What is the floor area of your project in sq ft or sq m? Approximately 210 sqm
Click on the images to view floor plans
Is there any further information that you wish to add about your project – interesting facts, remarkable features?
Our intent was to build a low maintenance lifetime home of a contemporary nature. We are big fans of open plan living, something that is not generally offered by mass market builders/developers. We wanted something different to the typical traditional properties in our neighbourhood, hence the external brick/render/western red cedar finishes and vertical seamed metal roof.
How many times have you visited The National Self Build and Renovation Centre before?
Around 10 times
What would you say is the most helpful feature or resource at the NSBRC?
Exhibits showing various aspects of construction and advice from in house NSBRC staff and courses. It is extremely valuable being able to view an extensive range of exhibits, all under one roof, to better understand various aspect of construction & design, something that is sometimes difficult to do just from published information. It really helped in firming up various aspects of our project, i.e opting for a Scotframe timber frame/Tata Colorcoat Urban vertical seamed metal roof/Nordan windows & doors. A wealth of information is available from extremely knowledgeable and approachable staff at the NSBRC. The regular shows and events at NSBRC are well worth attending from any prospective self builder. I would particularly recommend the 3 day self build course, it really empowered me to pursue my self build project, a huge amount of useful information was gleaned in a short space of time, reference was routinely made to the course notes throughout my self build journey.
Did you use any exhibitors at the NSBRC? If so, who?
We used British gypsum, Imperial handmade bricks, Scotframe and Tata steel.
What did you enjoy most about your visit to the NSBRC?
The amount of information that can be gained from a single visit.
Would you recommend the NSBRC to a friend, and if so, what aspects of the Centre would you recommend and why?
We would definitely recommend the NSBRC as an invaluable resource for anyone considering building work. The National Self Build and Renovation Shows and Training Courses are particularly useful.
What first inspired you to undertake project – what did you hope to achieve?
Our family home was just too big and expensive to run and maintain, as our children have left home and we had both decided to retire early, me principally after having suffered a stroke in 2010, which makes one reassess how life should be lived. We both wanted a house and garden which better suited our requirements, now and in the future.
What was the cost & size of the land?
Zero cost, it was part of our existing back garden. The original garden size was approximately 1/3rd acre.
How did you find the land? Do you have any tips for others currently searching for a plot?
We had been looking in South West Wales and Devon for building plots, but realised, with the assistance of our children, that we had a ready-made building plot in our back garden. Also we know the area, have good healthcare provision and transport links and we have a well-established social life in the area.
Did you have any issues getting your planning permission granted or with building control? If so – why was this?
Obtaining planning permission was a far simpler experience than we had anticipated. We initially went with a planning pre application, which resulted in a number of objections, principally with the initial proposal being out of character with the surrounding neighbourhood. We took those objections on board, developed a new scheme with our architect and then submitted for detailed planning approval, this was approved on first attempt. On going out to tender it was soon realised that the building cost would be prohibitive, basement construction costs being far in excess of that estimated by our architect. A second, above ground scheme was developed, which successfully went through planning on the first attempt. We found dealing with our local planning department to be hassle free, constructive advice was always offered, and considered the planning department to be very professional and efficient.
Why did you choose your method of construction?
We wanted a well-insulated/leak tight building system, so opted for Scotframe Val-U-Therm, a sort of hybrid SIPs system. We also wanted cost certainty, so opted for a factory built structure. Minimising disruption to our neighbours during works was also a major consideration, which is one reason that we opted for a modern method of manufacture as opposed to the conventional brick and block approach. The Scotframe system is also relatively “green”, principally using timber and recycled renewable vegetable oil for the injected insulation
Did you use a project manager, or did you choose to self project manage?
Project management was a collaboration between the main contractor and myself. All of the large ticket items I sourced and procured myself, i.e the timber structure,Tata colorcoat urban roof/kitchen & utility, Eclisse glass doors, staircase, rainwater harvesting, etc.
What was your budget and were you able to stick to it?
We pretty much maintained budget, only items associated with external works, landscaping/boundary walls typically, took us over budget.
What is the value of the property now?
We would estimate circa £550k
Did you reclaim the VAT, and if so, how much were you able to reclaim?
VAT of around £32k has been reclaimed using Self Build VAT to do this on our behalf. Repayment from HMRC was surprisingly prompt, taking around 8 weeks between submitting claim and receiving payment.
What aspects of the process did you find stressful – and do you have any tips on how to avoid the pitfalls you encountered?
Most stressful parts of the process:
What did you find most enjoyable about working on your project?
Working through day to day problems and arriving at satisfactory solutions with the main contractor, we always managed to amicably arrive at a suitable solution. It is great seeing all of the research into the project paying off as the project progressed. It was also great meeting so many neighbours who took an interest in what we were doing.
What is one of your favourite features about your project?
Just having a custom built home which suits our current and future lifestyle requirements. Something that is really not attainable by any other means. We love the look and feel of our home.
How did you tailor your home to suit your lifestyle?
We both like open plan living, and are not fans of houses with the maximum number of bedrooms possible being squeezed into a given space. We have chosen to go for level door thresholds throughout, wide doors, wet room.We particularly like having direct access from the main bedroom to the utility room. Also a major factor was allowing space to install a lift between the ground floor and mezzanine if required at a later date. The outside space was also designed to reduce the amount of maintenance required.
Is there a possibility you would ever undertake another project in the future?
Who knows!!! We think it would be much easier second time round, but it really is a lot of work, spent more hours on this on a weekly basis than when I was in full time employment!
If so, is there anything you would do differently?
We would employ an architect up to planning approval, then employ an architectural technician thereafter.
What would your top tip be for other NSBRC Visitors about to embark on their first self build or home improvement journey?
Spend as much time as possible in planning, researching and developing your project, before committing to pressing the button!
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