Episode 10 To Build or Not to Build


Episode 10

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.


Similar Content

Browse content similar to Episode 10. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!

Transcript


LineFromTo

Finding a place that suits your wallet and your way of life isn't easy. Well, I have a solution.

0:00:020:00:08

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

0:00:080:00:12

Every year, 20,000 people make the journey of a lifetime and opt to build their own home.

0:00:130:00:20

We'll follow some of them from foundations to finishing touches.

0:00:200:00:24

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

0:00:240:00:29

This is everything I'm living for.

0:00:290:00:32

-And some frustrating lows...

-It would be absolutely heartbreaking if we did have to sell it.

0:00:320:00:38

But if they can overcome these trials and tribulations...

0:00:380:00:42

You can achieve a top-end look for not a colossal amount.

0:00:420:00:46

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

0:00:460:00:50

So if you're looking for your perfect pad, the question is simple: to build or not to build?

0:00:500:00:57

'Coming up: the retirement cottage that's proving a bit of a nightmare.'

0:01:030:01:08

We're probably both quite tired.

0:01:080:01:10

We worry about the money. Neither of us is sleeping well.

0:01:100:01:14

'The self-build in Burnley that's totally dreamy.'

0:01:140:01:18

When it's finished,

0:01:180:01:20

you wake up and you think, "We did this."

0:01:200:01:25

'And I'm just another brick in the wall at building school.'

0:01:250:01:30

Now I'm confused.

0:01:300:01:32

How can that go on there?

0:01:320:01:34

Oh, well.

0:01:340:01:36

Before a blueprint is drawn up or a brick has been laid,

0:01:390:01:43

many self-builders lose the plot finding the right piece of land.

0:01:430:01:47

While many search far and wide, today I'm in the village of Hildersham near Cambridge

0:01:470:01:54

to meet a couple whose perfect plot was right on their doorstep.

0:01:540:01:57

'Retired couple Raymond and Helen Humphrys live in a small, but perfectly-formed village

0:02:000:02:06

'of only 60 properties..

0:02:060:02:09

'They already own a beautiful home, but are planning for the future and want a house

0:02:090:02:15

'to suit their changing needs as they get older. They've divided their land and taken on a mortgage

0:02:150:02:21

'to build an easily accessible and eco-friendly timber-frame cottage in their old back garden.'

0:02:210:02:27

Beautiful village. I can understand exactly why you want to stay here,

0:02:270:02:31

-but what's wrong with this place?!

-It's fantastic, but a) it's very large now.

0:02:310:02:37

We want a house for our old age, live downstairs, energy-efficient, easy to look after,

0:02:370:02:43

cheap to run, and where we'd be happy living on one floor, possibly with a carer above.

0:02:430:02:49

This is a super house, but it's a big family house - four bedrooms, three bathrooms.

0:02:490:02:54

And a lot of space about it.

0:02:540:02:58

There must be times, Helen, when you think, "What are we doing?"

0:02:580:03:02

I must say, I'm a bit more... anxious about it than Raymond is.

0:03:020:03:07

-Why not just adapt what's here?

-We want an energy-efficient house and we're doing it for the excitement.

0:03:070:03:14

I've thought for years about building a house to create something exciting.

0:03:140:03:18

I'm in my sixties and want something where I can think, "We built that."

0:03:180:03:22

Reading between the lines, Helen, he's retired and he's bored!

0:03:220:03:26

That was a big shaggy dog story answer to tell us that, wasn't it?

0:03:260:03:31

There's definitely something to that.

0:03:310:03:34

Working with an architect, Raymond and Helen have designed a cottage with an oak frame

0:03:340:03:40

to blend in with the leafy surroundings.

0:03:400:03:44

They already own the plot and they've budgeted £350,000 for the total build,

0:03:440:03:50

which includes a sun room, landscaping and garage.

0:03:500:03:54

Properties in pretty Hildersham cost around the £600,000 mark,

0:03:540:03:58

so they could make a substantial saving if they stick to the budget.

0:03:580:04:03

'Helen and Raymond have already had some building experience renovating their current house

0:04:040:04:10

'and they're keen to avoid hidden costs that they know can spring up.

0:04:100:04:14

'So to avoid any nasty surprises, they've employed a building company and project manager

0:04:140:04:20

'to build the main section of the house for a fixed price.

0:04:200:04:24

'Just a short stroll away, behind the new garden wall, lies the plot to house their new home,

0:04:240:04:30

'Quince Cottage.'

0:04:300:04:32

-What will we be looking at?

-This is where the old pond and terrace were.

0:04:320:04:38

The end of the building will be down by the post that sticks up there.

0:04:380:04:43

-Oh, yeah, a little peg there.

-Here's the famous quince tree.

0:04:430:04:47

It's going to be Quince Cottage.

0:04:470:04:50

'Despite living just yards from their new front door, it's been a long and expensive journey,

0:04:500:04:56

'but three architects, five years and £25,000 later, they are finally ready to build for their future.'

0:04:560:05:04

You've got this massive place here,

0:05:050:05:07

-a new build on the go. How are you funding this?

-We're trying it in two stages.

0:05:070:05:13

-We hope to be able to do most of it, both stages, for about £350,000. Approximately.

