Series following some of the UK's 20,000 self-builders. Presenter Simon O'Brien meets Raymond and Helen Humphrys as they build an eco-friendly country cottage in Cambridgeshire.
Browse content similar to Episode 10. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
Finding a place that suits your wallet and your way of life isn't easy. Well, 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.
We'll follow some of them from foundations to finishing touches.
Along the way, our brave self-builders will experience amazing highs.
This is everything I'm living for.
-And some frustrating lows...
-It would be absolutely heartbreaking if we did have to sell it.
But if they can overcome these trials and tribulations...
You can achieve a top-end look for not a colossal amount.
..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: the retirement cottage that's proving a bit of a nightmare.'
We're probably both quite tired.
We worry about the money. Neither of us is sleeping well.
'The self-build in Burnley that's totally dreamy.'
When it's finished,
you wake up and you think, "We did this."
'And I'm just another brick in the wall at building school.'
Now I'm confused.
How can that go on there?
Before a blueprint is drawn up or a brick has been laid,
many self-builders lose the plot finding the right piece of land.
While many search far and wide, today I'm in the village of Hildersham near Cambridge
to meet a couple whose perfect plot was right on their doorstep.
'Retired couple Raymond and Helen Humphrys live in a small, but perfectly-formed village
'of only 60 properties..
'They already own a beautiful home, but are planning for the future and want a house
'to suit their changing needs as they get older. They've divided their land and taken on a mortgage
'to build an easily accessible and eco-friendly timber-frame cottage in their old back garden.'
Beautiful village. I can understand exactly why you want to stay here,
-but what's wrong with this place?!
-It's fantastic, but a) it's very large now.
We want a house for our old age, live downstairs, energy-efficient, easy to look after,
cheap to run, and where we'd be happy living on one floor, possibly with a carer above.
This is a super house, but it's a big family house - four bedrooms, three bathrooms.
And a lot of space about it.
There must be times, Helen, when you think, "What are we doing?"
I must say, I'm a bit more... anxious about it than Raymond is.
-Why not just adapt what's here?
-We want an energy-efficient house and we're doing it for the excitement.
I've thought for years about building a house to create something exciting.
I'm in my sixties and want something where I can think, "We built that."
Reading between the lines, Helen, he's retired and he's bored!
That was a big shaggy dog story answer to tell us that, wasn't it?
There's definitely something to that.
Working with an architect, Raymond and Helen have designed a cottage with an oak frame
to blend in with the leafy surroundings.
They already own the plot and they've budgeted £350,000 for the total build,
which includes a sun room, landscaping and garage.
Properties in pretty Hildersham cost around the £600,000 mark,
so they could make a substantial saving if they stick to the budget.
'Helen and Raymond have already had some building experience renovating their current house
'and they're keen to avoid hidden costs that they know can spring up.
'So to avoid any nasty surprises, they've employed a building company and project manager
'to build the main section of the house for a fixed price.
'Just a short stroll away, behind the new garden wall, lies the plot to house their new home,
-What will we be looking at?
-This is where the old pond and terrace were.
The end of the building will be down by the post that sticks up there.
-Oh, yeah, a little peg there.
-Here's the famous quince tree.
It's going to be Quince Cottage.
'Despite living just yards from their new front door, it's been a long and expensive journey,
'but three architects, five years and £25,000 later, they are finally ready to build for their future.'
You've got this massive place here,
-a new build on the go. How are you funding this?
-We're trying it in two stages.
-We hope to be able to do most of it, both stages, for about £350,000. Approximately.
We've got a mortgage of £300,000, an offset mortgage,
which means you draw down the money as you use it.
'The £300,000 mortgage takes care of the main building at stage one.
'Stage two, which includes the sun room, will be built later
'with money that is released from the sale of their current home.'
-Does the financial side of it weigh heavy?
-It does for me, I think, more than Raymond.
-He, for some reason...
-He wants to do it! That's all there is to it.
But it does worry me. I've retired. You're working part-time.
