We have been announced as one of 10 finalists in this years World Habitat Awards!
Our Rent To Buy Scheme has been named as one of the top 10 projects worldwide, as organisations and projects around the world were nominated.
The World Habitat Awards were established in 1985 by the Building and Social Housing Foundation as part of its contribution to the United Nations International Year of Shelter for the Homeless.
Two awards are given annually to projects that provide practical and innovative solutions to current housing needs and problems.
For more information on the award, go to www.worldhabitatawards.org
And for more information on our Rent To Buy Scheme, as well as as all other finalists from this year and previous years, go to
Following on from our last two blogs, which focussed on the background of our Empty Homes project in Acharacle, funded by the Nationwide Foundation and our Open Day that we held on 15th July, this blog now goes on to discuss in further detail the work that was carried out during the renovation.
Built around 1976, the Druim Garbh was once a great family home, which has been left to deteriorate over the past several years. This has resulted in a number of the building elements not being up to the standard they once were.
The contractor S & K MacDonald Homes has undertaken a general renovation throughout the property, upgrading everything from the energy efficiency to the exterior aesthetic.
Included in this work is an upgrade to the heating system, a new kitchen, increased external envelope insulation, remedial works to chimney, general re-decoration, replacement of windows, and a completely new roofing material.
All windows have been replaced with high performance uPVC, double-glazed, casement windows, which are much more energy efficient than the previous windows, helping to reduce the amount of heat lost from inside the house. The contactor also taped and filled new plasterboard ingoes and soffits, incorporating new sills. All internal finishes have been tended to throughout the property. New pre-cast concrete sills were also put in place externally, which also included insulated damp proof course and drip to the underside of the sill. All timber lintels throughout the property were also re-painted.
While all internal doors were re-used, after being re-painted, new external uPVC doors have replaced the front door, as well as the new side door emerging from the kitchen/utility area onto the new timber ramp. All new doors and windows throughout the property now conform to ‘Secure by Design’ protocol. (http://www.securedbydesign.com/pdfs/SBDNewHomes2014.pdf)
The roof has perhaps been the most dramatic change, and noticed immediately even from a distance. Completely gone are the old crumbling and moss covered roof tiles, in favour of a brand new corrugated steel sheet roof. The new roofing material is AS13/3 0.7mm plastisol sheeting in black.
The original chipboard was home to mould, and has resulted in a full replacement of the roof membrane and all previous sarking with 22mm sarking timber. All roof trusses were assessed and attended to where necessary. Internally the insulation material in the loft and roof has been increased dramatically. I will go into further detail on this later on in the blog.
Rainwater and Fascia’s
During the renovation, all failed areas of fascia’s and soffit boards were replaced and painted with a new black finish, creating a striking new external aesthetic.
The gutters and downpipes were also replaced with black low-maintenance metal ones.
The main bathroom was fully re-furbished, with new WC, sink, and bath with shower head and curtain. On top of this there is also the new window, internal decoration and lighting that has been carried out throughout the property.
The smaller second bathroom adjacent to the third bedroom in the extended part of the house has also been re-decorated. While the old shower has been removed to create more space in the room, a new WC and sink has been installed.
All services were checked during the renovation process. Re-wiring of the property took place, along with the upgrading of the fuse box. New lighting was fitted throughout, ensuring that all light bulbs were low energy.
As well as the electrics, stop clocks, pipework, TV aerial, BT line and associated internal sockets were also assessed. An ionising smoke detector was also provided adjacent to the bathroom, an optical smoke detector in the living room and a heat detector in the kitchen.
Before the renovation took place, the property was heated by an old oil system, with an oil storage tank located at the west gable of the house. It was deemed unsuitable to re-use the existing system, as it would not provide the best environmental or economic benefit. For this reason, the contractor removed the existing oil system and storage tank, as well as disconnecting the oil boiler, in favour of installing a new wood-burning stove.
This new wood burning stove is a Morsø Squirrel 1412, and has a firebox which is fitted with a tertiary air chamber supplying additional combustion air directly above the flame. This additional air ensures secondary combustion of any smoke and gases giving maximum efficiency. This is extremely important to the overall environmental impact of the project, as it means there is drastically less CO2 emissions released into the atmosphere. The newly renovated home is now considerably more energy efficient than it was with the previous oil system, and has a much smaller impact on the environment. Despite the compact design, the stove has a powerful 5kw output, ensuring large amounts of heat are generated. It is also equipped with a riddling grate and ash pan, allowing easy cleaning and ash removal.
The flue of the stove is kept away from any combustible material. While still making use of the existing chimney, a new rear entry flue with two 135 degree bends has been installed. The new flue is just under 5.2 metres in length from chimney pot to the hearth base.
A new stone hearth of similar dimensions to the previous concrete hearth with superficial marble has been put in place, and the inset walls have been re-lined.
The chimneys structure and leadwork were also assessed and repaired where necessary.
As well as the wood burning stove, a new Quantum heating system has also been introduced into the property. These electric space heaters use low-cost, off-peak energy, making it the most economical electric heating system on the market today. Quantum stores energy up during periods of low demand, turning it into efficient heat only when needed.
All other radiators that have been flushed, re-used and cleaned. Water is heated by electric immersion.
Improving the overall insulation throughout the property was one of the upgrades that was most important to the project.
The contractor used a large amount of Rockwool Insulation material to drastically improve the thermal envelope of the house.
