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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We all dream of owning the perfect home but finding a place
that suits both your wallet and your way of life isn't always easy.
Well, I have a solution.
Stop searching for something to buy and consider somewhere to build.
Every year 20,000 people make the journey of a lifetime
and opt to build their own home, and we'll be following
some of them as they go from foundations to finishing touches.
It's certainly been relentless.
You don't get any time off for good behaviour.
Along the way, our brave self-builders
will experience amazing highs.
Like you say, it's been a dream.
And it's starting to come together now.
And some frustrating lows.
How many more things can go pear-shaped?
But if they can overcome these trials and tribulations
they'll end up with the home they've always desired.
So if you're looking for your perfect pad, the question is simple.
To build or not to build?
When the best-laid plans go awry, the self-builders
in Leeds with serious problems with their planning permission.
Spoke to a guy at the council.
He just says if I've diversified from the plans
then I've got to go back and build it as the plans were passed.
They can help me pull it down if I have to pull it down.
Simple as that.
The eco build in Dorset that's poles apart.
A quick way of getting downstairs.
And stone me, it's not easy building walls at building college.
It's impossible. I'm starting to dislike this task already.
Ah, what a view. God's own country.
Now, what would you pay to live in a property
that was afforded such a grand vista from every room?
Sadly, such places are difficult to find.
However, Karl and Lesley Greaves discovered just such a gem in Rawson near Leeds.
Only one problem, though, as far as they were concerned,
the main eyesore spoiling their glorious outlook was their home.
So they made the very bold decision to keep the view and build something new.
This is Karl and Lesley Greaves,
with their two children Marshall and Saffron.
Oh, and their pet dog, Chester.
The Greaves family have embarked on the biggest adventure of their lives,
knocking down their old house and building a brand new family home.
This was a little three-bed house, sat on a hill with just the most fantastic views,
and this is why we bought this.
And then the intention was a couple of extensions,
but three and a half years later, this is it, no house but now the new house.
This is the beginning, I suppose, of our dream home.
Karl's no stranger to rolling up his sleeves and getting stuck into a bit of building work.
He's an electrician by trade, but he's putting his business on the back-burner
to project manage and labour on the 11-month build.
-That will have to go round there the same, to match that door.
-Course it will, and that.
And when Lesley is not sorting Karl's accounts,
she's on site with a calming cuppa for the crew.
Despite some early weather delays, work's been motoring along
and, three months in, the ground floor is almost complete.
The last two or three weeks, it has flown up.
I can't believe we got to this stage. It's pretty exciting.
Really exciting, actually.
With this home flying up, I'm visiting site to check on progress so far
and sample one of Lesley's famous builder's brews.
-Ha ha, I timed that right.
-Yes, are you all right?
-Welcome to my glamorous kitchen(!)
-It's gorgeous, isn't it(?)
-It is. Hmm.
-This is the nerve centre.
-This is the nerve centre.
-Without me making this...
-Things would grind to a halt. Everyone knows that.
-I'm keeping everybody happy. Sorry, would you like one?!
-Yes, please. If you don't mind.
With service like that, I bet the builders are parched!
Finally, with cuppa in hand, I can find out more about the build from Lesley
as Karl cracks on with the work.
-You really get the impression here.
-It's coming along nicely. I'm really pleased.
I've been to many sites now.
On some of them, there is an old building that isn't worth having.
But, you are living in a perfectly good house.
Yeah, I suppose we were. But when we found this house, it was the view.
-The view sold it to us.
It was a big decision. Many, many discussions. "Shall we, shan't we?"
Now I can see it going up, I feel we've done absolutely the right thing.
Karl and Leslie are building a large, five-bed, three-storey detached house,
clad in reclaimed stone to blend in with neighbouring properties.
A balcony with folding patio doors will dominate a front facade heavy on glass
to soak up the sun and the views.
The plot and the original house cost £330,000.
And Karl and Lesley have allocated a further £300,000 for the build,
taking their total estimated budget to £630,000.
Although designing their perfect home wasn't easy.
Even though it's a new building, it is a traditional-looking build.
-Was that always the plan?
It was not our intention.
When we first decided to build our house,
-we decided we'd like contemporary.
But our architect came up with a plan that looked like an aircraft hangar.
So contemporary for us, actually, it was just too modern.
It wouldn't have sat well. It's really hard.