So we don't have a lot of income and we've remortgaged our house.
We've got no savings at all now because we've spent it on renovating the house.
-We've been here 26 years now.
And I think...you know... it's time for a change.
It's not much of a change!
But it will be a change. We'll have something we've thought a lot about and suits us.
'10 days after my visit, the diggers arrive and work begins.
-'There's definitely no turning back now.'
-Well, here we are.
End of day one.
See what a lovely mess they've made.
And even a greater mess this side.
But it's the start of great things to come. All very exciting.
'After the diggers, come the cement lorries and soon the sleepy village
'is alive with the sound of construction work.
'However, not everyone in the neighbourhood is as delighted about their build as they are.'
We had an eight-ton pick-up lorry arrived at about five past seven.
No doubt causing my neighbours to fall out of bed and wake up.
And they're not allowed onsite until eight o'clock.
He's only started whizzing ???????????????
and his lifting gear shoving all the stuff in.
The neighbours have been round three times. Anyway, we will await developments. Happy days!
'Most building sites, even your own, must comply with hours of work set by the local authority
'to limit noise disruption,
'usually 8am-6pm, Monday to Friday, 8am-1pm on Saturday and no work on Sunday.
'Everyone, including the neighbours, deserves a day off, after all.
'By the end of Day Four, neighbours are the least of Raymond's problems.
'There's a major issue with the foundations.'
You can see that the oversite concrete is almost all in place.
Except you can see this vast area where part of the earth in the middle collapsed
and it's going to cost an absolute fortune, I expect, extra.
'With the ground unstable, the builders were forced to use much more concrete than expected.
'It's often difficult to determine how good the ground is until you start digging down.
'This unknown element means that even with a fixed price, like Raymond and Helen,
'this can be subject to change for unforeseen problems. This bill
'could add thousands of pounds to the budget and it's Raymond and Helen who'll have to foot the bill.'
Hopefully, sometime this week someone will tell me how much in thousands of pounds that'll cost.
Project Manager said £3,000-£4,000.
Helen said, "Is that going to come off my kitchen?"
So...so we don't really know.
But it's one of those things you have to cope with.
We never expected the build to go smoothly,
but there will be problems and, I'm quite sure, frustrations to come.
And things will go wrong.
No doubt some of those things will cost extra money, unfortunately.
We'll just have to grin and bear it and see how we get along.
'And when the final bill does come in, it's a staggering £6,000 over what they'd budgeted for.
'Just days into construction, it's a very expensive introduction.
'Four weeks into the project, the foundations are ready and the oak frame has arrived
'ready for construction.'
-Look up at the light on all this.
Huge beams joining those bits together. Absolutely massive.
'Despite the early setback, Raymond and Helen remain upbeat about the build.'
It's been amazing watching them.
-Fantastic. Poor old Raymond was...
Poor Raymond playing golf! So he missed it all.
I hadn't realised how soon I could really see it internally and what it's going to look like.
This room that Helen's... The big kitchen and sun room, it's Helen's idea to be together.
I can see it'll be a stunning room.
My excitement level has probably gone up. I was quite worried.
But having now seen it all starting to happen, it's just amazing. It's wonderful.
For some, the desire to build their own home is a lifetime ambition,
but not everyone has such dreams. When Ron and Rosie Beale bought their cramped bungalow 4 years ago
for its gorgeous country views, they never set out to self-build,
but when their plans to extend proved too costly, they opted to build instead.
The result - a home as stunning as the scenery.
'Nestling in the Pennine Moors, this mill town's more famous for traditional stone terraces
'than cutting-edge homes, but that's beginning to change thanks in part to Ron and Rosie
'and their magnificent modern self-build.'
Our initial meeting with the architect, we said, "We want a single-storey building
"suitable for two people approaching retirement," and what he produced
was far greater than we could ever imagine.
Rosie and Ron's minimalist single-storey home features four bedrooms and two bathrooms,
the standout in each being the glorious views of the rolling moorland.
