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.

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY -

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


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