Episode 1 To Build or Not to Build


Episode 1

Series following some of the 20,000 British people who self-build their own home each year. One couple builds a Georgian-style home in an old beer garden in Barnet.


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Transcript


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We all dream of owning the perfect home but finding the right property isn't easy.

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I have a solution.

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Stop searching for something to buy and consider somewhere to build.

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Every year, 20,000 people make the journey of a lifetime

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and opt to build their own home.

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And we'll be following some of them as they go from foundations

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to finishing touches.

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I was gobsmacked.

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I'd never realised that it would be the wow factor that it actually is.

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Along the way, our brave self-builders will experience amazing highs.

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We could never have afforded to buy what we've built. That's why we built.

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And some frustrating lows.

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I've spoken to the council. They can help me pull it down if I have to pull it down.

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But if they can overcome these trials,

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they'll end up with the home they've always desired.

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So if you're looking for your perfect pad, the question is simple.

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To Build Or Not To Build?

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Coming up. From public house to perfect home -

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the self-build in a former London beer garden.

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No. Am I imagining that?

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If you get down close enough, you can probably smell the beer.

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The young mum from Cambridgeshire

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who raised a family while building her own home.

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It's amazing, thinking that we've had the children and we've done this at the same time.

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It's lovely to think now that we can give them, hopefully,

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the life that we dreamt of, really.

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And I'm up on the roof at building college.

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I thought being a roofer was enjoying the view.

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Ah, can I help you? How about a drop of To Build Or Not To Build?

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Today, we're in Barnet, North London.

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We're here to meet a couple pulling together and hoping to be drunk on success

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when they complete their self-build on an old pub beer garden.

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-Think we should meet them? I think it's about time!

-BELL RINGS

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When Barry and Gill Deeks retired from jobs in property finance and local housing,

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they were in no hurry to leave bricks and mortar behind.

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It took them five years to find the ideal building plot in Barnet,

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a tough challenge in an area where average prices are in the region of £750,000.

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But when they heard that last orders had been called

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on a boozer near Barnet town centre,

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Barry and Gill bid a substantial £400,000 just for its beer garden.

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A week later, they were clinking glasses,

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toasting their first success.

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Your beer garden. Explain all, Barry.

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The pub closed and it was put on the market with just a piece of the beer garden

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but it left the bulk of the beer garden unaccounted for.

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When we saw it, we thought, "Never mind the pub, what about the land at the back?"

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So we did a bit of investigating.

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We got on the Land Registry, found out who owned the pub,

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who had bought it from the brewery and he was a local developer.

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I think that the owner who bought it from the brewery had it mind

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to go for a small block of flats on it

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but it struck us immediately as a great one-house site.

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Discovering plots of land in built-up areas isn't easy

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and it often involves some creative thinking to see a site's potential.

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These two have carved out a gem.

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However, to transform this space into a beautiful home

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is going to take some hard work.

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We're not getting any younger, you know,

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and a lot of people in your position, would they really want to get covered in cement

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and digging huge holes and all the problems that come with it?

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Surely we should be going on long holidays and that kind of stuff?

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Yeah, I think there's two different types of people.

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There are those that all they want to do is put their feet up

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and take life easier

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and there are those, like us, mad fools, really,

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that want to get up to our knees in dirt and carry on being creative.

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I can see the light in Gill's eyes. Who is the driving force?

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Oh, I think it's fair to say that Gill's driven it

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but I've very much been caught up

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in the wake of Gill's passion and commitment.

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She's certainly not dragging me kicking and screaming

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but would I do it on my own if I hadn't met Gill?

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Probably not, to be truthful.

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Using a timber-framed kit system, Gill and Barry plan to build

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a gorgeous, Georgian-style detached home in five months

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for around £250,000.

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With a total estimated spend of £650,000,

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that's still around 100,000 cheaper

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than the average detached home in the area.

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Because the plot's in a conservation area,

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they've worked closely with the planners to get permission for a three-bedroom house

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to ensure it will fit in with the neighbouring properties.

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With planning approved, they are ready to get stuck in.

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As planned, it's the first of March.

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Beautiful weather has come as ordered

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and our set-out is starting.

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With the worst of the winter weather over,

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the site's prepped and Barry and Gill's build is ready to begin.

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Once the house outline is laid out, the heavy stuff can move in

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and things quickly transform

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when a digger gets its teeth into a plot.

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So here we are, on site for the second day of building

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and yet again, we've ordered a beautiful day.

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It couldn't be nicer and they all seem to shifting at a rate of knots.

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But within three days, the diggers hit a significant problem.

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We had a quite interesting discovery yesterday, late afternoon.

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If you'd like to look, Barry.

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We think we have the remains of an air-raid shelter...

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running right through the foundations.

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Which in my mind will only help to solidify the whole thing.

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Unfortunately, the local building inspector didn't agree

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and the World War II relic has to be broken up and removed at added cost.

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Only days into the build

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and Gill and Barry have had to fork out around £2,000

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for specialist equipment and labour to dig out the solid concrete structure from beneath the site.

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And that means they're already behind schedule

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because of the additional time taken to clear the muddy trenches,

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ready for pouring the concrete foundations.

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With true Brit spirit, Gill's determined that this early bombshell won't set them back.

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It's Monday morning on the second week.

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The weather's still brilliant, although it's absolutely freezing -

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about three degrees below at the moment,

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just after eight in the morning.

