Self-Builders’ Own Stories

Self-Builders’ Own Stories

Self-Builders’ Own Stories is an opportunity to hear from people who have already completed a self-build or renovation project. Hear real self-builders and renovators talking about how they went about creating the home of their dreams.  Learn from their mistakes, hear their top tips and ask them questions about their experience. Take a look at the projects that were discussed at Build It Live Bicester below! Presentations available each day in the Workshop Theatre. If you want to look at some more real self builder projects, click here.


Meet Richard

Self building a home for retirement

Keen to downsize for retirement, Richard and Madeleine Harman fancied the idea of creating a state-of-the-art new home that suited their needs both now and in the future, so they decided to self build. The garden plot they bought already had planning consent in place, but the couple submitted another scheme that better suited their vision. From having 49 trees removed to dealing with complications in getting utilities connected, Richard took on the role of project manager, being on site every day for 17 months. Using an English Brothers’ timber frame, the house’s structural shell was completed in just three weeks. Richard was heavily involved in the fit out of his new home, too, creating a result that they’re delighted with.


Meet Terry and Olwen from Grand Designs- The Street!

Building for the future

Terry and Olwen Brown-Waite had long dreamt of building their own home. With some experience under his belt, Terry decided that creating a property himself – while he still could – would be the best way to realise that dream. The couple’s vision was to create a bespoke and contemporary home that would suit them now and long into the future. Terry managed the entire project himself and built a large amount of it, too. It was a huge challenge, but one that saved money and has resulted in a truly personal, unique home.



Meet Ian & Sue

Oak frame self build home

Ian and Sue wanted to relocate to live closer to extended family, but after a year of unsuccessfully searching the market for a suitable house, a friend alerted them to an opportunity that piqued their interest. It was a plot that came with planning permission for a three bedroom house. Sold on the idea of creating something bespoke from scratch, the couple went for it. They were after a modern and energy efficient new home that brought together aspects they loved about previous properties they’d owned. After having to wait two years for approval to change the existing plans, work could finally start on site, with Ian and Sue taking on the project management alongside their main contractor. The result is a striking new dwelling that features expansive glazing within a characterful oak frame supplied by Carpenter Oak.


Meet Sara & Steve

Barn extension for family living

Sara and Steve Laney have revamped their barn conversion to better suit family life by changing the layout and adding a 22m2extension. They originally wanted to increase space by building out at the front of their dwelling, but plans changed when they were able to negotiate buying some land from a neighbour. This enabled them to maximise the property’s potential with a new rear addition. The couple worked with Lapd Architects to come up with the scheme; the architects took the project through the planning process, too. The extension tastefully reuses the barn’s aged cladding and new extensive glazing means the living spaces are filled with natural light – a result the Laneys are thrilled with.



Meet Susan

Realising a childhood dream

For Susan Weston, the dream of self building began as a child, with her parents creating their own family home in the 1970s. After searching for the perfect plot of land for over a decade, Susan finally discovered Graven Hill in 2015. With a background in engineering and project management, she was equipped with many of the skills needed to build her own home on time and on budget. Her main goal was to have an internal layout that maximised functional living space. The result is a light, airy and modern home with practicality at its heart. To find out more about the Graven Hill project, click here.