Episode 11 To Build or Not to Build


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Episode 11

Series following some of the UK's 20,000 self-builders. Karl and Lesley Greaves face a battle with planners and their neighbours when trying to build their dream home near Leeds.


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Transcript


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We all dream of owning the perfect home but finding a place

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that suits both your wallet and your way of life isn't always easy.

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Well, 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, and we'll be following

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some of them as they go from foundations to finishing touches.

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It's certainly been relentless.

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

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Along the way, our brave self-builders

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will experience amazing highs.

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Like you say, it's been a dream.

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And it's starting to come together now.

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And some frustrating lows.

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How many more things can go pear-shaped?

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But if they can overcome these trials and tribulations

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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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When the best-laid plans go awry, the self-builders

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in Leeds with serious problems with their planning permission.

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Spoke to a guy at the council.

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He just says if I've diversified from the plans

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then I've got to go back and build it as the plans were passed.

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They can help me pull it down if I have to pull it down.

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Simple as that.

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The eco build in Dorset that's poles apart.

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A quick way of getting downstairs.

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And stone me, it's not easy building walls at building college.

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It's impossible. I'm starting to dislike this task already.

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Ah, what a view. God's own country.

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Now, what would you pay to live in a property

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that was afforded such a grand vista from every room?

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Sadly, such places are difficult to find.

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However, Karl and Lesley Greaves discovered just such a gem in Rawson near Leeds.

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Only one problem, though, as far as they were concerned,

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the main eyesore spoiling their glorious outlook was their home.

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So they made the very bold decision to keep the view and build something new.

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This is Karl and Lesley Greaves,

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with their two children Marshall and Saffron.

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Oh, and their pet dog, Chester.

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The Greaves family have embarked on the biggest adventure of their lives,

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knocking down their old house and building a brand new family home.

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This was a little three-bed house, sat on a hill with just the most fantastic views,

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and this is why we bought this.

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And then the intention was a couple of extensions,

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but three and a half years later, this is it, no house but now the new house.

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This is the beginning, I suppose, of our dream home.

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Karl's no stranger to rolling up his sleeves and getting stuck into a bit of building work.

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He's an electrician by trade, but he's putting his business on the back-burner

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to project manage and labour on the 11-month build.

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-That will have to go round there the same, to match that door.

-Course it will, and that.

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And when Lesley is not sorting Karl's accounts,

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she's on site with a calming cuppa for the crew.

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Despite some early weather delays, work's been motoring along

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and, three months in, the ground floor is almost complete.

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The last two or three weeks, it has flown up.

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I can't believe we got to this stage. It's pretty exciting.

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Really exciting, actually.

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With this home flying up, I'm visiting site to check on progress so far

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and sample one of Lesley's famous builder's brews.

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-Ha ha, I timed that right.

-Mm. Morning.

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-Yes, are you all right?

-Welcome to my glamorous kitchen(!)

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-It's gorgeous, isn't it(?)

-It is. Hmm.

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-This is the nerve centre.

-This is the nerve centre.

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-Without me making this...

-Things would grind to a halt. Everyone knows that.

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-I'm keeping everybody happy. Sorry, would you like one?!

-Yes, please. If you don't mind.

-No.

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LAUGHTER

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With service like that, I bet the builders are parched!

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Finally, with cuppa in hand, I can find out more about the build from Lesley

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as Karl cracks on with the work.

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-You really get the impression here.

-It's coming along nicely. I'm really pleased.

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I've been to many sites now.

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On some of them, there is an old building that isn't worth having.

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But, you are living in a perfectly good house.

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Yeah, I suppose we were. But when we found this house, it was the view.

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-The view sold it to us.

-It's amazing.

-Absolutely great.

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It was a big decision. Many, many discussions. "Shall we, shan't we?"

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Now I can see it going up, I feel we've done absolutely the right thing.

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Karl and Leslie are building a large, five-bed, three-storey detached house,

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clad in reclaimed stone to blend in with neighbouring properties.

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A balcony with folding patio doors will dominate a front facade heavy on glass

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to soak up the sun and the views.

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The plot and the original house cost £330,000.

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And Karl and Lesley have allocated a further £300,000 for the build,

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taking their total estimated budget to £630,000.

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Although designing their perfect home wasn't easy.

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Even though it's a new building, it is a traditional-looking build.

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-Was that always the plan?

-No.

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It was not our intention.

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When we first decided to build our house,

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-we decided we'd like contemporary.

-OK.

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But our architect came up with a plan that looked like an aircraft hangar.

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So contemporary for us, actually, it was just too modern.

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It wouldn't have sat well. It's really hard.

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You think, "Design your own house, really easy." But it's not.

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-All we knew was that we wanted huge windows to absorb the view.

-Yeah.

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So it took a long time to actually get the final design and get it right.

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The look is how people will judge you, your neighbours, the world at large,

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-and anyone who visits you.

-That's right.

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It won't be to everyone's taste, but hopefully it will be ours.

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-I think it's looking handsome.

-It is handsome. It's quite a butch house.

-It is.

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It's a good, solid thing. Talking of butch, we are going to see the man.

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-Absolutely!

-Let's go and find him.

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-How do.

-Perfect.

-Perfect, you're saying. A perfect day.

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-You look like a happy man.

-HE LAUGHS

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-It's coming on.

