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We all dream of owning the perfect home but finding the right property isn't easy.
I have a solution.
Stop searching for something to buy and consider somewhere to build.
Every year, 20,000 people make the journey of a lifetime
and opt to build their own home.
And we'll be following some of them as they go from foundations
to finishing touches.
I was gobsmacked.
I'd never realised that it would be the wow factor that it actually is.
Along the way, our brave self-builders will experience amazing highs.
We could never have afforded to buy what we've built. That's why we built.
And some frustrating lows.
I've spoken to the council. They can help me pull it down if I have to pull it down.
But if they can overcome these trials,
they'll end up with the home they've always desired.
So if you're looking for your perfect pad, the question is simple.
To Build Or Not To Build?
Coming up. From public house to perfect home -
the self-build in a former London beer garden.
No. Am I imagining that?
If you get down close enough, you can probably smell the beer.
The young mum from Cambridgeshire
who raised a family while building her own home.
It's amazing, thinking that we've had the children and we've done this at the same time.
It's lovely to think now that we can give them, hopefully,
the life that we dreamt of, really.
And I'm up on the roof at building college.
I thought being a roofer was enjoying the view.
Ah, can I help you? How about a drop of To Build Or Not To Build?
Today, we're in Barnet, North London.
We're here to meet a couple pulling together and hoping to be drunk on success
when they complete their self-build on an old pub beer garden.
-Think we should meet them? I think it's about time!
When Barry and Gill Deeks retired from jobs in property finance and local housing,
they were in no hurry to leave bricks and mortar behind.
It took them five years to find the ideal building plot in Barnet,
a tough challenge in an area where average prices are in the region of £750,000.
But when they heard that last orders had been called
on a boozer near Barnet town centre,
Barry and Gill bid a substantial £400,000 just for its beer garden.
A week later, they were clinking glasses,
toasting their first success.
Your beer garden. Explain all, Barry.
The pub closed and it was put on the market with just a piece of the beer garden
but it left the bulk of the beer garden unaccounted for.
When we saw it, we thought, "Never mind the pub, what about the land at the back?"
So we did a bit of investigating.
We got on the Land Registry, found out who owned the pub,
who had bought it from the brewery and he was a local developer.
I think that the owner who bought it from the brewery had it mind
to go for a small block of flats on it
but it struck us immediately as a great one-house site.
Discovering plots of land in built-up areas isn't easy
and it often involves some creative thinking to see a site's potential.
These two have carved out a gem.
However, to transform this space into a beautiful home
is going to take some hard work.
We're not getting any younger, you know,
and a lot of people in your position, would they really want to get covered in cement
and digging huge holes and all the problems that come with it?
Surely we should be going on long holidays and that kind of stuff?
Yeah, I think there's two different types of people.
There are those that all they want to do is put their feet up
and take life easier
and there are those, like us, mad fools, really,
that want to get up to our knees in dirt and carry on being creative.
I can see the light in Gill's eyes. Who is the driving force?
Oh, I think it's fair to say that Gill's driven it
but I've very much been caught up
in the wake of Gill's passion and commitment.
She's certainly not dragging me kicking and screaming
but would I do it on my own if I hadn't met Gill?
Probably not, to be truthful.
Using a timber-framed kit system, Gill and Barry plan to build
a gorgeous, Georgian-style detached home in five months
for around £250,000.
With a total estimated spend of £650,000,
that's still around 100,000 cheaper
than the average detached home in the area.
Because the plot's in a conservation area,
they've worked closely with the planners to get permission for a three-bedroom house
to ensure it will fit in with the neighbouring properties.
With planning approved, they are ready to get stuck in.
As planned, it's the first of March.
Beautiful weather has come as ordered
and our set-out is starting.
With the worst of the winter weather over,
the site's prepped and Barry and Gill's build is ready to begin.
Once the house outline is laid out, the heavy stuff can move in
and things quickly transform
when a digger gets its teeth into a plot.
