Richard and Emma, complete with two dogs and two horses, have shipped out of the comfort of their lovely home (complete with flushing toilet) and moved to a derelict plot in the middle of nowhere. Thanks to the massive cost of buying a house with a bit of land, they’ve resorted to building one. However, if they like living in the ‘van so much, they might well blow their budget on more cars and horses…

It’s just like Grand Designs, but without the massive budgets and Kevin McCloud.

Richard is a motoring journalist, Emma is the boss of a motoring journalist 😉

8 responses to “About

  1. Hi Emma,

    I just wanted to congratulate you on a brilliant self build blog. It’s been a thoroughly interesting and informative read and a pleasure to witness the progression of such an exciting project.

    I enjoyed the read so much, I decided to feature you in a Top 5 Inspirational Self Build Blogs post that I’ve just published (http://www.kensyard.co.uk/blog/2013/top-5-inspirational-self-build-blogs/). Please do have a read and let me know your thoughts.

    How is the project coming along? It looks like you’re nearly there!

    Best wishes,

    Nadia Tariq
    Freelance blogger and copywriter

  2. Thank you Nadia, very kind. Glad you’ve enjoyed the blog so much – I only started doing it as we don’t have a telly 😉 Good job our Velux windows came from Ken’s Yard – we’ll be doing a Friends of the Meaden Project post soon and all our suppliers will be on there. I hope that’ll help with the discount for the windows in the mancave roof 😉


  3. How are your getting on with your place? I’m looking at SIPS and wondering what it’s like a few years down the road….. I’m looking to do a kitchen extension, bedrooms above the kitchen and a single side return. Any feedback or thoughts really appreciated.

    • Hi Gabi,
      Yep, very pleased with the SIPS. Very little movement so not too much redecorating required in that side of the house. Honestly, I’m a massive fan of SIPS and can’t understand why they’re not used more in this country. We’re currently building the garage – again SIPS. Pros: very clean, very little labour, no messy trades, no clean up required, quick to erect, very well insulated and, considering all that, pretty cheap to put up. Cons: you really need to know exactly what you want and where you want it. It’s not impossible to move windows, etc, but the better you plan it all out beforehand, the easier the whole process is. If I was building again, I probably wouldn’t renovate (much as I love the old part) but would build the whole lot in SIPS. Ian Clay at Clays LLP (Yorkshire) will happily talk you through the process – they were the most competitive, easy to deal with and produce a Kingspan product so it’s all underwritten by a big name.
      Hope that helps! Any other questions, do just drop me a line or if you’re local (Cambs), come and have a look.

  4. Hey Emma,

    Thanks for the in depth reply, yap saw that you were doing the garage 🙂

    Struggling with builders that want to help with this, I guess they make less money. Had one quote me around £1400 + VAT per m2 using SIPS! I was shocked. That seems ridiculous to me.

    I’m in Berkshire at the moment, the build will be in Surrey.

    I’ll have a look at the company you suggested, maybe I could buy you guys a few presents for “consultancy” on our proposed build, to avoid us doing mistakes and learning from people that have been through it.

    What’s the noise levels like? i.e apart from warmth insulation, is it noise too?

    The design we would build would only change internally, the external element would stay the same i.e windows/doors and so on.

    Did your mortgage company (assuming you have a mortgage) have any issues with the SIPS build?

    Thanks ever so much for your reply


  5. Hi Emma

    I was the cameraman on the shoot for Vailant and became hooked on the idea of GSHP while working at your place. I have since worked on a couple other projects for them which were equally interesting.

    I have recently bought a converted barn in Shropshire and now have the space to install ground loops and GSHP, I only have an oil boiler at the moment so the obvious route to go would be GSHP or ASHP.

    At the time of filming you were very enthusiastic and I wonder now after a couple of winters if the system is as good as you hoped? I guess the GSHP runs all the time so do you have any concerns over the longer term with the extra cost of electricity that the pump consumes. Oil is cheap at the moment but will go up again so I really don’t want to continue with it.

    I hope everything else is going well for you and look forward to any advice you might have when you get a spare five minutes.



    • Hi Richard. Congrats on the barn buy 😉 Hope it’s not as knackered as ours was!
      Yep, two years in and I can confirm that I’m genuinely even more delighted with the GSHP. I don’t actually thing we’ve touched the heating controls since it was installed. It is never anything but toasty in the house, all the time. As you well know, I spend most of my time outdoors and can’t stand being cold. Cost wise, I still can’t actually believe it. Our total electricity bill averages out over the year at about £65 per month. That’s for heating, hot water and all of our lighting/cooking, etc. We both here most of the time so it’s not like the house is ever empty. (As a comparison, our old house Grade II, single glazed windows, etc was about £250 per month in energy, yikes)
      We’re also getting £500 back every quarter from the lovely taxpayer as the RHI.
      I’d definitely recommend Ground source. Can’t really comment on the Air source but I’d say if you’ve got the space, GS is a better bet – a bit more expensive to install, but more efficient. I do know some people have had problems with air source freezing up in really cold weather. Have a look at the Homes and DIY section on Pistonheads forums – there are quite a lot of threads about air source. What’s the heating system (if there is one), obviously, it only really works well with underfloor heating as it doesn’t get high enough temps to get the rads scorchio.
      Nigel came back and gave it a service for us – £200 to change the filters, etc, all been running tickety boo.
      So it’s a big fat yes from me. Depending on what stage the barn is at, I’d also say stuff plenty of insulation in, led lighting, etc it all makes a huge difference. Anything else you need to know, just shout!
      PS Thought the film was really good, fortunately, I’ve shed a load of weight since then, oink oink!

  6. Hi Emma

    Thanks for all the info, maybe we should get Vailant to make an update film – The Meaden Project 2 and then you can show off the fitter slimmer you.

    I’m really glad that GSHP has worked so well. I’d love to know how your electricity is only around £65 a month. I think I am paying about £60 a month with LED lighting and loads of insulation as you had already recommended. The biggest consumption must be the electric hob and oven (turn on a light – 5 watts, turn on the oven – 3200 watts). I have written to Vailant to ask how much their GSHP consumes over a year. I’m sure its going to be less than oil over the coming years as we can’t predict oil prices.

    As to the state of the barn, we took the lazy route and bought a high spec conversion that won a Best Barn Conversion in 2011 so apart from an oak carriage house/workshop project and landscaping most of the work is done.

    Hope you got your stables up and running and the ducks are doing well.



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