-Indeed it is.

-Are you pleased?

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So far, yeah. It's... well, as it should be.

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You do, you look confident. You look very confident.

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It's your trade, but, a big difference now for both of you.

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It isn't just a renovation or bits and bobs here and there, this is the full bit.

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It is. I've never done anything like this before, on this scale.

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It's a case of choosing the right people to do a job, which hopefully I have done.

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And it's going according to plan, because I've got the right people in.

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Simple as that. That's the secret behind it all.

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Do you feel, as a couple, an extra stress

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because it's your own home you're building, or more pleasure? Go on.

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-It's a bit of both, isn't it, Karl?

-We used to argue every now and again.

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It's now... It's now more now than now and again!

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While this build might create the odd disagreement,

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if the Greaveses can handle the emotional roller-coaster ride, the rewards could be massive.

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To find a similar site with these glorious views,

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with the house you will end up with, what would you be looking round here?

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I spoke to an estate agent friend and he...

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We're in unknown territory, because to work on a square footage price at 5,000 square feet,

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we're saying £260 per square foot, over £1 million.

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But, in the village, there isn't anything like that.

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-Suffice to say, you simply couldn't have afforded to buy?

-No.

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Not at all.

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If the finished home does hit the magic million-pound mark,

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the projected outlay of 630,000 on plot and construction

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mean the decision to self-build will be well worth it.

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But this house isn't going to build itself.

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Time to let Karl get back to business.

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Anyway, I think I've kept you long enough here. It's about time...

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-The coffee's cold.

-Back to the office.

-Absolutely.

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Cheers, Karl. I'll let you get on. Perfect it is, he said.

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By doing a lot of the work himself, Karl's knocked thousands off his labour bill.

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It's build month four and, today, it's family-heating bills that Karl's concerned about,

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filling the gaps between his insulation boards.

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I see these gaps as where money's leaking out, as in heat.

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Probably a bit of a overkill, but...

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..The Germans do it, and if it's good enough for them,

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it's good enough for me.

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Insulation is the most important energy-saving feature you can install,

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so a few hours' hard graft plugging the gaps will definitely save money in the future.

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While Karl plugs on as normal, building his home with a view,

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there is actually big trouble looming on the horizon.

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In November last year, the council, the girl from the council, I said to at the time

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I'd decided now to do it in stone as opposed to stone render and cedar clad.

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And assured her I wanted to put the games room on this side,

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because of a building regulations issue over a fire coming up through the staircase.

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She said to me, "Not a problem, we just need to see your stone sample."

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Everything was great.

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She says, "Send it in as amendments on your planning." So we did that last November.

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On Friday this week, they've said no,

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they're not accepting that, it's to be built as per the drawing.

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As the build has developed, Karl has made changes to his original plans.

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But deviations from the drawings need to be approved by planning.

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So I spoke to a guy at the council.

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He says if I've diversified from the plans,

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basically, I've got to go back and build it as the plans were passed.

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As I said to him, "What does that mean?"

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He said, "You've to take it down and rebuild it as it should be."

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So I'm now... I don't know where I'm going, but I'm continuing.

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And they can help me pull it down if I have to pull it down.

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It's as simple as that, because I've got no other option than to carry on.

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Because I can't afford to knock it down.

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Karl and Lesley will have to submit a brand-new planning application

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and hope the changes to the original design will be passed.

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They've already demolished one house,

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while building their dream home with a view could turn into a nightmare that they didn't see coming.

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If you go down to the woods today in Dorset, you're in for a big surprise,

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because tucked away among the trees near Lyme Regis is a fabulously futuristic eco-home.

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However, building this house from scratch was certainly no picnic.

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With its bold architecture and sumptuous open-plan layout,

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this five-bedroomed woodland retreat is the realisation of one man's self-build dream.

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For owner Callum Bremner, who lives here with his wife Jane and family,

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life wouldn't be the same without it.

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I wanted to build a house myself. I wanted to build something that would be unique

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and would be to our requirements.

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We didn't want to compromise on what the spaces were and how we'd live here.

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We wanted it to be open-plan. We want it to be places where the kids could escape to

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and also an area where Jane and I could be close most of the time

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without loads of doors and windows and walls covering us.

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For Jane, the most important part was that it enabled the couple to find their spiritual home.

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We took a long time looking for the plot and we were lucky to find it.

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I've actually lived here all my life

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and I used to walk past the entrance to the plot for many years of my life.

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But I didn't know this place was up here.

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So when it came the market, we were very fortunate to hear about it in the first place.

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Although the house is in the middle of a protected woodland,

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it's also a stone's throw from the seaside tourist hotspot of Lyme Regis,

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which meant the land didn't come cheap.

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The plot cost the couple £400,000

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and they set aside £300,000 for the build.

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Callum designed the house, using a steel and timber structure,

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with plenty of environmentally-friendly features to suit the location.

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These include a solar-heating system and rainwater harvester.

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Callum, who's an instructor in outdoor pursuits,

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decided to save cash by taking a sabbatical

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and project managing the build himself.

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He didn't set himself a deadline, but soon realised he had a mountain to climb.

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Initially, I thought it was achievable within a reasonably short period of time

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and then, after a month, I realised it would be a long period of time and it was hard graft.