-OK.

0:05:130:05:19

We've got a mortgage of £300,000, an offset mortgage,

0:05:190:05:24

which means you draw down the money as you use it.

0:05:240:05:28

'The £300,000 mortgage takes care of the main building at stage one.

0:05:290:05:34

'Stage two, which includes the sun room, will be built later

0:05:350:05:39

'with money that is released from the sale of their current home.'

0:05:390:05:44

-Does the financial side of it weigh heavy?

-It does for me, I think, more than Raymond.

0:05:440:05:49

-He, for some reason...

-He wants to do it! That's all there is to it.

-Whatever, yes.

0:05:490:05:56

But it does worry me. I've retired. You're working part-time.

0:05:560:06:01

So we don't have a lot of income and we've remortgaged our house.

0:06:010:06:06

We've got no savings at all now because we've spent it on renovating the house.

0:06:060:06:12

-We've been here 26 years now.

-Yeah.

0:06:120:06:15

And I think...you know... it's time for a change.

0:06:150:06:19

It's not much of a change!

0:06:190:06:22

But it will be a change. We'll have something we've thought a lot about and suits us.

0:06:230:06:28

'10 days after my visit, the diggers arrive and work begins.

0:06:340:06:39

-'There's definitely no turning back now.'

-Well, here we are.

0:06:390:06:43

End of day one.

0:06:430:06:45

See what a lovely mess they've made.

0:06:450:06:48

And even a greater mess this side.

0:06:480:06:51

But it's the start of great things to come. All very exciting.

0:06:510:06:56

'After the diggers, come the cement lorries and soon the sleepy village

0:06:560:07:02

'is alive with the sound of construction work.

0:07:020:07:06

'However, not everyone in the neighbourhood is as delighted about their build as they are.'

0:07:060:07:13

We had an eight-ton pick-up lorry arrived at about five past seven.

0:07:130:07:17

No doubt causing my neighbours to fall out of bed and wake up.

0:07:170:07:22

And they're not allowed onsite until eight o'clock.

0:07:220:07:25

He's only started whizzing ???????????????

0:07:250:07:29

and his lifting gear shoving all the stuff in.

0:07:290:07:33

The neighbours have been round three times. Anyway, we will await developments. Happy days!

0:07:330:07:41

'Most building sites, even your own, must comply with hours of work set by the local authority

0:07:430:07:49

'to limit noise disruption,

0:07:490:07:51

'usually 8am-6pm, Monday to Friday, 8am-1pm on Saturday and no work on Sunday.

0:07:510:07:58

'Everyone, including the neighbours, deserves a day off, after all.

0:07:580:08:02

'By the end of Day Four, neighbours are the least of Raymond's problems.

0:08:040:08:08

'There's a major issue with the foundations.'

0:08:080:08:12

You can see that the oversite concrete is almost all in place.

0:08:120:08:18

Except you can see this vast area where part of the earth in the middle collapsed

0:08:190:08:25

and it's going to cost an absolute fortune, I expect, extra.

0:08:250:08:30

'With the ground unstable, the builders were forced to use much more concrete than expected.

0:08:330:08:39

'It's often difficult to determine how good the ground is until you start digging down.

0:08:390:08:45

'This unknown element means that even with a fixed price, like Raymond and Helen,

0:08:490:08:55

'this can be subject to change for unforeseen problems. This bill

0:08:550:09:00

'could add thousands of pounds to the budget and it's Raymond and Helen who'll have to foot the bill.'

0:09:000:09:07

Hopefully, sometime this week someone will tell me how much in thousands of pounds that'll cost.

0:09:070:09:13

Project Manager said £3,000-£4,000.

0:09:130:09:15

Helen said, "Is that going to come off my kitchen?"

0:09:160:09:20

So...so we don't really know.

0:09:200:09:23

But it's one of those things you have to cope with.

0:09:230:09:28

We never expected the build to go smoothly,

0:09:280:09:32

but there will be problems and, I'm quite sure, frustrations to come.

0:09:320:09:37

And things will go wrong.

0:09:370:09:39

No doubt some of those things will cost extra money, unfortunately.

0:09:390:09:44

We'll just have to grin and bear it and see how we get along.

0:09:440:09:48

'And when the final bill does come in, it's a staggering £6,000 over what they'd budgeted for.

0:09:480:09:54

'Just days into construction, it's a very expensive introduction.

0:09:540:09:59

'Four weeks into the project, the foundations are ready and the oak frame has arrived

0:10:030:10:10

'ready for construction.'

0:10:100:10:13

-Look up at the light on all this.

-Yeah.

0:10:160:10:19

Huge beams joining those bits together. Absolutely massive.

0:10:190:10:24

'Despite the early setback, Raymond and Helen remain upbeat about the build.'

0:10:240:10:31

It's been amazing watching them.

0:10:320:10:35

-Fantastic. Poor old Raymond was...

-Playing golf!

0:10:350:10:39

Poor Raymond playing golf! So he missed it all.

0:10:390:10:44

I hadn't realised how soon I could really see it internally and what it's going to look like.

0:10:450:10:51

This room that Helen's... The big kitchen and sun room, it's Helen's idea to be together.

