1. Energy and Carbon dioxide emissions: the thermal properties of the materials we have used for insulation - sheep's wool, Celenit wood-wool boards, lime mortar, hempcrete - allow us to minimally heat Seaborne using a modern Worcester Bosch Greenstar combi boiler. Nest thermostats over wifi allow us to remotely control and regulate heat and hot water use.  Furthermore, there is minimal embodied energy in the materials we have used - some, like the lime mortar, are in fact Carbon negative, absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere as it cures.  Solar panels on the roof help to heat water so we don't need to use so much gas to heat it.

  2. Water: low use flush WCs, and shower heads help conserve water.  The green flat roof helps to stop flooding.  Admittedly the hot tub is not very sustainable in terms of water, but we are conscious of this and use the waste water on the garden.

  3. Materials: throughout the construction of Seaborne we have sought to use recycled materials (eg Glapor - recycled, foamed glass for underfloor insulation), slate and wooden fixtures reclaimed via Robert Thomas Reclamation, sheep's wool insulation. We have avoided all use of the polyisocyanurates normally used in modern construction for insulation in roofs, instead using Celenit wood wool boards - boards made from compressing wood and wool together. Very little concrete and no gypsum plaster was used, helping to keep the embodied energy in construction materials to a minimum.

  4. Surface water run-off: the flat roof absorbs much of the water and slows the run-off. Water falling on the patio and garden is slowed and directed into drains which lead into the main sewers.

  5. Waste: we are planning to provide a compost bin for guests' and our use in the garden in the near future.  Other waste is recycled by our Trade waste contractors.  All building waste was responsibly disposed of via licensed waste contractors.

  6. Pollution: our emissions are limited to woodsmoke from the Woodburner.  Dry logs help to keep carbon emissions down.

  7. Health and well-being.  The lime mortar which helps Seaborne to breathe as a building also seems to provide a lovely environment for living.  There are no noxious fumes being given off by the more modern type of building materials (cf polyisocyanurates) or paints at Seaborne.  Earthborn Claypaints were used which are virtually VOC free.

  8. Management: our builders ensured that wherever possible, they were considerate of our neighbours, and worked to all current building regulations and standards.

  9. Ecology: we had a bat survey done, and have bat houses which are to be put up on the roof apexes of Seaborne's rear extension as soon as possible.  All the top soil from the terracing of the garden was re-used or donated to our neighbour.  An old boundary-marking apple tree was preserved, and we intend to plant Seaborne's garden with fruit and other trees, shrubs and plants to attract wildlife and provide a fruit, herb and veg "living larder" for us and our guests.  Our flat roof is planted with native Pembrokeshire plants.

Further notes which may be of interest (in no particular order):

  • We built Seaborne using materials and methods designed to voluntarily meet the UK's Code for Sustainable Homes, information on which we obtained online from BRE

  • We also wished to rebuild Seaborne using materials as close to the original used in the 1820s as possible

  • When we first bought Seaborne it was very damp - solid concrete flooring, concrete render on external walls and poor insulation and ventilation ensured this, and worse - much of the wooden lintels used in the original construction, which had been reclaimed from elsewhere before being used, had been rotting due to trapped moisture behind the concrete render

  • We had little experience of using lime but knew it was the answer to our issues. I read Cliff Blundell's "Sustainable Legacy" which should be a starting point for anyone contemplating buying or renovating a traditional West Wales / Pembrokeshire stone building. Another book which proved its weight in gold was "Hemp Lime Construction" by Rachel Bevan and Prof. Tom Woolley - the Hempcrete dining room extension was built using Hempcrete for the wall along the side passageway of the house.

  • We were lucky choosing our builders, who knew what they were doing, even when our architect and we did not.

  • Our obsession with being true to the original (and digging out the patio) took a lot of work from our builders, and cost us a lot of money, but we are very proud of the quality and standard of the workmanship and materials we've used, and the effect we've achieved.

  • Ty Mawr in Brecon ( was not only helpful in supplying materials but also advice and technical notes which helped us approach the Building Control inspector.

  • Rob Thomas in Pentremorgan helped us hugely with sourcing the right style and age of materials - wooden doors, fireplaces, flagstones, slate for the garden steps and so on

  • Andrew Griffiths of Property Refurb was flexible and patient, knowledgeable and easy to work with.  His team of Wyn, Mike, Sam, Dylan, Luke, Chris, Anthony, and a few others who helped out on site were sterling lads with a great sense of humour and keen to please.

  • LBS in Cardigan supplied most of our run of the mill materials - sand, timber, nails, lead - but also got materials from Ty Mawr for us

  • Glyn Rees is still the best plumber in Newport

  • Rhydwyn Davies was our electrician and Patrick Healey is also now.

  • A special mention should go to Anthony Jacobs the plasterer who learned how to do Tadelakt plaster on site for us, and produced the lovely plaster walls in the baths and shower rooms.

  • Chris and Rob were great decorators, and even tried "porridging" the plaster cornice for me.  

  • Mike James had the eye of an architect, the hand of a master joiner, the patience of a saint, and was a supreme technician.

  • Chris Voyce built lovely stone and slate walls during the week, and brought us succulent lobsters at the weekend.  In between he made us laugh!

  • Mike Rodgers of Newport supplied the steel RSJs and the Corten for the curved roof line which my husband, Rhys, designed.

  • Andrew James, the Pembrokeshire CC Building Inspector, was patient and flexible as we found academic studies to support our claims that our stonework and lime mortar walls, and hempcrete extension would meet building standards and not fall down.

  • There are many more contractors and suppliers I haven't mentioned here.  Dai JCB, Greenacres Skips, Cardigan Bathrooms, Derw Glass - and so on.  Sorry if I have left you out, and thank you.

  • Our neighbour John was so helpful allowing us to see Tan y Bryn's original hall floor and fireplace surrounds, building the fence dividing our gardens, buying the Chapel Garden between us, keeping us in line, and generally being patient with us while we made a noise and a mess.  He is now selling Tan y Bryn and if you want to listen to a lovely Newport voice, find the promotional video online of Tan y Bryn which John narrates.

  • Our other neighbours, Jean, Oswyn and Mrs Tucker were also very patient with our skips, bags of lime, noise, dust and parking.  Thank you. Sadly Mrs Tucker is no longer with us, but we will always have special memories of her standing at her gate, watching the world go by.

  • Please don't hesitate to contact us directly if you are starting on a similar project of your own and need help or advice.