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I remember some days I was absolutely caked in mud and it was hard work.

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The project took two and half years

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to complete, but, amazingly, came in £20,000 under budget.

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A feat few self-builders can boast about.

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He achieved this by opting to do most of the work himself

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and not using main contractors or builders.

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I would say 90% of everything we did on the house

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was done without contractors.

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So that was where the big money saving was for us, definitely.

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Not surprisingly for a house surrounded by trees,

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one of the main features is a wood-burning stove.

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The fire is probably the focal point in this area.

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It's a huge wood burner that provides all the heat for the radiators

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throughout the house and also our hot water.

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OK, if we come on to the stairs, the stairs were the big design thing.

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We wanted to make it special.

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What we tried to do is the curves of the kids' bedrooms,

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we tried to duplicate with the curves of the stairs.

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And that was the difficult bit. And it did work well.

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But if you want a quicker way down,

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Callum's playful design has given the house another option.

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When we designed the house originally, with the kids involved,

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they wanted a fireman's pole, so when we built the house, we said, "Yeah, why not?"

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So we built the fireman's pole. The kids use it all the time.

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Probably not as much as they have done years ago. And it's, well, I'll show you.

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A quick way of getting downstairs.

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With properties on the South Coast changing hands for millions,

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the Bremners have a house they would never otherwise have been able to afford.

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Their home has recently been valued at £750,000, which means

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they saved upwards of £70,000 with the decision to self-build.

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But Karen says once in a lifetime is probably enough.

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It's weird, because you don't switch off from it.

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There is never a weekend where you can go, "OK, that's it, I won't even worry about it now."

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That's it. It's finished. But it isn't like that. I think the day I switched off was the day we moved in.

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In Leeds, Karl and Lesley Greaves love their view.

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But they didn't like their home.

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So they knocked it down and they are building another one.

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A five-bed, detached home complete with balcony

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and central glass atrium so they can soak up the stunning scenery.

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It's month five, and electrician Karl

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is project managing and labouring on the build.

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The house is looking great, but that's the last thing on Karl's mind.

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He has big worries over his planning permission.

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As well as the changes to the original plans,

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the council have now received several complaints about the removal of trees from the garden

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and, crucially, that the new house appears much bigger

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than the one Karl and Lesley had approval to build.

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Well, what a day!

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Today being Monday, the council have just been

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with an enforcement officer to try and close the site down

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due to the fact the neighbours have complained that they think the house is too big.

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So, the council turned up today,

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tried to close the site down until they can get somebody in

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to assess the project, measure it and make sure everything's OK.

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Karl and Lesley did show their plans to the neighbours

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before they started building.

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You're not obliged to do it,

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but keeping the locals in the loop should improve your chances

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of a harmonious build, although Karl's PR offensive didn't pay off.

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Frustrating, frustrating.

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Well, I think it's just a waste of time and energy

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that they're expending, because all they had to do was come round

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and see what I'm doing and realise the changes I have made are for the better.

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Not just for myself but for them.

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It's just basically the facade to this side

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and the balcony changes and the fact I've changed the windows

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from long slotted ones that look over my neighbours

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to slotted windows at a high-level so nobody sees it.

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I don't see them, they don't see me.

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But Karl can at least be confident about the dispute over whether the house is too big.

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As far as the size is concerned,

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we've not changed the size of the building.

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The height, the size, it's exactly as it should be.

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That's why we're going on and we are carrying on up.

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But it's not necessarily the size that matters and by continuing

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without planning permission, Karl is taking a big gamble.

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If the planners don't approve his alterations,

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the result could be disastrous.

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The worst case scenario I've got is that these bifold doors on this side

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should have been on this side so I'll have to take all this wall out.

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This wall here should have been rendered on the drawings

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so I'll have to render all that stonework

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and my balcony shouldn't have been curved.

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It should have been angled to the side

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so it means taking the balcony out again

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which, at the moment, stands at about four or five grand.

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I've already spent more than I should have done

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on the original drawings so to go back to them,

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I've not even thought about it. I don't want to think about it.

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To get their new design approved, Karl and Lesley have had to start

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from scratch and submit the entire planning application all over again.

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The next vital stage will be another site visit from the council to view the house.

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These plans have gone in and then tomorrow

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I've got the planning officers all coming round

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with a view to where we go from here so fingers crossed for tomorrow.

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Hopefully they're on my side, because what I'm doing I feel is common sense.

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But even after their visit, Karl will have to wait anxiously

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for several more weeks before the planners make their decision.

0:19:560:20:00

It's build month six and Karl and Lesley still don't know

0:20:010:20:05

if they have planning permission.

0:20:050:20:08

Whilst it isn't illegal to continue building, it's a risk.

0:20:080:20:12

If permission isn't granted, they'll have to rebuild the house

0:20:120:20:15

in accordance with the original plans

0:20:150:20:17

costing time, money and stress.

0:20:170:20:19

Today, the house is ready for the installation of the rafters that will form the roof.

0:20:190:20:24

I'm one of the most important people on site - without this,

0:20:240:20:27

no-one can get through the day. This and fig rolls.

0:20:270:20:31

But with concern over steel measurements,

0:20:320:20:35

what's needed more than tea and biscuits is a calculator.

0:20:350:20:39

So what's that measurement there?

0:20:390:20:42

Takeaway 500...155.

