The Archway Team Start Work on the 'Ciara'


The Archway team, including our subcontractors and suppliers, pulled out all the stops to help the Fowler family find their dream family home. Their requirements were very different to most families though, due to their middle child, Ciara, being diagnosed with Rett Syndrome at around the age of 2 - a rare condition that has left her severely disabled. After a number of meetings with Gayle and Neil, Ciara's parents, this is the on going story as their new home takes shape.

Gayle and Neil were looking for a family home that could accomodate Ciara's growing needs, along with the usual needs of a family with three children. They needed a house that was large enough to accomodate all 5 of them, plus all the storage space for the growing amount of specialist equipment that Ciara was going to need. They also had a budget to consider, and although they could get a grant to cover a conversion of an older property, this was not what they wanted.

Archway Homes had a development at Guilden Sutton that met their needs geographically (close to work and schools including the specialist school that Ciara attended) but did not have a house type that would meet their needs internally. There were conversations about converting the garage of a Poplar into a downstairs bedroom with wet room but this would have severely compromised storage space. Then, Paul Pedley, Chairman of Archway Homes, came up with the idea of converting the Rowan house type into a modified Lime. The Lime on the development was already sold, but the Lime house type had the benefit of a study area at the back of the garage that could be incorporated into the family room to provide an area suitable for a lift shaft up to one of the bedrooms. This meant the garage was left intact to allow for storage. The concept of the 'Ciara' house type was born!

The design team at Archway started detailed discussions with both Gayle and Neil, and their specialist support team, who assessed Ciara and determined exactly what was going to be required in the future. This involved not only considering a location for a lift shaft but the size and details of a true wet room, suitable for a wheelchair, off Ciara's bedroom, and items such as how it would be lovely for Ciara to access her parents and sister's bedrooms so doorways upstairs would need to be widened. The plans were drawn up and revised many times until they were considered just right and the 'Ciara' housetype was finalised.

At this point it was necessary to speak to the local authority planning department at Cheshire West and Chester (CWAC) because the house that was going to sit on Plot 2 at Wood Farm, was now different from what had been agreed when planning was granted. Our thanks go to CWAC for their support in granting this amendment to the permission.

At the same time as talks were going on with the planners, the Archway team needed to contact a number of specialists and suppliers to firm up details for the structure of the new building.  While based on a Lime, the floor joists and roof trusses needed to be redesigned to make sure they were suitable for a lift and ceiling hoists in both the family room and Ciara's bedroom. Drainage was redesigned to accomodate the new layout upstairs with the wet room off Ciara's bedroom and the ground floor structure had to be amended to take the weight of the lift. Our thanks go to Betts Associates, Donaldson Engineering, 4 Crosses Construction and ACP Concrete for their advice and for doing all the redesign work and provision of materials free of charge.

While all this was going on the only thing remaining for Gayle and Neil was to sell their old home and exchange contracts, which they did even accepting that they would need to move into rented accomodation - with Ciara, Michael and Sofia.

Now, with the plans all in place and the Fowlers having exchanged contracts construction work can begin on the Ciara.

Keywords: Ciara, Wood Farm