Series following some of the UK's 20,000 self-builders. Airline pilot Chris McHale has clearance to build a fabulous family home in Surrey but it is far from a smooth flight.
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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.
I have a solution.
Stop searching for something to buy and consider somewhere to build.
Every year, 20,000 people make the journey of a lifetime
and opt to build their own home.
We'll be following some of them as they go from foundations to finishing touches.
Along the way, our brave self-builders will experience
It's magic, it really is.
If you're not careful, I'll throw my hat in the air.
And some frustrating lows.
We've lived off every last resource we've got.
We'll just have to beg, steal and borrow for that last few thousand.
But if they can overcome these trials and tribulations.
We are getting the house we want on the plot we like
and the two are coming together.
They'll end up with the home they've always desired.
So if you're looking for your perfect pad, the question is simple -
To Build Or Not To Build.
Coming up - the airline pilot's self-build
in Surrey that's in for a bumpy ride.
All the pipework for the kitchen is over there
in the extension we haven't got planning for,
Can you imagine not getting planning?
This self-built home in Cambridgeshire
that's a real barnstormer.
I've always wanted to build a house
and it was a golden opportunity to do that.
And can I master the plaster at building college?
If you ever get me round to do any plastering in your house,
I would highly recommend taking the carpets away.
Today, I'm in the heart of leafy if slightly damp Surrey to meet
a self-builder whose bid to build a dream family home
is really taking off.
Airline pilot Chris McHale his project managing his self-build
from his very own control tower.
So, will it be a smooth flight or will he hit turbulence along the way?
Chris McHale is a man used to living the high life.
An airline pilot for the past 16 years,
his jet-setting job has taken him all over the world.
But when captain Chris isn't up, up and away with work,
he's at home spending time with wife Claire and kids Andrew, Jonathan and Anna
in the gorgeous Surrey green belt close to Gatwick.
Homes in this part of the world sell for millions
but canny captain McHale is masterminding a first-class family house
on an economy-class budget,
all to be built in his own garden
and controlled from his summer house.
We bought the plot about five years ago for a princely sum of £405,000.
-With a perfectly good house on it?
-Yeah, it's gorgeous, isn't it?
-Aesthetically not the best but...
Built in 1955.
While the old place might be dated,
what they intend to replace it with will be completely desirable.
With the help of an architect, they've designed an oak
and soft wood-framed five bed home that combines
a traditional exterior with contemporary design on the inside.
The focal point of their whole plan is the so-called great hall,
where seven metre high arches will create a huge light-filled
lounge area for all the family to share.
It's a marriage of old and new, isn't it?
Yes, it's a sort of design feature.
We wanted something that was modern and that our family could live in
and was a sensible way to live,
but where you've got a bit of character as well.
But building this fabulous family home is definitely going to be
a challenge as the McHales' budget is relatively modest
given the size and scale of the project.
We've got a build budget and that's all we've got - £300,000.
We'll be in for about £705,000 in total.
The immediate figure that jumped out at me there is
to build something of such beauty, £300,000, that sounds quite tight?
You must have been holding on to the reins?
We've been very, very careful. I'm project managing it.
I've gone out to each particular company
and managed to negotiate the various parts of it.
In doing so, I saved a fortune.
By dealing direct, Chris has knocked around £20,000 off the cost
of the frame alone before work even began.
His key to saving success - don't be embarrassed to ask for discounts.
A building like this - and you're really going for a quality finish and a quality build -
you would almost think the price that you're quoted
would be the price, you don't believe in that at all?
I don't, actually.
I'd never associate high quality with excessive cost.
I think you can achieve high quality, a very high quality finish,
for a reasonable cost.
I don't think you can have it cheap, cheap, cheap,
but you can certainly be careful.
Every pound's a prisoner, so for every quid you save,
it adds up to 100 quid and then 1,000 and then we're in tens of thousands.
Remind me never to try to do business with Chris.
It wouldn't be a good idea. I'm going to lose, aren't I?
If Chris can keep on top of the budget,
then choosing to self-build their home could pay off big-time
compared to buying a property in this area.
Typical values of this, we've had three agents round,
and the values have ranged with the lowest we've had
being £1.55 million.
The highest ones about 1.75.
So that's a massive saving.
