Case Study of the Month - October
The Family Connection
Land Cost: Already Owned
Build Cost: £520,000
Sharron Reetham, a procurement training consultant, and husband David, who heads up the engineering and innovation department for Siemans, the largest manufacturing company in Europe, are both in their early 40s and have two children.
In 2008 the couple built and sold two Potton homes on a commercial basis. Sharron’s parents had also built 2 Potton houses in 2004, and still in fact live in one today.
So when it came to considering a building designed by their own Architect, Sharron and David tendered their drawings to a number of different package home and oak frame suppliers, but each time kept coming back to Potton.
“Their blend of experience, their lead times and cost, was a winning combination and so convinced us we should go with the company yet again” says Sharron.
With their demanding jobs, and bringing up two girls, the couple led very busy lives so decided that they would employ a builder to carry out the work for them, supplemented of course by the couples own ideas and input. It was after all their specific design, so they knew exactly what they wanted.
“We were very lucky in that our 1.5 acre plot in Lincolnshire was effectively a family owned piece of grassland. It was next to the farmyard but also had existing houses on the other side of it, so we felt that we would stand a chance of getting planning. The plot was effectively part of a grazing field, but because it had road frontage, we could still use the field behind for grazing if we wanted to. We wanted to locate near to the farm as we wanted to be near family as they age, but also near to the farm to help diversify it in future years” says Sharron.
The couple wanted a design that would suit its rural surroundings, they opted for a barn style look with traditional brick but also some timber cladding.
Roof tiles were made from local clay materials. They had quite a hefty brief that they passed to their architect which included a ‘wish list’. They wanted good family spaces that would enable them to live and grow with the house, the main intention being that this would be their ‘forever home’.
“We do not want to move again, so the house had to work for us in our 40's with two young children, and still work whilst they are teenagers and again when they are older and maybe have families of their own” says Sharron.
“We needed good spaces to get the extended family round regularly from next door too and also entertaining our wide network of friends and relatives who come to stay. Living in the countryside, we also needed good entertainment at home, so that was a factor in the kitting out” David points out.
“We also needed space to work from home, so needed an office, a good outdoor space with gardens and space to grow vegetables. A lawn for the kids to run around was also important. The cost of running and heating the house was also important to us. We wanted it to be very energy efficient and cheap to run, so we opted for a ground source heat pump with underfloor heatingthroughout. We also have two wood burning stoves to add heat in the winter. We additionally incorporated solar panels in the roof to heat hot water. All of the lighting is LED and all appliances are A rated” explains Sharron.
Having lived in a developer house for 5 years, the couple knew that they would not be able to find all or any of these requirements in a house that someone else had built and designed.
“The planning was a pretty tough process, we had a great architect who was used to rural applications of this sort. The current housing mandate to local authorities is very geared towards building being in large villages, towns or cities that they label as ‘sustainable’. Unfortunately, this excludes any rural community from allowing small natural growth and the future of villages is at risk unless this planning rule flexes. The average age of people living in rural communities is getting higher and without new housing being allowed on at least a small scale, offspring that may want to live in the villages are being forced to live elsewhere due to a lack of rural housing.”
“We unfortunately” says David “hit this issue straight away with the planners as we wanted to build a large family home in a village. Our pre-planning application was responded to very negatively and we were told that we stood no chance of building our home. Not put off by this, we decided the best way to stand a chance was to get our application sponsored by a local councillor and sent to the planning committee. We found our local councillor and explained that we wanted to move back to the family farm to help support older relatives and live near them. At some point in the future, we wanted to help diversify the farm and keep it viable and we had the next generation of the family to bring up and we wanted to do this on the farm. They were very supportive and we put our case together and took it to committee. On the day, the whole family attended the meeting, including the children. The committee fully understood the dilemma and wanted to help support us. They passed our application in April 2015.”
By the time July came around 3 months later, Sharron and David had finalised all of the construction detail with Potton and agreed on timber choices, finishes and windows so were ready to go.
Work on the foundations started during August 2015 with the timber frame kit delivered by Potton in mid-September.
“This was the highlight of the whole thing for me” says Sharron. “Seeing the frame going up so quickly, and the house taking shape.”
By late September they had taken delivery of their second fix joinery so the stairs, doors and other items in the Potton package could be fixed by their builder prior to final completion. The house was completely finished internally with just the landscaping to complete, and the family moved in during July 2016.
The high point for the couple was however, the actual moving in. They both agree the house is amazing.
“We would definitely consider working with Potton again but it would not be for ourselves as we now have our ‘forever home’. We would more likely look at a commercial project, or even building new houses for relatives or our children.”
Sharron and David’s magnificent 4,500sqft home in the heart of Lincolnshire cost them £520,000 to build including the garage. (Excluding the land which was already family owned). It has a current valuation of between £600-650,000.
Working with Potton Partners - British Gypsum
Sharron and David integrated Gyproc Habito plasterboard throughout their home allowing them to hang heavy objects, up to 15kg off one screw, without the need for wall plugs or specialist fittings. With a passion for art, every wall surface is now completely adaptable allowing Sharron and her family to continue their art collection without fear of heavy pieces falling to the floor. Gyproc Habito super-strength plasterboard has also been used on the ceilings enabling the Reetham’s to hang their 10ft cinema screen with confidence.