The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Cover Story -

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 home­build­ 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

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