What is the floor area of your project? 280sqm.
Please click on the images to view the full plans.
Is there any further information that you wish to add about your project – interesting facts, remarkable features? We have self-built with no prior experience other than basic decorating and a small extension. We’re living on site in a caravan with our 3 young children and crazy dog!
How many times have you visited The National Self Build and Renovation Centre before? Around 15-20 times.
What would you say is the most helpful feature or resource at the NSBRC? Having access to the experts.
Did you use any exhibitors at the NSBRC? If so, who?
What did you enjoy most about your visit to the NSBRC? Seeing different build methods and getting ideas/inspiration.
Would you recommend the NSBRC to a friend, and if so, what aspects of the Centre would you recommend? Yes, we found great value by talking to all of the experts that are on hand, not only at the shows but also when you visit the Centre on a ‘normal’ day. We have probably visited at least 15 times, attended many of the shows and even did one of the courses at the Centre ran by Logix on how to self-build using ICF.
What first inspired you to undertake your self build project – what did you hope to achieve? Building the house of our dreams, to our specification, that would be ideal for raising our family.
What was the cost & size of the land? The Cottage with gardens and paddock is just under 1.5 acres.
How did you find the land? Do you have any tips for others currently searching for a plot? We had sold our house and found the cottage that was on this plot; we loved the location and the amount of land + surrounding countryside. Our original intention was to extend and renovate the cottage however upon living in it for the first winter we soon realised it was going to be uneconomical to do that and instead we opted to rebuild.
Tips for others; work out where you want to be and then keep hunting, ask local people, setup searches on all the property/land websites and then keep your fingers crossed.
Did you have any issues getting your planning permission granted or with building control? If so – why was this? The cottage was nearly 300 years old and whilst not listed the planners has reservations about us demolishing to rebuild. It took approximately 6 months and we got structural engineers involved whose report effectively said the cottage was beyond economical repair and was not suitable for modern living + was environmentally inefficient.
Why did you choose your method of construction? We wanted to self build which effectively ruled out traditional brick and block and we also wanted something that would be environmentally friendly in the long-run. We therefore chose ICF as we knew we could do this ourselves and we could also create a reasonably air-tight and thermally efficient house.
Did you use a project manager, or did you choose to self project manage? We did this ourselves.
What was your budget and were you able to stick to it? Our original budget was £250k to finish everything however this is more likely to be up to £300k once we’ve finished the whole project.
If you didn’t stick to your budget, what was the main reason for the overspend? We didn’t budget for solar and have chosen high spec options of everything we’ve done (MVHR, UFH, Solar, Kitchen, AV/electrics) as we figured this might be the only time in our lives we ever do a self-build and as it’s going to be our family home for at least the next 15 years so we wanted it to be as perfect as we could afford.
What is the value of the property now? We’re not sure, we’ve not had it valued and we’re unlikely to get it valued until we’ve finished the landscaping and finished decorating!
Did you reclaim the VAT, and if so, how much were you able to reclaim? We have submitted our VAT claim for c. £35k and we are awaiting to hear from HMRC.
What aspects of the self build process did you find stressful – and do you have any tips on how to avoid the pitfalls you encountered? The whole thing! It’s pretty daunting to be fair however once you’ve started you just have to break it down into bite size chunks. Trying to plan ahead and make decisions without all the knowledge is stressful. One tip that has helped us is to not set self deadlines; we’d rather not be under pressure to hit a date at the cost of compromising on quality. We spent a bit of time getting our caravans setup well so that we didn’t feel under pressure to move into the house.
What is one of your favourite features about your project? We’ve got a few which I guess is the luxury of designing and building something yourself; we like the double-height hallway, the open plan living with the kitchen, the balcony on our master bedroom (despite the headaches to build it) and the fact that the kids now have their own rooms!
How did you tailor your home to suit your lifestyle? Open plan and social living area at the heart of the home, dedicated play area for the children, a more grown-up lounge for us to relax and socialise in and an amazing master bedroom for us with dressing room, en-suite and balcony overlooking the countryside.
Is there a possibility you would ever undertake another self build, or perhaps another type of project in the future? Yes, just not too soon as we need to recover from this one first! The house we’ve built we hope lasts us until the children have grown up and flown-the-nest and then after that, why not!
If so, is there anything you would do differently? Plan, plan plan and then plan some more. We now know so much more than when we started out so we’d make sure we had a really clear line of sight to the key structural elements and the sequence of decisions that need to be made.
What would your top tip be for other NSBRC Visitors about to embark on their first self build journey? Try to enjoy it. It will be stressful, accept that and try not to let it bog you down. Whatever problem arises, and there will be many, there is always a way around it and there are lots of people who are willing to help/advise you; just ask them.
Information compiled in April 2021.
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