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The builders have just come on site

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and we're fingers crossed for a better week of building the foundations.

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We're three days behind but we should be able to get on this week.

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But the massive hole left by removing the 70-year-old bunker

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means extra concrete is required for the foundations

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and that means pouring a few hundred pounds more into the groundworks.

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To keep the budget under control,

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Barry and Gill have opted to project manage themselves,

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overseeing all aspects, from the foundations...

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to the fitting of the block and beam floor system.

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It's a big job

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but if they can handle the pressure, it will pay off.

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Project managing yourself can save around 10% of the build budget.

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In Gill and Barry's case, that's a handy £20,000.

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Less than a month later and the floor slabs are done and dusted

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and I'm back on site to inspect progress at the former pub garden.

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The first thing that strikes me is what a fabulous location.

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Yeah. I couldn't agree more.

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To get a site this big here on the edge of London.

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Yeah, it's quite a site. We're really pleased with it.

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The slabs are in, it's starting to look very impressive.

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But the other thing that jumps out at you is the caravan.

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LAUGHTER

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-Our pride and joy.

-Your home, I'm guessing.

-Our home, yes.

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Tell us about that.

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No, no. Over to you.

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We bought it on eBay for £257,

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which based on the rent we're paying in our rented flat

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is equivalent to about ten days rent, so it was a very quick pay-back.

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Because that can be a problem.

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When you're doing a self-build and you put your money into it,

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you end up with no home

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and every day that you're in rented accommodation, it's a cost on this.

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-Absolutely.

-Exactly. It's less you can spend on your house.

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To me, it's all about how I can finish it and what we can do,

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so every penny has to be spent on this.

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Gill and Barry have opted to rough it in this temporary on-site home

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once major building work starts.

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Joining the caravan club might not suit everyone

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but it will save them £3,000 on renting alternative accommodation.

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It's not the only way this plot's helping them save hundreds of pounds.

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They threw out a load of tongue and groove oak flooring from the pub.

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They just threw it onto a rubbish pile.

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We reclaimed it and we're going to lay it on our kitchen floor.

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And then that ties in with the history of the site, doesn't it?

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There's also a pile of bricks that I reclaimed

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-that we're going to use for garden walling.

-I love that.

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So you're tying in with the history of the place

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-and what it once was.

-Yeah, exactly.

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-And good for you. Very environmental.

-Absolutely.

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-Don't just recycle, reuse.

-Yep.

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Striking a bargain is often about being in the right place at the right time.

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Barry and Gill saw a golden opportunity to get something for nothing

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and when it comes to recycling, it's often a case of if you don't ask, you don't get.

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-Any other finds you've had?

-Well, I suppose the only other thing is,

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being an old pub, we do come across the odd bottle.

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-In fact, I've got one here to show you...

-No.

-..that we dug up.

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-This isn't opened.

-Not yet.

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-Someone must have been very upset when they lost this one.

-They must.

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-Have you found many that are full?

-No. The odd one or two.

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But that's the most recent one.

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So we're saving that for a special occasion.

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-You know what the special occasion's going to be?

-It will linked to this house.

-Yeah, I guess so.

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So how long till the special occasion, then?

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When are we going to see this house finished?

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Well, it's a 16-week time-frame for the build.

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Touch wood, even with having found the remains of the bunker,

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we've caught up on ourselves

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and we're on target still for that 16 weeks.

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So we've got about another 11 weeks to go.

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Well, I look forward to coming back and helping you reclaim this.

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Good luck with your build.

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Keep looking, keep looking.

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Project managing your own self-build can be a rewarding experience.

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But when Rebecca Stenson took on building a cottage in Cambridgeshire,

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she managed to deliver a lot more than just the finished house.

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Owning an old-fashioned cottage in the country

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had been a long-time ambition

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of recruitment company director Rebecca.

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So when her husband Matt spotted a run-down bungalow for sale

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in the village of Tilbrook, near Huntingdon, four years ago,

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the couple jumped at the chance to redevelop the plot

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and build the quaint cottage Rebecca had always wanted.

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Got back from work one night, saw the plot for sale.

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We came and looked at it.

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It was a sealed bid, so we put a bit of a gamble bid in and we won.

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And looking at the house, that was some victory.

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The plot cost them £213,000

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and they allocated a similar budget to knock down the bungalow

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and build a four-bed, timber-framed home with a vintage feel.

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I've always loved old houses

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and when we first said about doing a build

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the one stipulation was that we made it feel old and cottagey,

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which is quite difficult when you're building it from scratch.

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This is my favourite room of the house,

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probably because of the beams in the ceiling.

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I've always wanted a cottage with beams in the ceiling,

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so when we planned it, this was the one thing

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that I just wouldn't have compromised on, really.

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You can have as much oak or as little oak as you want, depending on your budget.

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Our budget was quite small

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so this was the only room that we could have as much exposed oak as this.

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All the marks in the oak that they use, it's just so unique.

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No-one else has got the exact same house as you have.

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Rebecca took on the role of project managing the five-month build herself

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and she's done a fantastic job,

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especially as she knew nothing about construction before she started.

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But what makes her achievement more remarkable is that as well as building,

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Rebecca was also starting a family.

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First came Molly, when they were buying the bungalow.

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When we saw this, I was seven months pregnant

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and then when it completed, she was about two weeks old.