Rockwool provided 200m2 of 150mm thick loft roll insulation to go towards improving the insulation within the loft space, ensuring that we keep the amount of heat lost through the roof of the house to a minimum. A vast majority of a buildings heat is lost through the roof of the property, and the previously uninsulated loft space of Druim Garbh meant that should a family have moved into the property, not only would any heat generated easily lost, but the price of heating the property would have been extremely high.
The project also included a full pallet of Rockwools top of the range Flexi insulation slab to be used in the external walls of the property.
Rockwool Flexi® is a unique, flexi-edged insulation product, specifically developed using patented technology for a fast and easy, perfect friction fit between timber and metal frame systems.
Flexi® slabs ensure essential tight fitting for thermal and acoustic integrity between frames in walls, partitions, floors and roofs, without the need for cutting or waste. Made from renewable volcanic rock, they are extremely fire resistant and significantly reduce the carbon footprint of a building.
Advantages of such form of insulation:
Outstanding thermal, acoustic and fire properties.
Flexi® edge offers accurate fit to all widths.
Multi-application; fits all typical metal and timber stud spacing.
Wide range of thicknesses.
Easy to handle and install without gaps.
Fire classification A1.
Can be used as a full fill solution in timber frame party walls to achieve zero effective U-value within SAP 2012.
Made from a renewable and plentiful naturally occurring resource, Rockwool insulation saves fuel costs and energy in use and relies on trapped air for its thermal properties.
ROCKWOOL insulation does not contain (and has never contained) gases that have ozone depletion potential (ODP) or global warming potential (GWP).
As an environmentally conscious company, ROCKWOOL promotes the sustainable production and use of insulation and is committed to a continuous process of environmental improvement.
All ROCKWOOL products provide outstanding thermal protection as well as four added benefits:
Fire resistance, Acoustic comfort, Sustainable Materials and Durability.
The insulation of the buildings external envelop was upgraded to meet U-value 0.22 W/m2K. All internal partitions were stripped back to first stud to allow the installation of the internal-face insulation to all external walls.
Battens fixed to joists beneath flooring to allow for rigid insulation to be suspended under the suspended floor.
Loft roll insulation laid between joists to same depth before another layer was cross-laid over. The aim was to increase the thermal properties of the loft to meet a U-value of 0.18 W/m2K.
Structural and External Works
A lot of external works were carried out during the renovation, including much landscaping.
The front door external step was refurbished, with a new handrail being installed. The garden was tidied, which included the removal of the existing oil tank, and a new turning head which allowed for parking was formed at the front of the house, using spoil from the levelling of the roadway up to the house, and masonry from the demolition of the old porch and the stripping of the old roof tiles.
The whole of the exterior of the property has been painted in monochrome colours, and modernises and revives the previously derelict and tired looking home.
At the rear of the house, the stone steps were refurbished, and a fence complete with gate was erected around the outdoor patio area. The old cellar door at the rear of the house was also refurbished.
A major structural alteration of the property was the demolition of the old existing porch, creating a new entrance to the property directly into the kitchen/utility area, with a brand new decking complete with ramp leading up to it from the newly landscaped driveway at the front of the house.
The whole kitchen was renovated and re-arranged. The main kitchen area is now adjacent to the living room, where the dining area once was, furthest from the entrance door. Further units line the external wall as you enter from the new side entrance. Completely new units and worktops were installed, including a hob and oven, and utilities.
On top of the vast amount of structural renovation, upgrading of thermal properties and installation of energy efficient heating systems, the house has also had a total makeover through re-decoration. Not only is the house almost unrecognisable from the outside, but the whole of the homes interior, including walls, timber profiles and ceilings have been re-painted in neutral colours.
Throughout the project, regular visits were made by HSCHT to Druim Garbh in order to assess how the renovation was progressing. The project took approximately 16 weeks to complete, and was completed around the estimated completion date. The whole project ran very smoothly, with S & K Macdonald Homes doing an excellent job on the renovation. Main contractor Kenneth Macdonald gave frequent updates to HSCHT on the progress of the work, often sending in photographic evidence to show further exactly how far along the project was. Stage payments were used which further allowed us to monitor and keep track of how the project was going, contributing to the successful renovation process.
During the process of the renovation, we came across one issue which was soon rectified. As the work began on site it was noted that there was a problem with the wall construction and the extension which was constructed a number of years later that houses the 3rd bedroom, WC and the old kitchen. S & K Macdonald Homes approached structural engineering firm Alexander Scott Design to inspect the construction of this wall, and they came back with some findings and recommendations which were then added to the contract to be undertaken by the contractor during the renovation of Druim Garbh. The extension was effectively built in a flat roofed single skin construction garage unit. The flat roof was later altered with rafters to make a pitched roof – this was sub-standard, with the rafter ends not even bearing onto the masonry wall – an issue which S & K MacDonald homes then went on to rectify during renovation. The existing 2×2 drylining kit was also not serving any structural purpose as it was free standing. If this was not dealt with, there would be the worry that in the future the extension could fail. In order to attain more structural stability, a new structural timber framed inner leaf similar to that of the main house, tied to the outer masonry wall and well connected to the main building at floor and roof levels was put in place, while galvanised steel restraint straps to the gable at ceiling level were also introduced.
Overall this project, in conjunction with Acharacle Community Company and funded by The Nationwide Foundation, has been a great success. The contractor has been able to completely renovate an abandoned house into a modern and comfortable family home for the local rural community.
Should you have any questions regarding the renovation of this project, please get in touch via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on The Nationwide Foundation, or the other Empty Homes projects they fund, please visit. http://www.nationwidefoundation.org.uk/emptyproperties.asp
On Wednesday the 15th of July, we held an Open Day in Acharacle to mark the completion of our newly renovated property – Druim Garbh.
