ONE of the big advantages normally associated with timber framed homes is the speed with which a quality dwelling can be put together.

But, at Kingspan Potton Homes' self-build site in St Neots, the company is deliberately slowing the programme down to show how a home that is 44 per cent more energy-efficient than normal is slotted together.

Town mayor Councillor Gordon Thorpe, pictured left with Potton's general sales manager, Neil Horton, cut the first sod for a 2,780sq ft show barn last week to fire the starting gun on the 'slow bicycle race'.

"The time required to build a barn like this can be about 12 weeks, but we're slowing the build down to about nine months," said Potton's head of marketing, Ieuan Compton.

"This will allow us to shut down the site and allow visitors the opportunity to walk around a semi-completed build in safety.

"Ordinarily you see an empty building plot and a finished build, but we want self-builders to see how the mechanics of a build work. All this will also be documented on the buildapottonbarn.co.uk website for those who can't get to the site.

"From the outside the barn will look very much like a barn conversation," he added. "The difference is it will be built to an energy performance that is greater than the Government's Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4 and will have a contemporary twist.

"We are focusing on getting optimum levels of airtightness and insulation into the fabric of the home. We believe that this helps future-proof it. Solar panels and energy-efficient heating systems can break down so, if you get the fabric of the building itself right you have the foundations required for an energy efficient home and the many of the points required to get the Code 4 rating."

Kingspan Potton said its new barn design would typically cost £100 per sq ft to build and, being 44 per cent more energy efficient than a standard-built home, it will cost less to run.