and garden had both been neglected for about twenty years – the man who lived there before us suffered from health issues and hadn’t done any maintenance or improvements.

The bare bones of the house are pretty good with large rooms and generously-sized windows. The rear garden is large and SW-facing.

Our primary focus is making the house as energy-efficient as the budget will allow. Yes, we would like to extend the ground floor and take some existing walls out to provide larger, open plan spaces on the ground floor. We need a new kitchen and bathroom and would also like an ensuite on the top floor. Getting a handle on our budget and working out what we can afford to do was/is critical.