MacDonald self build

Andrew & Christine

A Fresh Approach

Andrew and Christine MacDonald have replaced a tired bungalow with a contemporary dream home, right next door to their existing property.

After living in their family home for 25 years, Andrew and Christine started to think about moving to a more managable, smaller property, but hadn't yet considered building their own home. This was until the bungalow next door came up for sale which proved to be the perfect opportunity.

"Our children had left home and we realised we no longer needed a five bedroom house anymore, so when the house next door went on the market for £400,000, I initially couldn't see the financial benefits of building on the plot, however it was Christine who convinced me that it would be a good idea, so that made me look past the money." Explains Andrew.

Land Cost:
Build Cost:
Completion Date:
Spring 2018
Floor Area:
2027 sqft
as featured in SB&D

As featured in

Andrew & Christine's self build was featured in SelfBuild & Design magazine.

Read the full feature here

The Plot Next Door

The couple loved the location of their current property, so building just next door meant they could achieve the home they wanted without leaving the neighbourhood. The plot next door is in an elevated position at the edge of an Essex village with unobstructed panoramic views.

The sale was agreed very quickly on a handshake, Andrew explains.

"We had known our neighbour for some time and were quite close, I even suggested and helped her apply for planning permission to replace the bungalow months before we thought of buying it ourselves."

"She was keen to sell to us and from our perspective it was a simple choice as we knew we loved the location and we could design the house we wanted."

Employing a Local Architect

It was suggested that a dormer bungalow would be the safest approach to secure planning permission for the Greenbelt site, which was unsatisfactory to Andrew and Christine and was not what they envisaged for their new home. The couple wanted something more contemporary and cutting edge.

"We searched the internet and found a local architect who had a very contemporary portfolio. He was young and enthusiastic and after visiting the plot, suggested the house should maximise the views and surrounding countryside."

The success of the design hinges on the angle of the footprint on the plot, positioned to take advantage of the five mile view of the countryside and valley beyond. Timber frame with slate roof was decided upon to form the three bedroom house, full of interesting angles, large windows and open spaces.

Searching for a Timber Frame Supplier

The estimated costs provided by the architect proved too conservative compared to quotes provided by builders, so Andrew and Christine decided to search for another way to get their house built.

"The architect's imagination, skill and energy were well worth the money, however his estimation of costs were well of the mark, about 30% more than expected." Says Andrew.

It was then that the MacDonalds decided to approach Potton to see if they could design a timber frame from the existing drawings.

Potton agreed and also had a portfolio of trusted contractors in the area.

Building Begins

Work started with the demolition of the damp and dilapidated bungalow and the outbuildings, while Christine and Andrew continued to live in their 300 year old property next door for the duration of the build. This meant they could be on site every day and they also supplied tea and bacon sandwiches for the workforce.

"The build dominated our lives and was exhausting at times. The amount of thought and energy required should not be underestimated!" Recalls Christine.

Life in Their New Home

The MacDonalds moved into their new home when the entire project was complete, including the external landscaping and decorating.

"This way everything was new, clean and easy," says Andrew. "Now all we need to do is the planting and add interest to the garden."

The MacDonalds have no plans to build again and are very happy in their new home. The views are even better than those of their previous home.

"We put everything into this project, so much energy and thought and there's no way we could ever do it again. We love it, we have built our dream!"


Contemporary Potton Self Build


Potton Head Office

Eltisley Road

Great Gransden


SG19 3AR

441767 676400

We use cookies on our website To find out more about the cookies we use, or to change your cookie preferences i.e. to remove your consent to our use of certain categories of cookies, please visit our Cookie Policy & Control page.

Please click “Accept and close” to accept the use of cookies on our website. If you do not click “Accept and close” but continue to use this website: you thereby consent to the use of all Potton cookies and third party cookies for the purposes of improving performance, improving functionality and audience measurement, in accordance with the terms laid out in our Cookie Policy & Control page; and we will assume that you have read and understood our Cookie Policy & Control page.