You think, "Design your own house, really easy." But it's not.
-All we knew was that we wanted huge windows to absorb the view.
So it took a long time to actually get the final design and get it right.
The look is how people will judge you, your neighbours, the world at large,
-and anyone who visits you.
It won't be to everyone's taste, but hopefully it will be ours.
-I think it's looking handsome.
-It is handsome. It's quite a butch house.
It's a good, solid thing. Talking of butch, we are going to see the man.
-Let's go and find him.
-Perfect, you're saying. A perfect day.
-You look like a happy man.
-It's coming on.
-Indeed it is.
-Are you pleased?
So far, yeah. It's... well, as it should be.
You do, you look confident. You look very confident.
It's your trade, but, a big difference now for both of you.
It isn't just a renovation or bits and bobs here and there, this is the full bit.
It is. I've never done anything like this before, on this scale.
It's a case of choosing the right people to do a job, which hopefully I have done.
And it's going according to plan, because I've got the right people in.
Simple as that. That's the secret behind it all.
Do you feel, as a couple, an extra stress
because it's your own home you're building, or more pleasure? Go on.
-It's a bit of both, isn't it, Karl?
-We used to argue every now and again.
It's now... It's now more now than now and again!
While this build might create the odd disagreement,
if the Greaveses can handle the emotional roller-coaster ride, the rewards could be massive.
To find a similar site with these glorious views,
with the house you will end up with, what would you be looking round here?
I spoke to an estate agent friend and he...
We're in unknown territory, because to work on a square footage price at 5,000 square feet,
we're saying £260 per square foot, over £1 million.
But, in the village, there isn't anything like that.
-Suffice to say, you simply couldn't have afforded to buy?
Not at all.
If the finished home does hit the magic million-pound mark,
the projected outlay of 630,000 on plot and construction
mean the decision to self-build will be well worth it.
But this house isn't going to build itself.
Time to let Karl get back to business.
Anyway, I think I've kept you long enough here. It's about time...
-The coffee's cold.
-Back to the office.
Cheers, Karl. I'll let you get on. Perfect it is, he said.
By doing a lot of the work himself, Karl's knocked thousands off his labour bill.
It's build month four and, today, it's family-heating bills that Karl's concerned about,
filling the gaps between his insulation boards.
I see these gaps as where money's leaking out, as in heat.
Probably a bit of a overkill, but...
..The Germans do it, and if it's good enough for them,
it's good enough for me.
Insulation is the most important energy-saving feature you can install,
so a few hours' hard graft plugging the gaps will definitely save money in the future.
While Karl plugs on as normal, building his home with a view,
there is actually big trouble looming on the horizon.
In November last year, the council, the girl from the council, I said to at the time
I'd decided now to do it in stone as opposed to stone render and cedar clad.
And assured her I wanted to put the games room on this side,
because of a building regulations issue over a fire coming up through the staircase.
She said to me, "Not a problem, we just need to see your stone sample."
Everything was great.
She says, "Send it in as amendments on your planning." So we did that last November.
On Friday this week, they've said no,
they're not accepting that, it's to be built as per the drawing.
As the build has developed, Karl has made changes to his original plans.
But deviations from the drawings need to be approved by planning.
So I spoke to a guy at the council.
He says if I've diversified from the plans,
basically, I've got to go back and build it as the plans were passed.
As I said to him, "What does that mean?"
He said, "You've to take it down and rebuild it as it should be."
So I'm now... I don't know where I'm going, but I'm continuing.
And they can help me pull it down if I have to pull it down.
It's as simple as that, because I've got no other option than to carry on.
Because I can't afford to knock it down.
Karl and Lesley will have to submit a brand-new planning application
and hope the changes to the original design will be passed.
They've already demolished one house,
while building their dream home with a view could turn into a nightmare that they didn't see coming.
If you go down to the woods today in Dorset, you're in for a big surprise,
because tucked away among the trees near Lyme Regis is a fabulously futuristic eco-home.
However, building this house from scratch was certainly no picnic.
With its bold architecture and sumptuous open-plan layout,
this five-bedroomed woodland retreat is the realisation of one man's self-build dream.
For owner Callum Bremner, who lives here with his wife Jane and family,
life wouldn't be the same without it.
I wanted to build a house myself. I wanted to build something that would be unique
and would be to our requirements.