You wake up in this room, you look at the view out there on a day like this and think, "Wow!"
You want to go and do something.
The centrepiece of the house is this spacious, split-level, open-plan living room
surrounded by floor-to-ceiling glass.
That means the whole house is permanently swimming in light.
Maybe that's why they call the lower section the piranha pool.
Why do we call it a piranha pool? Well, we wanted water in there
and just pretend to say to people, "Would you like to feed our fish?"
Fortunately, Rosie and Ron opted for a couple of sofas instead of a snappy water feature.
This stunning, distinctive house couldn't be more different from the one it replaced.
At a cost of £385,000, this twin-bedroom bungalow had seen better days.
But what's more amazing is they didn't buy with a plan to build.
When we came, it was just a standard 1950s brick-built bungalow,
but it had not stood the test of time.
And we were looking to expand it,
but when the architect came along and took one look and said, "Where's the foundations?
"Why have you got black mould going up the wall?
"It'll cost you more, or as much, to rebuild it and replace it as it would to put a new build up."
Which is exactly what they did.
So in July, 2008, the demolition team arrived and in no time at all
the bungalow was reduced to rubble and the couple began building its ultra-stylish replacement.
Their original build budget was £350,000.
But to achieve the vision they'd fallen in love with,
they soon realised they'd have to spend much more.
We actually got three responses back
ranging from £365,000
to a maximum, I think, if memory serves me right,
of about £475,000
and we really had to search our hearts as to whether we wanted to go ahead.
With even the cheapest builder's quote over their budget, Rosie and Ron decided to gamble
and press on with the ambitious project, but it meant their finances were considerably stretched.
Cheque after cheque, bank draft after bank draft.
And the most harrowing thing was standing in Waitrose one day
and realising that I hadn't got enough money.
And...that was devastating.
But paying for the groceries proved to be small change compared to what lay ahead.
Structural issues with the zinc roof cost them a whopping 25 grand.
If that wasn't bad enough, the kitchen held a few surprises.
The architect had designed the kitchen to fix this ex-display model that I'd bought,
but when we looked at it, there was a lot of it damaged.
So we bit the bullet and ordered a new kitchen. And are we glad we did!
Swapping the ex-display kitchen for this one cost an extra £20,000,
but it didn't end there. By completion,
-they'd overspent their starting budget by a massive £85,000. Was it worth it?
-When it's finished
and you wake up and you think, "We did this,"
you just think, "How blessed we are."
Though the Beales went substantially over-budget, their home was valued
at a hefty £1.1 million, a saving of almost 25%
had they bought an equivalent ready-built home.
But what matters most to them is what they've achieved.
The first-time builders survived the trials and tribulations to build a striking house with stunning views.
The whole joy of producing something like this at our stage in life,
when we're not particularly on the young side,
it's something we're really pleased to have achieved.
'Back in the village of Hildersham, Raymond and Helen are into the second month of their build.
'They return from a week's holiday to discover significant progress.'
Oh, my goodness!
We've got a roof shape. Isn't that amazing?
Oh, what a lovely big room.
But their initial euphoria doesn't last long as they are hit with more unexpected costs.
We're sitting here looking at our accounts, depressing ourselves.
We've basically accepted a price now for the heating
and that's going to be about £17,000, probably.
And the additional plumbing, maybe £2,000 on top of that. Getting on for £20,000 for heating.
'Once again, Raymond and Helen have put their faith in their fixed price quote from the building company
'even though it does state that the costing for elements such as heating and plumbing
'are only average estimates based on other customers' experience.
'And costs spiral further out of control when it comes to connecting the utilities.'
The water connection charge is another £1,700.
And that's not connected to your house. It's the bottom of the drive.
We're paying... We've had quotes now for another...
for nearly £11,000
to dig the duct to bring them up the road and again that's not doing the pipes or the connections.
So eventually just connecting is probably going to get towards £20,000.
That's just for water and electrics.
It's extraordinary. We hadn't thought of anything like those costs.
