It’s been 30 years since the Homebuilding & Renovating magazine first ran its annual competition to find Britain’s best self-build homes.
It’s back this year, and better than ever. But the judges are not after the impractical Grand Designs-style builds, with the cantilevered roofs and huge glassy rooms that turn a home into a greenhouse. They are looking for family homes built around the needs of the people they are for.
Take last year’s winner, which was featured in these pages. The property in Surrey, was designed by Vint & Smith Architecture + Design, homeowners who are also architects. It was totally flexible for the family’s changing needs due to full-height sliding panels that could separate the open-plan rooms into smaller pockets, perfect for creating corners for learning and relaxing.
The Telegraph has supported these awards for many years, and it’s always inspiring to see what our readers have created.
It’s not just open to homes that have been built from scratch. The judges are looking for the best extensions, interiors, renovations and conversions too.
There are also various categories of self-build, including traditional and contemporary styles, sustainable, best value and an award for Home of the Future.
Entry is free, and all you need to do is fill out the form online and send over floor plans and images that best show off the house as it was and what it has become.
For full details on how to enter the Daily Telegraph/ Homebuilding and Renovating Awards, go to homebuilding.co.uk/ awards. The closing date for entries is May 18.
Good luck! was designed in the 21st century by award-winning architect Barry Briscoe. It has all the classic traits of the iconic style of 100 years ago, including the large flat roof terrace and wide, horizontal curved windows.
Completed in 2004, the house has recently changed hands. Trevor Smith moved in this February after falling for the house’s location with views of St Michael’s Mount. “It’s an amazing house to live in, it stands out like a crystal,” says Smith. “I wanted a property that was special but also low maintenance. This house has all the style of the art deco period but with modern comforts like underfloor heating.”
One of the advantages of art deco style is the curved windows which give you a wider view, ideal for a house on the coast. This is an upside-down home, with the bedrooms on the ground floor and the main rooms upstairs to make the most of the seascapes. Smith also plans to take full advantage of the flat roof for entertaining. It already has a glazed pod at one end for sundowners sheltered from the sea breeze.
“Spinnakers is an estate agent’s dream,” says Matthew Rowe, director of Rohrs & Rowe, which specialises in high-end Cornish homes. “It’s rare to have a property that so closely reflects the architecture from the art deco period yet has 21st-century amenities.” The only problem for Smith is the combination of coastal weather and bright white exterior. “I can see I’ll be repainting it this spring,” he says.
Does reinterpreting a traditional style make it any easier to get planning permission for an unusual home? “The attitude of planning officers and committees towards particular styles of architecture is impossible to predict,” says Jason Orme, property expert for the Homebuilding & Renovating shows. “Just as many planning decisions will favour a contemporary home in a traditional area as the opposite. The issue should come down not to a matter of style but to the quality of design.”
Meticulous research, craftsmanship and high quality materials also help make the difference between an original build and a pastiche. So exceptional was the moated medieval manor house created by Prof John Mew and his wife Jo that it won a special award in the Telegraph/Homebuilding & Renovating Awards in 2001.
Reclaimed stone and timber and recycled stained glass windows were incorporated in Braylsham Castle near Heathfield, Sussex, to build the halftimbered great hall and adjoining stone towers and battlements.
“We had a ruined cottage in a totally unspoilt valley with permission to build. It really needed something very special,” said Prof Mew at the time. “A castle on an island was the only sort of building I could think of that would make the valley more attractive.”
Nearly 20 years later the Mews are still living in their castle. Had they made any alterations since completing the project? “I haven’t wished to change anything, which is unusual in a new build,” says Mew. “And now at 91 I don’t have the ability to look after it so well and it definitely looks settled in.”
Does he have any advice for selfbuilders hoping to build a home based on a historic architectural style today? “Create a comfortable home rather than an impressive one, but make sure you do the research first or it won’t look genuine.”
SLOW JOB Below, David and Annette Southwick; top, their estuary home