York­shire cou­ple aim to build on their success by head­ing Stateside

Jean and Andy But­ter­field aren’t just plan­ning to live the Amer­i­can dream. They’re build­ing it too. Sharon Dale re­ports.

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY -

THE Grange in Fol­li­foot is a gold stan­dard self-build and so it should be.

Af­ter over 30 years in the busi­ness, de­vel­op­ers Jean and Andy But­ter­field have put ev­ery­thing they’ve learned about de­sign and con­struc­tion into this home.

It’s a sym­bol of success for the cou­ple, who be­gan mar­riage work­ing three jobs each so they could fund their dreams of a bet­ter life.

Now in their 60s, they’re sell­ing up and you might imag­ine it’s to down­size and take it easy but in­stead, the in­trepid baby boomers are plan­ning a new ad­ven­ture across the At­lantic.

Not only are they go­ing to live the Amer­i­can dream, they’re build­ing it too.

Af­ter hol­i­days in Long­boat Key, Sara­sota, they fell in love with the sun kissed, water­side lo­ca­tion and the laid back Florid­ian life­style.

But rather than a buy a home, they used their skills to build one and are now plan­ning their next.

The But­ter­fields York­shire­based com­pany Gray­cliffe, now over­seen by their son, spe­cialises in com­mer­cial and res­i­den­tial, de­vel­op­ment and they have built three of their own homes, so the ven­ture has pro­vided an in­ter­est­ing com­par­i­son be­tween the Bri­tish and Amer­i­can sys­tems.

Plan­ning per­mis­sion for the first Amer­i­can house took six weeks.

“It is quick and easy com­pared to the UK. They want to see progress over there, whereas here you are fight­ing for it.

“We have a site in Knares­bor­ough that took five years to get plan­ning ap­proval,” says Andy, an ar­chi­tect and quan­tity sur­veyor, who adds that fund­ing for their sec­ond plot was also re­mark­ably easy to find.

“A friend in­tro­duced us to a bank, though es­sen­tially we had just walked in off the street. The loans man­ager was re­ally ac­com­mo­dat­ing. They’ve got a real can do at­ti­tude and the cus­tomer ser­vice out there is re­ally good.”

The de­sign and lay­out of their lux­ury home is largely Amer­i­can with open plan liv­ing space and the con­struc­tion is hur­ri­cane stan­dard re­in­forced con­crete

Over­seen by Andy and Jean via the in­ter­net and vis­its to the US, it took 15 months to build.

“We had a great builder who was rec­om­mended to us and we were very in­volved, which re­ally slowed the project down but we weren’t in a rush,” says Andy.

The in­te­ri­ors in­cor­po­rate Euro­pean ideas and prod­ucts and it is th­ese that have given the new home ex­tra wow fac­tor.

The kitchen is Ger­man, the mar­ble Ital­ian and all the bath­rooms are Villeroy and Boch, which were shipped over in a con­tainer. Jean sourced other fur­ni­ture and fit­tings from all over the states, in­clud­ing from New York and Mi­ami.

“The house is Amer­i­can de­sign with Euro­pean taste,” says Jean, who has styled all of her com­pany’s show homes.

Af­ter praise and en­cour­age­ment from their Stateside friends, she and Andy are build­ing an­other house us­ing the same An­gloAmer­i­can ap­proach to de­sign that will set their prop­erty apart, though they say the lo­ca­tion is an equally ef­fec­tive mar­ket­ing tool.

Long­boat Key is an ex­clu­sive area and hasn’t been spoiled by over de­vel­op­ment. Although much of the Amer­i­can prop­erty mar­ket has suf­fered dur­ing the re­ces­sion, there are ex­cep­tions and this area just out­side trendy Sara­sota is one of them.

“Long­boat Key is a bit like Har­ro­gate, it hasn’t re­ally been badly af­fected by the re­ces­sion. It’s all about lo­ca­tion. Over in Or­lando, they built acres of iden­tikit houses that are known as ‘cookie cut­ter homes’ and many of them will prob­a­bly never sell,” says Andy. “The other is­sue was that be­fore that bank­ing cri­sis they were try­ing to per­suade ev­ery­one to own their own home whether they could af­ford it or not and that was a big mis­take.”

The But­ter­fields have climbed close to the top of the prop­erty lad­der and their plan is to spend six months in Amer­ica and six months in York­shire, where their chil­dren and grand­chil­dren live. It will be a re­tire­ment of sorts. “We don’t want to stop com­pletely and fes­ter. We don’t play golf and we’re not ready for the deck chair so we hope to carry on devel­op­ing. It’s very re­laxed in Amer­ica, so it will be our hobby,” says Andy.

That’s why the Grange in the vil­lage of Fol­li­foot, near Har­ro­gate, is on the mar­ket, though they’ll be sad to leave it. They built it seven years ago af­ter buy­ing and devel­op­ing Fol­li­foot Hall.

“There was a 1960s ex­ten­sion and we de­mol­ished that to build this house. It’s in a fan­tas­tic po­si­tion in green belt fronted by open fields with amaz­ing views,” says Jean.

The 6,500sq ft prop­erty fea­tures high ceil­ings, eight foot high doors and as many win­dows as they could de­sign in. It also has a ground source heat pump, sound sys­tem, smart house tech­nol­ogy and a cen­tral vac­u­um­ing sys­tem.

“We also wanted to cre­ate a sub­stan­tial house with a solid feel and so we built solid in­ter­nal walls rather than tim­ber par­ti­tions and the up­per floors are con­crete,” says Andy.

“We love this house. It is in an idyl­lic spot and we built it to suit our­selves but we will prob­a­bly buy or build some­where smaller as we in­tend to spend six months in Amer­ica,” says Jean.

“We could never move away com­pletely. Our chil­dren and grand­chil­dren are here and we love Eng­land and its chang­ing sea­sons far too much to live in Amer­ica full-time.”

HOME COM­FORTS: The Grange is a fab­u­lous self-build that boasts a beau­ti­ful lo­ca­tion, a ground source heat pump and mod cons in­clud­ing smart home tech­nol­ogy. Above cen­tre: The Sara­sota house.

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