14/01/2008
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Holiday homes - Mackworth Lodge

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WHILE I was looking around the Mackworth Lodge VT - the VT stands for Vertical Twin - I overhead a couple discussing the lodge. The lady summed up my feelings exactly when she said: "Totally stunning!" I couldn't have put it better myself - the Mackworth VT is nothing if not that. In fact, it looks more like a conventional house than a park home and reminded me of houses I have seen in Holland.

This home is yet another example of the way Tingdene is prepared to take the bull by the horns and build a concept home to find out the market's reaction to the idea. The 36ft x 14ft Mackworth VT was put on display in time for the company's open weekend in October and I was not surprised to learn that the reaction from both the park owners and the buying public has been more than favourable - enthusiastic, in fact. From the parks' point of view it means they can get a twin unit on a single pitch, while prospective buyers can also see the advantage of having double the space on a single plot.

Being a two-storey home, the VT has a metal frame rather than a timber one. The external finish of the lower part of the home is stucco whilst the sloping-roofed upper storey is clad in tiles. The overall effect as I walked up to the home coincided exactly with the comment already referred to - totally stunning. This was because my first sight was of the rear, which features a covered balcony to the master bedroom. The front end is fairly conventional, having a porch and canopy to the front door, plus kitchen and bathroom windows. But here again, Tingdene has added interest by fitting false louvred shutters.

First steps

Entering the home through the front door brings you into the hallway, which stretches the length of the home to the door of the lounge. On the right of the front door is the downstairs toilet, which has a low-level WC suite at one end and a washbasin at the other. There is plenty of room lengthwise but not too much as far as the width is concerned.

It's also worth pointing out here that the Mackworth is a concept, so the fact that items such as a toilet roll holder and a towel rail are missing did not cause concern because I'm sure they can be included in a production version of the home.

Opposite the toilet - on the left as you go through the front door - is the kitchen. This is L shaped, with the sink and drainer on the front wall and the main worktop, hob and oven on the side wall. A washing machine is fitted below the sink and drainer, but no dishwasher. Again, I think fitting one would be a matter for discussion when placing an order to buy.

The hob is an electric four-burner unit with a splashback on the wall behind it and an extractor above. Either side of the extractor are a number of wall cupboards that, together with the base units, provide plenty of storage. To the right of the oven is a five-drawer base unit followed by a freestanding fridge/freezer. There was no wall cupboard above the latter, but I felt there was almost certainly sufficient space for one.

It's also worth mentioning that, though the walls haven't been tiled above the worktops, there is an upstand about 15cm (6in) high along the walls above the base units. Both the worktop and the upstand have a black marble effect finish, while the floor is covered with simulated wood vinyl.

Into the lounge

From the kitchen you step onto carpet into the dining area. This is part of the lounge and results in the whole area having an L shaped layout. The dining area could, I reckon, seat six to eight people in comfort, though in this model it was laid for four. Above the dining table is a single pendant with three halogen lights.

The lounge area isn't particularly large, but does span the full width of the home. There is a fireplace on the side wall, while the end wall has a large glazed window incorporating a sliding door giving access onto a narrow covered patio underneath the balcony of the master bedroom. Lighting in the lounge area is provided by four halogen ceiling lights that I think might not be sufficient to meet everyone's needs, but there are power sockets into which extra freestanding lights can be plugged, if necessary.

From the lounge a door leads into the hallway. Immediately on the left is the door to the understairs cupboard, which has plenty of room for storing items such as vacuum cleaners, etc. The consumer unit is also installed here, where it can be reached quickly and easily when necessary.

The hall itself - and the landing for that matter - is light and airy due to a combination of the window units in the end walls of the lounge and master bedroom plus a window in the wall at the top of the stairs.

Up the stairs

On reaching the top of the stairs, the master bedroom is the first room you come to. It's the full width of the home and, though not over large, has plenty of space for a big double bed. There were two double wardrobes along one wall, but no dressing table.

The problem here is that the sloping wall prevents the wardrobes being placed tight against it. However, bearing in mind that this is a concept home, I don't think it would be difficult to design a built-in unit comprising two wardrobes with a dressing table between them, plus perhaps one or two cupboards spanning the gap between the wardrobes above the dressing table.

The bedroom is lit by two pendant ceiling lights each with three halogen bulbs - identical to the pendant light in the dining area.

The main feature of the bedroom, of course, is the covered balcony. I can imagine the owners sitting on it as the sun goes down, sipping a glass or two of bubbly and thinking how lucky they are to be able to relax in such style.

