£1m eco house boasts Pope’s toilet 185



By Alexander Lawrie

A NEW £1 million eco-house has been built using materials that were destined for the rubbish dump.

The environmentally-friendly gaff has been constructed using discarded materials from an old nun’s chapel, a disused police station and a neglected tollhouse.

The innovative house also incorporates old canal lock gates and surplus insulation from a nearby supermarket build into its design.

And owners Archie and Anne Hunter have even managed to salvage a toilet that was once used by Pope John Paul II.

Situated in the middle of two-and-a-half acre garden just outside Rosewell, Midlothian, the self-built Orchard House has taken over five years to complete.

From the front door which is taken from the old chapel, to the marble floor which has been cut from the steps to a church altar, to the steel beams and insulation which came from a half-built Sainsbury’s superstore the house physically celebrates the joy of salvage.

Project-managing the new build themselves, the couple endured all the frustrations and elation that building brings with it.

The Hunters began collecting materials for the house in 2000, and as their dream home began to take shape the couple were forced to live in a caravan for over a year.

The home’s eco-credentials have resulted in various green tourism awards and are founded mainly on the insulation.

And Orchard House has twice been recognised by the magazine that accompanies Channel 4’s Grand Designs programme.

Archie, 56, said: “It took a lot of hard work and time to build the house the way we wanted, but it has been so worth it. Every visitor to the house comments on not just the peacefulness and tranquility of the area, but also the ambience of the building.

“Most of the home’s features were saved from the rubbish dump such as the heavy oak doors, the stained glass windows, the ceiling beams and the beautiful oak flooring.

“We also managed to get all of our insulation from Sainsbury’s who were building a supermarket nearby.

“Our friends heard about what we were doing and anytime a building was about to be demolished or renovated I would receive a call and we would be up there in a flash to retrieve what we could.

“Most of the materials are imperfect in someway, but that is one of the major attractions to us because every piece has a story to tell.”

The house also features wall panels and ceiling beams made from 100-year-old oak retrieved from old lock gates taken from canals in Glasgow.

The Hunters spent £200,000 on new materials for the house, but say 75 per cent of the materials used to build the house came from recyclable sources.

In total, Archie believes he and his wife have spent almost £400,000 on materials and labour to complete their eco-friendly home, which also doubles as a three-bedroomed bed and breakfast.

A former nun’s chapel provided most of the salvaged material, including a stunning white American oak floor.

The Rosewell chapel was visited by the then Pope, John Paul II, in 1982 during his visit to Scotland.

The Hunters have exclusively revealed that the toilet used by the Pontiff now sits proudly in a downstairs WC.

The retired couple have now decided to put the house up for sale and are planning to build a new eco-house project in the Borders.

Archie, an Energy Consultant, said: “I’ve never really told anyone else this, but one of the WC’s in the house is the actual toilet that Pope John Paul II used when he visited Rosewell Chapel in the early 1980’s.

“We’ve even got the door from the confessional box somewhere in the house.

“Because we are moving, I also thought it would be a good idea to let anyone who is interested in buying the property to come and stay a night and see if they like it.

“It’s a difficult decision to make when buying a new property and this offer might help make people’s minds up for them.”

The environmentally-friendly five-bedroomed home is up for sale for £950,000, and comes complete with a large garden and a separate adjoining ‘granny flat’.

Duncan McLaren, chief executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “Construction and demolition waste accounts for almost half of the waste arising in Scotland, while over 10 per cent of all materials delivered to building sites become waste without ever being used. Yet recycled materials are available for many construction uses.”

Orchard House can be visited on 13 September, when it is among 26 buildings taking part in Midlothian Doors Open Day.