0:20:420:20:46

What have you got?

0:20:460:20:48

-< What did you have?

-330?

0:20:480:20:50

It's a calculation conundrum that could be problematic.

0:20:520:20:56

The measurements on the plans are different

0:20:560:20:58

to the actual size of the steel, which means they won't fit.

0:20:580:21:02

But Karl is taking this mix-up in his stride.

0:21:020:21:05

The measurements from there to there on the drawings

0:21:080:21:11

are not what is actually on site

0:21:110:21:14

so we've just got a bit to chop off there.

0:21:140:21:17

You can chop bits off, but you can't add bits.

0:21:170:21:19

And he is sure of at least one thing, it's not his fault.

0:21:220:21:25

You've got five metres 500 and I got five metres and 50.

0:21:280:21:32

I think somebody's punched the wrong number.

0:21:320:21:35

(Not me.)

0:21:350:21:36

A quick recalculation and the problem's fixed.

0:21:360:21:39

The teams start to raise the roof, which makes all the recent stress

0:21:390:21:43

start to seem worthwhile to Karl.

0:21:430:21:46

Perfect.

0:21:460:21:47

It's amazing, isn't it,

0:21:470:21:49

how it comes together just from a few steels going up. It takes shape.

0:21:490:21:53

In the week that follows, a fresh problem arises.

0:21:570:22:00

This steel is six inches too high.

0:22:020:22:05

This point in the steel should have been equal

0:22:050:22:08

to this point on the wall plate.

0:22:080:22:10

So when our timbers go on top here, that raises us another six inches.

0:22:100:22:15

This means the roof will be higher than his planning permission allows.

0:22:150:22:19

With all the planning issues and unhappy neighbours, this is one problem Karl needs to solve.

0:22:190:22:24

After some fresh calculations,

0:22:240:22:26

Karl has a solution that turns out to be better than the original plan.

0:22:260:22:31

What we are having to do now is put the timbers in the steel here.

0:22:310:22:36

Running in line with that, which will then make it

0:22:360:22:39

so that all our original heights are all kept

0:22:390:22:42

and then this steel beam which was going to hang underneath

0:22:420:22:46

is now within the roof's void, so we've lost this beam.

0:22:460:22:49

Where we were going to have to build a wall off this to hide it,

0:22:490:22:53

we now can move our walls and make rooms better and more usable.

0:22:530:22:57

The steel beams will now be hidden in the ceiling

0:22:570:23:00

rather than protruding, giving more space in the upstairs bedrooms.

0:23:000:23:05

What we first thought was going to be an ocean-going gigantic disaster

0:23:050:23:12

turned out to be...

0:23:120:23:13

um...

0:23:130:23:15

a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, as it were.

0:23:150:23:19

As I say, don't panic, we're not on the Titanic.

0:23:190:23:22

Two weeks later, I'm back on site to find out how Karl and Lesley

0:23:250:23:29

have been coping with what has become an extremely stressful build.

0:23:290:23:33

I'm keen to find out if the planning department

0:23:330:23:35

have reached their decision on the alterations Karl and Lesley have already made.

0:23:350:23:40

We've done the changes

0:23:400:23:42

and I explained why we made the changes we made.

0:23:420:23:44

We altered windows and various bits and pieces.

0:23:440:23:48

We've got planning in for all these changes,

0:23:480:23:51

which got refused last week.

0:23:510:23:53

We are carrying on and we're just going to put planning in again,

0:23:530:23:56

because they're not bothered about the house

0:23:560:23:58

or the garage we're trying to get built.

0:23:580:24:00

It was more to do with the garden levels and the planting.

0:24:000:24:03

So they'll have to submit a third planning application

0:24:030:24:07

to obtain full permission.

0:24:070:24:09

This one with regards to their landscaping.

0:24:090:24:12

However, there is still the thorny issue of their relationship

0:24:120:24:15

with the neighbours.

0:24:150:24:17

Is there anything you would have done differently on that front?

0:24:170:24:21

Would you have gone to the neighbours beforehand or chatted to them?

0:24:210:24:25

We did.

0:24:250:24:27

When we decided that that was the house we were going to build,

0:24:270:24:31

Karl went round to every neighbour

0:24:310:24:32

in close proximity and said, this is it.

0:24:320:24:36

This is what we're doing, have you got any objections,

0:24:360:24:38

before we actually put them in.

0:24:380:24:40

Do you think as well now people are starting to see

0:24:400:24:43

what the house looks like, because it is going to be very impressive,

0:24:430:24:47

the stonework is a very impressive thing,

0:24:470:24:49

do you think they are starting to go actually...

0:24:490:24:52

We've had some really good feedback generally.

0:24:520:24:55

People walking at the bottom of the garden, looks fantastic.

0:24:550:24:58

Neighbours up the street have really been interested

0:24:580:25:01

and have wanted to wander down and have a look.

0:25:010:25:04

We certainly love it. Well, I do.

0:25:040:25:07

But Karl is obviously a bit too close to the project

0:25:070:25:10

to get all soppy on us.

0:25:100:25:12

It looks fantastic.

0:25:130:25:15

You must be really proud, Karl.

0:25:160:25:18

Well, it's just as it is on the drawing.

0:25:180:25:22

Never mind just as it is on the drawing. No, it's not.

