Case Study of the Month - January
A Building Opportunity Underneath the Brambles
Land Cost: £520,000
Build Cost: £415,000
Lesley and David Lennox sit comfortably in their beautiful bespoke Potton home looking out over the open fields of Hampshire and reflect on the route to building the house they had always aspired to.
Back in 2009 the couple bought a bungalow in Surrey which they completely remodelled and rebuilt over four years. This gave them the inspiration to consider taking on their next project. David was a project manager and Lesley had a flair for interior design, so self-building was an obvious next step.
In 2013 they came across a detached bungalow on an acre plot in a conservation area. The plot was engulfed in weeds and brambles but the potential was immediately recognised by the couple and they purchased the bungalow for £520,000.
“Our first job was to fumigate the whole property which had been untouched for years” says Lesley.
Following a lot of hard work the couple brought the place up to a livable condition and during this time David and Lesley met with local planners who said that they would only be able to replace the bungalow on a like for like basis. A planning application was made following these guidelines but was promptly refused. The design was based on what the planners had suggested and one the couple didn’t particularly like anyway.
It was then decided that, if the local authority did not accept a design they had actually instigated, the couple would re-apply with something that they actually wanted to build.
“I had investigated Potton many years ago” said David. “We also had a builder friend who had built with Potton a long time ago and we had visited the show homes. To be honest, we were put off by the post and beam style and we were completely unaware that Potton did anything else, let alone bespoke designs.”
The couple visited various self build shows then, by accident, met with Potton Self Build Consultant, Sean Adams, at a show in the South West.
They gave Sean a concise brief of their design requirements with the main considerations being:
- Open-plan kitchen / living area
- Impressive entrance hall incorporating a ‘wow staircase’
- Master bedroom to have a generous balcony to maximise views
- Separate ‘not too big, but cosy’ lounge
- External decking for outside living in the summer
“Sean was very accommodating and very perceptive about exactly what we wanted to achieve, Potton handled the whole planning application” says David.
The couple attended some of Potton’s Self Build Academy courses which they found very informative. It was here that they were able to meet with various Potton staff members which made them feel more comfortable about their upcoming project.
Starting on site
The foundations were laid during December 2015 with the timber frame arriving in January. The couple found all of the subcontractors locally through recommendations and word of mouth. “We had decided on self build because it was economically viable, so the use of local tradesmen was important to our budgeting” says David.
The frame was fully erected in 12 days allowing trades to directly follow. The build was completed by the August and the couple moved in.
Lesley did all of the interior design herself. Choosing furnishing and colour schemes was easy and enjoyable for her as she already had a small business where she restores old and retro type furniture.
For David, the most important areas were the underfloor heating, air source heat pump and a study where they could both work from.
“We would thoroughly recommend Potton to others and would most certainly use them should we build again” said David.
“There was always someone we could speak to with any queries, we found Kevin Hopton who did all of our SAP calculations very amenable and efficient with any questions we had, we even spoke to Paul Newman, the Self Build Director, on a Saturday morning when we had a problem to resolve.”
“The highlight for me was seeing the timber frame turn up on the back of a lorry and watching the speed of the erection team on site” comments Lesley.
David adds “I think my highlight is simply being in the house and loving all that we have achieved.”
David & Lesley’s build was featured on ‘Flat Pack Mansions’ on Channel 4. Watch here.
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