So here we are, on site for the second day of building
and yet again, we've ordered a beautiful day.
It couldn't be nicer and they all seem to shifting at a rate of knots.
But within three days, the diggers hit a significant problem.
We had a quite interesting discovery yesterday, late afternoon.
If you'd like to look, Barry.
We think we have the remains of an air-raid shelter...
running right through the foundations.
Which in my mind will only help to solidify the whole thing.
Unfortunately, the local building inspector didn't agree
and the World War II relic has to be broken up and removed at added cost.
Only days into the build
and Gill and Barry have had to fork out around £2,000
for specialist equipment and labour to dig out the solid concrete structure from beneath the site.
And that means they're already behind schedule
because of the additional time taken to clear the muddy trenches,
ready for pouring the concrete foundations.
With true Brit spirit, Gill's determined that this early bombshell won't set them back.
It's Monday morning on the second week.
The weather's still brilliant, although it's absolutely freezing -
about three degrees below at the moment,
just after eight in the morning.
The builders have just come on site
and we're fingers crossed for a better week of building the foundations.
We're three days behind but we should be able to get on this week.
But the massive hole left by removing the 70-year-old bunker
means extra concrete is required for the foundations
and that means pouring a few hundred pounds more into the groundworks.
To keep the budget under control,
Barry and Gill have opted to project manage themselves,
overseeing all aspects, from the foundations...
to the fitting of the block and beam floor system.
It's a big job
but if they can handle the pressure, it will pay off.
Project managing yourself can save around 10% of the build budget.
In Gill and Barry's case, that's a handy £20,000.
Less than a month later and the floor slabs are done and dusted
and I'm back on site to inspect progress at the former pub garden.
The first thing that strikes me is what a fabulous location.
Yeah. I couldn't agree more.
To get a site this big here on the edge of London.
Yeah, it's quite a site. We're really pleased with it.
The slabs are in, it's starting to look very impressive.
But the other thing that jumps out at you is the caravan.
-Our pride and joy.
-Your home, I'm guessing.
-Our home, yes.
Tell us about that.
No, no. Over to you.
We bought it on eBay for £257,
which based on the rent we're paying in our rented flat
is equivalent to about ten days rent, so it was a very quick pay-back.
Because that can be a problem.
When you're doing a self-build and you put your money into it,
you end up with no home
and every day that you're in rented accommodation, it's a cost on this.
-Exactly. It's less you can spend on your house.
To me, it's all about how I can finish it and what we can do,
so every penny has to be spent on this.
Gill and Barry have opted to rough it in this temporary on-site home
once major building work starts.
Joining the caravan club might not suit everyone
but it will save them £3,000 on renting alternative accommodation.
It's not the only way this plot's helping them save hundreds of pounds.
They threw out a load of tongue and groove oak flooring from the pub.
They just threw it onto a rubbish pile.
We reclaimed it and we're going to lay it on our kitchen floor.
And then that ties in with the history of the site, doesn't it?
There's also a pile of bricks that I reclaimed
-that we're going to use for garden walling.
-I love that.
So you're tying in with the history of the place
-and what it once was.
-And good for you. Very environmental.
-Don't just recycle, reuse.
Striking a bargain is often about being in the right place at the right time.
Barry and Gill saw a golden opportunity to get something for nothing
and when it comes to recycling, it's often a case of if you don't ask, you don't get.
-Any other finds you've had?
-Well, I suppose the only other thing is,
being an old pub, we do come across the odd bottle.
-In fact, I've got one here to show you...
-..that we dug up.
-This isn't opened.
-Someone must have been very upset when they lost this one.
-Have you found many that are full?
-No. The odd one or two.
But that's the most recent one.
So we're saving that for a special occasion.
-You know what the special occasion's going to be?
-It will linked to this house.
-Yeah, I guess so.
So how long till the special occasion, then?