We didn't want to compromise on what the spaces were and how we'd live here.
We wanted it to be open-plan. We want it to be places where the kids could escape to
and also an area where Jane and I could be close most of the time
without loads of doors and windows and walls covering us.
For Jane, the most important part was that it enabled the couple to find their spiritual home.
We took a long time looking for the plot and we were lucky to find it.
I've actually lived here all my life
and I used to walk past the entrance to the plot for many years of my life.
But I didn't know this place was up here.
So when it came the market, we were very fortunate to hear about it in the first place.
Although the house is in the middle of a protected woodland,
it's also a stone's throw from the seaside tourist hotspot of Lyme Regis,
which meant the land didn't come cheap.
The plot cost the couple £400,000
and they set aside £300,000 for the build.
Callum designed the house, using a steel and timber structure,
with plenty of environmentally-friendly features to suit the location.
These include a solar-heating system and rainwater harvester.
Callum, who's an instructor in outdoor pursuits,
decided to save cash by taking a sabbatical
and project managing the build himself.
He didn't set himself a deadline, but soon realised he had a mountain to climb.
Initially, I thought it was achievable within a reasonably short period of time
and then, after a month, I realised it would be a long period of time and it was hard graft.
I remember some days I was absolutely caked in mud and it was hard work.
The project took two and half years
to complete, but, amazingly, came in £20,000 under budget.
A feat few self-builders can boast about.
He achieved this by opting to do most of the work himself
and not using main contractors or builders.
I would say 90% of everything we did on the house
was done without contractors.
So that was where the big money saving was for us, definitely.
Not surprisingly for a house surrounded by trees,
one of the main features is a wood-burning stove.
The fire is probably the focal point in this area.
It's a huge wood burner that provides all the heat for the radiators
throughout the house and also our hot water.
OK, if we come on to the stairs, the stairs were the big design thing.
We wanted to make it special.
What we tried to do is the curves of the kids' bedrooms,
we tried to duplicate with the curves of the stairs.
And that was the difficult bit. And it did work well.
But if you want a quicker way down,
Callum's playful design has given the house another option.
When we designed the house originally, with the kids involved,
they wanted a fireman's pole, so when we built the house, we said, "Yeah, why not?"
So we built the fireman's pole. The kids use it all the time.
Probably not as much as they have done years ago. And it's, well, I'll show you.
A quick way of getting downstairs.
With properties on the South Coast changing hands for millions,
the Bremners have a house they would never otherwise have been able to afford.
Their home has recently been valued at £750,000, which means
they saved upwards of £70,000 with the decision to self-build.
But Karen says once in a lifetime is probably enough.
It's weird, because you don't switch off from it.
There is never a weekend where you can go, "OK, that's it, I won't even worry about it now."
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.
In Leeds, Karl and Lesley Greaves love their view.
But they didn't like their home.
So they knocked it down and they are building another one.
A five-bed, detached home complete with balcony
and central glass atrium so they can soak up the stunning scenery.
It's month five, and electrician Karl
is project managing and labouring on the build.
The house is looking great, but that's the last thing on Karl's mind.
He has big worries over his planning permission.
As well as the changes to the original plans,
the council have now received several complaints about the removal of trees from the garden
and, crucially, that the new house appears much bigger
than the one Karl and Lesley had approval to build.
Well, what a day!
Today being Monday, the council have just been
with an enforcement officer to try and close the site down
due to the fact the neighbours have complained that they think the house is too big.
So, the council turned up today,
tried to close the site down until they can get somebody in
to assess the project, measure it and make sure everything's OK.
Karl and Lesley did show their plans to the neighbours
before they started building.
You're not obliged to do it,
but keeping the locals in the loop should improve your chances
of a harmonious build, although Karl's PR offensive didn't pay off.
Well, I think it's just a waste of time and energy
that they're expending, because all they had to do was come round
and see what I'm doing and realise the changes I have made are for the better.
Not just for myself but for them.
It's just basically the facade to this side
and the balcony changes and the fact I've changed the windows
from long slotted ones that look over my neighbours
to slotted windows at a high-level so nobody sees it.
I don't see them, they don't see me.
But Karl can at least be confident about the dispute over whether the house is too big.
As far as the size is concerned,
we've not changed the size of the building.
The height, the size, it's exactly as it should be.