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We moved out of our house into the bungalow when she was two weeks old.

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And then, in the middle of building, along came Archie.

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That left mum Rebecca with a newborn, a toddler and a build to juggle

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but by that stage there was no turning back.

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Because we were so far into it, we just had to keep going.

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We were building and that was it, so we just had to make it work.

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Rebecca's secret to managing a successful build

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and raising a family is simple - reliable baby-sitters.

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Just sort of help from my mum.

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If I needed to come onto site, to drop Molly down there for a sleep in the afternoon,

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whizz up to the site, work out what needed doing - it was just step by step.

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Every day, we had to overcome certain challenges

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but we took it a day at a time and eventually, we got in.

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And she certainly did that.

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When it comes to creating her home from heaven,

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some of the negatives of being pregnant at the planning stages turned into positives.

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I didn't get much sleep because you're up and down all night,

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so had lots of time to think about how I wanted it.

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Every night, I'd choose a different room to picture what I wanted.

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While the house might be stunning,

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it was the large garden and beautiful country view

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that also drew Rebecca to the site.

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Just to wake up in the morning and look at that,

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we never dreamt that we would have anything so lovely.

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But one very innocent looking tree actually caused the most problems.

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It's a lovely tree, it's very pretty and it's lovely on the street

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but we were told it was an ash tree,

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so we thought that our foundations wouldn't have to be so deep.

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In fact, it's a much deeper-rooted elm tree,

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so the foundations had to go down a further two metres.

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I think it probably cost us about £15,000.

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So it's a very, very expensive tree.

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Talk about nightmare on Elm Street!

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Self-building can be tough at the best of times,

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never mind with two small children to care for.

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However, Rebecca believes all the hard work was definitely worth it.

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It's amazing that we've had the children

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and we've done this at the same time as having the children.

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It's lovely to think now that we can give them, hopefully,

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the life that we sort of dreamt of, really.

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And with house valued at around £600,000,

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by opting to build, Rebecca saved nearly a third

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compared to buying a similar home in the area.

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We just never would have been able to afford to buy what we've built.

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That's why we built, because we knew that to have a detached house,

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a bit of space around it and have a garden and have ducks and chickens,

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we would never, ever have been able to buy that, so it's brilliant.

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In Barnet, it's five weeks since work got underway

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on the Deeks' former beer garden

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and there's about to be a massive transformation.

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The team are on site building the scaffolding

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ahead of the arrival of Gill and Barry's timber-framed kit.

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We woke up this morning and thought, our house is being delivered today.

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It's not often you can say that.

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It's coming on a couple of lorries. One's outside already.

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The Deeks' decision to choose a timber-framed home

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means once all the bits are on site, the structure goes up quickly.

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In just four days, the ground floor shoots up

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and after a quick pause for breath...

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Every day, there's something happening - another window up, another door in.

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..it's time to power on with the first floor bedrooms and bathrooms.

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The Deeks have four grown-up children

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and although they've fled the nest, the three bedrooms here

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will be handy when any of them come to stay.

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They've only been on site exactly five days today,

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which is madness, because yesterday, we didn't have a first floor

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and now we have a first floor.

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So if you'd like to pan around, you can see how much they've done.

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Bedrooms. This is the big double bedroom.

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This is the front of the house with all the five Regency windows in,

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which I'm so, so delighted with - better than my expectation.

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Day eight of the kit construction

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and the pace of this Georgian-inspired self-build is relentless.

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As a lorry arrives with beams for the roof,

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Barry can feel his life going past in a blur.

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It takes up all your waking thoughts, really.

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I don't know what's going on in the world.

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So just two months in and, amazingly, the roof's going on.

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After all those years of searching for the right plot,

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the clouds on Barry and Gill's self-build dream have well and truly lifted.

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That's the joy of timber-frame. It goes together amazingly quickly.

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This build certainly seems stress free

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but midway through the frame construction, there's a major upheaval off site.

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The lease on their rented flat is finally up

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and it's time to downsize to their on-site caravan.

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Well, today it's all go because we've got to move out of the flat -

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well, by Friday of this week.

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Today's our last day for clearing out the flat.

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It's a lot of pressure on top of everything else.

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HAMMERING

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So while they wait to move into their Georgian grandeur,

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they're going to have to make the best of it in this cosy caravan.

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This will be our home for the next two months or so

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during the build.

0:19:450:19:46

It's actually on site. There's Gill. Morning!

0:19:460:19:49

Gill's done a wonderful job in refurbishing it.

0:19:490:19:53

And though it may take some adjustment,

0:19:540:19:56

their caravan compromise is a canny move.

0:19:560:19:59

By living on the job, they can act as 24-hour security guards

0:19:590:20:03

and make sure the various tradesmen can get access to the site

0:20:030:20:06

whenever they need to.

0:20:060:20:08

It's build month three and the Deeks' house is taking shape.

0:20:090:20:12

With Gill's boundless energy and Barry's willingness to get stuck in,

0:20:150:20:18

they're coping well with the project management

0:20:180:20:21

and the whole build's got a real feel-good factor.

0:20:210:20:26

-Say hello, Steve.

-Hello.

-Hello, Alistair.

-Hello.

0:20:260:20:30

-Morning, guys.

-Morning.

0:20:300:20:32

-Hello, Tom. Hi, Nick.

-Hello!

0:20:320:20:35

I think you plan the house and you know, objectively, how long things are going to take.