The sun was out for what proved to be a great day over on the rural west coast village, with many different people attending the event.
This blog focusses on celebrating the achievement of everyone involved, as it really showcases all that was achieved over the past several months.
Funded by the Nationwide Foundation, the previously neglected property, which has been sitting empty for the past 6 years, is now set to act as a great new home for people from the area. The new tenants work nearby, but had to live with family due to a lack of housing provision within the area. In rural communities around the Highlands such as Acharacle, people are increasingly being forced to leave their families, jobs and friends behind in search of a suitable home. This means that when funding is available from schemes such as the Nationwide Foundation’s empty homes programme, it allows us to provide a new affordable home to the area, and generate a huge community benefit.
It was a very successful day to round up a successful project, with Bill Hall, Chair of The Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust saying a few words to welcome everyone to the new home, acknowledge its completion and endorse the use of a new housing model in the Highlands.
HSCHT are privileged to be the only organisation in Scotland to receive funding from the Nationwide Foundation through its Decent, Affordable Homes strategy, which has invested over £750,000 into empty homes projects across the UK. This funding, a combination of grant and loan, has given HSCHT the means to renovate two Highland properties and plans are well underway to refurbish the second community owned property which is located further north in Achiltibuie. Druim Garbh is the first of these properties which we are working together to renovate into new affordable homes for people in housing need, and has allowed us to gain experience of the challenges inherent in bringing empty properties back into use and of providing a new, long lease housing model for empty homes.
The new property has been fully renovated inside and out. Not only is there a drastic change to the external appearance of the property, but it has also now has a brand new kitchen and bathroom, along with a completely new heating system to boost the energy efficiency of the home.
The use of a local contractor (S & K MacDonald Homes) and providing an apprenticeship training opportunity was vital to the success of the project. The contractor, his local joiner and a 16-year old school leaver, who was a trainee on the project, also came along for the event. It was great to have all of those who had worked hard on renovating the house over the previous months in attendance. The trainee’s employment was a condition HSCHT’s contract with the contractor, who was happy to accommodate him.
HSCHT project manager Fraser Cardow said: “The contractors here have been hugely helpful in trialing this new approach. We hope to be able to attach an apprentice to every future development and this pilot has worked very well. This lad has been able to work as part of the team on this renovation and has been getting great experience on other jobs too. Getting these new skills will help to strengthen the whole community by growing the pool of local tradesmen”.
Contractor Kenneth MacDonald said: “We’re not a huge firm but taking another apprentice is entirely positive. Getting new blood in lifts everyone’s spirits, and local people appreciate the effort we put in with youngsters. It’s also important because we need to build a local base of skilled tradesmen so that we can tackle jobs on the west coast without the costs of having to bring in people from hours away. It’s important that the boys have a chance to work instead of sit in a van. We’re training a workforce for the future.”
The Acharacle Community Company, who own the property were a great help throughout the process, with members also coming along on the day to celebrate the achievement.
They said: “We are delighted to see the renovation work at the bungalow completed to such a high standard and very pleased to be offering this accommodation back into the community for low cost rental. Many thanks to the Highlands Small Community Housing Trust for all their help and support in making this happen.”
HSCHT are very proud to have had facilitated this project from start to finish, and are incredibly happy to say that new tenants should be moving into the property within the coming week.
Ronnie MacRae, CEO of the Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust explained that“HSCHT is delighted to see the refurbishment of Druim Garbh complete. The key feature to the success of the project has been the superb co-operation with the community and the wider partnership of those involved. This project has brought together a welcome and innovative funding stream from the Nationwide Foundation and our well established contacts with the Acharacle community, resulting in a desirable home being available at an affordable rent for people in Acharacle.
HSCHT want to thank the local construction firm, S & K MacDonald Homes, for their hard work and flexibility in carrying out the renovation to such a high standard and providing an energy efficient home. They have given it, literally, a new lease of life”.
Keep a look out for another upcoming blog discussing our Empty Homes renovation project, where I discuss in further detail the construction work that was carried out throughout the property, and how it was achieved. It will also feature before and after photographs from each of the renovated rooms.
If you have any questions about our Empty Homes project, or any of our other projects, please get in touch via email at email@example.com
In the first of this three part blog regarding the recently renovated property in Acharacle, owned by the Acharacle Community Company, I aim to discuss the background of the project as we gear up for our big Open Day next week (Wednesday 15th of July) which will mark the projects official completion.
In the Highlands there are numerous communities and small rural villages and towns which are home to a number of empty properties, remaining uninhabited. Renovating empty homes is something The Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust believes greatly in, as it is yet another way that we are able to provide affordable housing solutions to rural communities around the north of Scotland. Despite the current housing shortage, the UK has around 260,000 long term empty homes, with a large number of empty commercial properties which could be used as homes.
Community Owned Property
Druim Garbh, is a timber-framed, three-bedroom detached dwelling house that was built circa 1976. The community owned property had many uses since it was built, however over recent years had been left empty to deteriorate. Although the house was still standing and structurally stable, it required much renovation before it could provide as a good home for a member or family within the community of Acharacle.
A minute of agreement and a lease is in place between HSCHT the Acharacle Community Company. This allows HSCHT to manage the property on their behalf for a period of 21 years after which the home reverts to the control of the community company.
HSCHT intends to lease the home to tenants which fit with the agreed allocations policy on a Short Assured Tenancy basis.