When are we going to see this house finished?
Well, it's a 16-week time-frame for the build.
Touch wood, even with having found the remains of the bunker,
we've caught up on ourselves
and we're on target still for that 16 weeks.
So we've got about another 11 weeks to go.
Well, I look forward to coming back and helping you reclaim this.
Good luck with your build.
Keep looking, keep looking.
Project managing your own self-build can be a rewarding experience.
But when Rebecca Stenson took on building a cottage in Cambridgeshire,
she managed to deliver a lot more than just the finished house.
Owning an old-fashioned cottage in the country
had been a long-time ambition
of recruitment company director Rebecca.
So when her husband Matt spotted a run-down bungalow for sale
in the village of Tilbrook, near Huntingdon, four years ago,
the couple jumped at the chance to redevelop the plot
and build the quaint cottage Rebecca had always wanted.
Got back from work one night, saw the plot for sale.
We came and looked at it.
It was a sealed bid, so we put a bit of a gamble bid in and we won.
And looking at the house, that was some victory.
The plot cost them £213,000
and they allocated a similar budget to knock down the bungalow
and build a four-bed, timber-framed home with a vintage feel.
I've always loved old houses
and when we first said about doing a build
the one stipulation was that we made it feel old and cottagey,
which is quite difficult when you're building it from scratch.
This is my favourite room of the house,
probably because of the beams in the ceiling.
I've always wanted a cottage with beams in the ceiling,
so when we planned it, this was the one thing
that I just wouldn't have compromised on, really.
You can have as much oak or as little oak as you want, depending on your budget.
Our budget was quite small
so this was the only room that we could have as much exposed oak as this.
All the marks in the oak that they use, it's just so unique.
No-one else has got the exact same house as you have.
Rebecca took on the role of project managing the five-month build herself
and she's done a fantastic job,
especially as she knew nothing about construction before she started.
But what makes her achievement more remarkable is that as well as building,
Rebecca was also starting a family.
First came Molly, when they were buying the bungalow.
When we saw this, I was seven months pregnant
and then when it completed, she was about two weeks old.
We moved out of our house into the bungalow when she was two weeks old.
And then, in the middle of building, along came Archie.
That left mum Rebecca with a newborn, a toddler and a build to juggle
but by that stage there was no turning back.
Because we were so far into it, we just had to keep going.
We were building and that was it, so we just had to make it work.
Rebecca's secret to managing a successful build
and raising a family is simple - reliable baby-sitters.
Just sort of help from my mum.
If I needed to come onto site, to drop Molly down there for a sleep in the afternoon,
whizz up to the site, work out what needed doing - it was just step by step.
Every day, we had to overcome certain challenges
but we took it a day at a time and eventually, we got in.
And she certainly did that.
When it comes to creating her home from heaven,
some of the negatives of being pregnant at the planning stages turned into positives.
I didn't get much sleep because you're up and down all night,
so had lots of time to think about how I wanted it.
Every night, I'd choose a different room to picture what I wanted.
While the house might be stunning,
it was the large garden and beautiful country view
that also drew Rebecca to the site.
Just to wake up in the morning and look at that,
we never dreamt that we would have anything so lovely.
But one very innocent looking tree actually caused the most problems.
It's a lovely tree, it's very pretty and it's lovely on the street
but we were told it was an ash tree,
so we thought that our foundations wouldn't have to be so deep.
In fact, it's a much deeper-rooted elm tree,
so the foundations had to go down a further two metres.
I think it probably cost us about £15,000.
So it's a very, very expensive tree.
Talk about nightmare on Elm Street!
Self-building can be tough at the best of times,
never mind with two small children to care for.
However, Rebecca believes all the hard work was definitely worth it.
It's amazing that we've had the children
and we've done this at the same time as having the children.
It's lovely to think now that we can give them, hopefully,
the life that we sort of dreamt of, really.
