Self-Builders’ Own Stories is one of our most popular and essential features. Come and listen to actual Build It readers talking about the ups and downs of their real life projects and how they went about creating the home of their dreams. Learn from their mistakes, hear their top tips and ask them the questions that are weighing on your mind. Sessions take place each day in the Workshop Theatre.
See below for an example programme, take from the 2017 Build It Live Bicester timetable.
Like many city dwellers, Kerry and Mark Yates had dreamt of moving to the country and in 2010 they made their fantasy a reality by moving to the Chilterns. The couple rented while looking for cottages to purchase, but when they found nothing suitable, they broadened their search to modern houses. After over a year Mark and Kerry found their home – a spacious 1960’s seven-bedroom detached dwelling with a substantial garden. Initially put off by the unappealing exterior of the property, they bought the house with a view to remodel, since the interior ticked a lot of their boxes.
Kerry and Mark primarily focused on redecorating the interior, but seeing the unattractive façade every day soon led the couple to take action. Kerry was clear from the start about what she wanted; a New-England-style property with painted wooden cladding. The couple employed an architect to design the remodel, incorporating larger windows and a rustic-style oak frame porch to boost kerb appeal and to enhance the property’s sense of symmetry.
The project suffered a setback when Kerry and Mark discovered that the timbers in the gable ends of the house were rotten and would need to be replaced. This involved about £4,000 of work that hadn’t been accounted for. Yet once the new windows had been installed, the stunning views justified the distress they’d endured. For the Yateses, the high point of the project was when the scaffolding was removed and the outcome of their scheme was finally unveiled.
After selling their bed and breakfast in the Cotswolds and failing to find a property they wanted to buy, Darren Findlow and Anthony Higham looked to self-build themselves a contemporary oak frame home in Cheshire. A 1.3 acre woodland site ticked all the boxes, and the couple soon found inspiration in Carpenter Oak’s work, choosing to combine a post and beam frame with structural insulated panels to achieve an efficient, eco-friendly home that blended with its surroundings.
Reflecting on their experience of self-building, the couple commented: “Building our home has spoilt us in that when we now look at other properties for sale we know that we could create something better. I do think that it would be quite difficult for us to go back to living in a ready-made house now.”
The home won a Build It Award for the Best Self-Build Project of 2016.
• The plot came with planning permission for a mock Tudor design with small windows. The couple submitted new plans to change the scheme, incorporating more glass.
• They joined forces to take on the role of project managers, sourcing materials and liaising with trades themselves.
• The overall setup includes an MVHR unit, an air source heat pump and underfloor heating, combined with excellent airtightness in the building’s fabric and good-quality glazing.
• The finished house came in just 3% over budget at £360,000 – something that’s largely down to the couple’s clever product sourcing.