0:20:380:20:43

But when you're here day after day and seeing it just come alive,

0:20:430:20:47

what you plan on paper has no resemblance to how it works.

0:20:470:20:51

I never imagined it would be that quick in terms of going up

0:20:510:20:55

and just day-on-day progress.

0:20:550:20:57

It's been stunning.

0:20:570:20:58

But as the building site begins to look more like a home,

0:20:580:21:01

Gill's starting to feel under pressure.

0:21:010:21:04

I feel a great responsibility to get the end product right

0:21:040:21:08

and get it as we both want

0:21:080:21:09

and so really, Barry's been very good in leaving it up to me

0:21:090:21:13

to choose all the finishes, the light fittings,

0:21:130:21:16

the bathrooms, the tiles.

0:21:160:21:18

And as time gets nearer to having to actually order them,

0:21:180:21:21

I'm just a bit stressed that I've made the right choices.

0:21:210:21:24

And that's not to mention the hundreds of window beads

0:21:240:21:27

that urgently need painting,

0:21:270:21:29

another job that Gill has taken on herself.

0:21:290:21:33

To be absolutely honest, I thought they were going to come white. I thought they'd be pre-painted.

0:21:330:21:38

The glazier said, "You'd better make sure they're painted white before I put the glass in,

0:21:380:21:44

"otherwise, you'll look through the double glazing and see brown."

0:21:440:21:48

I said, "Oh, that won't do. We've got to paint them white."

0:21:480:21:51

So we've been a week at it so far

0:21:510:21:52

and there's another few days to finish this 1,100 beads.

0:21:520:21:56

It's build month four and the roof slates are going on.

0:21:580:22:01

With a need to keep their budget under control,

0:22:010:22:03

Gill and Barry call in some family favours.

0:22:030:22:06

It's Sunday 6th June and we've enrolled the services

0:22:060:22:11

of various members of the family.

0:22:110:22:13

-Hello, Nick.

-Hello, Dad. How are you doing?

-I'm good.

0:22:130:22:15

-And James.

-Afternoon.

0:22:150:22:18

-Gemma.

-Hi!

0:22:190:22:21

-Claire.

-Hello.

0:22:210:22:24

-Whoo!

-Hello, Gill.

0:22:240:22:26

With Barry's beer-garden brigade marching on,

0:22:260:22:29

it's about time I visited the troops

0:22:290:22:31

to see how much progress they've made.

0:22:310:22:33

We have a front door and someone's got carried away -

0:22:360:22:39

brass door furniture, ready to go and it's still a building site.

0:22:390:22:42

-Hello!

-Hello! Hi! We're in the kitchen.

0:22:430:22:47

-Hello, hello, hello.

-Hello, Simon.

0:22:470:22:50

-Are you all right? Hello, Barry.

-Good to see you.

-And you.

0:22:500:22:54

-Someone's been busy.

-Yeah.

-Just a bit.

0:22:540:22:57

Amazing. Absolutely. I'm gobsmacked, actually.

0:22:570:23:00

-This is a very impressive building.

-Thank you.

-Thank you.

0:23:000:23:05

I know that stage you're at now. You're going to make me laugh

0:23:050:23:08

-because the chandelier's up...

-Yes.

-..there's a brass door knocker,

0:23:080:23:13

there's half a floor down...

0:23:130:23:15

It's kind of stuck between being a house and a building site.

0:23:150:23:19

It's almost there.

0:23:190:23:21

-You've got your cooker in.

-No pots and pans yet.

0:23:210:23:23

-Come on - who's getting overexcited?

-Very much - all the time.

0:23:230:23:27

We've been this excited all the time.

0:23:270:23:30

When I first met them, it was clear Gill was the inspiration behind the build,

0:23:300:23:34

so how is Barry coping?

0:23:340:23:36

-My skill set is certainly expanding.

-It has, it has.

0:23:360:23:39

Fitting kitchens, tiling bathrooms, flooring -

0:23:390:23:42

the reclaimed oak flooring from the pub.

0:23:420:23:44

-So I'm learning a bit.

-You'll be able to build a house, soon.

0:23:440:23:48

What do you mean?! He hasn't done bad this time.

0:23:480:23:52

So has it been easier or harder than you thought?

0:23:520:23:55

Erm... To be honest,

0:23:550:23:57

I would say it's been pretty much as I expected it to be.

0:23:570:24:01

It's certainly been relentless.

0:24:010:24:03

You don't get any time off for good behaviour.

0:24:030:24:06

You're always having to do something for the trade who's coming the next day.

0:24:060:24:10

There's always something to prepare and that's critical

0:24:100:24:13

because you don't want them getting here and saying we can't do it

0:24:130:24:17

-because you haven't done so-and-so.

-And that becomes a domino effect.

0:24:170:24:21

Once one trade's waiting, bang, bang, bang - the build starts to slip.

0:24:210:24:25

I'm quite looking forward to the point we're quite close to now,

0:24:270:24:31

-where the last trade has gone.

-And we close the door.

0:24:310:24:34

We'll have a lot of work to do, it'll be at our own pace,

0:24:340:24:37

rather than someone being reliant on us to do something.

0:24:370:24:40

I'm looking forward to that.

0:24:400:24:42

Now, these two may have been able to take the house out of the pub

0:24:440:24:47

but my nose tells me they haven't quite been able to take the pub out of the house.

