Who we areThe story of Czero Home, from specialist low carbon homes developer to custom build enablers.
Custom build enabler, Czero Home was created in order to share the knowledge Czero has in cost-effective building of low and zero carbon homes with anyone who wants to build their own but wants a helping hand. A study by the RIBA found that 90% of people do not want to live in a box built by a major housebuilder, but most people do because there is no other choice. Their idea of customisation is putting a different coloured carpet down! Enabling people to build their own homes, customised to the owner, and with lower running costs, is Czero Home’s reason for existence. You have the inspiration – we can add some knowhow.
So where did that knowhow come from? Well if you’re sitting comfortably, I’ll begin.
The Czero story started in 2006 when Simon Linford had just become Chief Executive of building contractor Linford Group and went to the first ever Ecobuild show at Earls Court. There were two key moments – firstly a presentation on what was happening to the world by Jonathan Porritt, and secondly a chance meeting with Ian Pritchett whose nascent company Lime Technology was looking at using hemp and lime in new buildings.
Simon, and Linford Group MD Robert Pearson, shared a belief that the future was in building more energy efficient buildings cost effectively, and Linford became a seed investor in Ian Pritchett’s company. Linford and Lime Technology worked closely together on the design development of a carbon negative Hemcrete house that could be built for £75,000. Somewhat fortuitously, Linford got the opportunity to build this house at the BRE, alongside the exemplar zero carbon homes. It was called The Renewable House.
Simon and Robert had decided they didn’t like building contracting, they could not turn Linford Group into the company they wanted it to be, and so they picked up their toys and went to play on their own. Andrea McManus, one of Linford’s rising stars, went with them. Together, with the ideas combined, and a name which embodied Zero Carbon aspirations, C-Zero was born. The plan was to focus on development of low and zero carbon homes beyond the standards delivered by the market.
The Renewable House led Czero to the opportunity to build more low carbon Hemcrete houses at Long Meadow, Diss, essentially commercialising the Renewable House concept. Czero got planning consent for the largest ‘exception site’ in the country, pioneering a new form of intermediate low cost home ownership in rural areas. This heady combination of innovative solid-wall technology to save carbon and reduce running costs, along with helping local people afford houses, was difficult for the mortgage market to cope with!
Long Meadow was built to Level 4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes, a measure of sustainability that means nothing to the average housebuyer. Level 6, so called “zero carbon” was never cost effectively delivered by anyone. We therefore looked to see whether building a house to the highest possible Energy Performance Certificate was a more appropriate challenge that would mean more to the purchaser. So we bought a plot with planning permission, changed the design of the proposed house to optimise it’s energy efficiency, and built a four bedroomed normal-looking house with the highest A rated EPC. Of critical importance was that the build cost for this “eco house” was well under £1200 per square metre – highly competitive in housebuilding terms. So many people came round Harvest House and asked us to help them build something similar that we realised our future was in being a “custom build enabler”, and Czero Home was set up.
So that’s where we come from. A passion for building highly energy efficient houses, an unrivalled understanding of how to do it cost effectively, and a desire to help as many other people build customised energy efficient sustainable homes for themselves as possible.
So who does what?
Simon’s primary role is going to talk to potential landowners and partners about new developments, dealing with legal and financial management and generally steering things along. He doesn’t get involved in the actual building process. He is a Chartered Accountant by profession, but is pleased that you cannot really tell. Simon cares a lot about architecture, with particular interest in historic buildings and of course low carbon buildings. In his spare time Simon is a very serious campanologist, and real ale aficionado, two things which are closely linked.
What Robert doesn’t know about cost modelling of buildings isn’t worth knowing, and has built all the systems behind the scenes that enables Czero to know exactly what houses are going to cost, the implications of any changes to design, and to input into the design of houses at the earliest stage. He establishes relationships with suppliers of building components, and politely informs them what they should cost. In his spare time his models and technical analysis are exploited in the financial and sports betting markets!
Andrea is the third core member of the Czero Home team. Andrea has a background in design management and delivery, able to understand how buildings are put together, and managing what can be quite a complex process of design and integration of building components and systems. Andrea manages the customisation and then delivery of each custom built home. When not in the office making sure Simon and Robert don’t do anything stupid, she has her hands full with two young children.
Anthony is the most recent member of the team and is key to bringing developments and houses to life. His expertise is in creating CGIs, and using software to customise house designs internally and externally, quickly showing customers what is possible. He also sets up and runs all our related websites and does our general graphic design. For better or for worse, in his spare time he enjoys (endures) watching his beloved Aston Villa.