Case Study of the Month - January
A Local Move

Location: Hampshire
Land Cost: £285,000
Build Cost: £295,000
Current Value: £850,000

Maureen and Dennis Stephens were living in what could only be described as a 'chocolate box' country cottage with a thatched roof and timber cladding, in a perfect village location in Hampshire, close to the river Teste.

However” said Dennis “we had lived there for 14 years and as much we loved it, we found there was always work that need to be done to keep it up to standard. The garden although lovely, was an ongoing job and the running cost and heating bills were not what we wanted at all.”

“We were wanting something new, with high levels of insulation and sensible running costs, also something that was a little more contemporary in styling, both externally and internally, but most importantly we wanted to stay in the same village! We had never really considered self build but after some online research and much reading, including the self build bible, we decide that was to be the way we would go.”

So, armed with local knowledge, the couple explored the village on and off for the next 2 months and decided to investigate a half acre plot that had no planning permission, but had amazing open countryside views.
Stephens ViewsTheir first approach to the local authority resulted in the decision that the plot was not formally within the settlement boundary. Eventually an approval was gained for two houses on the land and the Stephens purchased plot 2 for £285,000.

Throughout the process the couple had managed to rent a cottage in the same village which proved to be invaluable during the build.
They also took the opportunity to visit the Potton Self Build Show Centre in St Neots, the Potton showhouse at the National Self Build and Renovation Centre in Swindon, and the couple also made a visit to the Potton factory and attended a self build seminar.

Following this they met with Sean Adams, who worked with them to transform the ideas they had and to incorporate things that they had seen by viewing other houses.  
Their main requirement was to have a large open plan kitchen and living area, whilst incorporating some interesting interior features.

Stephens Gable Window

“The external look of the house was to be a blend of old and new so we decided that we would introduce a large peaked gable window that would provide plenty of light in the lounge and also provide a slightly more contemporary look to the outside, whilst blending with the render and larch  timber cladding and the more traditional dormer windows.”
“Sean’s input and experience was excellent, as was the whole Potton service and process”
says Dennis.

Stephens Exterior

The couple’s next task was to find a builder to work with. This in fact turned out to be fairly straight forward, as Dennis actually went to school with one of the areas quality builders, Les Palmer. Les had by coincidence not only built two beautiful Potton houses in the village, but also built a number of other Potton homes for clients through the county so had a wealth of experience and was happy to work alongside Dennis and the labour he had chosen, including the groundworkers, roofers, and electrical contractors.

The build started in April 2013 with Dennis over seeing and working on the foundations and services with the contractor.
“Unfortunately the groundworks cost more than we had budgeted for” says Dennis, “and I now wish we had run the drainage at the same time, it would have saved digging on site later on which caused a delay to completing the driveway and landscaping.”

The house itself was finished in December 2015, with the landscaping and back garden still a work in progress, but with help from another schoolfriend, Dennis aimed to get this completed by early summer 2016.

“Despite the fact that we went over budget on the groundworks, the kitchen and the garage, we still came out with a final build cost at around £580,000 which isn’t at all bad considering our original budget for build and land was £560,000! Although we haven’t had it valued yet, we would estimate a resale value of around £800 - £850,000. But we are not considering that at the moment!”

Stephens Kitchen Diner

Memorable moments...

When asked about the most memorable moments of the build Maureen and Dennis both cite…

  • Seeing the initial groundworks complete
  • Watching the progress of the timber frame erection
  • The kitchen installation
  • Seeing the floor finishes go down
  • In fact …observing the development overall, including plasterboarding, roofing, brickwork and the render and the timber cladding


Stephens Living