It's a significant saving but ultimately we are doing it
because we want to build something that suits our lifestyle and our family.
It's great that we're building a lot of equity into it
but that's not the primary reason.
In between his busy flying schedule, Chris will project manage
the 10-month build while Claire will take sole charge on the home front
whilst also juggling her job as director of a pharmaceutical company.
For both of them, this is a big undertaking.
We both work full-time, we've got three young kids and, ultimately,
Chris takes the stress of the build on
and I take the stress of the three kids and the job and the house
and him and the dog.
I'm very much hard work.
The bottom line is we are trying to build a beautiful family home
which we can hopefully live in for the next 20 years
as our young family grow up, really.
The family are building right next to their existing bungalow
and will live on site during the build.
Then, they'll demolish it when the new home's finished.
But this project will not be straightforward.
Chris only has planning permission to replace the old house
with a new property of similar size.
However, the one he's planning to build is actually 40% bigger.
To get round this, he's applied
for secondary planning permission for an extension
off the main hall that will house the kitchen and a separate lounge.
It's an enormous gamble.
If the planners say no, Chris will only have half a house
and the McHale family meals might be microwaved ones for the foreseeable future.
It's build month one, and the McHale big build
is cleared for departure in the depths of winter.
With builders often quiet at this time of year, Chris found a company
who could start straight away and he was able to knock
around £5,000 off their ground works bill compared to starting in spring.
But there is a reason many people don't choose to start in winter. Bad weather,
and it's already had an impact.
We've lost a lot of time due to poor weather. The guys are trying to make up time now.
It's very hard, obviously, with it being sticky, it's like glue.
They have had quite a few cave-ins.
Every time it caves in, you've got to use more concrete.
More concrete is more expense and more expense means the budget
that I have is obviously going to have to accept that extra spend.
That's when I get stressed, when I start to waste money due to things that are outside my control.
The additional cement costs Chris an extra £600
and he'll just have to hope the weather holds until the ground works are complete.
Into build month two and while the guys make muddy progress on site,
Chris and Claire are in Wales
watching their timber-frame being made using traditional techniques.
Working this wood by hand is a real skill and requires precision
and meticulous measurements.
By build month three, the foundations are finished
and the scaffolding is in place
for the oak and softwood frame's construction.
Chris is looking forward to the next big stage of the build.
The timber-frame erectors have just arrived, the frames aren't here yet.
It's all quite exciting, really.
I'm a little bit nervous as to whether it's all going to fit but I'm sure it will.
And it doesn't take the frame company long to transform the site
from a scaffolding skeleton into something resembling a house.
The rapid progress in just 10 days certainly impresses Chris.
I didn't expect the frame to have gone up so rapidly.
It's great to see this dream suddenly be on your doorstep, which of course it is.
But halfway through the frame going up,
there's a massive issue for Chris to deal with.
The main problem we've got at the moment is the oak frame,
this beautiful oak frame,
doesn't actually fit on the foundation that it's been designed for.
These are the three main oak sections.
At high-level, roughly three metres, we've got these wall plates.
These wall plates connect the vertical legs together.
The problem we've got is the third bay, this one,
the wall plate is 200 mm too long,
which essentially means the whole frame structure is 200 mm too long.
A mistake with the plans means the frame doesn't fit correctly.
It's engineer to go into precise slots, or pads,
already fixed into the foundations,
so the smallest inaccuracy could result in disastrous consequences for the whole structure.
If they don't sit entirely on the pad,
there's a possibility that we could have cracking
and the roof could start to shift, which is obviously no good.
It's not just a simple question of chopping 200 mm off.
All these joints are made by hand.
They're hand-carved and they're quite intricate.
In order to shorten the whole bay by 200 mm is actually a fairly big job.
In fact, we've got to shorten five separate oak beams by 200 mm.
Sorting it out will take time and cash
and project manager Chris is not a happy man.
It is immensely frustrating because I am the project manager, the buck stops with me.
I have to keep everything going, I've got to keep all the trades employed.
If I don't, it's going to end up costing me money
and I can't afford to burst the budget.
To rectify the problem,
some of the beams have to be altered on site for them to fit properly.
Correcting the mistake costs £1,500
but after a meeting between the frame company and his architects,
Chris ultimately doesn't have to pick up the tab
because the error was not his fault.