That's why we're going on and we are carrying on up.
But it's not necessarily the size that matters and by continuing
without planning permission, Karl is taking a big gamble.
If the planners don't approve his alterations,
the result could be disastrous.
The worst case scenario I've got is that these bifold doors on this side
should have been on this side so I'll have to take all this wall out.
This wall here should have been rendered on the drawings
so I'll have to render all that stonework
and my balcony shouldn't have been curved.
It should have been angled to the side
so it means taking the balcony out again
which, at the moment, stands at about four or five grand.
I've already spent more than I should have done
on the original drawings so to go back to them,
I've not even thought about it. I don't want to think about it.
To get their new design approved, Karl and Lesley have had to start
from scratch and submit the entire planning application all over again.
The next vital stage will be another site visit from the council to view the house.
These plans have gone in and then tomorrow
I've got the planning officers all coming round
with a view to where we go from here so fingers crossed for tomorrow.
Hopefully they're on my side, because what I'm doing I feel is common sense.
But even after their visit, Karl will have to wait anxiously
for several more weeks before the planners make their decision.
It's build month six and Karl and Lesley still don't know
if they have planning permission.
Whilst it isn't illegal to continue building, it's a risk.
If permission isn't granted, they'll have to rebuild the house
in accordance with the original plans
costing time, money and stress.
Today, the house is ready for the installation of the rafters that will form the roof.
I'm one of the most important people on site - without this,
no-one can get through the day. This and fig rolls.
But with concern over steel measurements,
what's needed more than tea and biscuits is a calculator.
So what's that measurement there?
What have you got?
-< What did you have?
It's a calculation conundrum that could be problematic.
The measurements on the plans are different
to the actual size of the steel, which means they won't fit.
But Karl is taking this mix-up in his stride.
The measurements from there to there on the drawings
are not what is actually on site
so we've just got a bit to chop off there.
You can chop bits off, but you can't add bits.
And he is sure of at least one thing, it's not his fault.
You've got five metres 500 and I got five metres and 50.
I think somebody's punched the wrong number.
A quick recalculation and the problem's fixed.
The teams start to raise the roof, which makes all the recent stress
start to seem worthwhile to Karl.
It's amazing, isn't it,
how it comes together just from a few steels going up. It takes shape.
In the week that follows, a fresh problem arises.
This steel is six inches too high.
This point in the steel should have been equal
to this point on the wall plate.
So when our timbers go on top here, that raises us another six inches.
This means the roof will be higher than his planning permission allows.
With all the planning issues and unhappy neighbours, this is one problem Karl needs to solve.
After some fresh calculations,
Karl has a solution that turns out to be better than the original plan.
What we are having to do now is put the timbers in the steel here.
Running in line with that, which will then make it
so that all our original heights are all kept
and then this steel beam which was going to hang underneath
is now within the roof's void, so we've lost this beam.
Where we were going to have to build a wall off this to hide it,
we now can move our walls and make rooms better and more usable.
The steel beams will now be hidden in the ceiling
rather than protruding, giving more space in the upstairs bedrooms.
What we first thought was going to be an ocean-going gigantic disaster
turned out to be...
a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, as it were.
As I say, don't panic, we're not on the Titanic.
Two weeks later, I'm back on site to find out how Karl and Lesley
have been coping with what has become an extremely stressful build.
I'm keen to find out if the planning department
have reached their decision on the alterations Karl and Lesley have already made.
We've done the changes
and I explained why we made the changes we made.
We altered windows and various bits and pieces.
We've got planning in for all these changes,
which got refused last week.
We are carrying on and we're just going to put planning in again,
because they're not bothered about the house
or the garage we're trying to get built.
It was more to do with the garden levels and the planting.
So they'll have to submit a third planning application
to obtain full permission.
This one with regards to their landscaping.
However, there is still the thorny issue of their relationship
with the neighbours.
Is there anything you would have done differently on that front?
Would you have gone to the neighbours beforehand or chatted to them?
When we decided that that was the house we were going to build,
Karl went round to every neighbour
in close proximity and said, this is it.
This is what we're doing, have you got any objections,
before we actually put them in.
Do you think as well now people are starting to see
what the house looks like, because it is going to be very impressive,
the stonework is a very impressive thing,
do you think they are starting to go actually...
We've had some really good feedback generally.
