Image of an award-winning cedar-clad Potton barn

Eric & Jean Sawyer

The House Next Door

Originally from Wiltshire, Jean Sawyer and her husband Eric had totally renovated their first house and had even self built their 4-bedroom, family home in Oxfordshire, back in the Eighties.

Some years later, with the self-build bug still alive and kicking, the couple decided to approach their neighbour with the view to buying the piece of land adjoining theirs.

The land was purchased for £5,000 with an agreement that building would not begin during the lifetime of their neighbour.

Then in 2012, with retirement approaching and no barriers to building, the couple submitted an outline planning application for the land – which was initially refused.

Land Cost:
£5,000 (in 1990's)
Build Cost:
Completion Date:
December 2014
Floor Area:
1507 sq ft
However, the couple re-submitted the plans in December 2012. In January 2013, they were granted planning permission.

"That was most definitely one of our most memorable moments,” says the couple.

Keen to get started on ‘the house next door’, the couple started to do their homework.

“We had a pretty good idea of what we wanted. We planned to downsize, build an energy-efficient house that would be better suited to our needs, hopefully leaving us some money in the bank for our retirement.”

They visited the National Self Build & Renovating Centre in Swindon to see, amongst other things, Potton’s ‘Ruskin’ show house and subsequently visited the company’s Show Centre in St Neots. The couple attended Potton’s Self Build Academy events and, after reading articles about the company in various self-build magazines, viewing their website and reading their blogs, the couple decided that Potton would be ideal for them.

Working with Potton

Eric prepared a detailed drawing for the 140 square metre house, with traditional exterior and modern interior and passed it to one of Potton’s self-build experts.

Potton was excellent in interpreting Eric’s drawings, they made some suggestions and minor adjustments to suit the timber frame construction method,” said Jean.

The couple placed their order with Potton in March 2013 and the foundations were started five months later. The timber frame arrived in October and Jean and Eric were well underway with their new home.

Another most memorable moment for both of us,” say the couple. "It was amazing to see your house arrive on the back of a lorry!"
We found the whole process with Potton - from start to finish - very good, everybody we had contact with was friendly and helpful.
Best Self-Build Under £250K v2

Best Self Build Under £250k

Potton self builders Eric and Jean Sawyer are celebrating after their three-bedroom, eco-efficient home in Oxfordshire won Best Self Build under £250K at the 2017 Build It Awards.

Celebrating all aspects of self build and renovation, the award recognised the Sawyer’s contemporary barn style home for delivering a high-quality home that makes the best use of the budget available.

Completing the Build

“We had two separate teams working on the timber frame erection. The first put up the main superstructure and then when the roof trusses were delivered the second team came out to complete the work.”

Once the frame was erected, the couple set about working with local contractors to complete the build, all of whom were excellent.

During this time the couple worked alongside the contractors tocomplete all of the work Eric had designed. This also included the piece de resistance: a stainless steel and glass staircase that Eric had made in his workshop next to the garage on the site.

Their new home includes solar hot water and an air source heat pump which feeds the underfloor heating – which Eric designed and fitted himself. The couple planned all of the interior design themselves, choosing kitchens and bathrooms and floor and wall tiling and finally moved in from the house next door in December 2014.


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