0:10:510:10:57

I can see it'll be a stunning room.

0:10:570:11:00

My excitement level has probably gone up. I was quite worried.

0:11:040:11:09

But having now seen it all starting to happen, it's just amazing. It's wonderful.

0:11:090:11:15

For some, the desire to build their own home is a lifetime ambition,

0:11:230:11:27

but not everyone has such dreams. When Ron and Rosie Beale bought their cramped bungalow 4 years ago

0:11:270:11:33

for its gorgeous country views, they never set out to self-build,

0:11:330:11:37

but when their plans to extend proved too costly, they opted to build instead.

0:11:370:11:43

The result - a home as stunning as the scenery.

0:11:430:11:48

'Burnley, Lancashire.

0:11:480:11:50

'Nestling in the Pennine Moors, this mill town's more famous for traditional stone terraces

0:11:500:11:56

'than cutting-edge homes, but that's beginning to change thanks in part to Ron and Rosie

0:11:560:12:03

'and their magnificent modern self-build.'

0:12:030:12:07

Our initial meeting with the architect, we said, "We want a single-storey building

0:12:070:12:12

"suitable for two people approaching retirement," and what he produced

0:12:120:12:18

was far greater than we could ever imagine.

0:12:180:12:21

Rosie and Ron's minimalist single-storey home features four bedrooms and two bathrooms,

0:12:290:12:34

the standout in each being the glorious views of the rolling moorland.

0:12:340:12:40

You wake up in this room, you look at the view out there on a day like this and think, "Wow!"

0:12:410:12:48

You want to go and do something.

0:12:480:12:50

The centrepiece of the house is this spacious, split-level, open-plan living room

0:12:520:12:58

surrounded by floor-to-ceiling glass.

0:12:580:13:02

That means the whole house is permanently swimming in light.

0:13:020:13:06

Maybe that's why they call the lower section the piranha pool.

0:13:060:13:09

Why do we call it a piranha pool? Well, we wanted water in there

0:13:090:13:13

and just pretend to say to people, "Would you like to feed our fish?"

0:13:130:13:18

Fortunately, Rosie and Ron opted for a couple of sofas instead of a snappy water feature.

0:13:180:13:25

This stunning, distinctive house couldn't be more different from the one it replaced.

0:13:250:13:31

At a cost of £385,000, this twin-bedroom bungalow had seen better days.

0:13:310:13:37

But what's more amazing is they didn't buy with a plan to build.

0:13:370:13:41

When we came, it was just a standard 1950s brick-built bungalow,

0:13:410:13:47

but it had not stood the test of time.

0:13:470:13:51

And we were looking to expand it,

0:13:510:13:53

but when the architect came along and took one look and said, "Where's the foundations?

0:13:530:13:59

"Why have you got black mould going up the wall?

0:13:590:14:03

"It'll cost you more, or as much, to rebuild it and replace it as it would to put a new build up."

0:14:030:14:10

Which is exactly what they did.

0:14:100:14:13

So in July, 2008, the demolition team arrived and in no time at all

0:14:140:14:19

the bungalow was reduced to rubble and the couple began building its ultra-stylish replacement.

0:14:190:14:25

Their original build budget was £350,000.

0:14:290:14:32

But to achieve the vision they'd fallen in love with,

0:14:340:14:38

they soon realised they'd have to spend much more.

0:14:380:14:43

We actually got three responses back

0:14:430:14:46

ranging from £365,000

0:14:460:14:49

to a maximum, I think, if memory serves me right,

0:14:500:14:54

of about £475,000

0:14:540:14:57

and we really had to search our hearts as to whether we wanted to go ahead.

0:14:570:15:02

With even the cheapest builder's quote over their budget, Rosie and Ron decided to gamble

0:15:020:15:08

and press on with the ambitious project, but it meant their finances were considerably stretched.

0:15:080:15:15

Cheque after cheque, bank draft after bank draft.

0:15:150:15:20

And the most harrowing thing was standing in Waitrose one day

0:15:200:15:24

and realising that I hadn't got enough money.

0:15:240:15:28

And...that was devastating.

0:15:310:15:34

But paying for the groceries proved to be small change compared to what lay ahead.

0:15:340:15:40

Structural issues with the zinc roof cost them a whopping 25 grand.

0:15:400:15:44

If that wasn't bad enough, the kitchen held a few surprises.

0:15:440:15:49

The architect had designed the kitchen to fix this ex-display model that I'd bought,

0:15:490:15:54

but when we looked at it, there was a lot of it damaged.

0:15:540:15:58

So we bit the bullet and ordered a new kitchen. And are we glad we did!

0:15:580:16:04

Swapping the ex-display kitchen for this one cost an extra £20,000,

0:16:060:16:11

but it didn't end there. By completion,

0:16:110:16:15

-they'd overspent their starting budget by a massive £85,000. Was it worth it?

-When it's finished

0:16:150:16:22

and you wake up and you think, "We did this,"

0:16:220:16:26

you just think, "How blessed we are."

0:16:260:16:30

Though the Beales went substantially over-budget, their home was valued

0:16:300:16:36

at a hefty £1.1 million, a saving of almost 25%

0:16:360:16:40

had they bought an equivalent ready-built home.