Sleep or study

As you leave the master bedroom, the door to the third bedroom - as far as size goes - is immediately on the right. This has been furnished as a single bedroom but there is nothing to prevent bunk beds being fitted instead of a single one. And again, I believe the space could be better utilised if fitted furniture were installed instead of the freestanding wardrobe.

I also felt there was room on the sloping outside wall for a purpose-designed dressing table/desk unit/chest of drawers to be fitted, so that it could be either a bedroom, or a study/bedroom, or just a study.

The second bedroom is further along the landing and has been furnished in a similar way to the master, with a double bed, but only one double wardrobe. Like the master bedroom, it does not have a dressing table but, again, this is something I'm sure could be rectified by a change in layout and the use of purpose-designed furniture.

Generous bathroom

This brings us to the final room - the bathroom situated at the opposite end of the home to the master bedroom. It's a generous size, with a full size bath on a raised plinth and a ceramic washbasin fitted into a base unit that has adequate storage for toiletries.

As you would expect, a mirror has been fitted on the wall above the washbasin, but, in this case, there is no light above it - an omission I would expect to be put right in the production model. And I expect the same to apply in the case of a towel rail and toilet roll holder, both of which had been omitted in this case.

On the wall at the end of the bath is a shower unit with a hinged glass shower screen fitted to the bath's outer edge. Importantly, too, the wall down the inner side of the bath and across the front has been clad with attractive vinyl planking. Between the bath and the end wall is the low-level toilet and, additionally, an extractor fan and a frosted glass window have been fitted in the wall.

Lastly, next to the bathroom, and facing the door to the second bedroom, is the airing cupboard that also houses the home's gas boiler.

Verdict

I was very impressed by the Mackworth Lodge VT. It's a concept home I'm certain is going to prove a winner with both park managements and home buyers alike. It's really in a class of its own and I must congratulate Tingdene on having the foresight to come up with such a unique design.

Being a concept home there are things about it I would want to change were I a prospective buyer. But that's the case with any concept product - the end-user will always have their own ideas to put into the final design, be it purpose-designed fitted furniture to make better use of the space, or a dishwasher or whatever.

It will be interesting to see if the Mackworth Lodge VT becomes another success for Tingdene. Having had the opportunity to view the home at the company's exhibition centre at Wellingborough, I think it will.

But go along and have a look for yourself and see if you agree with us. I'll be surprised if you don't!



HOW THE VT IS BUILT

When I spoke to Nick Burgess, Tingdene’s sales and marketing director, about the VT, he described it as a ‘plug and play’ home. In other words, it is built as two separate units in the factory, taken to site, where the ground floor module is off-loaded and then has its wheels removed before being lifted by crane onto the raft or base.

Following that, the same thing happens to the upper floor module, which, after being craned onto the top of the ground floor module, has all its electrical, plumbing and other services connected to complete the home.

It’s important to understand that the two modules are built as complete steel frames – pods in Nick’s terminology. In conventional park homes, only the chassis is steel – the remaining frame being timber. As a result, once the VT is assembled it is a totally rigid structure.

When I asked why wheels were therefore part of the chassis, Nick pointed out that the wheels were for moving the modules during manufacture in the factory and on and off the low loader. Prior to lifting in position on site the wheels would be removed, he said.

When I mentioned that I hadn’t seen any signs of how the two modules were joined together during our inspection, Nick explained that the bolts, together with the connections for the various services, were concealed within service points within the structure – hence his reference to ‘plug and play’.



FURTHER INFORMATION

Room sizes
Please note: all figures are approximate only.
•Lounge area: 13ft 5in x 13ft 3in
• Dining area: 8ft 4in x 6ft 10in
• Kitchen area: 11ft 6in x 6ft 10in
• Master bedroom: 13ft 3in x 8ft 11in
• Second bedroom: 11ft 8in x 7ft
• Third bedroom: 10ft 2in x 6ft 10in
• Bathroom: 8ft 2in x 6ft
• Downstairs toilet: 8ft 1in x 2ft 5in
• Balcony: 13ft 5in x 3ft 9in
• Covered patio: 12ft x 1ft 7in

Main features
• Twin storey unit, but conforms to mobile home legislation
• Metal frame
• Only occupies a single pitch
• Three bedrooms
• Looks more like a conventional home than a park home
• Covered patio at end of lounge
• Covered balcony to master bedroom



Contact details:

Tingdene Homes Ltd
Bradfield Road, Finedon Industrial Estate, Wellingborough, Northants NN8 4HB
Tel: 01933 230130
Website:
www.tingdene.co.uk



This feature was published in the January 2008 issue of Park & Holiday Homes magazine. To order our latest issue please click here.

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