Case Study of the Month - April
The First Ruskin

Location: Hertfordshire
Land Cost: £900,000 (17acres)
Build Cost: circa £350,000
Current Value: £1.7m


Phil and Dale Gomes, both in their early sixties, originated from Barnet North London and when Phil sold his successful plumbing business they decided they would look around to find a building plot where they could build a new house and enjoy their retirement, and their family. They had previously lived in a Potton house in Hertfordshire built by a developer and always thought they would like to build one of their own.

Looking around the Hertford area for a plot they found a piece of land which had previously been a scrap yard, one that the local authority were very pleased to see turned back into a residential site. The adjacent plot had already been sold and the new owners had built a bungalow.

Phil and Dale however, wanted to build a version of the showhouse they had seen at The National Self Build Centre in Swindon, this was more of an Arts and Crafts design. They knew they could take the standard showhouse version of and tailor it to suit their own needs. The most important thing for them was space and light so this design with vaulted areas and large amounts of glazing was just exactly what they were looking for.

Ruskin (2)

They made their own personal changes to the design, adding a larger utility and boot room and increasing the size of both the lounge and the master bedroom, which would now include a supersized walk in wardrobe and wet room.

Gomes Int 2

Following on from that they built a large double garage to the front of the property and Phil had a most luxurious looking pigeon shed built in the garden so he could continue to pursue his life-long interest in racing pigeons.

Today the home and surrounding land, which in total amounts to 17 acres, is home to their daughters horses and regularly hosts visits from all the family, including children, dogs and horses. Not forgetting of course the two resident Jack Russell terriers who are their owners pride and joy…just exactly as the finished house is!

Phil and Dale own the very first Potton Renaissance house ever built, excluding the show home. They had the land for a while before getting started, with Phil carrying out all the plumbing installation work including the underfloor  heating and bathroom suites and showers.

The amazing views from the new house came as part and parcel of the land!

Gomes Ext 3

Gomes Int 4

Visit the Ruskin Showhome


From the Renaissance collection, 2,300 square feet of open plan modern living, yet with an external appearance inspired by Arts and Crafts, the Ruskin can be found at The National Self Build and Renovation Centre in Swindon.

Ruskin (2)

The National Self Build & Renovation Centre

The National Self Build and Renovation Centre in Swindon is a unique visitor centre dedicated to self builders and renovators that is both inspiring and educational. Their experts can provide you with help and support on everything from finding your plot or project right through to funding it and sourcing the materials at competitive prices.

Opened in 2007, the National Self Build and Renovation Centre (NSBRC) based in Swindon is the UK’s only permanent self build and renovation exhibition venue which offers impartial advice and support for our visitors as well as giving them easy access to the services and products supplied by our exhibitors.

Visitors can walk through three permanent houses, view cut-away foundations, floors, roofs, septic tanks and much, much, more. See the latest products to complete your home or renovation project including bricks, timber frames, foundations, lighting, sound systems, kitchens and flooring - there are 200+ suppliers in the Trade Village. 

The new year is the perfect opportunity to look at how you can improve your home and lifestyle.  For some that can be simply purchasing a new sofa, or injecting new life into a room with a splash of colour, but for many, it means the realisation of a long-held ambition by undertaking a renovation project or building their own bespoke home.

The centre contains a vast amount of information, including a Technical Expert Hub, Self Build Educational Walking Tour, Renovation House, Financial Planning and Land Finding.

The centre is open six days a week with free admission, 10.00am - 17.30pm

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National Self Build & Renovation Centre
Lydiard Fields
Great Western Way
Swindon 
SN5 8UB