0:25:220:25:25

That's a very, very solid looking, imposing kind of handsome house.

0:25:250:25:33

Drawings aren't like that.

0:25:330:25:35

Once it's in-filled because it's all dug out,

0:25:350:25:38

it's still out of the ground, as it were, that will

0:25:380:25:41

make it more planted, because at the moment it just looks massive.

0:25:410:25:46

I think that's what the neighbours were alluding to.

0:25:490:25:52

Don't say that too much.

0:25:520:25:53

How long then, go on? I know you don't want to.

0:25:540:25:57

-Don't put him under pressure.

-I like putting him under pressure.

0:25:570:26:01

Let's say it takes another two months to get the windows in.

0:26:010:26:06

Then I probably think another couple of months,

0:26:060:26:09

three months after that, so five months.

0:26:090:26:12

Oh no! I thought it was August 31st.

0:26:120:26:17

I've caused a domestic, haven't I? I'll leave you to discuss that.

0:26:170:26:20

I'll see you around.

0:26:200:26:22

Two months. I'll give it two months.

0:26:250:26:29

What's that, the marriage?

0:26:290:26:32

If you're self-building,

0:26:370:26:39

then being a dab hand at DIY is a good way to save money.

0:26:390:26:43

But you definitely need the know-how

0:26:430:26:46

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

0:26:460:26:50

So bricks are a breeze, but if I do ever build an entire house,

0:26:500:26:54

what if like Karl and Lesley I fancy the more traditional look?

0:26:540:26:57

It's stonework today with that slave driver, Malcolm Boyle.

0:26:590:27:03

Just a little bit different today.

0:27:110:27:13

Stonework is becoming more common. People like the traditional look, more rustic.

0:27:130:27:18

As you're a semi-expert now, you're almost there, a semi-professional,

0:27:180:27:21

we'll let you loose on the trowel without too much direction from me.

0:27:210:27:25

What do you mean too much direction? You keep getting off anyway.

0:27:250:27:29

Well, you know, it's called distance learning.

0:27:290:27:31

Sometimes you step back and let the student carry on by themselves.

0:27:310:27:34

This is actually artificial stone made of concrete.

0:27:340:27:39

The blocks come in set sizes.

0:27:390:27:42

As much as it seems that bricks-wise we want all the joints

0:27:420:27:45

to be in line, with stonework we want the joints not quite to be in line.

0:27:450:27:50

We want a random effect throughout.

0:27:500:27:51

The good thing if you'll notice on this wall itself,

0:27:510:27:54

we've got three different sizes.

0:27:540:27:56

The ratio of two of each will always fit in.

0:27:560:27:58

The task for you today is to get each one fitting in

0:27:580:28:02

without the joints being in line and making sure there's no straight joints.

0:28:020:28:06

As if my work with a trowel wasn't good enough,

0:28:060:28:08

now you've given me some maths thrown in as well.

0:28:080:28:11

I think because you've got to use your brain as well,

0:28:110:28:13

we might need to give you a little bit longer time on this one. I'll give you 10 minutes.

0:28:130:28:18

-OK.

-See you in 10.

-Here we go.

0:28:180:28:20

So it's easy. There's big stone, little stone and medium-sized stone.

0:28:220:28:27

Always a bit of this first. Told you, don't know why.

0:28:300:28:32

Two of each makes one row,

0:28:320:28:34

but my vertical mortar joints shouldn't be in line with any others.

0:28:340:28:39

OK. Common sense tells me that if you've got

0:28:400:28:43

a small one and a long one,

0:28:430:28:45

if we start with a middle-sized one, it should get me going in the right way.

0:28:450:28:50

I've just noticed something. Malcolm's staying.

0:28:510:28:54

He must be worried.

0:28:560:28:57

It must be expensive, this stuff, if he's around.

0:28:570:29:00

I think he's doing pretty well, actually. Two minutes and he's got one laid.

0:29:000:29:05

I think I preferred... What did you call it, distance learning?

0:29:050:29:09

I think I preferred that.

0:29:090:29:10

Speaking of distance, I'm getting muddled with my measurements.

0:29:120:29:16

That's no good, is it? Naughty boy.

0:29:200:29:22

Ah, this joint would be in line with the one two rows below.

0:29:240:29:28

-I'm guessing that joint's going to be...

-Oh, no!

0:29:280:29:31

And now the row directly below.

0:29:310:29:33

There's a classic straight joint. Excellent, well done, that man.

0:29:330:29:38

The way I'm going, no stone will be left unturned.

0:29:380:29:41

It's impossible.

0:29:410:29:42

I'm starting to dislike this task already, Malcolm.

0:29:420:29:46

I prefer bricks, they're all the same size.

0:29:460:29:48

It's a good job we only decided to give you three different sizes

0:29:480:29:51

to work with, isn't it?

0:29:510:29:53

Did you say you had to use two of each?

0:29:530:29:55

If you don't use two of each, you're either going to end up

0:29:550:29:58

with a big gap at the end or basically it won't fit.

0:29:580:30:01

You've now got two minutes left.

0:30:030:30:06

-I've got myself down a hole, haven't I?

-Yeah.

0:30:060:30:08

-You know we were talking about using two of each?

-Yeah.

0:30:080:30:11

-You've actually put three of the same in.

