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Katja from Beets: "Building sustainably with respect for the authentic character"

Short introduction
My name is Katja Schuitema. Since 2015, I have been living in a unique farmhouse in Beets with my partner and two children. We live there in the part that used to serve as a shed for the cattle and that was inhabited by the workers. Since this spring, the antique front house has been used as a reception area for guests.

Why did this house appeal to you so much?
The choice for this building was obvious to us: it is a bell jar that appeals to the imagination, where there is room for development and where you are confronted with the elements and its history on a daily basis. In short: a worthy home.

What makes this farm so special?
Stolp farms have determined the image of the North Holland landscape for centuries. The bell jar symbolizes the housing of the farming family with workers, livestock and winter supplies under one roof. The cattle have disappeared from the farm over the years and workers have sought work elsewhere. Usually the empty haystacks were converted for residential purposes, with an intermediate floor for a second floor. As a result, most of the cloches also lost their characteristic indoor heart and also a source of heat for the cattle.

What condition was the farm in?
The building has been maintained with great respect by the previous residents and many authentic details have been preserved. For example, there is no intermediate floor in the haystack yet. The base of the farm was good, only the overdue maintenance on the woodwork resulted in many hours of painting.

What have you done to make the farm more sustainable and for what purpose?
In order to allow the building to enter the future in a sustainable manner - and as much as possible in its original state - the plan is to restore the haystack, with respect for the character that this space gives to the building. The idea is to create a meeting location here, which offers a view of the beautiful height of the indoor haystack. This has two beneftis: the conference room is heated and with it the home.

If you want to renovate a monument in a sustainable way, it is best to look for the righ insulation options, because that provides the greatest savings. Choose to keep the living space small in winter and make it bigger in summer. Just like in the past. We have installed a wood-burning stove, from which we naturally remain close. Then a large living space is not necessary.

What's still on the planning?
The investment mainly concerns the renovation of the thatched roof and its insulation, the insulation of walls and any alternative heating systems. The financing is made possible by a partial sustainability subsidy and a partial monument loan.

Which problems did you face?
Unfortunately, the issue of permits by the municipality is the biggest stumbling block. This takes an enormous amount of time, even for replacing the existing roof. Since the property has been waiting for us to move in for over 300 years, we take the time to execute our plans and don't worry too much about it.

Published on
11 March 2020

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