With a strict £300,000 budget to stick to,
Chris is determined to hold on to every pound at each stage of the build.
A time to take things easy, relax, sit back
and enjoy all that extra leisure time you have definitely earned.
But when engineer John Price finished work,
he decided to ditch the pipe and slippers
and do something far more exciting instead, like build a new home.
In the picturesque Cambridgeshire village of Meldreth,
houses in its conservation area are guaranteed a premium price.
The traditional is highly valued here,
and when mature building plots come up for sale,
they need to be handled with care.
So step forward retired engineer John Price and his wife Jill.
Not content to put their feet up and relax during their golden years,
their decision to self-build has led to a lovingly-crafted new home.
This plot came up for sale just about the time I retired.
I've always wanted to build a house
and it was a golden opportunity to do that.
To satisfy the planners,
the new property was designed to blend in
with the surrounding agricultural barns,
with large windows to replicate cart doors.
Inside, all that glass lets the light flood in,
especially into the home centrepiece,
the gorgeous kitchen diner.
This is our kitchen dining room where we probably spent
about 10% of our budget.
It's much better actually than I expected, to be honest, because I thought
when we came to the kitchen we might be getting
a bit low on funds and wouldn't be able to have what we wanted.
I have more than I want in here so that's excellent.
The downstairs is completely open plan
and was designed with a family and grandchildren in mind.
Something which also influenced a rather special feature in the lounge.
One of the intriguing things about this fireplace is that
Jill was aware of a tradition from years ago
where it was lucky to include children's shoes when you built a fireplace.
So we've got six pairs of little boy's shoes in there,
except the oldest of the boys is 21, and it was rather difficult to get his size 13 down there.
Nevertheless, we succeeded.
This is very nice. We've got an East and West aspect.
It's very light everywhere, it's warm of course,
and it's ease because we can just drift from place to place.
The plot cost £300,000 and came with a bungalow
which the couple lived in during the build.
But that had one very big catch.
As their new home got bigger, Jill had to suffer
while their bungalow got smaller as John began demolishing it
room by room to make more space for the new house.
So many of my friends said, you know, "You must be mad.
"Most people are going on cruises or going round the world
"and you're in your home here doing this."
-Or downsizing, that's right.
But why conform to the norm?
As an engineer, John's built up a lifetime's experience
of overcoming obstacles and the four years he devoted
to building this home threw up quite a few.
I realise that things aren't done in five minutes
and it's just a question of, in some cases,
plodding away at a long and tedious task.
Getting yourself through it
and then there's something more interesting at the end of it.
I was sort of quite sure that he would manage things,
to the point that sometimes I wish he would ask for a little bit of help,
but he's a very determined man.
And that determination has led to some stunning financial rewards.
John, who's 70, built the majority of the house himself
with the odd bit of help from his 84-year-old mate Michael.
The DIY route meant they saved a fortune on labour costs
and the build was finished for a bargain £127,000.
Although even that was a bit more than John wanted to spend.
He wished he could have done it for £100,000.
I had actually hoped for something slightly less than that, but still.
Add the build cost to the 300 grand plot cost
and John and Jill managed to get themselves a splendid house in a conservation area
for a modest £427,000.
We've got a very good mixture.
A big house, a very reasonable building cost,
a lovely-looking house and a modern and efficient house inside.
With his bold barn now valued at £750,000,
John and Jill's home is proof that doing it yourself really can make sense.
Back in Surrey, it's four months since Chris and Claire McHale
began construction of their timber-framed five-bedroom house.
So far, only half a house is being built.
Planning permission for the extension hasn't come through yet.
As you can see,
the site is not as active as it has been in the last eight weeks.
We are now waiting for planning permission for the second phase,
which is what we see just behind me here.
Chris laid the foundations and installed drainage
for the extension when the footings for the main house were being done.
The kitchen and all the pipework
which is already underneath this floor, this is a block and beam floor,
which is not going to be easy to take up now.
It would be a major job to take it up.
All the pipework for the kitchen is actually over there
in the extension, which we haven't got planning for.
Can you imagine not getting planning?
Getting all the foundations done at the same time saved him money,
but the lack of news from the planning department is making him nervous.