0:16:400:16:44

But what matters most to them is what they've achieved.

0:16:440:16:48

The first-time builders survived the trials and tribulations to build a striking house with stunning views.

0:16:480:16:55

The whole joy of producing something like this at our stage in life,

0:16:550:17:00

when we're not particularly on the young side,

0:17:000:17:05

it's something we're really pleased to have achieved.

0:17:050:17:09

'Back in the village of Hildersham, Raymond and Helen are into the second month of their build.

0:17:180:17:24

'They return from a week's holiday to discover significant progress.'

0:17:240:17:29

Oh, my goodness!

0:17:290:17:31

We've got a roof shape. Isn't that amazing?

0:17:320:17:36

Wow.

0:17:360:17:38

Oh, what a lovely big room.

0:17:380:17:40

But their initial euphoria doesn't last long as they are hit with more unexpected costs.

0:17:420:17:48

We're sitting here looking at our accounts, depressing ourselves.

0:17:480:17:53

We've basically accepted a price now for the heating

0:17:530:17:57

and that's going to be about £17,000, probably.

0:17:570:18:01

And the additional plumbing, maybe £2,000 on top of that. Getting on for £20,000 for heating.

0:18:010:18:08

'Once again, Raymond and Helen have put their faith in their fixed price quote from the building company

0:18:120:18:18

'even though it does state that the costing for elements such as heating and plumbing

0:18:180:18:24

'are only average estimates based on other customers' experience.

0:18:240:18:28

'And costs spiral further out of control when it comes to connecting the utilities.'

0:18:290:18:35

The water connection charge is another £1,700.

0:18:350:18:39

And that's not connected to your house. It's the bottom of the drive.

0:18:390:18:44

We're paying... We've had quotes now for another...

0:18:440:18:48

for nearly £11,000

0:18:480:18:50

to dig the duct to bring them up the road and again that's not doing the pipes or the connections.

0:18:500:18:56

So eventually just connecting is probably going to get towards £20,000.

0:18:560:19:03

That's just for water and electrics.

0:19:030:19:06

It's extraordinary. We hadn't thought of anything like those costs.

0:19:070:19:12

'To connect the water and electricity is about £5,000 more than Raymond and Helen expected,

0:19:120:19:18

'while the electrical wiring in the house has also come in five grand over what they'd accounted for.

0:19:180:19:24

'Add heating, plumbing and foundations and they're £20,000 over.

0:19:240:19:30

'which could mean compromising on key features such as their dream kitchen and bathroom finishes.'

0:19:300:19:36

We hadn't expected some of these extra costs and they will eat into other things in our budget.

0:19:370:19:43

Yes. I've still got a kitchen at the moment, but that'll be the first thing to go out the window!

0:19:430:19:49

'It's build month three

0:19:520:19:55

'and while overspending is a concern, they are holding on to their enthusiasm for the new house.

0:19:550:20:01

'And they're rewarded with some rather rapid progress.'

0:20:010:20:04

You can see an enormous change over a very short time.

0:20:050:20:09

We're really delighted with it. It's good speed, they're keeping up.

0:20:090:20:14

One week they had off because they're ahead.

0:20:140:20:18

'Already it's starting to resemble their carefully drawn up plans.

0:20:200:20:24

'The oak beams are all in place, work is progressing on the lower section of the roof

0:20:240:20:30

'and the brickwork for the impressive chimney has begun.'

0:20:300:20:34

Here we are, going through the front door. Hang onto my hat. Into the hall.

0:20:340:20:40

The hole in the roof is the staircase, which goes up there and then left.

0:20:400:20:46

You get a wonderful feel for the timber frame.

0:20:460:20:49

The whole thing is supporting the bit above, up through there.

0:20:490:20:54

And this is the kitchen dining room, going into the sun room at the far end.

0:20:540:20:59

It's going to be all glass down there, looking out.

0:20:590:21:04

And the stove right at the end with a lovely free-standing chimney, going through the roof.

0:21:040:21:10

It should look quite stunning, I hope.

0:21:100:21:13

'With the cottage starting to come to life, they're starting to mentally move in

0:21:150:21:20

'and have finally decided to put their old house on the market.

0:21:200:21:25

'They're relying on the sale to clear the £300,000 mortgage they're using to fund the build

0:21:250:21:31

'and to release a further £50,000 to finish extra elements. Raymond's feeling optimistic.'

0:21:310:21:37

We've had the agents round and they've both suggested we ought to do it now, so we've chosen one

0:21:370:21:44

and it's all going to go ahead. Delighted. We move in in November.

0:21:440:21:49

'Putting their old house up for sale has led them to throw financial caution to the wind.

0:21:510:21:58

'Despite their current overspend, they've taken a risk and borrowed an additional £55,000

0:22:000:22:06

'to bring forward the construction of their sun roof, which was to have been financed by the sale.

0:22:060:22:12

'It's a big gamble for the pair and means they have to sell their house and for a good price

0:22:120:22:18

'to clear their growing debts.

0:22:180:22:20

'Four months into the build

0:22:240:22:27

'and I'm back to find out how they've been getting on.'

0:22:270:22:31

Last time I stood here, there was a filled-in pond and a bit of green space.