-Oh, no!

0:30:110:30:14

I've got to concede defeat any moment now.

0:30:170:30:20

Well, I don't think I'm going to have any choice, am I?

0:30:200:30:23

-OK, then, Simon, that's your time up, I'm afraid.

-No, hang on.

0:30:230:30:27

Seriously, last one. I'll give you another 20 seconds.

0:30:270:30:30

Um...

0:30:300:30:32

Give me as long as you want, it's not going to fit.

0:30:320:30:36

-I guess my joints were too big, where the?

-Yeah, that's good. It's well spotted now.

0:30:360:30:40

It would've been better if you'd spotted them a little bit earlier.

0:30:400:30:44

With my building reputation dropping like a stone,

0:30:440:30:47

time for some lateral thinking.

0:30:470:30:49

There you go, mate. Plumb.

0:30:510:30:54

Fantastic.

0:30:540:30:55

Where there's a will there's a way.

0:30:550:30:57

HE LAUGHS

0:30:570:30:59

I don't know who laid those bottom two courses but have you seen the gap they left?

0:30:590:31:03

Go on, score me.

0:31:030:31:05

On the stonework, I think you've just let yourself down a little bit

0:31:050:31:08

and I think you're down to a five on that one.

0:31:080:31:11

I started off quite confident about my brickwork, certainly,

0:31:150:31:18

when I started with you.

0:31:180:31:20

And now, having done three days with you,

0:31:200:31:22

I'm never going to touch a brick again.

0:31:220:31:24

Can we have that in writing, please?

0:31:240:31:27

HE LAUGHS

0:31:270:31:28

In Rawdon, it's build month seven

0:31:330:31:35

and Karl and Lesley are building a family home with views to die for.

0:31:350:31:39

It could end up being worth the best part of £1 million,

0:31:390:31:42

although the invoices do feel never-ending at times.

0:31:420:31:46

Anything to report, Karl?

0:31:460:31:49

I'm skint.

0:31:490:31:50

SHE LAUGHS

0:31:500:31:52

But Karl and Lesley have a bigger problem than construction costs -

0:31:520:31:56

they're still waiting to hear if the third planning application they've submitted

0:31:560:32:01

has been approved by the council's planning department.

0:32:010:32:05

Despite the lack of a decision, Karl's ploughing on regardless.

0:32:060:32:10

We're building a house now with no planning permission.

0:32:100:32:13

I'm just doing what I have to do to get it finished.

0:32:130:32:16

I'm too far in now to start worrying about it.

0:32:160:32:18

But the uncertainty, coupled with the complaints he's received,

0:32:180:32:23

has left Karl fed up and frustrated.

0:32:230:32:26

You presume, like, you're building your own house

0:32:260:32:29

it's going to be your dream, you're going to take a year out, be here every day

0:32:290:32:33

and just enjoy it. It just became a nightmare

0:32:330:32:36

because the neighbours are literally doing my head in.

0:32:360:32:39

It's build month nine and, after lots of anxiety and stress

0:32:410:32:43

over their planning permission,

0:32:430:32:45

Karl and Lesley have received a decision from the planners.

0:32:450:32:49

Hey hey, it has been passed, so we're dead chuffed.

0:32:490:32:52

It means we can crack on and get the house finished.

0:32:520:32:55

It's a huge relief.

0:32:550:32:57

Coupled with a relaxing holiday, it seems all the stress of this build

0:32:570:33:01

has once again been replaced by enthusiasm.

0:33:010:33:04

We landed about 11 o'clock at night and we got straight in the car

0:33:040:33:07

and came down here just to look at it.

0:33:070:33:10

-We were that excited, weren't we?

-Yeah.

0:33:100:33:13

Not that Karl totally switched off while he was on the beach.

0:33:130:33:16

As much as you wanted to be there and you felt you needed to be on holiday,

0:33:160:33:19

I couldn't wait to get home, to be fair. I'm never ever like that, ever.

0:33:190:33:23

So the decision to keep building hasn't backfired,

0:33:240:33:28

but two extra planning applications

0:33:280:33:31

and architects' fees have cost an additional £1,000.

0:33:310:33:35

Not to mention all the hassle and tension, too.

0:33:350:33:39

It's been so exciting doing this

0:33:390:33:43

that it's almost put a downer on it on occasions, hasn't it?

0:33:430:33:47

It really has.

0:33:470:33:48

You have days when I've walked down the drive and thought,

0:33:480:33:52

"I'm not sure about this house now. It's not how I envisaged, I don't like it."

0:33:520:33:56

Now this is done I'm quite pleased with how it's turned out.

0:33:560:33:59

It's build month 11 when Karl, and particularly Lesley,

0:34:010:34:05

had hoped to be in their new home.

0:34:050:34:07

But the house is still not finished and the family are still living

0:34:070:34:10

in a rented cottage, which is an extra cost on their build budget.

0:34:100:34:15

For every month we're paying £1,000 rent,

0:34:150:34:18

you know, that's another part towards another bathroom,

0:34:180:34:22

so we can get those better things

0:34:220:34:24

but it's whether or not it's right for the kids coming

0:34:240:34:27

and moving into a building site.

0:34:270:34:29

It's £12,000 and counting on the rent.