0:24:470:24:52

-HE SNIFFS

-No! Am I imagining that?

0:24:520:24:54

If you get down close enough, you can still smell the beer.

0:24:540:24:57

This floor literally used to be in the bar of the pub,

0:24:570:25:00

so there's many decades of split ale down there.

0:25:000:25:04

So not only is it seasoned, it's preserved as well, isn't it?

0:25:040:25:07

-Yeah, pickled.

-I don't think we'll have any infestations in it.

0:25:070:25:11

'If the floor still has the temporary whiff of the boozer,

0:25:170:25:20

'the wide open spaces everywhere else feel more suited to a flute of champagne.'

0:25:200:25:24

-My favourite part of your house is your landing.

-Really?

0:25:240:25:29

Well, do you know why?

0:25:290:25:31

When you try and recreate something as grand as a Georgian house,

0:25:310:25:34

it's tempting to kind of squeeze the rooms out and get rid of this space here.

0:25:340:25:40

-Yeah. Yeah.

-But this space is what it's all about, isn't it?

0:25:400:25:44

Yes, it's not being mean with this floor space.

0:25:440:25:47

A lot people would think it's useless but it plays a bit part.

0:25:470:25:50

Let's just look at this space here, right?

0:25:500:25:53

Now, why don't you take that room to there and that room to there?

0:25:530:25:58

What's this space for?

0:25:580:25:59

Because it gives you that feeling of spaciousness,

0:25:590:26:02

just like you're saying - it gives you that Georgian feel.

0:26:020:26:06

Fantastic.

0:26:060:26:07

So this is the master bedroom, Simon.

0:26:090:26:12

Much of the house looks to be nearing completion

0:26:120:26:15

but there's no danger these two are going to relax.

0:26:150:26:17

There's an energy about you, Gill. I would be knackered by now.

0:26:170:26:22

But you're like, "Come on, here we go, here we go."

0:26:220:26:24

-"Ooh, tap! Let me at it!"

-It's infectious.

-It is infectious, yeah.

0:26:240:26:29

But I do crash at about five o'clock.

0:26:290:26:32

-Do you?

-Yeah. The energy is seeming to get less each day,

0:26:320:26:36

although I still get really excited when things happen,

0:26:360:26:39

but by the end of the day, I get more and more tired.

0:26:390:26:42

It's no wonder she's exhausted.

0:26:420:26:45

As well as the build, Gill's also been busy with her landscaping.

0:26:450:26:49

Oh, and speaking of the green stuff, how are the finances doing?

0:26:490:26:52

So with a place like this, it would be easy for the budget to run away.

0:26:540:26:58

How have you kept the lid on things?

0:26:580:27:00

Well, mainly through sourcing cheap materials.

0:27:000:27:03

We bought stuff at auction. We went up to Bolton to buy the gates.

0:27:030:27:07

We've been the length and breadth of the country for good bargains.

0:27:070:27:11

-We've been on eBay.

-It must have saved us...

-Thousands.

-Thousands.

0:27:110:27:14

Amazing. Right, listen. I know what's going to happen here.

0:27:140:27:18

Next time I come back here, you are going to be living in there

0:27:180:27:22

but you'll be in one tiny room because you're used to that.

0:27:220:27:25

-Yes!

-I mean, look at the difference.

0:27:250:27:28

Yeah, it is from the ridiculous to the sublime.

0:27:280:27:31

-It's incredible, isn't it?

-Yeah.

0:27:310:27:33

Well, you've worn me out, just talking to you.

0:27:330:27:36

I'll let you get back to it, so you stay on schedule.

0:27:360:27:39

-I'll be back very shortly, I think.

-Lovely to see you, Simon.

0:27:390:27:42

To sit in that kitchen and have a coffee

0:27:420:27:44

-and just smell the beer.

-Oh, right.

0:27:440:27:47

-Cheers, all.

-Bye-bye.

0:27:470:27:49

If you're self-building your own home,

0:27:570:27:59

you might have to roll your sleeves up and get stuck in.

0:27:590:28:02

When it comes to DIY, I reckon I'm reasonably handy

0:28:020:28:06

but to make sure my skills are up to scratch,

0:28:060:28:09

I'm taking a crash course of classes at building college.

0:28:090:28:12

Today, I'm aiming for the top of the class

0:28:160:28:18

with roof tiling teacher Terry Chiswell.

0:28:180:28:21

All right, now, roofing is possibly the most mysterious of all the building skills,

0:28:310:28:36

simply because we can't see you up there.

0:28:360:28:39

So, give us a demo, let's see how it should happen before I have a go.

0:28:390:28:44

-Is that possible?

-OK, yes.

-Go on.

0:28:440:28:46

Just for that cheeky comment, Terry is not letting me near a tile yet.

0:28:470:28:51

Instead, he's making me do the maths,

0:28:520:28:55

to work out exactly where I need to place the tiles on the roof.

0:28:550:28:58

So if you measure from the bottom of there to the bottom of the tile,

0:28:590:29:03

it's 400mm.

0:29:030:29:04

It wants to be 50mm into the gutter,

0:29:040:29:07

so basically, you're just taking that 50mm off.

0:29:070:29:11

290, I made it.

0:29:110:29:13

I saw you when you were a kid. You never did go to school, did you?

0:29:130:29:17

'The felt underlay goes down first...'