There's obviously a little bit of a worry that they could turn round
and say, no, you can't have your extension,
which would be quite a disaster.
But I'm sure that we're going to be all right.
You've got to calculate your risks and I'm pretty sure we'll be OK on this one.
If he isn't granted planning permission,
he could be forced to dig up the foundations.
That would be extremely expensive.
Even worse, it would mean their new house would have no space for a kitchen.
Chris is confident his gamble will pay off but for the moment,
the decision is out of his hands.
For now, he's concentrating on what he does know.
At the moment we've spent about 55 grand so far.
That's the timber frame, oak frame and the floor.
So we are well within budget.
A month later, and after some serious nail-biting,
Chris receives some news from the planners about his extension.
We've had some fantastic news today.
We've just got notification that the planning permission
for the second part of the building has been permitted.
That permission has just come through today which is superb news.
It's a huge relief.
With planning permission approved, not only can the family complete their house,
they can also have a house complete with a kitchen.
But while Mum and Dad might have been stressing about the new home,
the kids are enjoying their new toys on their very own building site.
Are you the JCB driver?
Three-year-old Anna is happy to get stuck in
but have the long hours on this project taken their toll on Claire
as she holds down a high pressure full-time job and makes sure family life runs smoothly?
I think anybody who builds a house or goes into a situation like this,
you've got to anticipate there will be stress on both sides
because I can't understand where Chris is coming from,
some of the pressures he's under.
Obviously, he's on the frontline of the whole build
but then he totally forgets what the pressures are like
trying to look after a young family, having a full-time job, running a house
and making sure he's got a shirt ironed to go to work.
It's the basics that he totally forgets still have to carry on.
For the McHales, pulling together as a family is essential to the success of this project.
Luckily, we balance each other really well.
In the fact that, he takes responsibility for one side of it
and I take responsibility for the other.
We complement each other. I'm sure he wouldn't say that.
I'm sure he would say he has to do absolutely everything, you know.
There's no doubting Chris's commitment to the build.
Hi, Mark, how are we getting on, mate?
You've put some dye in this mortar like we've put dye in all the other stuff?
And despite all the disruption, his family are backing him all the way.
He isn't doing it just for himself.
He's actually doing it for me and for our family
and, yeah, really proud of him.
It's high time I dropped in on Chris and Claire's home to find out
whether this self-build is a flight of fancy
or still has its feet on the ground.
With first officer Claire busy at work,
the captain's flying solo for my visit.
Seven months into the build, despite the early setbacks,
Chris is delighted with progress.
This thing that you got to remember about this as well, Simon, it's quite a rapid build.
We only started this last December and we lost about six to eight weeks
with poor weather, so this has got a real trot on at the moment.
-I'd say it's even got a bit of a canter going.
-You're racing, aren't you?
This build might have stumbled rather than galloped
if planning permission for the kitchen extension hadn't come through.
Remind me, you started this build knowing full well
you were starting to build without a kitchen.
We did have a bit of a fall-back plan if we didn't get the extension.
We'd obviously have to put the kitchen back into the great hall,
as we called it, but that would have been a bit of a partial success.
I was fairly confident that come hell or high water
we would actually get the extension.
We might have had to go to appeal which would have slowed it down by nine months.
It would have driven you mad.
It would have driven me mad,
but we looked at the comparables down the lane.
What we've achieved here, we've done quite well,
don't get me wrong, but it's like horse racing.
You've really got to study the form and we did our homework.
We knew it was likely on the balance of probabilities,
it was likely we were going to get it.
-Shall we have a canter round?
-Come on then, old boy.
And we're off and into the newest part of this new build.
Chris is fitting out his new house with the very latest technology.
Oh, come on, come on, you're up to something here.
It's a few little boy's toys, really.
What we've got here is one of the lighting panels that we're going to be using.
This one here, for instance, is £2 - 2,500.
If you want to press those light switches there,
you can actually use it to set moods.
Even when he's not in his cockpit, Captain McHale will have
plenty of switches to command on his home lighting control panel.
From technology back to tradition and this is another new room.
This is the snug.
Do us a favour! It's about the size of a Welsh chapel.
I think it's all right.
I think this is relatively cosy in comparison to the great hall.