0:34:310:34:35

But now the windows are fitted and the house is watertight,

0:34:350:34:38

electrician Karl has sparked into life working inside the house.

0:34:380:34:44

You become obsessed with things on a daily basis,

0:34:440:34:49

like I obsessed about stone before we started building it,

0:34:490:34:52

and now we're obsessing about bathrooms and kitchens.

0:34:520:34:57

Thick worktops with a pale unit and a pale floor.

0:34:570:35:01

And you introduce your other colours with your dining room chairs

0:35:010:35:04

or a piece of art on the wall or,

0:35:040:35:06

you know, a brightly coloured sofa or...

0:35:060:35:09

So maybe interior design's not exactly Karl's thing,

0:35:100:35:13

but Lesley is in her element.

0:35:130:35:17

I'm looking at wallpapers and sofas and things now.

0:35:170:35:21

Obviously not telling Karl yet.

0:35:210:35:23

But it is, it's really getting exciting.

0:35:230:35:25

Feels more like a home now.

0:35:250:35:27

By build month 12, there's some way to go before Lesley will be

0:35:270:35:31

kitting out the interior. The main staircase is going in, though.

0:35:310:35:35

And to keep costs down, Karl's ditched plans for an expensive

0:35:350:35:38

curving stairway for something more modest.

0:35:380:35:41

The elliptical staircase was £21,000,

0:35:420:35:45

this is eight, so, no-brainer, really.

0:35:450:35:49

But does this substantial staircase saving of £13,000 mean Lesley can

0:35:500:35:54

splash the cash on her dream kitchen?

0:35:540:35:58

-Kitchens are just so expensive.

-They are, aren't they?

-For a pile of wood.

0:35:580:36:02

Well, it's, like, 19 units coming in at £19,000,

0:36:020:36:06

hence, they're £1,000 each.

0:36:060:36:08

-It's just...

-Can't afford it.

0:36:100:36:13

-It's not a case of we can't afford it.

-It's not that.

0:36:130:36:15

-We can afford it.

-We can't justify spending that amount of money.

0:36:150:36:19

And also, if we did spend that amount of money on a kitchen,

0:36:190:36:22

it would be a fantastic kitchen and it would be just what we wanted,

0:36:220:36:25

but, you know, the stairs might end halfway down.

0:36:250:36:28

-You'll have to jump the last three.

-Oh, no, not the ladder again!

0:36:280:36:31

So have Karl and Lesley gone for a stairway to heaven

0:36:390:36:42

or ended up with a kitchen calamity?

0:36:420:36:44

Three months later I'm back in West Yorkshire

0:36:440:36:47

and eager for a final look.

0:36:470:36:48

Some properties, such as Karl and Lesley's,

0:36:510:36:53

are apparently all about the view.

0:36:530:36:55

But, you know, in my view, the house itself looks stunning.

0:36:550:36:59

Karl and Lesley set themselves a challenge to build a house

0:37:030:37:06

which could hold its own against its magnificent surroundings.

0:37:060:37:10

This spectacular success story has certainly stepped up to the plate.

0:37:140:37:17

-Hiya. May I?

-Come on in.

-Beautiful. This place looks great.

0:37:210:37:24

With five bedrooms and four bathrooms,

0:37:260:37:29

this is stylish living on a grand scale.

0:37:290:37:31

And there's no doubt this energetic electrician has built a house

0:37:310:37:35

with an incredible buzz

0:37:350:37:37

from the glorious balcony

0:37:370:37:38

to the ultra-sleek kitchen cum family room,

0:37:380:37:40

this place is in a league of its own.

0:37:400:37:44

Wow!

0:37:440:37:45

This is just amazing.

0:37:460:37:50

The view speaks for itself, but what a living space.

0:37:500:37:53

-Are you happy, Lesley?

-Extremely happy, yes.

0:37:530:37:56

It's a fab space,

0:37:560:37:57

favourite room in the house for me, definitely.

0:37:570:37:59

-I can see why. Karl?

-Yeah, well, as long as the wife's happy, I'm happy.

0:37:590:38:04

It has exceeded my expectations, just this room alone.

0:38:040:38:09

It's just wonderful.

0:38:090:38:11

Love it, absolutely love it.

0:38:110:38:13

The lounge is still a work in progress and,

0:38:160:38:18

after rushing to complete the build,

0:38:180:38:20

they're taking their time to make sure they get it right.

0:38:200:38:25

In here we've sort of got the carpet, got the fire.

0:38:250:38:28

Normally I'd be thinking about curtains but I haven't yet.

0:38:280:38:31

From the outside all the way through to the inside

0:38:310:38:34

there's kind of a modesty and understatement about the way

0:38:340:38:37

you've built the place and about the way now that you're designing

0:38:370:38:41

the interior. That's fair to say, isn't it?

0:38:410:38:44

-There's nothing flashy.

-Yeah.

-No, we're not really.

0:38:440:38:47

No, it's about quality

0:38:470:38:49

and all the design, really.

0:38:490:38:53

It's clear Karl and Lesley are starting to feel at home here

0:38:550:38:59

and Chester's fitting in nicely with the surroundings, too.

0:38:590:39:02

But no time for us to 'paws', I want to see what else there is,

0:39:020:39:06

including Karl's fabulous stairs.

0:39:060:39:08

And, wow, have these turned into a work of art.