And with house valued at around £600,000,
by opting to build, Rebecca saved nearly a third
compared to buying a similar home in the area.
We just never would have been able to afford to buy what we've built.
That's why we built, because we knew that to have a detached house,
a bit of space around it and have a garden and have ducks and chickens,
we would never, ever have been able to buy that, so it's brilliant.
In Barnet, it's five weeks since work got underway
on the Deeks' former beer garden
and there's about to be a massive transformation.
The team are on site building the scaffolding
ahead of the arrival of Gill and Barry's timber-framed kit.
We woke up this morning and thought, our house is being delivered today.
It's not often you can say that.
It's coming on a couple of lorries. One's outside already.
The Deeks' decision to choose a timber-framed home
means once all the bits are on site, the structure goes up quickly.
In just four days, the ground floor shoots up
and after a quick pause for breath...
Every day, there's something happening - another window up, another door in.
..it's time to power on with the first floor bedrooms and bathrooms.
The Deeks have four grown-up children
and although they've fled the nest, the three bedrooms here
will be handy when any of them come to stay.
They've only been on site exactly five days today,
which is madness, because yesterday, we didn't have a first floor
and now we have a first floor.
So if you'd like to pan around, you can see how much they've done.
Bedrooms. This is the big double bedroom.
This is the front of the house with all the five Regency windows in,
which I'm so, so delighted with - better than my expectation.
Day eight of the kit construction
and the pace of this Georgian-inspired self-build is relentless.
As a lorry arrives with beams for the roof,
Barry can feel his life going past in a blur.
It takes up all your waking thoughts, really.
I don't know what's going on in the world.
So just two months in and, amazingly, the roof's going on.
After all those years of searching for the right plot,
the clouds on Barry and Gill's self-build dream have well and truly lifted.
That's the joy of timber-frame. It goes together amazingly quickly.
This build certainly seems stress free
but midway through the frame construction, there's a major upheaval off site.
The lease on their rented flat is finally up
and it's time to downsize to their on-site caravan.
Well, today it's all go because we've got to move out of the flat -
well, by Friday of this week.
Today's our last day for clearing out the flat.
It's a lot of pressure on top of everything else.
So while they wait to move into their Georgian grandeur,
they're going to have to make the best of it in this cosy caravan.
This will be our home for the next two months or so
during the build.
It's actually on site. There's Gill. Morning!
Gill's done a wonderful job in refurbishing it.
And though it may take some adjustment,
their caravan compromise is a canny move.
By living on the job, they can act as 24-hour security guards
and make sure the various tradesmen can get access to the site
whenever they need to.
It's build month three and the Deeks' house is taking shape.
With Gill's boundless energy and Barry's willingness to get stuck in,
they're coping well with the project management
and the whole build's got a real feel-good factor.
-Say hello, Steve.
-Hello, Tom. Hi, Nick.
I think you plan the house and you know, objectively, how long things are going to take.
But when you're here day after day and seeing it just come alive,
what you plan on paper has no resemblance to how it works.
I never imagined it would be that quick in terms of going up
and just day-on-day progress.
It's been stunning.
But as the building site begins to look more like a home,
Gill's starting to feel under pressure.
I feel a great responsibility to get the end product right
and get it as we both want
and so really, Barry's been very good in leaving it up to me
to choose all the finishes, the light fittings,
the bathrooms, the tiles.
And as time gets nearer to having to actually order them,
I'm just a bit stressed that I've made the right choices.
And that's not to mention the hundreds of window beads
that urgently need painting,
another job that Gill has taken on herself.
To be absolutely honest, I thought they were going to come white. I thought they'd be pre-painted.
The glazier said, "You'd better make sure they're painted white before I put the glass in,
"otherwise, you'll look through the double glazing and see brown."
I said, "Oh, that won't do. We've got to paint them white."
So we've been a week at it so far
and there's another few days to finish this 1,100 beads.