'To connect the water and electricity is about £5,000 more than Raymond and Helen expected,
'while the electrical wiring in the house has also come in five grand over what they'd accounted for.
'Add heating, plumbing and foundations and they're £20,000 over.
'which could mean compromising on key features such as their dream kitchen and bathroom finishes.'
We hadn't expected some of these extra costs and they will eat into other things in our budget.
Yes. I've still got a kitchen at the moment, but that'll be the first thing to go out the window!
'It's build month three
'and while overspending is a concern, they are holding on to their enthusiasm for the new house.
'And they're rewarded with some rather rapid progress.'
You can see an enormous change over a very short time.
We're really delighted with it. It's good speed, they're keeping up.
One week they had off because they're ahead.
'Already it's starting to resemble their carefully drawn up plans.
'The oak beams are all in place, work is progressing on the lower section of the roof
'and the brickwork for the impressive chimney has begun.'
Here we are, going through the front door. Hang onto my hat. Into the hall.
The hole in the roof is the staircase, which goes up there and then left.
You get a wonderful feel for the timber frame.
The whole thing is supporting the bit above, up through there.
And this is the kitchen dining room, going into the sun room at the far end.
It's going to be all glass down there, looking out.
And the stove right at the end with a lovely free-standing chimney, going through the roof.
It should look quite stunning, I hope.
'With the cottage starting to come to life, they're starting to mentally move in
'and have finally decided to put their old house on the market.
'They're relying on the sale to clear the £300,000 mortgage they're using to fund the build
'and to release a further £50,000 to finish extra elements. Raymond's feeling optimistic.'
We've had the agents round and they've both suggested we ought to do it now, so we've chosen one
and it's all going to go ahead. Delighted. We move in in November.
'Putting their old house up for sale has led them to throw financial caution to the wind.
'Despite their current overspend, they've taken a risk and borrowed an additional £55,000
'to bring forward the construction of their sun roof, which was to have been financed by the sale.
'It's a big gamble for the pair and means they have to sell their house and for a good price
'to clear their growing debts.
'Four months into the build
'and I'm back to find out how they've been getting on.'
Last time I stood here, there was a filled-in pond and a bit of green space.
-Things have changed.
-It's 12 weeks in since they started digging into the ground.
We've got the windows in and the roof on and battened down, waiting for the tiles.
-I love your chimney stack.
-Wonderful, isn't it?
They really enjoyed building it.
It's extraordinary, in quarter of a year, progress like this.
-Did you expect it to be this quick?
-Er, no, definitely not. I didn't expect it to be this big either!
'As far as downsizing goes, the scale of this retirement cottage seems to have surprised them,
'but even at this early stage, the place already has a cosy feel.'
-Is it fair to say this already feels homely?
-I think it does.
You can imagine the fire glowing away, sofas on either side.
Do you know what else I like about your building?
You've got this really ancient form of construction, which we can hear going on as we speak.
And then if you look up, there is the very latest in technology.
I like that juxtaposition, the marriage of old and new. That's your underfloor heating.
-These are the heat diffuser plates and then masses of insulation goes in this under bit.
-Pushing it up.
-I'm dying to see the sun room. May we?
I could see Raymond's excitement in the other room and yours here.
You're beaming from ear to ear.
-I love it, I love it.
-And this space is a lot bigger than I thought it'd be.
Looking at the plan, it looked almost up against the boundary.
-It's big, yeah.
-Absolutely lovely. What about the nitty gritty? All smiles on the budget?
-Is it ever?
-But it must be a huge reliance on unloading the old place.
Until we sell the old place, we won't be able to finish this.
-We're very tight, aren't we?
-We'll be able to pay our builders.
-It's OK! Carry on!
They can pay you, I've just found out!
I think the last time we saw you, we hoped to build the whole thing
and get the garden done, everything, for about £350,000.
-Now, not exactly, but it's going to be nearer £400,000, I think, at the end of the day.
-Plus a bit.
Yeah. I am completely jealous.
You're doing a fabulous job.