Environmental, economic and social sustainability are all qualities which HSCHT believes are very important to modern housing provision. In HSCHT’s quest to secure affordable housing solutions around the north of Scotland, we also attempt to create environmentally friendly homes. Specified in the tender document was the need for the house to meet an overall standard of energy performance. In this case, that standard in terms of Building Standards is ‘Bronze Active Standard’
Bronze Active Standard – This is the baseline level where the dwelling meets the functional standards set out in Sections 1 – 6 of this [Building Standards Domestic 2013] Handbook, but in addition the dwelling includes the use of a low and zero carbon generating technology (LZCGT) in respect of meeting Standard 6.1 within Section 6, Energy. This level is primarily to assist local authorities to meet their obligations under Section 72 of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 by identifying the use of LZCGT. In this respect, LZCGTs include: wind turbines, water turbines, heat pumps (all varieties), solar thermal panels, photovoltaic panels, combined heat and power units (fired by low emission sources), fuel cells, biomass boilers/stoves and biogas.’
Another key aspect of the project was the introduction of a trainee element. The provision of training and jobs to young people around the Highlands is another very important part of the work HSCHT undertake. We even have our own construction skills project – The Cairngorm Skills Project. (http://www.cairngormsskillsproject.org/)
The Nationwide Foundation were also hoping that the project would allow for a trainee to work on the renovation.
Thanks to financial aid from The Highland Council, HSCHT were able to fund a trainee position. The young trainee, who is local to Acharacle, has been working as a second man to the main joiner working on the renovation, providing him with a vast amount of experience as he develops many different skills. He will be starting college later in the year to gain further knowledge in the subject as he works towards a gaining a qualification. The experience gained working on the Druim Garbh project, will hopefully provide him with a great boost as he begins his studies.
HSCHT’s own graduate trainee, who has a MA in Architecture has also been helping to project manage the refurbishment of the property.
The contractor for the project was chosen through a tender process. The tender document was sent to a number of local contractors, with S & K MacDonald Homes being chosen as the successful contractor.
HSCHT then worked out the final details of the renovation work with Kenneth Macdonald of S & K MacDonald homes, assessing the various options for things such as heating etc. The contractor worked very closely with HSCHT to allow us to achieve an affordable project that fit well with the funding that had been made available to us by the Nationwide Foundation.
UPCOMING OPEN DAY
Keep a look out for Part 2 and Part 3 of this Blog over the next couple of weeks.
One blog will take a further look at the property and what renovation works have been carried out. As well as a look at how the property achieves its high Energy Performance Level.
The other will showcase the completed home, as well as recap our Open Day.
For more information on the project or our upcoming Open Day, please get it touch with me via firstname.lastname@example.org
The Nationwide Foundation
This is the reason the Nationwide Foundation set up their Empty Homes Fund in late 2013. The Nationwide Foundation is a registered charity set up in 1997 by Nationwide Building Society that since its creation, has awarded over £30 million to other charities across the UK. This funding allows organisations such as HSCHT to turn these empty properties into habitable homes. The fund was designed to bring empty properties into use for people in housing need and also to look at solutions to the challenges which currently curtail more renovation. HSCHT applied to the fund to help to refurbish and bring two homes back into use in the Highlands. Druim Garbh is the first completed home under this scheme.
Earlier this month HSCHT attended the Social Enterprise Summit at the Kingsmill Hotel in Inverness. The day was a great success, with a big turn out from representatives from social enterprises of various backgrounds. There was also a variety of speakers throughout the day.
Below Morven Taylor discusses the event, and some opinions on the topic of social enterprise.
For more information on the Social Enterprise Summit – Please go to http://www.socialenterprisesummit.org.uk
Social Enterprise must move on from grant funding model
One of the common causes we found when talking with other organisations at the recent Social Enterprise Summit was the need to establish a sustainable business model.
Like The Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust, many groups we talked to had been set up thanks to grant funding, and in many cases have received further grants to keep going. But the whole idea of social enterprise is that it works as a business model, not because it wants to make a profit but because every group wants to ensure its continued, independent existence.
Everyone at the summit had a cause they are passionate about, something they work towards every day because they believe it provides an important benefit to others in the community. In our case, that is the provision of high quality, warm, suitable housing for those that live and work in small Highland communities.
Even without companies or private sellers and landlords trying to make a profit, housing is an expensive business, so there are few opportunities for us to make a surplus without impacting on the very people we want to help. That’s why we are increasingly thinking of secondary businesses we can set up that will turn a bit more of a surplus, while still helping to work towards our core cause.
This was a popular approach among the other social enterprises we met in Inverness at the summit, and we have picked up many ideas and sources of inspiration. One of the best thing about these offshoot businesses is that they often cater to social causes that other third sector organisations also subscribe too, meaning that links can be forged and we can keep money within the social enterprise family by buying services and even goods from each other. This helps us all get on a more sustainable path, and at the same time expands the range of services being offered here in the Highlands and Islands.
We at The Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust are used to focusing on sustainability in the homes we build or help others to build, but it is equally important to ensure that our organisational model means we will still be here to help the next generation find a suitable Highland home, and the one after that too.
On Tuesday 9th June 2015, we held an Open Day, to mark the opening of our newly completed Invergarry project. It was attended by those who helped to make their dream become a reality along with family members of the new tenants, friends and some people from the local village.
