Twenty years ago, all the buildings at Tombreck were derelict or semi derelict, with only Tober living here. Now there are two renovated houses, four houses converted from the former steading buildings, two new build houses and another one under construction and over twenty people living here. In addition there is a farm shop/office; the Cart Shed Studio, and a community building; the Big Shed.
THE BIG SHED
The Big Shed is our community building with a multi purpose hall, commercial kitchen, studio and workshop. Initially designed as a working shed for the farm (hence the name 'the Big Shed') it was later decided that a community building would better suit the needs of the local and wider community.
The Lochtayside Community Interest Company (LTCIC) was set up in April 2007 to own and manage the building. Grant funding was awarded from the Big Lottery Fund, the Climate Challenge Fund, Perth & Kinross Council, SUST and Renewable Energy Scotland, for all of the capital costs.
The Big Shed was intended to be an exemplar of eco-design with low carbon emissions and a reduced eco-footprint, heated from biomass and solar energy. The construction timber, mostly Norway spruce and Scottish larch was sourced from within the local area. Sheep's wool and hempcrete blocks provide most of the insulation and internally the walls are clay or lime plaster.
The Big Shed was opened in September 2011, and in 2013 the Big Shed was awarded first prize in the Carbon Trust’s Low Carbon Building awards in the new build category and was a runner up for a RICS award in the community category.
Today the building is run by a small group of dedicated volunteers. After a difficult start, increasing income from events and building hire has put the Big Shed in a reasonable position financially, which is essential as we do not receive any grant funding. Users include people attending weekly yoga classes, local scout group camps, kitchen hire, use of washing machine / shower and hire of the workshop to a local group. We have concerts and musical events several times a year. Ticket sales are often low, but the concerts are enjoyable and fulfil a local need. Yoga workshops; about five a year, are well attended, and serve a local need as well as attracting people from further afield. Most important are Private Hires, which form the bulk of the Big Shed income and range from weddings and private parties, to conferences, training events and studio hire.
The Big Shed is beginning to develop its own community with some groups and individuals returning on a regular basis. For most visitors and users the building's location on Tombreck Farm is an important part of its attraction. For more information go to www.bigshed.org.uk
CART SHED STUDIO
The Cart Shed Studio was rebuilt from a former cart shed and occupies a central position in the farm courtyard. It is the now the farm shop and office and often the first port of call for visitors.
Its a small single space (40sq m), is divided by the structure into three bays. For the rebuilding work we used many materials from the farm, including alder trees from the shore woods for the main structure, (a pegged and jointed green timber frame) sheep’s wool (from the farm) for insulation and stone and lime for the walls. There is a solar pv array on the southwest facing roof which generates a surprisingly large amount of electricity.
This is a two/three bedroomed traditional style farmhouse, and was renovated in 2005 with the help of a council grant to bring the accommodation up to ‘tolerable standards’, and also received a grant towards the biomass heating system. Adjacent to the house is a large garden, greenhouse, a big polytunnel, fruit bushes. a pond, and ground mounted solar pv’s.
This is a small one bedroomed cottage in the woods below Tombreck and on the Carie side of the Tombreck burn. Historically lived in by the minister for the church at Carie, it was renovated in 2007 with the financial assistance of Communities Scotland Rural Empty Properties Grant and a loan from Triodos bank. There is a large piece of garden ground (known as the Gleib) on the Tombreck side of the burn.
The Mill House is a three bedroomed family house, built as a conversion of the former Breadalbane brewery / corn mill part of the steading. The house is currently being extended by the owners to create a bigger living space.
SOUTH BYRE COTTAGES
East and West Byre were created from the old byre, one with three bedrooms (80 sq m) and the other with two bedrooms (60 sq m). Both have high levels of insulation, bulk sheep's wool and wood fibre board in the walls and roof; and clay plastered walls. The existing stone walls were re-built in places and completely re-pointed in lime. The cottages face south, so can take advantage of the sun as solar gain through the windows and sun porch, and for solar hot water. The small wood burning stoves in the living spaces, and the solar thermal panels provide all the heating and hot water required. The project was part funded by a Rural Empty Properties grant from the Scottish Government to provide affordable rural housing.
A three bedroomed conversion of the north part of the old steadings.
STRAW BALE HOUSE
No 1 The Courtyard
This was the first of the new build houses at Tombreck, located on the southern side of the courtyard. A self build project using straw bales as the external wall material and insulation, with an internal Douglas Fir timber frame, wood burning stove, solar hot water and solar pv's. The project won the 2012 Murray Armor Self Builder of the Year award, given by the National Self Build Association annually for the most determined self builder.
No 2 The Courtyard
Next door to the straw bale house, hempcrete was chosen as a construction material for the second new build house. In part this was to echo the thick walls of its neighbour, but also because it is a very good insulation material. The house and external decking area is raised off the ground in order to take full advantage of the views south to Loch Tay.
Otherwise known as the Granny House, Croft House or No 3 The Courtyard
Because hempcrete is such a fantastic building material, the third new build house at Tombreck is also being constructed from hempcrete. Here the timber frame is going up in preparation for the hempcrete.