0:22:310:22:38

-Things have changed.

-It's 12 weeks in since they started digging into the ground.

0:22:380:22:44

We've got the windows in and the roof on and battened down, waiting for the tiles.

0:22:440:22:50

-I love your chimney stack.

-Wonderful, isn't it?

-Great thing!

-Huge!

0:22:500:22:55

They really enjoyed building it.

0:22:550:22:58

It's extraordinary, in quarter of a year, progress like this.

0:22:580:23:02

-Did you expect it to be this quick?

-Er, no, definitely not. I didn't expect it to be this big either!

0:23:020:23:09

'As far as downsizing goes, the scale of this retirement cottage seems to have surprised them,

0:23:110:23:17

'but even at this early stage, the place already has a cosy feel.'

0:23:170:23:21

-Is it fair to say this already feels homely?

-I think it does.

0:23:230:23:27

You can imagine the fire glowing away, sofas on either side.

0:23:270:23:31

Do you know what else I like about your building?

0:23:310:23:35

You've got this really ancient form of construction, which we can hear going on as we speak.

0:23:350:23:41

And then if you look up, there is the very latest in technology.

0:23:410:23:46

I like that juxtaposition, the marriage of old and new. That's your underfloor heating.

0:23:460:23:52

-These are the heat diffuser plates and then masses of insulation goes in this under bit.

-Pushing it up.

-Yeah.

0:23:520:24:00

-I'm dying to see the sun room. May we?

-Yeah.

0:24:000:24:04

This...is just...

0:24:070:24:10

fabulous.

0:24:100:24:12

Absolutely fabulous.

0:24:120:24:14

I could see Raymond's excitement in the other room and yours here.

0:24:140:24:19

You're beaming from ear to ear.

0:24:190:24:21

-I love it, I love it.

-And this space is a lot bigger than I thought it'd be.

0:24:210:24:27

Looking at the plan, it looked almost up against the boundary.

0:24:270:24:31

-It's great.

-It's big, yeah.

0:24:310:24:33

-Absolutely lovely. What about the nitty gritty? All smiles on the budget?

-Not really.

0:24:330:24:40

-Is it ever?

-Fair comment.

0:24:420:24:44

-But it must be a huge reliance on unloading the old place.

-Yes. Yeah.

0:24:440:24:50

Until we sell the old place, we won't be able to finish this.

0:24:500:24:54

-We're very tight, aren't we?

-Yes.

-We'll be able to pay our builders.

0:24:540:24:59

-Yeah.

-It's OK! Carry on!

0:24:590:25:02

They can pay you, I've just found out!

0:25:020:25:06

I think the last time we saw you, we hoped to build the whole thing

0:25:060:25:10

and get the garden done, everything, for about £350,000.

0:25:100:25:15

-Now, not exactly, but it's going to be nearer £400,000, I think, at the end of the day.

-Plus a bit.

0:25:150:25:22

Yeah. I am completely jealous.

0:25:220:25:25

You're doing a fabulous job.

0:25:250:25:27

And the builders know they're getting paid, so that's all right.

0:25:270:25:32

There you go. Every cloud has a silver lining.

0:25:320:25:35

'It's certainly not been an easy journey so far

0:25:350:25:40

'and if they're going to keep their build on budget, they'll have to seriously tighten their belts.'

0:25:400:25:46

'If you're building your own property, there's a chance you'll get your hands dirty at some point.

0:25:510:25:57

'The more you can do yourself, the more cash you can save.

0:25:570:26:02

'I like to think I'm pretty deft at DIY, so I've been going back to building college to see how I do.

0:26:020:26:09

'My tutor for today - Malcolm Boyle.'

0:26:090:26:12

This, I think, and I'm sure you'll agree is one of the finest things ever invented.

0:26:190:26:25

-No, it's just a brick.

-It's not. Perfect shape. Just a lovely thing.

0:26:250:26:30

Spoken like a true novice.

0:26:300:26:32

-'So much for creeping to the teacher.'

-The first thing to do is mark out the return corner

0:26:320:26:38

at a 90-degree angle where we'll lay the bricks. We take some mortar,

0:26:380:26:43

thin screed, mark it with a set square.

0:26:430:26:46

-SO it's a return corner because it runs off in two directions?

-Absolutely, that's right.

0:26:460:26:52

-An external corner of the house.

-I understand what I'm doing now.

0:26:520:26:56

'One of the key tools in bricklaying is obviously the spirit level to make sure your walls aren't wonky.'

0:26:560:27:03

Bubbles in water will always go to the highest point.

0:27:040:27:07

We know it's too far that way, so that's the high side.

0:27:070:27:13

Ensure we get it level both ways.

0:27:130:27:15

That ensures that later on when we start to make the wall vertical,

0:27:160:27:21

-plumb as we call it, the brick will be nice and square between the lines.

-That's the theory!

0:27:210:27:28

Yeah.

0:27:280:27:29

'Malcolm starts me off and then decides to take off and leave me to it.'

0:27:300:27:37

I reckon with the bricks that's left, about five minutes is enough to get this corner nice.

0:27:390:27:44

-Why do you always say five minutes?

-Five minutes is a good time.

-To make two cups of tea.

-Well, one.

