The UK’s first luxurious off grid holiday home, which has no connection to mains power, water or sewage, has been developed by a Perth businesswoman.
The Kranôg units come in a variety of sizes and can be used as flexible accommodation, work or leisure space, with the choice of one, two or three bedrooms. Buyers can even add optional extras such as a wood-fired hot tub and an outdoor firepit.
As they sit on stilts, the architecturally designed Kranôg units do not require foundations and their eco-friendly design means no annual running costs or electricity and gas bills.
All the green technologies have been researched and chosen specifically for the British climate.
Kranôg is the brainchild of founder and managing director Fiona van Aswegen, who was inspired to create a new type of accommodation unit for the UK, incorporating the outdoors into the design and encouraging the user to spend more time in nature.
Fiona recently took part in Elevator’s 12-week Famous Grouse Ideas Centre Accelerator programme at the AK Bell Library in Perth, which has helped her to create a prototype unit that has already attracted interest from across the UK, Ireland and as far afield as Portugal.
The first unit will be situated on a private estate near Dunkeld, where it will be rented out to holiday makers visiting the area and used as a showhome for Kranôg. It is expected to be launched in time for Christmas 2018.
“Kranôg came from the ambition to get back into the tourism business when I moved back to Scotland after living abroad,” said Fiona. “I had been running a successful luxury business in South Africa and loved the industry so wanted to get into the self-catering tourism sector in Scotland.
“I discovered that in Scotland, land was really expensive in the tourist hot spot locations, planning permission was difficult and the type of accommodation that were available to buy as self-catering options were often outdated, so I set about trying to improve things as I couldn’t understand why we weren’t already operating off grid self-catering accommodation in Scotland.”
Fiona secured a grant for an academic feasibility study into operating off grid commercially in the Scottish climate, which led to the development of Kranôg.
She believes the UK is lagging far behind many parts of the world in terms of what we are doing that is off grid.
“Other countries offer lots of environmental/off grid products, homes and funky holiday options. In the UK there is no one else offering a year-round, luxury accommodation unit that is 100% off the grid. We have had an incredible response – the time is now for being off grid in terms of construction, tourism and new business. It’s no longer considered ‘wacky and eco warrior-like’, it’s become more accepted and embraced and everyone can understand the benefits. Landowners, farmers, individuals and existing businesses have all been really supportive and interested.”
Kranôg invested two years of research and development work into the design and technology of the units, to make sure they are off grid but still economically viable, costing no more than a high-end static caravan or park home and yet considerably ahead in terms of quality and with a 40% reduction in ongoing running costs.
The units are manufactured in Perthshire and are mostly built off-site, then constructed on site in around four weeks.
“I am working with a fantastic, and award winning, local building company. I have made a huge effort to keep all suppliers as local as possible and have been successful in doing so without a single compromise in terms of quality of product, which says a lot for the skills we have around us in Scotland,” said Fiona.
“They are built to the highest standards of thermal insulation, are triple glazed and will be ‘passivhaus’ certified. The units can be financed and require the same planning permission as a caravan. They are designed to be transported in small sections – so there’s no need for diggers or cranes and there is no damage to existing landscapes.”
If buyers move to a new house or sell their land, their unit can be taken apart and moved with them.
Every Kranôg unit has an open plan kitchen/lounge/dining room, a bathroom with shower, the option of up to three bedrooms, an entrance area for shoes and boots, outside decking and a beautifully crafted wood burning stove with a flat top for cooking or boiling water.
Electricity is supplied via solar panels, heat, hot water and cooking is provided by a specialist wood burning stove and water is harvested and treated from rain water.
“It is genuinely 100% off grid,” said Fiona. “This is wonderful in so many ways – from zero impact to the environment, to the fact there will never be any utility bills and the feeling that you are ‘doing your bit’.
“Living off grid is fun, it’s romantic and it’s great for learning a real sense of consumption, usage and the things we take for granted. However, buyers do need to know what to expect so they can decide whether it is or is not for them.”
A one-bedroom, starter Kranôg unit is expected to cost £60,000.
Fiona credits the Accelerator programme with helping to drive the business forward.
“I have been upskilled, pushed out of my comfort zones and given unlimited access to mentors and specialists. I have validated my business from the outside in and have had incredible support every step of the way. It was a hands-on and action focused 12 weeks and the more you put in, the more you will get out,” she added.
Based at the AK Bell Library, the Famous Grouse Ideas Centre Accelerator is designed to support and encourage pre-start or early stage creative businesses to flourish in one of Scotland’s most promising economic sectors.
Participants, known as Founders, will be immersed in a variety of business themes, including business modelling, goal setting, market and opportunity identification and scale, growth and exit strategies.