Chris is totally devoted to getting a high-end finish for his new family home.
It's admirable, and for him, exhausting.
I was sat in bed this morning, having my toast,
and I thought,
how many jobs am I actually doing concurrently at the moment?
I made a quick list, actually. I'm currently running about 30 separate elements of the project
so it's like having loads of balls up in the air
and not enough hands to catch them.
But you've got to keep the balls up there.
But he's investing every ounce of energy into building this house
and with Claire having to do double duty, is it a sacrifice worth making?
Are you spending enough time with your kids or do you have to
say to yourself, get through this
-and what I'll provide for the kids at the end of it will be worth it?
They realise they're not spending as much time
with their dad as they should be, but I'll be there for them
in two or three months when this is complete.
They'll be enjoying the snug, the cinema room
and all those good things.
It sounds to me like Chris and Claire's kids have an awful lot
to look forward to, and not just getting their dad back.
But with everything he has to juggle, has he dropped any balls on the budget?
We're on budget, yeah. So far we've spent about £132,000.
This is where we are with £132,000.
Chris, can I just stop you there?
I don't think so.
Honestly, I've seen builds of exactly the same size as this
using similar building process to this, twice the money.
I could have spent three times the amount that I've done and still be in the same position.
Would I have achieved anything better? I don't think so.
I am still completely staggered that you have spent 130 grand to date.
And that proves the point. Let's see the rest of it.
Chris's tireless dedication to getting the best possible price
for everything on this project is a credit to him.
However, one of his latest deals is proving to be a pain.
And now starting to look like a house, dear boy. Windows are going in.
-Yeah, good old windows.
-What do you mean good old windows?
We've had a few problems with these, actually.
-These were actually a bit of a bargain.
-You do surprise me(!)
We've had a couple of contractual problems.
It's all to do with these little horrible white plastic blocks here.
Those little white blocks which no-one else would notice at all whatsoever.
I can notice them and it's driving me mad.
That's the problem, isn't it?
Once you get a detail like that in your head,
you've got to get it sorted because you will
spot them forever even if no-one else ever notices them.
I can't compromise on the aesthetics of it.
They've agreed to remove them.
Is this a frustrating time now?
It is, yeah, because we've reached that part of the build
where there's a lot going on but there doesn't seem to be anything happening.
Lots of pipework going in, lots of wires.
Once you get your boards up and that sort of stuff, suddenly it will fly.
We'll see a change with the glazing in the great hall which is going to be in two weeks' time.
Once we get the underfloor heating system in
and we've got the floor screeded, that will be a big change.
-Have you still got the energy?
I look forward to coming back and seeing that stage
and also just seeing it without those little plastic blocks there.
Into build month eight
and the McHales' family home is really coming on.
The substantial glazing goes into the gable end
and the house is emerging from the building site around it.
Here she is in all her glory.
Front door's missing at the moment.
A minor detail, Chris. Inside, the walls have been plastered,
Chris has laid the underfloor heating himself
and some of the concrete floors have gone down too.
The McHales' dream home is cruising along at the rate of knots
and it looks like they might have a great house on the horizon.
It's quite a miserable day today but when the sun's shining,
she's quite sparkly.
From building brick walls right through to wallpapering,
if you're self-building then it's helpful if you know some of the basics.
So I'm at building college to learn some of the construction trades,
and the one I'm worried I won't be mastering is plastering.
I've already been to boarding school and now for the job I've been dreading.
It's time to get plastered.
Well, you plaster boarded the wall and made a very good job too.
If we were to put plaster on straight onto that plaster board
with no reinforcement on these, when it dries, the water evaporates
and it will shrink into there and instantly crack.
We first have to reinforce the joints.
Reinforcing the joints is done with self-adhesive tape.
-That's me for the day then!
-I don't think so.
That's the easy bit
and now we're ready to put a setting cord on the plastic board.
First, we need to mix the plaster.
Pour the plaster powder into the water,
you'll mix it with the stick to get the biggest lumps out and then
you'll use your potter to plunge it to get a nice creamy consistency.
Surely in the 21st century they would have automated this.
Is it hard work?
Only cos I'm idle, though. And lo and behold.
To be honest, Simon, I don't really know why you did it that way
because it's much, much easier with what we call a megamixer.