The couple moving into the home, have lived in the area for 16 years, and have brought up their two children there. The wife of the couple suffers from multiple sclerosis which has resulted in her requiring a wheelchair. This has proved very difficult in there current property – which was not wheelchair friendly at all, including elements such as stairs.
They contacted HSCHT to find a solution to their housing issues due to their existing home being difficult to adapt to suit Carol’s health needs. . A self-build project was considered but this option proved to be difficult to achieve for a variety of reasons. Still wanting to assist the family to find a solution, in 2013, HSCHT was awarded loan funding from the Scottish Government to provide homes through a Rent to Buy Scheme. This seemed to fit the bill perfectly, allowing the design of the new build home for low cost home ownership to be tailored specifically for the couple.
The Rent To Buy scheme has proved to be a very successful project for both HSCHT and the Scottish Government. Not only have they managed to provide affordable housing solutions to families and communities around the Highlands, but in this particular case, they have managed to make a couples life so much easier.
Unable to find alternative suitable housing in the area, should this project not have gone ahead, the couple were facing the reality that they may have to move away from the community after 16 years. Not only are they a big part of their community, but the prospect of a life altering move away would have provided them both with a lot of unnecessary stress.
The new house was built by local joinery and construction firm – A&N Fraser, who did a great job on the project and also attended the Open Day. Within the house design is a number of features ad design choices which make the day to day life of the couple so much easier. Through the Rent To Buy Scheme, a brand new affordable home is being provided to this couple, that not only allows them to remain within their community, but was also designed to be tailor-built to suit their particular needs, including an low windows, level access to the garden and into the house via a car port, an en-site wetroom and wide hallways. The circulation of the property remains fluid and flexible, while incorporating a number of doorways between the rooms.
Tuesday itself was a great day. Tying in with the couples Anniversary, they were given a set of keys to their new property. Many people from the community turned up for the Open Day marking the completion of the home, as well as others involved in the project such as representatives from the Scottish Government, with Mairi Ross speaking at the event.
The couple were extremely happy with their new home, with Carol saying:
“I’m so excited to finally be getting the house we’ve waited so long for. The fact that we got the keys on our anniversary made it even more special, it’s just the best present ever. When ou’re disabed, everything has to be done differently and even things like moving from my wheelchair to the stairlift was becoming too hard. I’ve been telling everyone about this new house so I can’t wait to move in now”
This project is just another example of the varying ways HSCHT try to help people in rural communities with their housing problems. We have known the couple for a few years now while trying to help them with their situation through various means, and it is amazing to finally be able to provide them with a home which suits their needs, while also allowing them to remain within their community.
If you have any questions regarding the Rent To Buy Scheme, or any of the other work that HSCHT do, please feel free to get in touch. Either by calling us on 01463 233549, or by email at email@example.com
Upcoming Blogs To Look Out For –
Renovation of Acharacle Community Property | The Nationwide Foundation Empty Homes Fund
On 21st of April 2015, MSP Margaret Burgess, the Scottish Governments Housing Minister visited projects we have been involved with in both Dornoch and Helmsdale.
In her visit to the town of Dornoch, a place where HSCHT has developed many new homes recently. In the past 12 months, we have completed 6 new homes in the area. The first two properties in Dornoch were built through our first phase of Rent To Buy properties, working with local contractor J & S Gunn. Both are now occupied, with 2 families now been given the opportunity to own their own home after renting the property for 5 years before purchasing at a reduced, below-market price. This is made possible by the attachment of a Rural Housing Burden to the property.
Since 2013, the Scottish Government has issued over £7 million to our Rural Rent to Buy scheme, as we continue to develop affordable housing throughout the Highlands.
Right next door to these properties are two new homes developed for the Highland Council through the Greener Homes Initiative. These properties have recently been completed very recently this year and have already been allocated to residents who have now moved into the properties. The Minister got the chance to not only meet these residents, but also view the inside of the homes.
Rent to Buy and Greener Homes projects are being developed across the Highlands thanks to an innovative partnership between Scottish Government, Highland Council and HSCHT. The various schemes that have been developed through funding from the Scottish Government, have not only provided the Dornoch with new varying types of affordable housing solutions, but has also allowed for new members of the community to get on the housing ladder.
Margaret Burgess then went on to visit our brand new homes built by Pat Munro Homes through the Rent To Buy Scheme. Completed at the very end of last year, the two semi-detached properties are now home to very happy residents who are now on their way to owning their own home. Located in the new Deans Park development in Dornoch, one of our Tenants, was happy to greet the Minister and welcome her into her home.
The Minister then travelled north to visit the community of Helmsdale to view their community owned housing project. Helmsdale & District Development Trust (HDDT) is spearheading a new community led housing development having built four new homes in the Highland village of Helmsdale, backed by £110,000 of Scottish Government investment. During her visit to Helmsdale, the Housing Minister Margaret Burgess met with new tenants of these properties, the local development trust and many children from the local primary school.
This innovative project is being driven by the community in order to provide community owned housing to ensure the future sustainability of the area. All statutory housing provision in the last 30 years has been provided in neighbouring villages, which has been detrimental and has led to out-migration from the community. Helmsdale went 35 years without any new affordable housing being made available for rent, and held a desire to solve this, as well as the aging demographic of the village.
HSCHT helped with this project in a number of ways. This included community engagement and facilitation, a local survey, initial project feasibility ans desktop funding options, negotiations with landowners and the local authority and the initial fundraising – a key challenge for the community in order to obtain the vision for this new project.
By partnering the Local Authority, local RSL along with guidance from HSCHT, Helmsdale community were able to deliver a feasible and practical solution to meet their longer term housing needs – four brand new rented homes to be managed by Albyn Housing Association using policies agreed with the Highland Council.