It's build month four and the roof slates are going on.
With a need to keep their budget under control,
Gill and Barry call in some family favours.
It's Sunday 6th June and we've enrolled the services
of various members of the family.
-Hello, Dad. How are you doing?
With Barry's beer-garden brigade marching on,
it's about time I visited the troops
to see how much progress they've made.
We have a front door and someone's got carried away -
brass door furniture, ready to go and it's still a building site.
-Hello! Hi! We're in the kitchen.
-Hello, hello, hello.
-Are you all right? Hello, Barry.
-Good to see you.
-Someone's been busy.
-Just a bit.
Amazing. Absolutely. I'm gobsmacked, actually.
-This is a very impressive building.
I know that stage you're at now. You're going to make me laugh
-because the chandelier's up...
-..there's a brass door knocker,
there's half a floor down...
It's kind of stuck between being a house and a building site.
It's almost there.
-You've got your cooker in.
-No pots and pans yet.
-Come on - who's getting overexcited?
-Very much - all the time.
We've been this excited all the time.
When I first met them, it was clear Gill was the inspiration behind the build,
so how is Barry coping?
-My skill set is certainly expanding.
-It has, it has.
Fitting kitchens, tiling bathrooms, flooring -
the reclaimed oak flooring from the pub.
-So I'm learning a bit.
-You'll be able to build a house, soon.
What do you mean?! He hasn't done bad this time.
So has it been easier or harder than you thought?
Erm... To be honest,
I would say it's been pretty much as I expected it to be.
It's certainly been relentless.
You don't get any time off for good behaviour.
You're always having to do something for the trade who's coming the next day.
There's always something to prepare and that's critical
because you don't want them getting here and saying we can't do it
-because you haven't done so-and-so.
-And that becomes a domino effect.
Once one trade's waiting, bang, bang, bang - the build starts to slip.
I'm quite looking forward to the point we're quite close to now,
-where the last trade has gone.
-And we close the door.
We'll have a lot of work to do, it'll be at our own pace,
rather than someone being reliant on us to do something.
I'm looking forward to that.
Now, these two may have been able to take the house out of the pub
but my nose tells me they haven't quite been able to take the pub out of the house.
-No! Am I imagining that?
If you get down close enough, you can still smell the beer.
This floor literally used to be in the bar of the pub,
so there's many decades of split ale down there.
So not only is it seasoned, it's preserved as well, isn't it?
-I don't think we'll have any infestations in it.
'If the floor still has the temporary whiff of the boozer,
'the wide open spaces everywhere else feel more suited to a flute of champagne.'
-My favourite part of your house is your landing.
Well, do you know why?
When you try and recreate something as grand as a Georgian house,
it's tempting to kind of squeeze the rooms out and get rid of this space here.
-But this space is what it's all about, isn't it?
Yes, it's not being mean with this floor space.
A lot people would think it's useless but it plays a bit part.
Let's just look at this space here, right?
Now, why don't you take that room to there and that room to there?
What's this space for?
Because it gives you that feeling of spaciousness,
just like you're saying - it gives you that Georgian feel.
So this is the master bedroom, Simon.
Much of the house looks to be nearing completion
but there's no danger these two are going to relax.
There's an energy about you, Gill. I would be knackered by now.
But you're like, "Come on, here we go, here we go."
-"Ooh, tap! Let me at it!"
-It is infectious, yeah.
But I do crash at about five o'clock.
-Yeah. The energy is seeming to get less each day,
although I still get really excited when things happen,
but by the end of the day, I get more and more tired.
It's no wonder she's exhausted.
As well as the build, Gill's also been busy with her landscaping.
Oh, and speaking of the green stuff, how are the finances doing?
So with a place like this, it would be easy for the budget to run away.
How have you kept the lid on things?
Well, mainly through sourcing cheap materials.
We bought stuff at auction. We went up to Bolton to buy the gates.