0:27:440:27:50

Right, I'm off.

0:27:500:27:52

'Talk about in at the deep end, but at least for my swimming certificate I only had one brick!'

0:27:590:28:06

I'm not sure about Malcolm. It's nice that he trusts you to get on with it, but all the same...

0:28:070:28:13

I would like some help.

0:28:130:28:16

A really useful tip he did give me was hold the brick

0:28:190:28:23

next to the one that you're tapping or they'll move around a lot.

0:28:230:28:27

I've never heard that before.

0:28:270:28:29

'Malcolm also said to make sure the pattern was on the outside.'

0:28:290:28:34

Now I'm confused.

0:28:370:28:39

How can that go on there without showing one of them?

0:28:400:28:43

Oh, well, never mind.

0:28:460:28:49

'With my return corner almost finished, the gaffer returns.'

0:28:510:28:55

Oh, well done, that man.

0:28:550:28:58

-Absolutely finished. Fantastic, that, yeah?

-That might be upside down.

0:28:580:29:03

You know what I was saying about sculptures? What's it meant to be?

0:29:030:29:08

You've got all the faces on the right side which is a plus point. Your mortar's not too brilliant.

0:29:080:29:14

You do understand that vertical means that bubble is between the lines?

0:29:140:29:19

-Yes.

-Not tucked away in a corner?

-Yes, yes.

0:29:190:29:22

-That's probably about ten millimetres out of plumb.

-In four courses?

-In four courses.

0:29:220:29:27

'So school's out for today

0:29:280:29:30

'and I'm not quite the model pupil just yet.'

0:29:300:29:33

Basically, I'm building an igloo. It was a grand dome I had in mind.

0:29:330:29:38

A grand dome or a mushroom, depending which way it goes.

0:29:380:29:41

Back in Hildersham and over four months into the build,

0:29:470:29:51

progress on the Humphrys' detached cottage continues apace.

0:29:510:29:55

The roofers arrive to tile the roof.

0:29:550:29:58

But when the pros down tools for the day,

0:29:580:30:02

the DIY night shift gets started in a bid to save cash.

0:30:020:30:05

Nice, quiet evening, now that the tilers have gone, having finished the tiling.

0:30:050:30:11

Helen and I are out painting the gable end.

0:30:110:30:14

Do you know what? This is the 17th of September.

0:30:150:30:19

34 years ago, we got married.

0:30:190:30:22

This is the evening of our anniversary.

0:30:230:30:26

Don't say I don't know how to treat a woman(!)

0:30:260:30:30

This is one wedding anniversary that won't be forgotten in a hurry.

0:30:300:30:34

Luckily, Helen doesn't have to paint the entire house,

0:30:340:30:38

and the following day, the professionals are on site to render the exterior walls of the cottage.

0:30:380:30:44

A week later and there's no rest for Raymond.

0:30:440:30:47

This time, he ropes in brother-in-law Geoff for a spot of DIY guttering.

0:30:470:30:53

Geoff and I have a couple of days, today and Monday, to try and get the guttering up, not the downpipes,

0:30:530:30:59

so the scaffolding can come down.

0:30:590:31:02

We're probably saving about £2,000 by doing the guttering ourselves.

0:31:020:31:06

I say "ourselves". As you see, I hold the bracket.

0:31:060:31:10

-No, you've got the level. You've got the important job.

-The level as well.

0:31:100:31:14

They might be saving money, but they're in danger of using up all their energy.

0:31:140:31:19

We're probably both quite tired.

0:31:190:31:22

Helen and I have been worried about the money and neither of us have been sleeping particularly well.

0:31:220:31:28

That's just one of those things, unfortunately.

0:31:280:31:31

Now everything is coming together, there are decisions to make every day

0:31:310:31:37

which in itself is sort of tiring and you hope you're making the right ones.

0:31:370:31:42

Added to the burden is the continuing worry of their unsold house.

0:31:420:31:48

With the projected moving-in date looming in less than two months,

0:31:480:31:52

Raymond and Helen need the money from the sale of their old home to finish off the new place.

0:31:520:31:58

If all goes according to plan and we move in at the beginning of December,

0:31:580:32:03

it will be a bit bare, we will be camping out for a while,

0:32:030:32:07

but we'll have a utility room probably, so we'll have a sink there and one bathroom, so that's OK.

0:32:070:32:15

Hopefully, we'll have most of the floors in, but we'll see.

0:32:150:32:19

We've just got to see how the finances work out.

0:32:190:32:22

The key to a successful build lies with a realistic budget and the right design.

0:32:220:32:28

By their own admission, Raymond and Helen were supposed to be downsizing.

0:32:280:32:32

However, they've both been surprised by the size and scale of their new home.

0:32:320:32:37

We probably ought to have built something smaller, but if you only do one of these things once...

0:32:370:32:43

It's like this lovely sun room. We could have done without it and the house would have been smaller,

0:32:430:32:50

but it would still be big enough for us and lovely,

0:32:500:32:53

so we are spending too much on this, but we're not going to regret it.

0:32:530:32:58

It's going to be fantastic and we're going to love living here.

0:32:580:33:03

And no wonder! This cottage might be big, but it's also beautiful.