Helmsdale is part of the Growth at the Edge initiative by Highlands and Islands Enterprise. A local development officer consulted with the community through a series of open days and has produced a document “Shaping our future together”. In this housing features as a high priority for local people. Creating new community housing here will help make the community more sustainable:
There are a range of other benefits this project created including:
The day was a great success, and was seemingly enjoyed by all. Not only did Margaret Burgess perform the official opening ceremony of the Helmsdale & District Community Owned Housing Project, acknowledging the great success and work of the community, but it also allowed HSCHT to showcase the work we do throughout the Highlands.
If you would like any more information on these or any other projects we have worked on, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alternatively, should you be interested in how we can help you or your community, call us on 01463 233549.
Acharacle, Rent To Buy Project
This 2 bedroom property located within Acharacle is currently still in its final stages of construction. Although we are looking to allocate the new home in the very near future.
The building was designed and constructed by S&K MacDonald Homes, creating a home which is both modern and energy efficient.
Heating is provided by an air to air heat pump with A rated efficiency. Hot water is provided by a mains pressure direct cylinder, Megaflow Direct. The first floor is for future development. Initially the home will have 2 bedrooms downstairs as shown on the ground floor plan.
The windows and external doors are Scandinavian style softwood, while the external of the home will be made up of larch cladding.
The Application Process
The Rent to Buy Scheme aims to help mainly, but not exclusively, first time buyers who wish to own a home, such as people living in social housing; private rented housing; or with relatives. However other factors may lead to a person being selected for the scheme such as a significant change in your household circumstances. If you already own your home or part-own a property you will be required to sell your interest in that property in order to make you eligible for the scheme.
The allocation process of our properties follows specific criteria, in an attempt to ensure that the most suitable applicant or family is successful in securing their own affordable home. Priority is given to those who:
(i) living in the area where the homes are located,
(ii) have immediate family there,
(iii) work in the area,
(iv) or have a need to live there.
(v) are currently living out with the area, but can add social and economic benefit by moving to the area.
(vi) can release a social rented home
These criteria ensure that the house is allocated to whoever will receive the most benefit from the property, while also allowing someone who has a connection to the area, to remain living in the area.The Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust aim to help rural communities become both socially and economically sustainable in their own right. A large number of people are having to leave their rural communities to live and work elsewhere, meaning these small villages and areas suffer. As more and more people from rural backgrounds are forced to relocate, HSCHT’s various housing schemes try to prevent this by allowing families who have lived in the area for generations to continue this tradition. In an attempt to enhance the economic and social sustainability of rural areas in the Highlands, these new properties can also act as accommodation to young or skilled individuals who have the potential to benefit the community.
We will assess all applications to ensure that applicants can afford the monthly rental payments and that they are likely to secure a mortgage for the home in 5 years’ time, based on their current circumstances.
1. Complete HSCHT’s application form.
2. Provide HSCHT with the supporting documents listed on the enclosed form to prove that you can fully fund your rental payments and in due course, your mortgage. Please return the form and documents by the specified date otherwise your application may not be considered.
3. HSCHT will assess the applications and allocate the homes according to the allocations policy. All applicants will receive a letter to let them know if they have been successful or not.
4. Successful applicants will be sent a letter and a reservation form, which they need to return to HSCHT with the reservation fee.
5. HSCHT will instruct their solicitor to provide successful applicants with the short assured tenancy agreement, the end user agreement and other associated paperwork for the home. You will be required to sign up to the RTBS at this point, and whilst not essential you are advised to take advice from your own solicitor on all aspects of the scheme.
6. You will be kept up to date as to when the home will be ready for occupation.
Sample Application Form. Please Go To Current Opportunities For Full Application Form
We are currently accepting applications for the following schemes –
Alness, Greener Homes x 2. As featured in our previous blog. Click For Link.
Daviot, Greener Homes x 2
Kyleakin, Rent To Buy x 1 (Allocated Since Time Of Publishing)
Acharacle, Rent To Buy x 1 (Allocated Since Time Of Publishing)
Request an application form or brochure for this project by contacting us by email or on 01463 233 549.
If you are unable to apply for this Rent To Buy house in Acharacle, but are interested in moving to a new home within the area, a further property will be available within the coming months, as HSCHT work on renovating an existing empty property, bringing it up to livable standards to provide a great new home to another individual, couple or family. This community owned project will be supported by the Nationwide Foundation, who have included the trust as part of their Empty Homes funding. More information will become available nearer the time, and the project will feature on this blog. However, if you would like to know more, or wish to express early interest in the project, get in touch with me by emailing email@example.com
We are extremely happy to announce that The Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust has just secured a total of £3 million from the Scottish Government to fund our very successful Rent to Buy Scheme.
This funding will contribute towards the building of around 25 new homes in rural areas around the whole of the Highlands. The houses will be rented for five years to people who cannot afford to instantly buy their own home within the current property market.
The Rent To Buy scheme is an innovative way we look to secure affordable housing for individuals and families who are struggling to get on the property ladder.
Rent To Buy – An Affordable Way To Own Your Own Home
The tenant rents the home for a period of 5 years in an attempt to save up a deposit before purchasing the property. After this 5 year period, HSCHT will also return a percentage of the rent paid to go towards the deposit on the home.
Due to the attachment of a Rural Housing Burden, where the trust maintains 20% equity of the property, it is possible to sell the house to the tenant for about 20% lower than the market value. We also hold the right of pre-emption on the property.