And the builders know they're getting paid, so that's all right.
There you go. Every cloud has a silver lining.
'It's certainly not been an easy journey so far
'and if they're going to keep their build on budget, they'll have to seriously tighten their belts.'
'If you're building your own property, there's a chance you'll get your hands dirty at some point.
'The more you can do yourself, the more cash you can save.
'I like to think I'm pretty deft at DIY, so I've been going back to building college to see how I do.
'My tutor for today - Malcolm Boyle.'
This, I think, and I'm sure you'll agree is one of the finest things ever invented.
-No, it's just a brick.
-It's not. Perfect shape. Just a lovely thing.
Spoken like a true novice.
-'So much for creeping to the teacher.'
-The first thing to do is mark out the return corner
at a 90-degree angle where we'll lay the bricks. We take some mortar,
thin screed, mark it with a set square.
-SO it's a return corner because it runs off in two directions?
-Absolutely, that's right.
-An external corner of the house.
-I understand what I'm doing now.
'One of the key tools in bricklaying is obviously the spirit level to make sure your walls aren't wonky.'
Bubbles in water will always go to the highest point.
We know it's too far that way, so that's the high side.
Ensure we get it level both ways.
That ensures that later on when we start to make the wall vertical,
-plumb as we call it, the brick will be nice and square between the lines.
-That's the theory!
'Malcolm starts me off and then decides to take off and leave me to it.'
I reckon with the bricks that's left, about five minutes is enough to get this corner nice.
-Why do you always say five minutes?
-Five minutes is a good time.
-To make two cups of tea.
Right, I'm off.
'Talk about in at the deep end, but at least for my swimming certificate I only had one brick!'
I'm not sure about Malcolm. It's nice that he trusts you to get on with it, but all the same...
I would like some help.
A really useful tip he did give me was hold the brick
next to the one that you're tapping or they'll move around a lot.
I've never heard that before.
'Malcolm also said to make sure the pattern was on the outside.'
Now I'm confused.
How can that go on there without showing one of them?
Oh, well, never mind.
'With my return corner almost finished, the gaffer returns.'
Oh, well done, that man.
-Absolutely finished. Fantastic, that, yeah?
-That might be upside down.
You know what I was saying about sculptures? What's it meant to be?
You've got all the faces on the right side which is a plus point. Your mortar's not too brilliant.
You do understand that vertical means that bubble is between the lines?
-Not tucked away in a corner?
-That's probably about ten millimetres out of plumb.
-In four courses?
-In four courses.
'So school's out for today
'and I'm not quite the model pupil just yet.'
Basically, I'm building an igloo. It was a grand dome I had in mind.
A grand dome or a mushroom, depending which way it goes.
Back in Hildersham and over four months into the build,
progress on the Humphrys' detached cottage continues apace.
The roofers arrive to tile the roof.
But when the pros down tools for the day,
the DIY night shift gets started in a bid to save cash.
Nice, quiet evening, now that the tilers have gone, having finished the tiling.
Helen and I are out painting the gable end.
Do you know what? This is the 17th of September.
34 years ago, we got married.
This is the evening of our anniversary.
Don't say I don't know how to treat a woman(!)
This is one wedding anniversary that won't be forgotten in a hurry.
Luckily, Helen doesn't have to paint the entire house,
and the following day, the professionals are on site to render the exterior walls of the cottage.
A week later and there's no rest for Raymond.
This time, he ropes in brother-in-law Geoff for a spot of DIY guttering.
Geoff and I have a couple of days, today and Monday, to try and get the guttering up, not the downpipes,
so the scaffolding can come down.
We're probably saving about £2,000 by doing the guttering ourselves.
I say "ourselves". As you see, I hold the bracket.
-No, you've got the level. You've got the important job.
-The level as well.
They might be saving money, but they're in danger of using up all their energy.
We're probably both quite tired.
Helen and I have been worried about the money and neither of us have been sleeping particularly well.
That's just one of those things, unfortunately.