We've been the length and breadth of the country for good bargains.
-We've been on eBay.
-It must have saved us...
Amazing. Right, listen. I know what's going to happen here.
Next time I come back here, you are going to be living in there
but you'll be in one tiny room because you're used to that.
-I mean, look at the difference.
Yeah, it is from the ridiculous to the sublime.
-It's incredible, isn't it?
Well, you've worn me out, just talking to you.
I'll let you get back to it, so you stay on schedule.
-I'll be back very shortly, I think.
-Lovely to see you, Simon.
To sit in that kitchen and have a coffee
-and just smell the beer.
If you're self-building your own home,
you might have to roll your sleeves up and get stuck in.
When it comes to DIY, I reckon I'm reasonably handy
but to make sure my skills are up to scratch,
I'm taking a crash course of classes at building college.
Today, I'm aiming for the top of the class
with roof tiling teacher Terry Chiswell.
All right, now, roofing is possibly the most mysterious of all the building skills,
simply because we can't see you up there.
So, give us a demo, let's see how it should happen before I have a go.
-Is that possible?
Just for that cheeky comment, Terry is not letting me near a tile yet.
Instead, he's making me do the maths,
to work out exactly where I need to place the tiles on the roof.
So if you measure from the bottom of there to the bottom of the tile,
It wants to be 50mm into the gutter,
so basically, you're just taking that 50mm off.
290, I made it.
I saw you when you were a kid. You never did go to school, did you?
'The felt underlay goes down first...'
About there, guv?
'And thanks to the trusty chalk line...'
I like that. That's clever.
'..the battens on which the tiles hang go on nice and straight.
-You did it!
'You've missed - you did it!
'This is all very well inside a nice warm building school.'
-So you just stand on them?
-As long as you've nailed it up correctly,
if you stand where the nails are, you know it's solid.
-I nailed it. I wouldn't stand on that one.
I wouldn't fancy it so much 30 foot up.
This is where roofing feels wrong, doesn't it?
That's dangerous enough, let alone... Ugh.
'Chances are, most people will leave roofing jobs to the professionals
'but it's always handy to know what's going on up top.'
And then basically, it's just a case of...
laying them on top of each other.
It's important that they are laid straight.
There's nothing worse than looking up onto a roof
-and you can see they're all over the place.
'That's enough theory, Terry. Time for me to go solo.'
OK, Simon, and in classic television terms,
-here's one we prepared earlier.
-Ah, right, OK.
-My challenge to you...
..is to lay all those tiles that are flat on that roof.
Basically, as long as you put those tiles on
-and your leading edge is hitting that line...
-Then you should go along...
-It should run up against your next line.
-It should run up against that.
'Not all roof tiles are nailed down
'and Terry said I don't have to nail any this time.'
It's ten to eleven. Let's have it done for 11 o'clock.
'It's still harder than it looks, though.'
-You're going off, Simon.
-How am I...? I am. Oh, no.
-Ah, that's why.
I thought being a roofer was sitting and enjoying the view.
'But I'd been enjoying the view from the floor for far too long.'
I've just realised that it's not good practice to stand on these.
No, not really.
So I should already be on the roof.
'So I can't delay any longer.'
I'm going to do this.
'Time to get up on the roof.'
I'm going up, guv. Excuse the end one.
'All those Spider-Man comics haven't left me with any spider skills.'
It suddenly gets a bit trickier, boss.
You should be a bit more nimble.
'After a few minutes like a cat on a hot tin roof...'
You don't look very comfortable up there, Simon.
'..I finally realise that moving less is better.'
Tell me if I'm cheating by doing this.
-Am I not? Ah!
-That's how I would actually do it.
Then the question is, why didn't I think of this earlier?
-Ah, I see. That's got to go.
-You've three minutes left, Simon.
I'm starting to sweat, Terry. I'm starting to sweat.
Come on. Time's money.