0:33:040:33:09

One job that has been finished is the stunning exterior render.

0:33:090:33:13

So they managed to do it in two days.

0:33:130:33:15

I've had to cover it up, unfortunately, because of all the wet.

0:33:150:33:20

Basically, it's a lime render mixture, so it comes out as this is its natural colour.

0:33:200:33:26

I haven't told Helen, but Geoff, my brother-in-law, said this morning,

0:33:260:33:30

"Now you've run out of money, Helen will be able to use this for curtains."

0:33:300:33:35

-Quite trendy for curtains.

-Trendy hessian curtains, you see!

0:33:350:33:39

That's a good idea.

0:33:390:33:41

Despite their money worries, at least they're holding on to their sense of humour.

0:33:430:33:49

And two days later, their spirits are lifted further

0:33:490:33:53

when they receive an offer for their old house which should now ease their financial concerns.

0:33:530:33:59

We've found a buyer for the house, we hope.

0:33:590:34:01

And hopefully, contracts will be exchanged in the next two or three weeks.

0:34:010:34:07

We've agreed a completion date on the 3rd of December.

0:34:070:34:10

It's December and seven months into the construction.

0:34:140:34:18

The scaffolding is down and the cottage's beautiful exterior is finally revealed.

0:34:180:34:24

Raymond is relieved work is nearing completion, but there is still a lot to think about.

0:34:240:34:29

It's sort of bringing it all to fruition now.

0:34:320:34:35

-I'm tired, I think is probably the right answer.

-Yeah, I'm tired.

0:34:350:34:39

There have been so many decisions to make and there are more decisions every day.

0:34:390:34:45

It's not juggling with this, but with the sale of our house as well.

0:34:450:34:49

Trying to keep everything going is tiring, isn't it?

0:34:490:34:53

Two months since they got a firm offer on their old house,

0:34:530:34:56

worryingly, the sale is still not completed.

0:34:560:34:59

Unfortunately, there's been a bit of a delay on the sale of our house.

0:34:590:35:04

There are certain legal problems,

0:35:040:35:06

but we hope that will all be settled by the end of this week,

0:35:060:35:10

so we'll exchange contracts at the beginning of next week, we hope.

0:35:100:35:14

I rather think that we'll be in on Christmas Eve.

0:35:140:35:18

Just about moved in on Christmas Eve.

0:35:180:35:21

-And we hope to complete on the 7th of January.

-Yeah, so... Yeah.

0:35:210:35:25

It's been a stressful journey for Raymond and Helen,

0:35:270:35:31

but they're remaining positive about the project.

0:35:310:35:35

Who wouldn't be? HE LAUGHS

0:35:350:35:38

-But we wouldn't do it again.

-No.

0:35:390:35:42

BOTH LAUGH

0:35:420:35:44

-Once is enough.

-At our age, it's too much of a risk.

0:35:440:35:47

Four months later, I'm in Hildersham to visit Raymond and Helen.

0:35:540:35:58

The sale of the old house has gone through.

0:35:580:36:01

They've been settling into their new home for the last couple of months.

0:36:010:36:05

I don't know about new build. Something looks like it's been here for ever.

0:36:070:36:12

They've still to landscape, but I am very impressed by the finished home.

0:36:120:36:17

This house simply oozes traditional charm.

0:36:170:36:20

In a village of just a handful of houses,

0:36:200:36:24

it more than justifies its right to be crowned the elegant new kid on the block.

0:36:240:36:29

-Hello.

-Hello. Come in.

-Thank you very much indeed.

0:36:340:36:38

Wow!

0:36:430:36:44

This is very, very impressive.

0:36:440:36:48

There's a real feeling of permanence about your brand-new house, if that makes sense.

0:36:480:36:54

-Yes.

-Do you know what I mean?

-It feels as though we've been here quite a long time.

0:36:540:36:59

It immediately felt comfortable moving in to it.

0:36:590:37:03

'It took less than a year to put up, but the ancient oak beams which support the house

0:37:040:37:10

'puts its character in a completely different time and place.

0:37:100:37:16

'From the kitchen through to the lounge and sun room,

0:37:160:37:19

'each room manages to conjure up a feeling of cosy warmth.'

0:37:190:37:23

Right, Simon, do come in. This is the snug.

0:37:280:37:32

And snug it is too!

0:37:330:37:35

It's really, really cosy, but you don't spend any time in here

0:37:350:37:40

with that beautiful living area in the next room?

0:37:400:37:44

Yes, we do, particularly in the evenings. We come in here and light the log fire

0:37:440:37:49

and snuggle up and that's it.

0:37:490:37:51

But you know what I love... The fact that you've got this oak frame.

0:37:510:37:55

It makes every room into a picture, if that makes sense.

0:37:550:38:00

-It frames everything. It frames the areas.

-Yes.

-It gives you a continuity as well.

0:38:000:38:05

'The house has a bedroom and a bathroom downstairs,

0:38:060:38:10

'built with the future in mind.

0:38:100:38:12

'The design will allow them to grow older together

0:38:130:38:17

'without having to make any further changes to the house.

0:38:170:38:21

'Upstairs, the beams and furnishings in the main bedroom develop the country cottage feel.