0:29:180:29:21

About there, guv?

0:29:210:29:23

'And thanks to the trusty chalk line...'

0:29:230:29:26

I like that. That's clever.

0:29:280:29:30

'..the battens on which the tiles hang go on nice and straight.

0:29:300:29:33

'Usually.'

0:29:330:29:35

-You've missed.

-You did it!

0:29:350:29:37

'You've missed - you did it!

0:29:370:29:39

'This is all very well inside a nice warm building school.'

0:29:390:29:43

-So you just stand on them?

-As long as you've nailed it up correctly,

0:29:430:29:47

if you stand where the nails are, you know it's solid.

0:29:470:29:50

-I nailed it. I wouldn't stand on that one.

-Exactly.

0:29:500:29:53

I wouldn't fancy it so much 30 foot up.

0:29:530:29:56

This is where roofing feels wrong, doesn't it?

0:29:560:29:58

That's dangerous enough, let alone... Ugh.

0:29:580:30:01

'Chances are, most people will leave roofing jobs to the professionals

0:30:020:30:06

'but it's always handy to know what's going on up top.'

0:30:060:30:09

And then basically, it's just a case of...

0:30:090:30:12

laying them on top of each other.

0:30:120:30:16

It's important that they are laid straight.

0:30:160:30:19

There's nothing worse than looking up onto a roof

0:30:190:30:22

-and you can see they're all over the place.

-Yeah.

0:30:220:30:25

'That's enough theory, Terry. Time for me to go solo.'

0:30:250:30:29

OK, Simon, and in classic television terms,

0:30:290:30:32

-here's one we prepared earlier.

-Ah, right, OK.

0:30:320:30:35

-My challenge to you...

-Yeah?

0:30:350:30:38

..is to lay all those tiles that are flat on that roof.

0:30:380:30:41

Basically, as long as you put those tiles on

0:30:410:30:45

-and your leading edge is hitting that line...

-Yeah.

0:30:450:30:49

-Then you should go along...

-Yeah.

0:30:490:30:51

-It should run up against your next line.

-It should run up against that.

0:30:530:30:56

'Not all roof tiles are nailed down

0:30:580:31:00

'and Terry said I don't have to nail any this time.'

0:31:000:31:03

It's ten to eleven. Let's have it done for 11 o'clock.

0:31:030:31:07

'It's still harder than it looks, though.'

0:31:070:31:09

-You're going off, Simon.

-How am I...? I am. Oh, no.

0:31:090:31:13

-But why?

-Ah, that's why.

0:31:130:31:15

I thought being a roofer was sitting and enjoying the view.

0:31:170:31:21

'But I'd been enjoying the view from the floor for far too long.'

0:31:210:31:25

I've just realised that it's not good practice to stand on these.

0:31:250:31:29

No, not really.

0:31:290:31:30

So I should already be on the roof.

0:31:300:31:32

'So I can't delay any longer.'

0:31:320:31:34

I'm going to do this.

0:31:340:31:36

'Time to get up on the roof.'

0:31:360:31:39

I'm going up, guv. Excuse the end one.

0:31:390:31:42

'All those Spider-Man comics haven't left me with any spider skills.'

0:31:420:31:46

It suddenly gets a bit trickier, boss.

0:31:460:31:49

You should be a bit more nimble.

0:31:510:31:53

'After a few minutes like a cat on a hot tin roof...'

0:31:530:31:56

You don't look very comfortable up there, Simon.

0:31:580:32:00

'..I finally realise that moving less is better.'

0:32:000:32:04

Tell me if I'm cheating by doing this.

0:32:040:32:06

-No.

-Am I not? Ah!

-That's how I would actually do it.

0:32:060:32:11

Hey!

0:32:110:32:12

Then the question is, why didn't I think of this earlier?

0:32:140:32:17

-Ah, I see. That's got to go.

-You've three minutes left, Simon.

0:32:180:32:23

I'm starting to sweat, Terry. I'm starting to sweat.

0:32:250:32:28

Come on. Time's money.

0:32:280:32:30

I'd have been quicker but I just spotted her sunbathing in the garden.

0:32:300:32:33

One minute left.

0:32:330:32:36

That's the one.

0:32:360:32:39

-Guv, how have I done?

-They're not totally straight,

0:32:420:32:44

so it's a good first attempt.

0:32:440:32:46

I'd give you eight out of ten.

0:32:460:32:48

Eight out of ten? I'll have that.

0:32:510:32:53

One other question. How do I get down?

0:32:530:32:56

Use your initiative. I'm off for a cup of tea.

0:32:560:32:58

Back in Barnet, the house that Barry and Gill have been building

0:33:040:33:08

in the beer garden of a former pub is starting to raise their spirits.

0:33:080:33:12

They're now five months into the construction

0:33:130:33:15

and within a few weeks,

0:33:150:33:16

they're hoping to finally call time on the builders.

0:33:160:33:19

The house has been built in a Georgian style

0:33:210:33:23

to fit in with the local conservation area

0:33:230:33:26

but until now, no-one's had a clear view of what it looks like.

0:33:260:33:30

It's quite a momentous day today

0:33:310:33:32

because, if you remember, the scaffolding went up before we had any building,

0:33:320:33:38

so the scaffolding stood there as it went up inside.

0:33:380:33:41

So we've never seen the actual building without scaffolding

0:33:410:33:44

and today is the day it's coming down.