The price of the homes are agreed upon at the beginning of the rental period, ensuring the tenant is not affected by rising house prices.
This will be our third phase of Rent To Buy developments, currently in the process of supplying around 37 new homes to people around the Highlands. In the past our projects have been developed in the following list of villages and towns, some of which (mainly Phase 2) we are currently working on or are due to start shortly:
Phase 1 – Dornoch, Fodderty, Beauly, Auldearn, Lochcarron, Gairloch and Sheildag.
Phase 2 – Dornoch, Gorthleck, Inverarnie, Auldearn, Sheildag, Balmacara, Kyleakin, Flodigarry, Aviemore, Strontian, Acharacle, Invergarry and Mallaig.
Our third phase of Rent To Buy units will aim to supply great affordable housing solutions to towns and villages around the Highlands. Various and different housing types will be supplied to more communities, as HSCHT aim to benefit people in new areas of the Highlands, and perhaps in communities we have worked with in the past.
In an interview with STV News, Ronnie MacRae, our chief executive, said:
“The Scottish Government’s approach to innovative and increased rural development is hugely helpful, and this scheme which has various benefits is proving extremely popular with individuals, contractors and communities alike. The scheme is based entirely on loan finance which has the potential to be recyclable and provide social and economic benefit to rural communities for the longer term.”
The Housing minister Margaret Burgess, who announced the funding during today’s Scotland Policy Event has stated:
“This successful Help to Buy (Scotland) scheme is giving people who might not otherwise have been able to afford their own homes the opportunity to get on the housing ladder. Despite financial challenges over the last few years from Westminster, housing continues to be a priority for us. We are three quarters of the way towards achieving our target of 30,000 additional affordable homes by the end of this Parliament. This boost to the Rural Rent to Buy Scheme will make sure rural communities don’t miss out and they also benefit from new affordable houses which otherwise would not have been built”
Margaret Burgess came to visit some of our projects earlier this year during the summer. She was even present to mark the completion of our Rent To Buy and Greener Homes projects in Fodderty. Meeting with the 4 families as they settled into their new homes – 4 semi-detached modern and sustainable designs by MAKAR Construction.
MSP Margaret Burgess, Visiting Our Fodderty Homes Earlier This Year With Our Chair Bill Hall
We are very excited about these new developments, and hope we are able to help people and communities greatly in the near future.
Click on this link – 3 Million For Highland Homes – to read the full press release by the Scottish Government about the fund.
If you would like any information about our current Rent To Buy Developments, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
In other news this week at HSCHT, the first two of our Greener Homes in Alness have been bought, with each looking forward to moving in to their new new modern and sustainable houses. We are currently still looking for tenants to the other two homes in Alness, as well as properties in Dornoch, Kyleakin and Lochcarron.
This blog post focuses on some of the projects we have in the Easter Ross and East Sutherland area of the Highlands. Various housing schemes that we provide are occurring in the town of Dornoch; while Alness is in the process of providing new properties under the Greener Homes Initiative. Our main contractors in these areas so far have been J & S Gunn Ltd, and Pat Munro Homes.
Recently we have had a mass increase in the provision of affordable housing in the Dornoch area. Having originally provided 2 semi-detached properties through our first phase of Rent To Buy developments, we are on our way to completing a further two homes as part of our second phase of Rent To Buy.
Our first of these developments was built by J & S Gunn Ltd. – two x three bedroom semi-detached properties completed in September this year. This project was done as part of our first phase of Rent To Buy homes. Both are now occupied, with 2 families now been given the opportunity to own their own home after renting the property for 5 years before purchasing at a reduced, below-market price. This is made possible by the attachment of a Rural Housing Burden to the property.
Rent To Buy Phase 1, Dornoch
Rural Housing Burden – A means of protecting the original discount offered on the home.
If you buy a home of ours which has this attached, you will still have full title to the property, although HSCHT holds a pre-emption right. Whilst you can pass the home onto your children, if you decide to sell it, this right of pre-emption which gives HSCHT the option to buy is back for the previously agreed equity share. This allows us to keep our house prices low, and maintain our ability to provide housing to families who may otherwise struggle to own their own home.
Nearing completion, and available for occupation early in the new year, we have 2 semi-detached bungalows, complete with front and back garden and off street parking. These houses are available to local families and individuals through the second phase of our Rent To Buy Scheme.
Rent To Buy Phase 2, Dornoch
The properties have been built by Pat Munro, as part of their large Deans Park development of new housing of various types in Dornoch. The great new homes – which tie in with the rest of the brand new modern housing and street development – include a spacious, open plan lounge and kitchen, two bedrooms and a bathroom. In the final stages of construction, these properties are yet to be assigned; so if you are interested in applying, contact us about an application or brochure.
Visualisation of Internal Layout for illustrative purposes.
Due to be complete in February next year, we have also managed to introduce another two homes by J & S Gunn Ltd. through the Greener Homes Initiative – adjacent to the homes they previously built for us as part of our original Rent To Buy scheme.
These Greener Homes are being developed for the Highland Council. The tenants for these properties will be selected from the Highland Housing Register – a register shared between the Highland Council and registered social landlords around the Highlands compiled of anyone in the area seeking social rented housing.
The Greener Homes Initiative -
Following a successful bid from HSCHT and the Highland Council, through the Scottish Governments Greener homes Initiative (GHI), funding was secured to provide 20 units throughout the Highlands. While 13 of these units will be provided by HSCHT, a further 7 will made available by the Highland Council.