0:39:080:39:12

There aren't many staircases with a view like that, though.

0:39:120:39:16

Upstairs the bedrooms and bathrooms still require a bit of TLC,

0:39:160:39:19

but the couple's attention to detail means

0:39:190:39:22

they're still determined to keep the quality high.

0:39:220:39:25

Are you getting to the point where there are a few little bits

0:39:250:39:29

that are still works in progress

0:39:290:39:32

-around the place that you just wish it was done?

-Yeah.

0:39:320:39:35

Of course, I wish it was done, but I need time to go out

0:39:350:39:39

and, me being me, obsess about the bits that we're going to finish them with,

0:39:390:39:43

because I won't choose something for the sake of it.

0:39:430:39:46

No. We've spent a long time over picking everything, haven't we?

0:39:460:39:51

But at least the end is now in sight

0:39:510:39:54

and, over the next few months,

0:39:540:39:55

they can begin to complete the finishing tasks,

0:39:550:39:58

such as the games room and spare bedroom.

0:39:580:40:01

Has it all been worth it?

0:40:010:40:02

The couple bought their plot and original house for £330,000

0:40:020:40:06

and estimated £300,000 to complete the house.

0:40:060:40:10

So far they're over budget by £19,000.

0:40:110:40:14

So, with a total spend of £650,000,

0:40:140:40:17

has it made financial sense?

0:40:170:40:19

Now, as you know, there's been a valuer

0:40:190:40:22

-having a nose around your place.

-Yeah.

0:40:220:40:24

And the valuation they've given this property,

0:40:240:40:27

they have said that they would be happy to value this place

0:40:270:40:32

at £1.1 million.

0:40:320:40:34

Gosh!

0:40:340:40:35

-Sold.

-I'm not buying it!

0:40:350:40:39

-Come on, that's good.

-Wow.

0:40:390:40:40

-That's fantastic, isn't it?

-It is, yeah.

0:40:400:40:43

It's a wonderful space, absolutely wonderful. Love it to bits.

0:40:430:40:47

-You know, I really do.

-I will one day, when we've finished it.

-Yeah.

0:40:470:40:51

That's an enormous saving of £450,000

0:40:530:40:57

compared to buying an equivalent home.

0:40:570:40:59

And it's testament to Karl's hard work and Lesley's determination to go for broke.

0:40:590:41:05

-You can now stand in this space and say, "I did this."

-Yeah.

0:41:050:41:09

There must be a great sense of achievement in that.

0:41:090:41:13

-There is.

-There is. And I also think, in 100 years' time,

0:41:130:41:16

-I won't be sat in this house.

-That's true, isn't it?

-It'll be here long after me.

0:41:160:41:20

Building your own house feels to me

0:41:200:41:22

almost to be like achieving immortality, in a small way.

0:41:220:41:25

-Does that make sense?

-Yeah, is does.

-A legacy.

-That's right, yeah.

0:41:250:41:29

This'll be mine.

0:41:290:41:30

Karl and Lesley have steered their way through

0:41:300:41:34

a few planning nightmares,

0:41:340:41:35

from deviations with their original design

0:41:350:41:38

to objections from the neighbours, but are their battles with red tape finally behind them?

0:41:380:41:43

Part of the planning that we actually did eventually receive

0:41:440:41:48

excluded the garden because of what's called

0:41:480:41:51

raised levels and platforms,

0:41:510:41:53

-which... I have raised my levels and my platforms.

-Yes.

0:41:530:41:56

We had to to have a garden we would spend any time in.

0:41:560:41:59

So I've now got to put full planning in again for my garden.

0:41:590:42:03

But I know them all by first name now, so I can just say, "Look..."

0:42:050:42:08

"Hello, Karl, are you all right?"

0:42:080:42:10

"Remember me?"

0:42:100:42:12

There you go. So, even at this point,

0:42:120:42:13

-your dealings with the Planning Department are not finished?

-Oh, no.

0:42:130:42:17

Listen, that reminds me, I've got a present for you that might be pertinent.

0:42:170:42:21

Won't be a minute.

0:42:210:42:22

It's not a new sofa?

0:42:220:42:24

I just thought, with your story being what it was,

0:42:250:42:28

that you might appreciate this.

0:42:280:42:31

THEY LAUGH

0:42:310:42:33

-That's fab.

-Lovely. Thank you very much.

-That's lovely.

0:42:330:42:36

You just haven't got that bit there quite right.

0:42:370:42:40

THEY LAUGH

0:42:400:42:41

-That's fab.

-This is a very, very handsome house.

0:42:410:42:44

You've kind of done that very clever trick

0:42:440:42:47

of having a very traditional looking property and, inside,

0:42:470:42:50

a really contemporary home.

0:42:500:42:52

Yeah, that's what we aimed to do.

0:42:520:42:54

-He's not bad when he pulls his finger out.

-No, he's done very well.

0:42:540:42:58

I haven't got fingers left!

0:42:580:43:00

Subtitles by Red Bee Media.

0:43:090:43:11

e-mail [email protected]

0:43:110:43:14

Karl and Lesley Greaves face a battle with the planners and their neighbours when attempting to build their dream family home near Leeds. Plus the eco-house in Dorset that is as green as its woodland surroundings and presenter Simon O'Brien tries his hand at building a stone wall at building college.