0:33:440:33:46

With the scaffolding gone, you can appreciate the beautiful facade.

0:33:490:33:54

Inside, the floorboards they salvaged from the bar are buffing up nicely.

0:33:570:34:01

And Barry's urge to save money

0:34:040:34:06

means he's taking on more and more of the jobs himself,

0:34:060:34:08

such as tiling the hallway.

0:34:080:34:10

It's stuff I've either never done before or I haven't done for a decade,

0:34:120:34:16

so it's good, it's nice to sort of, you know, acquire a few new skills.

0:34:160:34:24

We're saving ourselves a lot of money, of course, by doing it ourselves.

0:34:240:34:27

It's rewarding. Very rewarding.

0:34:270:34:30

It's now August, six months since they started,

0:34:320:34:36

and as the build accelerates towards completion,

0:34:360:34:38

there's something else Barry and Gill are grateful for.

0:34:380:34:42

Now the house is habitable,

0:34:420:34:44

they've flogged the caravan they've been roughing it in

0:34:440:34:47

-for about the same price they bought it...

-Off it goes.

0:34:470:34:50

..and can now enjoy the luxury of clean, running water.

0:34:500:34:54

SHE LAUGHS

0:34:540:34:55

A very common commodity but if you haven't got it,

0:34:550:34:58

it makes all the difference when you get it.

0:34:580:35:00

We've only had this for about a week and it's hot.

0:35:000:35:03

And the electric's on.

0:35:030:35:05

To suddenly have the ability to just have a hot shower

0:35:050:35:07

whenever you want it,

0:35:070:35:09

rather than perhaps every third day, going down to the gym,

0:35:090:35:13

it's wonderful.

0:35:130:35:14

It's only when you've been without something that you realise

0:35:140:35:17

how lovely it is to have water on tap.

0:35:170:35:19

It's bliss. It's bliss.

0:35:190:35:21

But Gill and Barry have all but spent their £250,000 budget

0:35:260:35:30

and are running out of cash for the finishing touches,

0:35:300:35:33

so they are taking on more of the final jobs themselves.

0:35:330:35:36

Are we running over time? Yes, we are.

0:35:360:35:38

But that's because we're trying to do nearly everything ourselves

0:35:380:35:42

and that will help claw back some of the overrun on the money.

0:35:420:35:45

Not being afraid to tackle some of the jobs yourself is a sure way of saving money

0:35:450:35:50

but you have to be prepared to put in the hours.

0:35:500:35:54

Barry and Gill are now working from dawn till dusk five days a week

0:35:540:35:58

completing the painting and woodwork themselves.

0:35:580:36:00

This will save them an estimated £5,000 a month

0:36:000:36:03

that it would cost them to have two tradesmen working full time.

0:36:030:36:07

I'm a very enthusiastic, buoyant person about everything

0:36:090:36:12

but the odd morning I wake up and think,

0:36:120:36:15

"Oh, I'm daunted by the thought of another 10-hour working day."

0:36:150:36:19

It's been really physical out the front.

0:36:190:36:22

It's tested me, as a woman, physically.

0:36:220:36:25

Gill and Barry have saved £20,000 by project managing the scheme

0:36:260:36:31

and have trimmed at least another five grand by sourcing their own materials.

0:36:310:36:35

I'm happy to go on record

0:36:370:36:38

and say we'll have finished the house - not the garden, the house -

0:36:380:36:42

by the end of March 2011.

0:36:420:36:45

I may live to regret that but that's my current thinking.

0:36:450:36:48

'A year since I first visited Gill and Barry,

0:36:500:36:53

'I'm back in Barnet to view their finished home.'

0:36:530:36:55

And well, well, well. I'll drink to that.

0:36:550:36:59

With their fabulous Georgian design,

0:37:020:37:04

there's no doubt Gill and Barry have brewed up something special.

0:37:040:37:08

From its clean classical lines to its cool cream facade,

0:37:080:37:11

this sparkling home looks every inch to the manner born.

0:37:110:37:15

So come on in, Simon.

0:37:170:37:19

Ah, wow.

0:37:190:37:21

First things first, I do like a grand hall.

0:37:210:37:25

You know that, we've discussed that. This really, really works.

0:37:250:37:28

That's what we wanted, wasn't it?

0:37:280:37:30

When Gill and Barry dreamed of this house,

0:37:320:37:35

it was clear from the start there would be no compromise.

0:37:350:37:38

They set the bar high from day one

0:37:380:37:40

and through Gill's tireless energy and Barry's painstaking work,

0:37:400:37:44

they've been able to create exactly what they set out to achieve.

0:37:440:37:47

We're near the lounge, first on the left, so come on in here.

0:37:510:37:54

This is gorgeous. It's so bright and light.

0:37:540:37:58

It encapsulates everything about you two in this house.

0:37:580:38:01

You have driven the design and you have made the design a reality.

0:38:010:38:05

-I guess that's a way of putting it.

-That's how the whole house has worked.

0:38:050:38:10

Inside, it's Georgian influences everywhere.

0:38:140:38:17

Light floods through the panelled windows,

0:38:170:38:20

bathing everything in a classy costume-drama glow.

0:38:200:38:23

But although they've been sticklers for period detail,

0:38:230:38:26

this is also a working family home.

0:38:260:38:28

-And this is the kitchen cum...

-Diner.

-..dining room.