Now everything is coming together, there are decisions to make every day
which in itself is sort of tiring and you hope you're making the right ones.
Added to the burden is the continuing worry of their unsold house.
With the projected moving-in date looming in less than two months,
Raymond and Helen need the money from the sale of their old home to finish off the new place.
If all goes according to plan and we move in at the beginning of December,
it will be a bit bare, we will be camping out for a while,
but we'll have a utility room probably, so we'll have a sink there and one bathroom, so that's OK.
Hopefully, we'll have most of the floors in, but we'll see.
We've just got to see how the finances work out.
The key to a successful build lies with a realistic budget and the right design.
By their own admission, Raymond and Helen were supposed to be downsizing.
However, they've both been surprised by the size and scale of their new home.
We probably ought to have built something smaller, but if you only do one of these things once...
It's like this lovely sun room. We could have done without it and the house would have been smaller,
but it would still be big enough for us and lovely,
so we are spending too much on this, but we're not going to regret it.
It's going to be fantastic and we're going to love living here.
And no wonder! This cottage might be big, but it's also beautiful.
One job that has been finished is the stunning exterior render.
So they managed to do it in two days.
I've had to cover it up, unfortunately, because of all the wet.
Basically, it's a lime render mixture, so it comes out as this is its natural colour.
I haven't told Helen, but Geoff, my brother-in-law, said this morning,
"Now you've run out of money, Helen will be able to use this for curtains."
-Quite trendy for curtains.
-Trendy hessian curtains, you see!
That's a good idea.
Despite their money worries, at least they're holding on to their sense of humour.
And two days later, their spirits are lifted further
when they receive an offer for their old house which should now ease their financial concerns.
We've found a buyer for the house, we hope.
And hopefully, contracts will be exchanged in the next two or three weeks.
We've agreed a completion date on the 3rd of December.
It's December and seven months into the construction.
The scaffolding is down and the cottage's beautiful exterior is finally revealed.
Raymond is relieved work is nearing completion, but there is still a lot to think about.
It's sort of bringing it all to fruition now.
-I'm tired, I think is probably the right answer.
-Yeah, I'm tired.
There have been so many decisions to make and there are more decisions every day.
It's not juggling with this, but with the sale of our house as well.
Trying to keep everything going is tiring, isn't it?
Two months since they got a firm offer on their old house,
worryingly, the sale is still not completed.
Unfortunately, there's been a bit of a delay on the sale of our house.
There are certain legal problems,
but we hope that will all be settled by the end of this week,
so we'll exchange contracts at the beginning of next week, we hope.
I rather think that we'll be in on Christmas Eve.
Just about moved in on Christmas Eve.
-And we hope to complete on the 7th of January.
-Yeah, so... Yeah.
It's been a stressful journey for Raymond and Helen,
but they're remaining positive about the project.
Who wouldn't be? HE LAUGHS
-But we wouldn't do it again.
-Once is enough.
-At our age, it's too much of a risk.
Four months later, I'm in Hildersham to visit Raymond and Helen.
The sale of the old house has gone through.
They've been settling into their new home for the last couple of months.
I don't know about new build. Something looks like it's been here for ever.
They've still to landscape, but I am very impressed by the finished home.
This house simply oozes traditional charm.
In a village of just a handful of houses,
it more than justifies its right to be crowned the elegant new kid on the block.
-Hello. Come in.
-Thank you very much indeed.
This is very, very impressive.
There's a real feeling of permanence about your brand-new house, if that makes sense.
-Do you know what I mean?
-It feels as though we've been here quite a long time.
It immediately felt comfortable moving in to it.
'It took less than a year to put up, but the ancient oak beams which support the house
'puts its character in a completely different time and place.
'From the kitchen through to the lounge and sun room,
'each room manages to conjure up a feeling of cosy warmth.'
Right, Simon, do come in. This is the snug.
And snug it is too!
It's really, really cosy, but you don't spend any time in here
with that beautiful living area in the next room?
Yes, we do, particularly in the evenings. We come in here and light the log fire
and snuggle up and that's it.
