Case Study of the Month - June
Built on the internet

Location: Sussex
Land Cost: Already owned (bought in 1983 for £500,000 with existing house)
Build Cost: £721,000m (inc. garage)
Current Value: £1.4m+

When Gill and Roy Dance first considered building their own home way back in 1983 their first move was to send for a Potton information pack.

Following this Roy’s job allowed them to live in various places in the Middle East, including Oman and Brunei.

After a while Gill, originally from London, and Roy, who was born in the West Country, were hankering to get back to the UK. They both had a liking for the area around Chichester, it was ideal for their son Josh’s schooling and close to the sea which was a real plus for all of them.

After around 12 months looking, they eventually found a property that in Roys own words “was a tired and unloved mid- fifties detached house, the ugly duckling on a nice private estate that we had always had our eyes on”

The house which they purchased for £500,000 was on an 810 square metre plot, so ideal for them to extend and completely refurbish. Once the planning application was approved and they started to put the costs together they came to the conclusion that it didn’t make financial sense what with the VAT they would have to pay, plus any unknowns they may well come across during the work. They agreed to abort the project and 30 years on decided to investigate Potton once again.

They continued to live in the house for 3 years before finally setting out on their selfbuild project “we didn’t even unpack completely” says Gill, they subscribed to Homebuilding & Renovating magazine and went to their show in Birmingham and the dream started to form once again.

Both Roy and Gill were keen that the house should be highly insulated, soundproofed and airtight. They chose products that would not only keep the house warm but would dramatically reduce their running costs, the final spec would give them an average u-value of 0-14 overall. In addition to this they also included a mechanical ventilation and heat recovery system, underfloor heating, a solar thermal store, gas condensing boiler, LED lighting and a wood burning stove with a back boiler that would also provide hot water, they also invested in a rainwater harvesting system.

On the internal decor side of things the couple wanted to retain the open plan style but still be able to close some areas off if required. So they made the decision to incorporate sets of glass folding doors. These not only retain the open feel of the house but coupled with Gill’s choice of floor and wall tiles and bathrooms with Philippe Starck taps, gave the house a contemporary slant.


Finding a builder was the next task and with the original house to be demolished this would be a big contract for the right company. After reviewing a number of potentials the couple decided to go with a local company called West Sussex Carpentry and Building Ltd.

The original house was demolished on the 2nd June 2014 which meant Gill and Roy could now set about the project they had first considered all those years beforehand!

It was at this time that Roy was working in America and around the Caribbean, but he didn't see this as a problem as he had the wonders of the internet at his fingertips! “I was in constant contact with the builder and the site foreman, we exchanged e-mails and discussed all sorts of points on-line, I sent drawings and photos to illustrate specific queries, the whole thing worked like clockwork”

By February 20th 2015 the house was completed. “I just can't heap enough praise on our on-site foreman, Jamie McGregor, and his truly amazing team, we were absolutely delighted with our brand new home”

On the 4th March the family moved in to the house, with everything complete with the exception of some landscaping in the rear garden which they will complete during the summer. “We needed to be in the house for a while before deciding on what we want to do with the garden” says Gill.

Gill and Roy’s total build cost including the garage was £1.175 million pounds. They were recently advised by a Bank surveyor that the current value would be £1.5 million.

They will definitely do it again and are happy with almost everything they incorporated into the build but would, with hindsight, build in more storage space.
“The service provided by Potton was excellent from beginning to end, we would like to give special thanks to everyone, especially Keith Butler in the technical department, who showed endless patience with us.
We enjoyed every moment of the build and can’t wait to do it again, the most memorable days were the first day of demolition when the old house needed almost no assistance to collapse into a big heap! The other was handover day with everyone still friends, on time and on budget!"






Working with Potton

Once Roy and Gill had decided to start their self build journey, the couple visited the Potton self-build centre at St Neots where they met with Self Build specialist Richard Hall who had worked for the company for many years, “Richard convinced us that self-build was the only way” says Roy “he was excellent, as was our whole Potton experience, they were very patient with us, it was our first full build project, we never felt rushed and they were always very helpful with the odd “tweak” even during the on site build."

Gill and Roy’s design started out as many of Potton clients do with a layout from the design book, they really liked the Averham’s open plan design, which they modified and developed with Richard into a 254 square metre open plan home with 4 bedrooms and lots of bathrooms. The outside had that seaside/New England styled lodge pole pine weatherboarding, they also added a 38 square meter garage with an open carport.

Kitchen - Wide Lense

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Roy then set about handling the design and access statements and the planning application, he felt he had learned enough from the previous application for the refurbishment project.

Once planning was approved he instructed Potton to prepare the final Building Regulation drawings and the relevant calculations working closely with Keith Butler.
Roy’s job as a yacht captain takes him all over the world so in his free time while abroad Roy set about preparing a full specification for the house, including detailed electrical drawings and information on products chosen. This in fact ended up as 22 stage schedule of works from foundations to garage, it also incorporated the specification for the whole house sound system which had 16 internal speakers and 4 external!

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