0:38:320:38:37

-Cum...

-Family room.

-Yes.

-Family room.

0:38:370:38:39

This is the living space, isn't it, really, I guess?

0:38:390:38:43

I'd say it's my favourite room. It's the one I most wanted.

0:38:430:38:46

I don't know why but in previous houses, I've never quite attained

0:38:460:38:51

having a room we could all be in at the same time

0:38:510:38:54

and it was one of my aims, so I love this room.

0:38:540:38:57

Upstairs, the spacious landing has certainly captured

0:38:590:39:02

the grandeur of the Georgian era.

0:39:020:39:05

Although there's still one or two on-going projects

0:39:070:39:10

lurking behind closed doors.

0:39:100:39:13

-And through here?

-A work in progress.

-Yeah.

0:39:130:39:16

-Definitely a work in progress.

-Nice en-suite, though.

0:39:160:39:20

Barry, come on, pull your finger out.

0:39:200:39:22

The stylish finishes on the bedrooms and family bathroom

0:39:240:39:28

show how hard they've worked to create their dream.

0:39:280:39:32

Really, the designing of it, the making of it, has been such fun,

0:39:320:39:35

a real privilege to do, really.

0:39:350:39:37

It's probably the most satisfying thing I've done, really.

0:39:370:39:40

-It's sort of...

-Surely the most creative?

-Absolutely.

0:39:400:39:45

It's been very, very satisfying.

0:39:450:39:47

Barely a year old, and this house is, incredibly,

0:39:490:39:52

already steeped in its own history.

0:39:520:39:54

Barry and Gill's character is etched in every nook and cranny

0:39:570:40:00

and the fact that it's sitting on a pub garden

0:40:000:40:03

only adds to its sense of relaxed charm.

0:40:030:40:05

And that reminds me - all those months ago at the start of the build,

0:40:070:40:11

didn't Barry promise to pour me a rather special pint?

0:40:110:40:14

Do you remember when you were first digging up the beer garden?

0:40:150:40:19

-I do.

-You don't still have a certain bottle of beer, do you?

0:40:190:40:22

-I believe I do, actually.

-Have you?

-Yes.

0:40:220:40:25

If you get the bottle of beer, I've got a present for you two.

0:40:250:40:29

No small beer this process, you know.

0:40:310:40:34

I'm sure I made a promise that if and when you finished your house

0:40:360:40:40

I would see if this was still drinkable, didn't I?

0:40:400:40:43

-Shall we find out?

-There's only one way to do it.

0:40:430:40:45

And to help us do that, we've got you this.

0:40:450:40:49

-Oh, how very nice.

-It's a Georgian-style tankard.

0:40:490:40:53

"To Build Or Not To Build, Gill and Barry Deeks, Barnet."

0:40:530:40:57

-Isn't that lovely? Thank you.

-"2010-2011." How lovely.

0:40:570:41:00

-Well, here goes then!

-WHOOPING

0:41:030:41:06

Don't worry if it spills on the floor. It just adds to it.

0:41:060:41:10

'A vintage beer dug from the garden of this very house.

0:41:100:41:13

'What a lovely way to celebrate such a heady success.'

0:41:130:41:17

-Mm.

-I'm going to get the shovel out when you've gone.

0:41:170:41:21

There's plenty of fizz left in the beer

0:41:230:41:25

but what about the value of the house?

0:41:250:41:28

The plot cost £400,000

0:41:280:41:30

and they've worked wonders to stick to their build budget of £250,000,

0:41:300:41:34

making a total outlay of £650,000.

0:41:340:41:38

So has the whole project left them with any financial hangovers?

0:41:380:41:41

As you know, there's been an estate agent snooping around

0:41:430:41:47

to give the place a valuation of between 975 and £1 million.

0:41:470:41:51

-Really?

-Yeah.

0:41:510:41:52

-Well, that's very encouraging, isn't it?

-Really?

0:41:520:41:55

-That's a surprise.

-I'm pleasantly surprised.

0:41:550:41:58

It's academic because we don't plan to move but it's nice to know

0:41:580:42:02

that your efforts have been rewarded.

0:42:020:42:05

Well, that's great news, yes!

0:42:050:42:07

Gill's gone quiet.

0:42:070:42:10

I think we should sell up tomorrow and do the next one. Only joking!

0:42:100:42:14

-Only joking.

-That's the temptation.

-Wow.

0:42:140:42:16

Hitting the magical £1 million mark with the valuation

0:42:180:42:21

means they're £350,000 up

0:42:210:42:24

and Barry and Gill could be popping champagne corks on this boozy site

0:42:240:42:28

for many years to come.

0:42:280:42:30

I think you've demonstrated two incredibly important things.

0:42:320:42:36

That's why you've done so well here.

0:42:360:42:38

First of all, spotting this site,

0:42:380:42:40

in this area, just round the corner from everything - incredible.

0:42:400:42:44

So all to power to you for that.

0:42:440:42:46

And I think that sticking to budget

0:42:460:42:48

and not being afraid to get your hands dirty

0:42:480:42:51

is an absolute credit to you

0:42:510:42:53

and your house, I think, is now your home

0:42:530:42:56

-because you are part of it.

-Yes.

0:42:560:42:59

-So well done, you two.

-Thank you. Thank you very much.

0:42:590:43:02

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:43:080:43:10

E-mail [email protected]

0:43:100:43:12

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.


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