Pitfalls and gains that await the self-build brigade
Verbal abuse, bank balances in the red and sleepless nights were all part of the deal for these intrepid self-builders. But the stress and strain was well worth it. Sharon Dale reports.
starts on Monday.
Hosted by DIY enthusiast and former Brookside actor Simon O’Brien, each of the 20 episodes charts the highs and lows of a self-build project.
He’s a serial renovator who spends his spare time working on a dilapidated quarry workers cottage and he’s certainly been inspired by the homes featured in this series, which include a straw-bale build, a contemporary German kit house and a £1mplus designer des res along with a number of Yorkshire projects, including those below. EVERY year 20,000 people make the bold decision to build their own home and the tears, trials and tribulations that follow are perfect ingredients for fantastic television.
It’s why Leeds-based True North Productions was commissioned to create a second series of its daytime TV show To Build or Not To Build, which was to use a project manager to organise everything. That’s where it all went badly wrong and we wasted a year before the build even started.
“By that time I had semi-retired and ended up getting another architect and then managing the build myself.”
Carol and Andy were pleased with their new architect Pitchford Design Associates in Harrogate and with Chorley-based AKP Construction, which has experience in building in ICF panelling.
Commonly used in Germany, the pre-fabricated, insulated concrete panels lock together to form the outer walls of the house and are a speedy alternative to brick, block and mortar.
Carol and Andy also specified German tilt and turn wood windows, an air source heat pump, rainwater harvesting system, integrated vacuum cleaner system and a heat recovery and ventilation system for their heavily insulated home.
The builders started in January last year and finished in November.
“The builder was great but I found it hard work because I’d never tackled anything like it before. I set up an account at a builders merchant and made sure everything was ordered and on site but we had a nightmare with the ventilation system. It was supposed to be delivered on August 1 and we finally got it in October. That held lots of other jobs up,” says Carol.
“Organising the budget was also stressful and we went £30,000 over, which took any profit out of the build.”
Despite the overspend, Carol and Andy got the happy ending they deserved. They have a lovely, energy efficient house which costs just £60 a month to run.
“It was a nightmare at first but we learned so much from the mistakes that we would actually self-build again,” says Carol. Rebecca and Steven Warboys built a six-bedroom house at Huntington, York. Plot: £125,000. Build cost: £180,000 plus £24,000 planning costs. Final value: £500,000 BURSTING out of the house she owned in the grounds of her parents’ property, mother of four Rebecca Warboys applied to build a bigger family home in a third of an acre garden plot on the same site.
She didn’t anticipate the storm of protest from some locals, who lodged objections. Satisfying the local authority took just over a year and cost her £24,000 in fees for planning consultants and specialist reports on everything from bats to trees and drains. The unexpected extra cost, funded by credit cards, meant Rebecca, a freelance website designer and husband Stephen, an accountant, had to take on extra jobs to account for the shortfall. And all this while caring for three young children and a newborn baby.
When the build finally got underway in September last year disaster struck when an old tree trunk was dug up. Wrapped around it was a power cable that snapped and cut off electricity to half the village.
“The whole experience with planning was absolutely awful. I don’t know how I didn’t go round the bend. They insisted on a drainage scheme so elaborate that the specialist said the last time he’d seen anything like it was for a scheme with 200 houses. Then there was the cable. I had people banging on my door to complain at that point,” says Rebecca.
Fortunately, their luck changed in the form of Clive Scotter, of www.yorkbuilder.com, who the Warboys call “the builder from heaven”. He organised everything and his team worked all through the winter to construct, fit out and decorate the six-bedroom property in just over six months.
“We love the house and it has made a massive difference to our lives,” says Rebecca, even though they are still paying off the extra costs.
Simon O’Brien presents the new series of home, near Knottingley, and Rebecca and Steven Warboys’ riverside home in York.
Left to right: Carol and Andy Scott outside their German-inspired