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And their decision has paid off handsomely. Their splendid new home in the western Scottish Borders between Biggar and Peebles, built with Scotframe's revolutionary Val-U-Therm® building panels, now has electricity costs of less than £10 a month.
Because of the Val-U-Therm® panels' industry-leading insulation and airtight seal, the couple use no heating oil; there is no gas because they live in the country and the only other energy source they use is tree fall for their cosy wood burning stove.
Fiona said: "Using Scotframe for our bespoke design - and the experienced builders they introduced us to, Oakhill Homes of Cumbernauld - has really paid dividends. We are delighted with the way our new home performs."
Neil, 52, is an IT consultant and Fiona, also 52, is a guest house owner. The couple, who had lived in Zambia for 10 years before returning to Scotland, both had some limited experience of self-building before embarking on their current home.
Neil said: "When we returned from Africa, we settled on Fiona's father's farm and converted the old schoolhouse into accommodation with a large living area. So when we embarked on this project, we knew the mistakes to avoid."
Fiona added: "We decided to build somewhere new after my mother died and my father wanted to move out of the farm house. We needed a place with an area for dad where he could have his privacy, an area for us and a communal area where we could all meet and socialise.
"After looking at a number of potential kit suppliers, we signed with Scotframe because they were by far the friendliest, the most accommodating and the most genuinely interested in our project."
Fiona spent six months with CAD software, designing exactly the building she wanted, with a large, family living area, filled with light from ground-to-roof windows and skylights.
She said: "It was a unique design, but Scotframe turned it into professional drawings which complied with planning and building control requirements - easing what can be one of the hardest and most frustrating parts of a build."
The couple laid the foundations in February 2014 and the cranes arrived to lift the Val-U-Therm® panels into place on March 31. Within 24 hours, the shell of the house was complete. They moved in to the completed home on August 14.
Fiona said: "It was a crucial decision to use the builders Scotframe introduced to us. The foundations, especially the diagonals, had to be within tolerances of 5mm and they had to be absolutely flat and level. When the last panel was dropped with ease into place, it was a perfect fit.
"The builders also understood the Scotframe ethos, and the importance of insulation, energy efficiency and an airtight seal, and acted throughout with an exemplary professionalism."
Neil added: "We have no hesitation in recommending Scotframe. They were superb, they gave us exactly what we wanted and they were very easy to do business with."