3 storey potton timber frame home in Cambridge

Liam & Helen Collins

Raise the Roof

After all 8 members of the family had spent 3 years crammed into a 2 1/2 bedroom house, Liam and Helen Collins' new sizable contemporary home has given each family member their own space.

Liam and his wife, Helen, are no strangers to major projects, having tackled their first renovation together in 1994.

Aiming to expand his knowledge and keen to tackle more renovation projects, Liam enrolled on numerous courses, from bricklaying to plastering.

While he continued to get more experience in the field, Liam always had one eye on the local property market – and in 2006 he spotted a dilapidated house for sale in one of the areas he’d earmarked for the family’s next home.

Land Cost:
Build Cost:
Floor Area:
3767 sq ft
Completion Date:
September 2012
Instantly recognising the site's potential, the couple decided to buy the property and move in with their 6 children. 6 months after moving in, Liam decided, rather than extend, a better plan would be to knock it down completely and self build something new.

“I’d always fancied developing my own house from scratch that would be packed with wow factor,” he says. “Even when I first viewed this property, I noticed that neighbouring rooflines were high. At the back of my mind I wondered whether there would be a chance of getting consent to create a new three-storey home."

Our Potton experience started when we took a set of plans for our proposed house to a self-build show. The Potton representative came across very well and made reference to the fact that Potton could offer the 'safe hands' route. Two weeks later, as promised, we received the Potton Select quote and were informed that Potton would be able to build the frame and the process began.

- Liam Collins

Investigating Potton

Armed with his own sketch of a modern property with natural influences, Liam visited Cambridge City Council’s planning department and was thrilled to receive positive feedback for his ideas.

Buoyed by this response, he liaised with a chartered architectural technologist and working together, they submitted plans for an unusual, light-filled dwelling.

By this stage I’d realised that a timber frame structural shell would be the way to go. I visited a self build show, taking along  my plans, with the aim of sounding out the team on the Potton stand,” says Liam. “When I showed the sales rep my drawings, he said he’d get back to me to see whether they could tackle creating a frame for such a cutting-edge design and, if so, how much it would cost. Within a fortnight, I got a call giving me the green light at a competitive price.”
as featured in build it

As featured in

Liam and Helen's self build was featured in Build It magazine.

Read the feature here

A Family Project

Collins Developments moved on site in early 2011 to get works underway. With Liam at the helm, the old house was swiftly demolished, the new foundations dug and the beam and block ground floor laid, ready for Potton to erect the timber frame.

Helen took control of the financial side of the project, ensuring that the build came in on budget.

"Having done so many projects before, Liam had the experience to devise a realistic budget of £1,500 per m2 for the whole project. We were able to keep the costs under control as our company would be doing a lot of the work on the house."

Smart Living

The couple were determined to create a home with low running costs and, having researched a variety of eco options, decided to go for a full suite of high-tech products to complement the house’s excellent levels of insulation.

An efficient Vaillant boiler is the main source for the house’s underfloor heating, while solar thermal panels meet a significant portion of the family’s hot water requirements.

They also went for solar photovoltaic panels to supply electricity, along with an intelligent LED-based lighting system that can be operated from the couple’s mobile phones

“With so many people living in our home, we were keen to keep our energy bills under control and to do our bit to help the environment,” Liam adds.

The families finished house features a large hall, study, open plan kitchen-diner, living room, cloakroom and utility on the ground floor.

The first floor includes five bedrooms, a family bathroom and laundry, while the second comprises two further bedrooms, plus another bathroom.

“We have deliberately kept the house as family-friendly and practical as possible, while delivering the open, airy interiors we wanted,” says Liam. “The garden is low-maintenance and ideal for the children whether they want to play football, go on the trampoline or just run around.”

Having finished their self build, would they ever wish to repeat the experience?

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the whole process and, if another amazing opportunity came along at some stage in the future, I would definitely consider it,” says Liam


Contemporary three storey home

Contact form

Potton Head Office

Eltisley Road

Great Gransden


SG19 3AR

441767 676400

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