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The wonderful Devray House...

Wendy and Gary Devlin’s intention to downsize has in fact led to the construction of a very spacious, bright, timber frame home on the east coast of Scotland.

Finding a plot can mean years of dedicated searching over vast regions, exploring every small parcel of land to see if that could hold the key to your new home. For others though, the route is more straightforward. For Wendy and Gary Devlin, finding the land was not a concern. The transport company they own occupies a large area on the east coast of Scotland, large enough to provide the site for their beachfront home.

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Building a new home had long been a dream of Wendy and Gary’s, as it had for Wendy’s father before them, and following the death of Wendy’s parents several years ago they decided to make that dream a reality. Their initial aim was to downsize from where they lived in the nearby village of Monifieth, now that their daughter Kerrie, 22, had moved into her own flat. The new home was to reflect their current lifestyle while also accommodating their future needs, as well as providing a home for their 20-year-old son Daniel.

Approaching an architect to discuss ideas they were swept away in the process, eventually finding themselves three months down the line with a house design that didn’t feel right. Wendy says: “It wasn’t really what we wanted, and when we saw a house in Dundee that we loved and that seemed to better suit our needs I knocked on the door to find out who had built it.” This was when Wendy and Gary found Steven Duffy of D&H Developments. Through his input they found all the elements of the original scheme that didn’t work, and over time the design changed completely. The footprint grew, along with ceiling heights, and many other details were tweaked and altered over the following months.

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“Steven pointed out things we would never have noticed, or realised were problems,” says Gary. “He questioned why there was a step down into the living room, when if we stepped up instead the view would take in the beach rather than a railway line, and he spotted the need for a Velux in the en suite, which we would never have noticed.”

It was this attention to detail and his easygoing nature that appealed to Gary and Wendy, and when plans were changed along the way, as they frequently were, Steven approached each change with positivity. “At one point we decided that the proposed integral garage would be better as a pool room and bar, and so Gary and I spent a while composing a text to Steven to explain it, then debating which of us should send it! Eventually we did and waited with bated breath for his response, but Steven simply said, ‘No problem!’ We breathed a sigh of relief!” reminisces Wendy.

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Located in the hamlet of Panbride on the east coast of Scotland, Devlan House is contemporary in design while incorporating elements of the surrounding cottages to tie it in with the local architectural style. Built with a timber frame and clad in local Defind stone from the nearby Pitairlie quarry, the T-shaped structure has been designed to withstand the sea salt and harsh sea breezes. It has been super-insulated, triple glazed with aluminium frames to the exterior and timber within, partially coated in silicon render that won’t discolour, its fascias and soffits are made from a coloured cement particle board, galvanised steel for the rainwater goods and the roof is Spanish slate, all are which are durable and strong.

Internally finishes are of an equally high quality with white Italian porcelain floor tiles laid in the generous atrium, monochrome kitchen/diner/living area and matching utility room. The left side of the ground floor has two double bedrooms, which share a jack and jill bathroom and have smoked oak engineered wood flooring. The atrium itself contains a striking glass and oak staircase with a galleried landing above flanked by a glass balustrade, with lightboxes allowing daylight to drop into the white space, while a feature chandelier sparkles above. Upstairs there are two large bedrooms including the master suite, which has a dressing area and en suite shower room, and a family bathroom that features a freestanding bath. To make the most of the view, an upstairs seating area called the sea lounge has full length glass sliding doors which open out onto a covered balcony, equipped with all-weather seating and a glass balustrade that offers uninterrupted views of the seascape beyond. All of these rooms are fitted with radiators, although these are rarely, if ever, used because of the efficiency of the underfloor heating on the ground floor and the super-insulated external walls.

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Outside, the original stone boundary wall has remained intact with an entrance cut into it and matching stone pillars built at either side. A tarmac drive lined sweeps up towards the house, with gentle borders which have been turfed and finished with topiary planting. Sandstone steps and a sandstone courtyard feature inset lighting and a detached garage is located to the side of the house finished to the same standard as the house itself.

Wendy, Gary and Daniel remained living in their old house during the build, until two weeks before they moved in, but Wendy and Gary were working next door every day and so were on site to watch the project progress. “We grew close to Steven’s team of builders and tradespeople, who would come to the offices to get us when something exciting was happening,” says Wendy. She and Gary were impressed with the attitudes and the working practices of Steven and his staff. “They were skilful, friendly and they kept the site very clean. There wasn’t really much of an impact for us, they handled it all very well”, Wendy says.

Steven says: “I have a really great team of people working on site, and there could be anything up to 25 people there at any one time. We made a point of ensuring that Wendy and Gary were getting the home of their dreams and made considerable changes to the original plans.”

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Most changes to the design we must emphasise were implemented before any work began, and the amended drawings received planning permission without resistance. As the house’s footprint grew however, so did the price. “We had a budget in mind of around £400,000, but this soon grew to almost £440,000. We knew we were heading over budget as changes were made but this was our choice. Making rooms bigger, changing the garage into a pool room meaning it needed additional underfloor heating, and adding a SONOS system; we made sure everything was to a higher spec, and that costs money,” says Wendy.

Five bedrooms on the plans eventually became four, as two smaller rooms were combined to make one with more generous proportions. “Our plan to downsize went out of the window but what we have now is a home that will suit our needs even when we can no longer get up the stairs. It’s got everything we need on the ground floor, and it’s great for socialising!” says Wendy. “Our son Daniel has a large bedroom with his bed at one end and a sofa at the other with his games consoles and TV – I doubt he’ll ever move out!”