Contemporary self build Potton home

Helen Burgess & Tom McPhail

Replacing old with new...

The Project

Both in their early 50s, Helen is an artist and fitness instructor and Tom is a Pensions expert for a large banking organisation, they have 3 children aged between 14 and 23.Their new Potton home is in a rural village not far from Bristol, we caught up with them on a sunny day in June…

WHAT IS THE APPROXIMATE SIZE OF THE PLOT?
"The plot is between a third, and half an acre."
 

HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO FIND THE PLOT?
"We had been looking for a few years, at the same time trying to sell our house in Bristol.
We decided in the end just to sell up and move into rented accommodation so we would be in a good position to move when something suitable came up."

Location:
Somerset
Land Cost:
£610,000
Build Cost:
£600,000
Value:
£1,250,000
Completion Date:
Dec 2017
Floor Area:
2486 sq ft

 

WHERE WERE YOU LIVING PREVIOUSLY AND FOR HOW LONG?
"We bought the old bungalow in 2015 and lived in it for 18 months whilst we obtained planning permission."


HOW DID YOU FIND THE PLOT?
"Just through word of mouth really, we originally went to see the bungalow with a view to renting it, but we then decided to buy it instead as we loved the location and position of the plot." 


HOW DID THE PLANNING PROCESS GO, WERE THERE ANY DIFFICULTIES WITH LOCAL AUTHORITY APPLICATION?
"Yes there were! We had a lot of constraints put on us by our planning officer in terms of height restrictions, the mass of the house and the materials we could use.

We also had problems with neighbours and great crested newts and generally a lot of complaints about our efforts to build. All of these things slowed us down…but we made it in the end!"
 

HAD YOU BEEN CONSIDERING SELF BUILD FOR A LONG TIME?
"About 4 years altogether."
 

WHEN DID YOU ACTUALLY PURCHASE THE PLOT AND WHAT WAS THE COST?
"We bought the original bungalow which included the land in 2015 for £610,000."

 

They are all about their customers and are always there for them if things go wrong, which inevitably they will sometimes!

WHEN DID YOU FIRST HEAR ABOUT POTTON AND WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO GO WITH THE COMPANY?
"We went to the National Homebuilding and Renovating shows in Birmingham, we looked at various package suppliers including the major German suppliers and Potton.

We then met Sean Adams at the Potton show house at The National Self Build Centre in Swindon to discuss our ideas further and that made us decide to go with Potton.

Sean was very perceptive of our requirements and offered a lot of advice and alternatives."

 

HOW DID THE DESIGN ACTUALLY COME ABOUT AND WHAT DESIGN INPUT DID POTTON HAVE?
"We had a wish list of rooms and desires for our build and also sent a lot of images over to Sean of other builds that we liked. Our first design was rejected by the planners and we were made to lower the ridge height, and generally reduce the mass among other restrictions.

Sean and I worked together to achieve a design that was acceptable to both us and the planning authority.

Sean's ability to make very bit of space work hard in the house for us was brilliant!

Our main considerations for the final layout came about for our requirement of open plan style living, as a family we liked staying in vaulted open spaces when we have been away somewhere.

A connected garage was also very important to us for all of our outdoor activities and dog walking."

 

HOW DID YOU FIND THE WHOLE POTTON SERVICE AND PROCESS?
"The design and planning service was excellent. All aspects of the building design and the internal design, including elements of the staircase, windows and doors was great.

Although we had a slight delay when our erection team was replaced part way through the job, the replacement team was excellent and got the job completed.

With communication being the key to a successful and smooth running self build, we had a few minor difficulties. However when we encountered problems Potton was always quick to help us in solving them."
 

WHEN DID THE PROJECT START AND WHERE DID YOU LIVE DURING THE BUILD?
"The original bungalow was demolished in December 2016 and we rented a house nearby so that we could be available if required."

 

WHEN DID YOU ACTUALLY MOVE INTO THE NEW HOUSE AND WAS IT ALL COMPLETE AND LANDSCAPED?
"There was no landscaping at first because our rental period had expired so we lived in a caravan on the drive. Then we all camped in one room and gradually moved into the house itself which was finished by Christmas 2017."

Nu-Heat Potton case study roundel UFH & HP Web

DID YOU CHOOSE TO INCORPORATE ANY RENEWABLE/ ECO PRODUCTS IN THE BUILD?
"We installed 18 photo voltaic panels on the roof, an air source heat pump for the hot water and underfloor heating and a mechanical heat recovery system, all of which we are delighted with."

 

HOW ABOUT BUDGET? WHAT WAS YOUR ORIGINAL BUDGET AND HOW DID IT TURN OUT?
"Our original budget was £400,000 which we exceeded mainly due to the additional cost of obtaining the ground levels we wanted and the foundations. We also hadn’t budgeted for a home automation system but after meeting Potton’s approved supplier Aperio at the Swindon Centre, we just had to have it!"



SO WHAT WERE THE FINAL FIGURES AND DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA OF THE CURRENT MARKET VALUE OF THE PROPERTY?
"We believe that our final build cost including the garage and all the extra bits we mentioned will be around £600,000, and the current value around £1,250,000."

Sean was very perceptive of our requirements and offered a lot of advice and alternatives

WOULD YOU CONSIDER SELF BUILD AGAIN AND IS THERE ANYTHING DIFFERENT YOU WOULD DO NEXT TIME?
"Yes, we would definitely consider doing it again but we would only consider a flat site.

Either of us, or both of us, would take time off to self manage, or employ a full time project manager. We would also look to use green contractors as we couldn’t believe the amount of wastage that was generated.

We would also get someone else to install all of the insulation, it was a false economy doing it ourselves."

 

WHAT WERE THE MOST MEMORABLE MOMENTS IN YOUR BUILD?
"Being told that our groundworks were going to cost £100,000 more than we had budgeted for initially, also when we found out that the large windows and doors had to be craned over to the back of the house."

 

COULD YOU DESCRIBE IN A SINGLE SENTENCE HOW YOU FELT ABOUT THE WHOLE SERVICE PROVIDED BY POTTON?
"They are all about their customers and are always there for them if things go wrong, which inevitably they will sometimes!"

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