The Initiative aims to encourage modern sustainable and environmentally friendly developments, by providing funding to projects which make use of greener technologies, modern methods of construction carbon friendly materials.
Greener Homes, Dornoch
The Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust have had a presence in Dornoch for several years now, with another two properties on the same street being sold to families back in 2008 through a shared equity scheme – allowing them to purchase an affordable home due to the attachment of a Rural Housing Burden.
We are also working with Pat Munro in the town of Alness, to deliver four new homes through the Greener Homes Initiative. Located in Newfield, Alness, these four semi-detached two bedroom bungalows can be purchased at a low fixed price now due to the attachment of a Rural Housing Burden.
Greener Homes, Alness
These properties are similar to the units designed and built by Pat Munro in Dornoch. Each includes two bedrooms, a bathroom and a large open plan kitchen and lounge area.
The modern layout is complemented by the modern methods of design and construction, with each encompassing greener ideals, from high levels of insulation to the introduction of Canadian Solar Black Panels. Pat Munro Homes have a proven track record of building sustainable homes, and these are no exception. The houses are designed to have lower running costs and are built to the Scottish Building Standards Silver Active Level of sustainability.
Visualisation of Internal Layout for illustrative purposes
While two of the properties in this scheme have already been completed and assigned to happy tenants, we are still taking applications from people who are interested in moving into the remaining two Greener Homes, which we are due to take handover of the second week in January.
We are currently taking applications for both the Pat Munro ‘Rent To Buy’ properties in Deans Park, Dornoch, as well as the new ‘Greener Homes’ being developed by them in Alness.
If you are interested in any of these schemes, get in contact to receive a brochure and application form. Contact me at email@example.com
On Wednesday 12th November, we held an Open Day to showcase our Rent to Buy and Greener Homes projects which have been taking place in the village of Lochcarron.
The development incorporates two Rent To Buy units, and two Greener Home units. While the two Rent To Buy properties have been assigned, the Greener Homes are still available for anyone who is interested in applying. (Application instructions can be found towards the end of this blog post).
The Greener Homes Scheme aims to help people who would like to become home owners by providing them with the opportunity to purchase new homes that are sustainable, energy efficient and affordable. Like the Rent To Buy scheme, these properties are available to rent for a 5 year period before the tenant is given the opportunity to purchase the house at a discount of around 20% below the open market value as a Rural Housing Burden is attached.
These contemporary homes built by Highland based contractors, MAKAR Construction, are all single story, 2 bedroom, semi-detached properties with each incorporating a very open-plan layout, while allowing stunning views over the hills and water.
As with all our Greener Homes projects, the units aim to meet the highest of environmental standards, with each house having a very low total of embodied energy. Through the use of locally sourced timber and the natural non-toxic insulation and other materials, the development looks to meet top environmental standards. The air-tight structures includes wood burning stoves to create a warm and and economically sustainable home for each family.
Yesterdays Open Day was a great success, allowing us to showcase these great new sustainable homes to the local community as well as others involved in the project. We were there from the afternoon to the early evening, with many visitors deciding to swing by to learn more about the project as well as get to see inside the modern timber properties.
As we head into the colder winter months, many visitors to the properties commented on how the houses proved to great at keeping the heat in, with the wood burning stove warming up the house.
Prospective tenants who were at the open day were also able to start the thought process of how they are going to furnish their new homes in an attempt the create great new personal living.
We are still accepting applications for the two remaining Greener Home properties, so if you are interested in applying, or would simply like more information, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, just give us a call on 01463 233 549.
To find out more about the contractors of this project, head over tohttp://www.makar.co.uk and have a look at some of the other great work they do.
This modern property lies towards the west coast of the country near Ballachulish in the Lochaber area of the Highlands.
In 2008 we sold this vacant plot to a family who would go on to build a home for themselves with help from attaining a Rural Home Ownership Grant from the Scottish Government – a grant which is now no longer available. The plot was a shared equity project, allowing the family a discounted plot for below the land value.
Recently due to work commitments, this family decided to move – resulting in HSCHT fully buying back the property. The Rural Housing Burden previously set on the land, meant the trust has the first opportunity to buy the house.
This has allowed us to provide a great new home to another family, who otherwise may have struggled to find a property in the area. This new family can now cite their close family members as neighbours – a desirable factor in the search for suitable applicants by the trust, as we look to provide homes to people who have a form of local connection to these rural areas.
This family will now rent the property at a reasonable price for 5 years, before being presented with the opportunity to purchase the house. The shared equity we hold and Rural Housing Burden in place allows the family to buy the property at a price much below market value when the time comes.
If you are interested to hear about any similar properties or projects in your area we may have available. Feel free to contact me at email@example.com
Over the coming months, I will be visiting our long list of projects in locations around the Highlands. This map shows a selection of projects highlighting the extent of the work the trust undertakes, as well as where the majority of our projects can be found. The project list is always expanding, with HSCHT always looking to work in new areas within the Highlands.
If you have any queries about any of our projects, or are interested in what we currently have available. Feel free to contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
This blog will feature a wide variety of HSCHT’s developments and types of projects located throughout the Scottish Highlands.
I will be exploring the massive scope of various work the trust undertakes; highlighting the benefits HSCHT is able to provide and already has provided to individuals, families, and whole communities.
Graduate Development Officer, HSCHT
This blog will feature a wide variety of HSCHT’s developments and types of projects located throughout the Scottish Highlands. It will also include the latest news and updates regarding the trust.