I'd have been quicker but I just spotted her sunbathing in the garden.
One minute left.
That's the one.
-Guv, how have I done?
-They're not totally straight,
so it's a good first attempt.
I'd give you eight out of ten.
Eight out of ten? I'll have that.
One other question. How do I get down?
Use your initiative. I'm off for a cup of tea.
Back in Barnet, the house that Barry and Gill have been building
in the beer garden of a former pub is starting to raise their spirits.
They're now five months into the construction
and within a few weeks,
they're hoping to finally call time on the builders.
The house has been built in a Georgian style
to fit in with the local conservation area
but until now, no-one's had a clear view of what it looks like.
It's quite a momentous day today
because, if you remember, the scaffolding went up before we had any building,
so the scaffolding stood there as it went up inside.
So we've never seen the actual building without scaffolding
and today is the day it's coming down.
With the scaffolding gone, you can appreciate the beautiful facade.
Inside, the floorboards they salvaged from the bar are buffing up nicely.
And Barry's urge to save money
means he's taking on more and more of the jobs himself,
such as tiling the hallway.
It's stuff I've either never done before or I haven't done for a decade,
so it's good, it's nice to sort of, you know, acquire a few new skills.
We're saving ourselves a lot of money, of course, by doing it ourselves.
It's rewarding. Very rewarding.
It's now August, six months since they started,
and as the build accelerates towards completion,
there's something else Barry and Gill are grateful for.
Now the house is habitable,
they've flogged the caravan they've been roughing it in
-for about the same price they bought it...
-Off it goes.
..and can now enjoy the luxury of clean, running water.
A very common commodity but if you haven't got it,
it makes all the difference when you get it.
We've only had this for about a week and it's hot.
And the electric's on.
To suddenly have the ability to just have a hot shower
whenever you want it,
rather than perhaps every third day, going down to the gym,
It's only when you've been without something that you realise
how lovely it is to have water on tap.
It's bliss. It's bliss.
But Gill and Barry have all but spent their £250,000 budget
and are running out of cash for the finishing touches,
so they are taking on more of the final jobs themselves.
Are we running over time? Yes, we are.
But that's because we're trying to do nearly everything ourselves
and that will help claw back some of the overrun on the money.
Not being afraid to tackle some of the jobs yourself is a sure way of saving money
but you have to be prepared to put in the hours.
Barry and Gill are now working from dawn till dusk five days a week
completing the painting and woodwork themselves.
This will save them an estimated £5,000 a month
that it would cost them to have two tradesmen working full time.
I'm a very enthusiastic, buoyant person about everything
but the odd morning I wake up and think,
"Oh, I'm daunted by the thought of another 10-hour working day."
It's been really physical out the front.
It's tested me, as a woman, physically.
Gill and Barry have saved £20,000 by project managing the scheme
and have trimmed at least another five grand by sourcing their own materials.
I'm happy to go on record
and say we'll have finished the house - not the garden, the house -
by the end of March 2011.
I may live to regret that but that's my current thinking.
'A year since I first visited Gill and Barry,
'I'm back in Barnet to view their finished home.'
And well, well, well. I'll drink to that.
With their fabulous Georgian design,
there's no doubt Gill and Barry have brewed up something special.
From its clean classical lines to its cool cream facade,
this sparkling home looks every inch to the manner born.
So come on in, Simon.
First things first, I do like a grand hall.
You know that, we've discussed that. This really, really works.
That's what we wanted, wasn't it?
When Gill and Barry dreamed of this house,
it was clear from the start there would be no compromise.
They set the bar high from day one
and through Gill's tireless energy and Barry's painstaking work,
they've been able to create exactly what they set out to achieve.
We're near the lounge, first on the left, so come on in here.
This is gorgeous. It's so bright and light.
It encapsulates everything about you two in this house.
You have driven the design and you have made the design a reality.
-I guess that's a way of putting it.