0:38:210:38:27

'This has its own en-suite bathroom and built-in wardrobes.

0:38:270:38:32

'The house's other two bedrooms share a second bathroom between them.'

0:38:320:38:37

I love your tiles.

0:38:370:38:39

-Who chose them?

-Raymond did, actually. He's the tile chooser in this house.

0:38:390:38:44

I think you're in touch with your feminine side, Raymond. Definitely.

0:38:440:38:48

-It's a lovely touch. It would have been so easy to go simple and white.

-Yes.

0:38:480:38:53

But this is a really nice space.

0:38:530:38:56

'It's taken a few false starts to get here,

0:38:560:38:59

'but the couple can now start to finally enjoy all the hard work they've put in.

0:38:590:39:04

'The first two homes they hoped to build on this plot were thrown out by the planners

0:39:040:39:09

'and it's third time lucky, now that Quince Cottage is virtually complete.'

0:39:090:39:15

-Was it more stressful than you anticipated?

-I don't think it was more stressful.

0:39:150:39:21

I think it was much more constant hard work

0:39:210:39:24

from first thing in the morning to first thing in the evening.

0:39:240:39:28

-Hmm.

-And it was every day.

-Yeah.

-It was difficult to get away from it.

0:39:280:39:32

But I don't know that it was that stressful.

0:39:330:39:37

-It was just a lot of work.

-And Helen was worried that I might snuff it.

0:39:370:39:41

She was taking my blood pressure every morning to make sure I would carry on paying the mortgage.

0:39:410:39:47

Having retired herself, her income didn't cover it at all.

0:39:470:39:51

-Talking about money, there was an overspend, wasn't there?

-Yes.

0:39:510:39:55

We relied on various prices and things and perhaps we were naive,

0:39:550:39:59

because this is the first time we've done it, in working out costs.

0:39:590:40:03

It doesn't matter whether it's the electrics or the plumbing or the foundations.

0:40:030:40:08

Everything came to more than we had planned, often by quite a lot.

0:40:080:40:12

Even if it's only 3,000, 4,000, 5,000 here and there, you've only got to have ten and that's...

0:40:120:40:18

-A lot of money.

-An awful lot of money.

-Absolutely.

0:40:180:40:21

Those figures must have been terrifying at times.

0:40:210:40:25

We were worried at times that we were going to be able to finish it on the money we had.

0:40:250:40:30

'A £50,000 overspend means it's cost them a total

0:40:320:40:36

'of £400,000 to build the home of their dreams,

0:40:360:40:40

'but what value would it command if it was on the market?'

0:40:400:40:44

As you know, there's been an estate agent prying round your property.

0:40:450:40:49

They have come up with a market value for this gorgeous, oak-framed property

0:40:490:40:55

of somewhere between £650,000 and £700,000.

0:40:550:41:00

-Wow!

-So...

0:41:000:41:02

-Very nice.

-It's not bad. Raymond's gone all quiet.

0:41:030:41:06

Wow.

0:41:070:41:09

I was hoping in my mind that it would be worth between 600 and 650,

0:41:090:41:14

-so that comes out the right side of that.

-Yeah.

-Lovely.

0:41:140:41:17

-So all those financial pressures were worth it in the end, I guess.

-Yes.

-Oh, yes.

0:41:170:41:23

'That's a fantastic saving of £300,000,

0:41:230:41:27

'compared to buying a similar property in the area.

0:41:270:41:31

'Helen and Raymond have put everything into this house,

0:41:330:41:37

'including sacrificing their wedding anniversary celebrations to carry on painting the woodwork instead.

0:41:370:41:43

'To reward their devotion to duty, it's up to me to put a little sparkle back into their romance.'

0:41:430:41:49

It's simply not good enough that you were working on your anniversary.

0:41:500:41:54

-There we are.

-Look at those!

-Some lovely crystal glasses.

0:41:540:41:58

-Fantastic.

-But I think even better...

-Oh, look at this!

0:41:580:42:01

-"To Build Or Not To Build."

-There we go.

-That is fantastic.

0:42:010:42:05

-That's for you.

-Look at these! They're beautiful.

-Fantastic.

0:42:050:42:09

Now you've finally got a bit of space and time,

0:42:090:42:12

you can re-live your anniversary without being speckled in paint.

0:42:120:42:16

-How's that for you?

-That's wonderful. Thank you very much.

-It's an absolute pleasure.

0:42:160:42:22

'And what they've achieved by self-building in their back garden

0:42:250:42:29

'is definitely worth celebrating.'

0:42:290:42:32

You have used a technique which is ageless.

0:42:340:42:37

They've been building in this manner for thousands of years,

0:42:370:42:41

but you've created a house for the 21st century and the marriage of those two is an absolute triumph.

0:42:410:42:48

I certainly think that the fun of it is the thought to me

0:42:480:42:52

that this oak frame will probably be around in 400 or 500 years, even if the skin isn't the same.

0:42:520:42:57

-Someone can take it apart and use it again. It'll last.

-It certainly will.

0:42:570:43:01

Subtitles by Subtext for Red Bee Media Ltd 2011

0:43:180:43:22

Email [email protected]

0:43:220:43:25

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.


Download Subtitles

SRT

ASS