Case Study of the Month - February
Return to the old patch

Location: Norfolk
Land Cost: £103,000
Build Cost: £180,000
Current Value: £500,000


When Paul Southgate played football as a child on a small patch of grass near to his home in Norfolk he never dreamed that one day he would be living in a house that he had built with his wife Sarah right opposite that very field. Coupled with that Paul, who is now aged 54, was also born in the property which is now behind the garden of their new self built Potton bungalow.

Paul and Sarah who was originally from Colchester in Essex had previously bought and renovated 6 houses of varying ages from the 50s & 70s.

They tell stories of converting a small 2 bedroom bungalow by adding a two storey extension, making it into 5 bedrooms, and recall the 1970’s 4 bedroom house that was all but derelict.

So when the opportunity came up to buy a concrete prefabricated bungalow where Paul had originally come from, they jumped at the chance and being cash buyers they made the perfect purchasers.

Southgate Before
(Before: Existing Bungalow)

The couples idea was that they would eventually apply for planning permission to build a pair of semi’s, but in the interim they would freshen up the bungalow and rent it out.
They did this between 2009 and 2014 as they made their first application for the semi’s which was initially turned down by the local authority. This they followed up with an enquiry about one larger bungalow which was also turned down by the LA. It was then that the couple recruited the help of Potton’s planning specialist Adrian Bussetil who the couple agreed “was amazing!”

He took one look at the plot and the existing bungalow and said “there is absolutely no reason why this should not get planning approval.”

The next step for the couple was to visit the Potton Show Centre, attended a seminar and took a tour of the factory.
This we found most useful” says Sarah, “we had looked at a number of other timber frame suppliers, even one in Scotland, but having seen the set up and taking into account that Potton were reasonably local to us, we took the next step and met with the regional Self Build Consultant

The couple then visited the National Self Build and Renovation Centre in Swindon to get some more ideas about materials and to visit Potton’s Ruskin show home.

They initially chose the standard 192sqm Heywood bungalow from Potton’s portfolio on the basis that it would fit on the plot which measured 94ft x 70ft. Then with assistance from their Self Build Consultant, incorporated the changes they wanted to suit their family and lifestyle.

Southgate Kitchen Diner

Southgate External

Paul, being involved in renovation work, general building and property maintenance can pretty much turn his hand to anything, and together with Sarah did all the work on the property except plastering, roofing, electrics and brickwork. Although Paul did run all of the heating pipes and fit the radiators himself, plus all of the other works including landscaping.

As far as eco products are concerned Sarah and Paul are keen gardeners and have a large vegetable patch so a water recycling plant was a must. They installed this themselves and now have the benefit of fresh strawberries, tomatoes, peppers and courgettes to name but a few.

One of the elements Paul needed was storage for some of his work tools, plant and of course his pet motor bike. He managed to salvage all the timber from the old house and built a large recycled shed in the garden.

A major factor in the couples self build project was the garage, this, with it’s first floor storage area was to be Sarah’s workshop and office.

Sarah is a specialist in bespoke handmade curtains and roman blinds so needs space for material storage and machines. She designed, chose the materials and made all of the window finishes in the new bungalow.

The project started in January 2014 and was complete in May 2015. During the build the couple lived in their existing house which was local enough for them to oversee and carry out the works themselves.

Southgate Rear

“Our final build cost for the house and garage/workspace was £180,000” says Sarah

The groundworks and an excessive bill form the water board to re-route the drainage pushed it up, but that was far more of an inconvenience than anything else. It gave Paul a lot of extra hard work in order to satisfy their specifications and requirements”

Sarah and Paul both agree that if they were to build again they would look for a bigger plot, build a two storey house and look at using the SIP panel system

“Putting all the insulation in the panels and in the roof was probably the worst job we had to do”

“But when you add the land cost of £103,000 plus the build cost for our own bespoke home at £180,000 it comes out at far less than the current market value of around £500,000 doesn’t it” says Paul. “We have a house that we love and one that suits our whole way of life which together with my workspace, makes it all so worthwhile” says Sarah.

Design Considerations


The Southgate’s have two children who both live at home, so it was important that they each had their own rooms. This was achieved by adding attic trusses instead of standard trusses to the roof space. This not only allowed for 2 additional bedrooms, but for bathrooms and ample wardrobe and storage space.

Downstairs was remodelled to include a utility room, a large open plan kitchen diner with double door access into a very good sized lounge.

They also incorporated an office, two bedrooms - one with en-suite and a bathroom, plus a large imposing entrance hall where the have incorporated a contemporary styled staircase with a chrome balustrade, and one of Paul’s inventions; a mobile understairs storage unit which takes the family day to day shoes and can be moved  on concealed castors to give access to a another storage area at the rear.

Southgate Collage