People walking at the bottom of the garden, looks fantastic.
Neighbours up the street have really been interested
and have wanted to wander down and have a look.
We certainly love it. Well, I do.
But Karl is obviously a bit too close to the project
to get all soppy on us.
It looks fantastic.
You must be really proud, Karl.
Well, it's just as it is on the drawing.
Never mind just as it is on the drawing. No, it's not.
That's a very, very solid looking, imposing kind of handsome house.
Drawings aren't like that.
Once it's in-filled because it's all dug out,
it's still out of the ground, as it were, that will
make it more planted, because at the moment it just looks massive.
I think that's what the neighbours were alluding to.
Don't say that too much.
How long then, go on? I know you don't want to.
-Don't put him under pressure.
-I like putting him under pressure.
Let's say it takes another two months to get the windows in.
Then I probably think another couple of months,
three months after that, so five months.
Oh no! I thought it was August 31st.
I've caused a domestic, haven't I? I'll leave you to discuss that.
I'll see you around.
Two months. I'll give it two months.
What's that, the marriage?
If you're self-building,
then being a dab hand at DIY is a good way to save money.
But you definitely need the know-how
so I'm taking a crash course in classes at building college.
So bricks are a breeze, but if I do ever build an entire house,
what if like Karl and Lesley I fancy the more traditional look?
It's stonework today with that slave driver, Malcolm Boyle.
Just a little bit different today.
Stonework is becoming more common. People like the traditional look, more rustic.
As you're a semi-expert now, you're almost there, a semi-professional,
we'll let you loose on the trowel without too much direction from me.
What do you mean too much direction? You keep getting off anyway.
Well, you know, it's called distance learning.
Sometimes you step back and let the student carry on by themselves.
This is actually artificial stone made of concrete.
The blocks come in set sizes.
As much as it seems that bricks-wise we want all the joints
to be in line, with stonework we want the joints not quite to be in line.
We want a random effect throughout.
The good thing if you'll notice on this wall itself,
we've got three different sizes.
The ratio of two of each will always fit in.
The task for you today is to get each one fitting in
without the joints being in line and making sure there's no straight joints.
As if my work with a trowel wasn't good enough,
now you've given me some maths thrown in as well.
I think because you've got to use your brain as well,
we might need to give you a little bit longer time on this one. I'll give you 10 minutes.
-See you in 10.
-Here we go.
So it's easy. There's big stone, little stone and medium-sized stone.
Always a bit of this first. Told you, don't know why.
Two of each makes one row,
but my vertical mortar joints shouldn't be in line with any others.
OK. Common sense tells me that if you've got
a small one and a long one,
if we start with a middle-sized one, it should get me going in the right way.
I've just noticed something. Malcolm's staying.
He must be worried.
It must be expensive, this stuff, if he's around.
I think he's doing pretty well, actually. Two minutes and he's got one laid.
I think I preferred... What did you call it, distance learning?
I think I preferred that.
Speaking of distance, I'm getting muddled with my measurements.
That's no good, is it? Naughty boy.
Ah, this joint would be in line with the one two rows below.
-I'm guessing that joint's going to be...
And now the row directly below.
There's a classic straight joint. Excellent, well done, that man.
The way I'm going, no stone will be left unturned.
I'm starting to dislike this task already, Malcolm.
I prefer bricks, they're all the same size.
It's a good job we only decided to give you three different sizes
to work with, isn't it?
Did you say you had to use two of each?
If you don't use two of each, you're either going to end up
with a big gap at the end or basically it won't fit.
You've now got two minutes left.
-I've got myself down a hole, haven't I?
-You know we were talking about using two of each?
-You've actually put three of the same in.
I've got to concede defeat any moment now.
Well, I don't think I'm going to have any choice, am I?
-OK, then, Simon, that's your time up, I'm afraid.
-No, hang on.
Seriously, last one. I'll give you another 20 seconds.
Give me as long as you want, it's not going to fit.
-I guess my joints were too big, where the?
-Yeah, that's good. It's well spotted now.
It would've been better if you'd spotted them a little bit earlier.
With my building reputation dropping like a stone,
time for some lateral thinking.
There you go, mate. Plumb.
Where there's a will there's a way.
I don't know who laid those bottom two courses but have you seen the gap they left?
Go on, score me.
