Building your own home can be stressful, but ultimately rewarding. It’s not easy, for example, to contend with the prices for all of the necessary equipment and materials – and that’s before we even mention the typically poor British weather. Nonetheless, rising house prices have led more people to reject the opportunity of moving into a pre-built humble abode. With help from last year’s Daily Telegraph Homebuilding & Renovating Awards, we’ve discerned 5 of the most successful self-build projects.
Pear Tree House, Dulwich, London
Jake Edgley’s family home is located on what used to be a Victorian orchard that, before Jake decided to build on it, had often been used for dumping. He recalls how, upon first walking on this site, he was attracted by “the wilderness appearance and could envisage a house snaking around the existing 100-year-old pear tree on site”. Nonetheless, the considerable width of the tree’s root protection area meant that the house was ultimately built in two halves. These halves became connected by a covered bridge that, sitting on steelwork, is suspended above the ground.
A self-built traditional home? Yes, really
Successive centuries of amazing British history have left many of this country’s modern inhabitants fascinated by past trends. James Snell, of architects Snell David, designed a period-style self-build residence in Cambridge. He reveals that “with self-build it’s possible to have a period home full of interesting detail without any of the inherent disadvantages – draughts, wonky walls and huge heating bills.” The period details of this Cambridge home include a sprocketed eaves feature and beautiful wood panelling.
Chapel-on-the-Hill, County Durham
Converting existing homes can also lead to beautiful, and perhaps unexpected, results. Seeking accurate build cost estimates beforehand can particularly smooth an otherwise difficult project. A good example of a successful conversion is that of what has dubbed Chapel-on-the-Hill in County Durham. Stefan Camenzind and his brother-in-law came across a derelict Victorian Methodist Chapel before revamping it. The kitchen, located in what was the chapel’s vestry, is the showroom of the building while the salvaged trusses beneath the vaulted ceiling add further character.
Ansty Plum, Wiltshire
Some homes aren’t suitable for living in from a practical point of view, but look so good that opting against a renovation can seem like a waste. One of these homes was the Sixties building called Ansty Plum in Wiltshire. We say “was” because, after Sandra Coppin had bought it, she and her team changed it dramatically. She recalls that the structure was originally cold and continuously dark; however, after she helped with fixes including ripping up the flooring and putting in place underfloor heating, Ansty Plum was back to its previous glory.
Two cottages in Bath – now joined
In the Daily Telegraph’s awards, the Best for Remodelling / Extension Award went to Andrew and Lucy Thompson for a project that brought together – literally – two cottages in the south-western city of Bath. The completed, remodelled build features a glazed spine offering a visible contrast between a traditional cottage and the more recent extension.