Case Study of the Month - April
The cherry on the Potton cake

Location: East Sussex
Land Cost: Exisiting plot
Build Cost: £400,000 Current Value: £800,000


When Anthea and Ian Dawson built their first home in 1972 for £4,950 they never imagined that in 2012 they would be living in the home that they had always dreamed of…and that it would be valued at around £800,000!

Anthea and Ian, who are now in their 60s, had been on quite a journey to fulfil this goal in their lives, for both of them it was extremely satisfying “to experience the whole process of growth and achievement and to work with teams of professional artisans on a day to day basis”

Their journey took them initially to Derbyshire, where they built their first timber framed house and where they lived in a caravan during the build. They then proceeded to Nottinghamshire where they worked with a local builder on a 3 bedroomed detached timber frame house, which is where Ian’s skill as a Quantity Surveyor proved extremely useful. Following this project they then decided to try the experience of living in an old converted windmill in Lincolnshire.

 “To be perfectly honest” says Anthea, “it seemed like a lovely idea; it had a beautiful garden, but I never really felt comfortable there”. The next couple of moves took them into Lincolnshire again, then on to Buckinghamshire before their final move to beautiful East Sussex where they have been for 32 years.

As if this were not enough, during this time the couple’s adventurous spirit led them to have properties built in Lanzarote, followed by a house in the French Alps and more recently a large house on the Costa del Sol in Spain, which they have now sold.

In East Sussex they were living in a house that was 100 years old. It had just under an acre of garden, which they seemed to be spending a lot of time maintaining until the idea of building hit them once again. They had actually been considering self- build for about 2years, and loving the location, the thought of building in their own garden became a very attractive proposition, as effectively, the site would cost them nothing.

A friend had mentioned Potton to them, and of course being fully aware of the benefits of timber frame construction, the couple decided to visit the Potton self-Build Centre at St Neots in Cambridgeshire. They immediately fell in love with the Gransden Showhouse; the design flexibility and reasonable build cost seemed ideal for them.

It was here that the couple met with one of Potton’s self- build experts and where the design considerations they were hoping to achieve were fulfilled “We wanted to make best use of our views and for the house to be light and airy and the layout to flow naturally,” said Anthea “The Potton expert was practical and provided us with excellent guidance through the whole process,” said Ian.

So finally in 2011, after a number of stalled planning attempts, including an unexpected Bat preservation issue and boundary hedging problems, the site was granted a full approval  by the local authority.

Meanwhile Ian and Anthea’s son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter decided to buy the original old house and now the extended family are thrilled to be next door to each other, giving them the cherry on the Potton cake.

In conclusion, the couple are delighted with the end product. There is absolutely nothing that they would do differently. Ian and Anthea were completely satisfied with everything from Potton and despite a slight delay initially, and a few hiccoughs during the construction that were addressed to their complete satisfaction, they would definitely do it again….If they were younger!

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Working with Sub-Contractors


Anthea and Ian decided to use as many of the Potton approved sub-contractors as they could. Some had to travel quite a distance to Sussex whereas others were accommodated by Anthea and Ian in their original house, offering bed, breakfast and a lift to the pub every night for their evening meal! “It was quite an experience and I would certainly do it again,” said Anthea with a smile.

”Although,” says Ian “in the long run using these contractors cost us a little more, we felt so much more confident that the many years of experience they had through working with Potton would reduce the possibility of problems, and this certainly turned out to be the case.”

 The couple worked with among others, EBS Electrical Contractors “John Waters and his team were brilliant they just knew everything that we would need and nothing ever seemed too much trouble” ; Pryor Construction carried out all of the groundworks, foundations, brickwork, retaining walling, patio laying and built the Inglenook Fireplace which the couple were absolutely delighted with, “Trevor Pryor, his brother, and his son were just so helpful; we loved working with them and wouldn’t have achieved all we have without them. On a lighter note it was Trevor’s birthday during their time with us, so I made him a birthday cake and we all sat in the shed and ate it !! Amusing, fond memories and photos for the Build Album,” reminisced Anthea.

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“We also worked with a really good Crowborough plumber, Ryan Faint, who patiently installed what we were seeking. Furthermore, a local kitchen designer called Daniel Stronge, MD of Jones Britain,  created us the perfect layout for our kitchen, providing superb entertaining space for large and small gatherings. Circulation, flow, light and work area were of paramount importance and which Daniel delivered with flair and artistic panache.”

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