-That's how the whole house has worked.
Inside, it's Georgian influences everywhere.
Light floods through the panelled windows,
bathing everything in a classy costume-drama glow.
But although they've been sticklers for period detail,
this is also a working family home.
-And this is the kitchen cum...
This is the living space, isn't it, really, I guess?
I'd say it's my favourite room. It's the one I most wanted.
I don't know why but in previous houses, I've never quite attained
having a room we could all be in at the same time
and it was one of my aims, so I love this room.
Upstairs, the spacious landing has certainly captured
the grandeur of the Georgian era.
Although there's still one or two on-going projects
lurking behind closed doors.
-And through here?
-A work in progress.
-Definitely a work in progress.
-Nice en-suite, though.
Barry, come on, pull your finger out.
The stylish finishes on the bedrooms and family bathroom
show how hard they've worked to create their dream.
Really, the designing of it, the making of it, has been such fun,
a real privilege to do, really.
It's probably the most satisfying thing I've done, really.
-It's sort of...
-Surely the most creative?
It's been very, very satisfying.
Barely a year old, and this house is, incredibly,
already steeped in its own history.
Barry and Gill's character is etched in every nook and cranny
and the fact that it's sitting on a pub garden
only adds to its sense of relaxed charm.
And that reminds me - all those months ago at the start of the build,
didn't Barry promise to pour me a rather special pint?
Do you remember when you were first digging up the beer garden?
-You don't still have a certain bottle of beer, do you?
-I believe I do, actually.
If you get the bottle of beer, I've got a present for you two.
No small beer this process, you know.
I'm sure I made a promise that if and when you finished your house
I would see if this was still drinkable, didn't I?
-Shall we find out?
-There's only one way to do it.
And to help us do that, we've got you this.
-Oh, how very nice.
-It's a Georgian-style tankard.
"To Build Or Not To Build, Gill and Barry Deeks, Barnet."
-Isn't that lovely? Thank you.
-"2010-2011." How lovely.
-Well, here goes then!
Don't worry if it spills on the floor. It just adds to it.
'A vintage beer dug from the garden of this very house.
'What a lovely way to celebrate such a heady success.'
-I'm going to get the shovel out when you've gone.
There's plenty of fizz left in the beer
but what about the value of the house?
The plot cost £400,000
and they've worked wonders to stick to their build budget of £250,000,
making a total outlay of £650,000.
So has the whole project left them with any financial hangovers?
As you know, there's been an estate agent snooping around
to give the place a valuation of between 975 and £1 million.
-Well, that's very encouraging, isn't it?
-That's a surprise.
-I'm pleasantly surprised.
It's academic because we don't plan to move but it's nice to know
that your efforts have been rewarded.
Well, that's great news, yes!
Gill's gone quiet.
I think we should sell up tomorrow and do the next one. Only joking!
-That's the temptation.
Hitting the magical £1 million mark with the valuation
means they're £350,000 up
and Barry and Gill could be popping champagne corks on this boozy site
for many years to come.
I think you've demonstrated two incredibly important things.
That's why you've done so well here.
First of all, spotting this site,
in this area, just round the corner from everything - incredible.
So all to power to you for that.
And I think that sticking to budget
and not being afraid to get your hands dirty
is an absolute credit to you
and your house, I think, is now your home
-because you are part of it.
-So well done, you two.
-Thank you. Thank you very much.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
New series following some of the 20,000 British people who self-build their own home each year.
All our self builders are aiming to build a dream home that's perfectly suited to their way of life and their wallets but each build is a rollercoaster ride packed full of trials and tribulations.
On today's programme, will Barry and Gill Deeks be toasting their self-build success or be drowning their sorrows as they build a Georgian-style home on an old beer garden in Barnet? Plus the young mum in Cambridgeshire who juggled building her country cottage with raising a family. Plus presenter Simon O'Brien hits the roof at building college to learn how to tile.