On the stonework, I think you've just let yourself down a little bit
and I think you're down to a five on that one.
I started off quite confident about my brickwork, certainly,
when I started with you.
And now, having done three days with you,
I'm never going to touch a brick again.
Can we have that in writing, please?
In Rawdon, it's build month seven
and Karl and Lesley are building a family home with views to die for.
It could end up being worth the best part of £1 million,
although the invoices do feel never-ending at times.
Anything to report, Karl?
But Karl and Lesley have a bigger problem than construction costs -
they're still waiting to hear if the third planning application they've submitted
has been approved by the council's planning department.
Despite the lack of a decision, Karl's ploughing on regardless.
We're building a house now with no planning permission.
I'm just doing what I have to do to get it finished.
I'm too far in now to start worrying about it.
But the uncertainty, coupled with the complaints he's received,
has left Karl fed up and frustrated.
You presume, like, you're building your own house
it's going to be your dream, you're going to take a year out, be here every day
and just enjoy it. It just became a nightmare
because the neighbours are literally doing my head in.
It's build month nine and, after lots of anxiety and stress
over their planning permission,
Karl and Lesley have received a decision from the planners.
Hey hey, it has been passed, so we're dead chuffed.
It means we can crack on and get the house finished.
It's a huge relief.
Coupled with a relaxing holiday, it seems all the stress of this build
has once again been replaced by enthusiasm.
We landed about 11 o'clock at night and we got straight in the car
and came down here just to look at it.
-We were that excited, weren't we?
Not that Karl totally switched off while he was on the beach.
As much as you wanted to be there and you felt you needed to be on holiday,
I couldn't wait to get home, to be fair. I'm never ever like that, ever.
So the decision to keep building hasn't backfired,
but two extra planning applications
and architects' fees have cost an additional £1,000.
Not to mention all the hassle and tension, too.
It's been so exciting doing this
that it's almost put a downer on it on occasions, hasn't it?
It really has.
You have days when I've walked down the drive and thought,
"I'm not sure about this house now. It's not how I envisaged, I don't like it."
Now this is done I'm quite pleased with how it's turned out.
It's build month 11 when Karl, and particularly Lesley,
had hoped to be in their new home.
But the house is still not finished and the family are still living
in a rented cottage, which is an extra cost on their build budget.
For every month we're paying £1,000 rent,
you know, that's another part towards another bathroom,
so we can get those better things
but it's whether or not it's right for the kids coming
and moving into a building site.
It's £12,000 and counting on the rent.
But now the windows are fitted and the house is watertight,
electrician Karl has sparked into life working inside the house.
You become obsessed with things on a daily basis,
like I obsessed about stone before we started building it,
and now we're obsessing about bathrooms and kitchens.
Thick worktops with a pale unit and a pale floor.
And you introduce your other colours with your dining room chairs
or a piece of art on the wall or,
you know, a brightly coloured sofa or...
So maybe interior design's not exactly Karl's thing,
but Lesley is in her element.
I'm looking at wallpapers and sofas and things now.
Obviously not telling Karl yet.
But it is, it's really getting exciting.
Feels more like a home now.
By build month 12, there's some way to go before Lesley will be
kitting out the interior. The main staircase is going in, though.
And to keep costs down, Karl's ditched plans for an expensive
curving stairway for something more modest.
The elliptical staircase was £21,000,
this is eight, so, no-brainer, really.
But does this substantial staircase saving of £13,000 mean Lesley can
splash the cash on her dream kitchen?
-Kitchens are just so expensive.
-They are, aren't they?
-For a pile of wood.
Well, it's, like, 19 units coming in at £19,000,
hence, they're £1,000 each.
-Can't afford it.
-It's not a case of we can't afford it.
-It's not that.
-We can afford it.
-We can't justify spending that amount of money.
And also, if we did spend that amount of money on a kitchen,
it would be a fantastic kitchen and it would be just what we wanted,
but, you know, the stairs might end halfway down.
-You'll have to jump the last three.
-Oh, no, not the ladder again!
So have Karl and Lesley gone for a stairway to heaven
or ended up with a kitchen calamity?
Three months later I'm back in West Yorkshire
and eager for a final look.
Some properties, such as Karl and Lesley's,
are apparently all about the view.
But, you know, in my view, the house itself looks stunning.
