Carole & Andy Whitehouse
A solution on the doorstep
"The fact that we could have whatever we wanted was a huge selling point”
Land Cost: £225,000 with existing house
Build Cost: £240,000
Current Value: £550,000
Carole and Andy Whitehouse bought the house next-door and replaced it with an energy efficient, timber-framed cottage which took just five months to build.
The couple had lived in their Bedfordshire home for 25 years and had extended and modernised the property, which stands on a quiet country lane backing onto fields. “It was an old house and extremely high maintenance,” says Andy. “We loved the character, and living out in the countryside, but wanted somewhere more energy efficient and easier to maintain. When the tiny run-down cottage next-door came up for sale in 2010 we decided to buy it and apply for planning permission to replace it with a new home.”
“A friend of ours had built a large timberframed Potton house many years ago and we’d always liked it, so we didn’t really shop around,” says Andy. “We wanted something more modest, and chose to base our design on the company’s Caxton - a traditional cottage with sloping ceilings, an inglenook fireplace and exposed posts and beams.”
Carole and Andy visited the Potton Self Build Show Centre in St Neots, Cambridgeshire, where they were able to walk around the Caxton show house and get a real feel for the design. They then worked with Potton’s architect to adapt the 185 square metre property. “The fact that we could have whatever we wanted was a huge selling point,” says Andy.
Carol and Andy moved into rented accommodation for a year, which placed a strict time limit on completing their new home and five months after work started on site the couple moved into their new home on 1st February 2013. “We probably should have waited another two or three weeks, but we didn’t want to renew the lease on our rental property, so we lived in the new house with the workmen finishing off around us,” says Andy.
Life in a brand new energy efficient house is a totally different experience for Andy and Carole to their property next-door. “Everything in the new house was designed for ease of maintenance and we’ve already seen a big drop in our fuel bills,” Carole remarks.
“We may only have moved fifty metres along the road, and still enjoy the same country views, but this house feels a world away from our previous home.”
The couple had previously built two holiday homes for themselves in France, employing a project manager to oversee the work for them. This relatively handsoff approach worked well, and was something they wanted to replicate on the Bedfordshire build.
“I was working full time,” says Andy, a project manager for an engineering company, “but Carole is a semi-retired financial controller, and was able to spend time on site chasing up orders and liaising with our project manager, Shaun O’Connor. He was recommended to us by Potton and had built his own Potton house nearby, which we went to visit. We chose him because we liked him, and itwas definitely the right decision - we simply couldn’t have built this house without him and he was able to recommend local subcontractors he’d used on his own build.”
Work began in September 2012 with the demolition of the ramshackle cottage. The site was cleared and new foundations were excavated. A block and beam floor was laid and Potton sent a team of men to erect the post and beam timber frame - creating a watertight shell in under three weeks.