But you know what I love... The fact that you've got this oak frame.
It makes every room into a picture, if that makes sense.
-It frames everything. It frames the areas.
-It gives you a continuity as well.
'The house has a bedroom and a bathroom downstairs,
'built with the future in mind.
'The design will allow them to grow older together
'without having to make any further changes to the house.
'Upstairs, the beams and furnishings in the main bedroom develop the country cottage feel.
'This has its own en-suite bathroom and built-in wardrobes.
'The house's other two bedrooms share a second bathroom between them.'
I love your tiles.
-Who chose them?
-Raymond did, actually. He's the tile chooser in this house.
I think you're in touch with your feminine side, Raymond. Definitely.
-It's a lovely touch. It would have been so easy to go simple and white.
But this is a really nice space.
'It's taken a few false starts to get here,
'but the couple can now start to finally enjoy all the hard work they've put in.
'The first two homes they hoped to build on this plot were thrown out by the planners
'and it's third time lucky, now that Quince Cottage is virtually complete.'
-Was it more stressful than you anticipated?
-I don't think it was more stressful.
I think it was much more constant hard work
from first thing in the morning to first thing in the evening.
-And it was every day.
-It was difficult to get away from it.
But I don't know that it was that stressful.
-It was just a lot of work.
-And Helen was worried that I might snuff it.
She was taking my blood pressure every morning to make sure I would carry on paying the mortgage.
Having retired herself, her income didn't cover it at all.
-Talking about money, there was an overspend, wasn't there?
We relied on various prices and things and perhaps we were naive,
because this is the first time we've done it, in working out costs.
It doesn't matter whether it's the electrics or the plumbing or the foundations.
Everything came to more than we had planned, often by quite a lot.
Even if it's only 3,000, 4,000, 5,000 here and there, you've only got to have ten and that's...
-A lot of money.
-An awful lot of money.
Those figures must have been terrifying at times.
We were worried at times that we were going to be able to finish it on the money we had.
'A £50,000 overspend means it's cost them a total
'of £400,000 to build the home of their dreams,
'but what value would it command if it was on the market?'
As you know, there's been an estate agent prying round your property.
They have come up with a market value for this gorgeous, oak-framed property
of somewhere between £650,000 and £700,000.
-It's not bad. Raymond's gone all quiet.
I was hoping in my mind that it would be worth between 600 and 650,
-so that comes out the right side of that.
-So all those financial pressures were worth it in the end, I guess.
'That's a fantastic saving of £300,000,
'compared to buying a similar property in the area.
'Helen and Raymond have put everything into this house,
'including sacrificing their wedding anniversary celebrations to carry on painting the woodwork instead.
'To reward their devotion to duty, it's up to me to put a little sparkle back into their romance.'
It's simply not good enough that you were working on your anniversary.
-There we are.
-Look at those!
-Some lovely crystal glasses.
-But I think even better...
-Oh, look at this!
-"To Build Or Not To Build."
-There we go.
-That is fantastic.
-That's for you.
-Look at these! They're beautiful.
Now you've finally got a bit of space and time,
you can re-live your anniversary without being speckled in paint.
-How's that for you?
-That's wonderful. Thank you very much.
-It's an absolute pleasure.
'And what they've achieved by self-building in their back garden
'is definitely worth celebrating.'
You have used a technique which is ageless.
They've been building in this manner for thousands of years,
but you've created a house for the 21st century and the marriage of those two is an absolute triumph.
I certainly think that the fun of it is the thought to me
that this oak frame will probably be around in 400 or 500 years, even if the skin isn't the same.
-Someone can take it apart and use it again. It'll last.
-It certainly will.
Subtitles by Subtext for Red Bee Media Ltd 2011
Email [email protected]
Presenter Simon O'Brien meets Raymond and Helen Humphrys as they build an eco-friendly country cottage in Cambridgeshire. Plus the couple whose self-build in the Pennines is as stunning as the views, and Simon is just another brick in the wall at building school.