Karl and Lesley set themselves a challenge to build a house
which could hold its own against its magnificent surroundings.
This spectacular success story has certainly stepped up to the plate.
-Hiya. May I?
-Come on in.
-Beautiful. This place looks great.
With five bedrooms and four bathrooms,
this is stylish living on a grand scale.
And there's no doubt this energetic electrician has built a house
with an incredible buzz
from the glorious balcony
to the ultra-sleek kitchen cum family room,
this place is in a league of its own.
This is just amazing.
The view speaks for itself, but what a living space.
-Are you happy, Lesley?
-Extremely happy, yes.
It's a fab space,
favourite room in the house for me, definitely.
-I can see why. Karl?
-Yeah, well, as long as the wife's happy, I'm happy.
It has exceeded my expectations, just this room alone.
It's just wonderful.
Love it, absolutely love it.
The lounge is still a work in progress and,
after rushing to complete the build,
they're taking their time to make sure they get it right.
In here we've sort of got the carpet, got the fire.
Normally I'd be thinking about curtains but I haven't yet.
From the outside all the way through to the inside
there's kind of a modesty and understatement about the way
you've built the place and about the way now that you're designing
the interior. That's fair to say, isn't it?
-There's nothing flashy.
-No, we're not really.
No, it's about quality
and all the design, really.
It's clear Karl and Lesley are starting to feel at home here
and Chester's fitting in nicely with the surroundings, too.
But no time for us to 'paws', I want to see what else there is,
including Karl's fabulous stairs.
And, wow, have these turned into a work of art.
There aren't many staircases with a view like that, though.
Upstairs the bedrooms and bathrooms still require a bit of TLC,
but the couple's attention to detail means
they're still determined to keep the quality high.
Are you getting to the point where there are a few little bits
that are still works in progress
-around the place that you just wish it was done?
Of course, I wish it was done, but I need time to go out
and, me being me, obsess about the bits that we're going to finish them with,
because I won't choose something for the sake of it.
No. We've spent a long time over picking everything, haven't we?
But at least the end is now in sight
and, over the next few months,
they can begin to complete the finishing tasks,
such as the games room and spare bedroom.
Has it all been worth it?
The couple bought their plot and original house for £330,000
and estimated £300,000 to complete the house.
So far they're over budget by £19,000.
So, with a total spend of £650,000,
has it made financial sense?
Now, as you know, there's been a valuer
-having a nose around your place.
And the valuation they've given this property,
they have said that they would be happy to value this place
at £1.1 million.
-I'm not buying it!
-Come on, that's good.
-That's fantastic, isn't it?
-It is, yeah.
It's a wonderful space, absolutely wonderful. Love it to bits.
-You know, I really do.
-I will one day, when we've finished it.
That's an enormous saving of £450,000
compared to buying an equivalent home.
And it's testament to Karl's hard work and Lesley's determination to go for broke.
-You can now stand in this space and say, "I did this."
There must be a great sense of achievement in that.
-There is. And I also think, in 100 years' time,
-I won't be sat in this house.
-That's true, isn't it?
-It'll be here long after me.
Building your own house feels to me
almost to be like achieving immortality, in a small way.
-Does that make sense?
-Yeah, is does.
-That's right, yeah.
This'll be mine.
Karl and Lesley have steered their way through
a few planning nightmares,
from deviations with their original design
to objections from the neighbours, but are their battles with red tape finally behind them?
Part of the planning that we actually did eventually receive
excluded the garden because of what's called
raised levels and platforms,
-which... I have raised my levels and my platforms.
We had to to have a garden we would spend any time in.
So I've now got to put full planning in again for my garden.
But I know them all by first name now, so I can just say, "Look..."
"Hello, Karl, are you all right?"
There you go. So, even at this point,
-your dealings with the Planning Department are not finished?
Listen, that reminds me, I've got a present for you that might be pertinent.
Won't be a minute.
It's not a new sofa?
I just thought, with your story being what it was,
that you might appreciate this.
-Lovely. Thank you very much.
You just haven't got that bit there quite right.
-This is a very, very handsome house.
You've kind of done that very clever trick
of having a very traditional looking property and, inside,
a really contemporary home.
Yeah, that's what we aimed to do.
-He's not bad when he pulls his finger out.
-No, he's done very well.
I haven't got fingers left!
Subtitles by Red Bee Media.
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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.