We just put it on, press the button and it will mix it for you.
Yeah, yeah, but look at the muscles on this now, you see, you weakling.
-Ever get the feeling you've been set up?
-We'll wet the trowel.
Before we can hit the wall with the fruits of my unnecessarily hard labour,
we need to wet the tools and wet the spot board my plaster will sit on.
That's lovely, we'll use that.
Then after some sleight of hand a magician would be proud of.
You've got to take it off, take a little bit off.
Wayne gives me what I'm convinced is a deceptively easy looking demo.
Trowel with a slight overlap, up you go again.
-It's your go now.
So, where am I going?
Look at the difference. Look at yours.
I'm losing faith already here.
And my confidence is not the only thing that's hitting the floor.
Don't worry about it.
You did say you wanted the floor plastering as well, didn't you?
Wayne jumps in to bail me out but the plaster's starting to set
and time is of the essence.
I'll tell you what I'm good at - making tea.
But unfortunately, there's no escape.
Squeeze it on, that's what the man said.
I dropped most of it on the floor.
If you ever get me around to do any plastering in your house,
I would highly recommend taking the carpets away.
The bad news is this is just the first coat,
so I need more help from Wayne.
For me, plastering is the art form of building.
When you see it done well, I still stand in amazement.
A lot of jealousy and a bit of bitterness.
Come on, get on with it.
What's this down here?
Oh, Wayne, lad!
-I left that, Simon, purposely to see if you'd notice.
-Lucky I was here.
So the first coat is done and a little bit later it's time for the finishing touches.
Right, we've been trowelling up for the last hour.
I've been hard at it and Wayne's just been reading the sports pages
and that kind of stuff. Or was that the other way around?
Time for the next stage.
We may be just going to throw a little bit more water on, just to smooth it out.
We don't want too much of a polish of it.
We just want a nice matte finish.
Decorators don't like too much of a polished finish
because when they paint it, it streaks a little bit.
-Just give it a flick?
-A little flick of water.
A bit too much but it's a first attempt. Come across.
You must have a sense of achievement now there, Simon.
That's a lovely wall is that. You've made a tremendous effort.
I suppose Wayne has to be complimentary.
He's done most of the work.
Come on, then. Be honest.
All in all, give me a score.
I'd have to give you up into the nines.
So a dubious 9 out of 10 but I will happily take it.
While I'm no plaster master, I am an expert at pushing my luck.
You're such a nice fella,
I'm going to let you clean up all this mess we made.
It's build month 10 and back in Surrey,
Chris and Claire's family home is really coming on.
Inside the centrepiece great hall,
project manager Chris is revealing the latest new fixture.
OK. These are the piece de resistance in terms of bespoke joinery.
Folding sliding doors.
We've had these made purposely for the job
because this opening is about five and a half metres.
These are just wonderful. They just glide across. They open all the way.
The massive doors are certainly impressive.
While in the kitchen, Chris is getting all excited about his gadgets.
I'm actually going to integrate all the appliances
such as dish washers, wine chillers, macerators,
all the toys, basically.
We're even having a special hot water tap and the hot water tap
will give you instant hot water so you no longer need a kettle.
Hopefully, I won't have to wait long for a cuppa next time I visit them.
But if he's thrilled with his kitchen appliances,
Captain Chris is losing it when it comes to his loo.
This is again a beautiful piece of technology. Up she comes.
Just watch how gently she closes.
So Chris is flushed with success.
But has juggling work, family and project managing
this big build seen his energy levels take a nose dive?
Yes, it's still fairly tiring.
The difference is everything we're doing now, we are seeing it.
We're seeing a change in the build. That's quite uplifting.
It's quite reassuring that the work that's still going into it,
we are actually seeing something now.
It makes me smile every time I go into the building
because I think, wow, this is what I actually envisaged ages ago
and I can actually see it happening now.
It's build month 12 and,
almost a year since starting to build their dream family home,
the McHales are still living in their old bungalow.
Even though they are preparing for the final approach,
there has been a recent spot of turbulence with the tiles.
These beautiful tiles here, Italian polished marble.
We got them delivered about five weeks ago.
The delivery company drove the lorry forward
and dropped the tiles off the back in the pallets,
resulting in quite a few being damaged.
And that wasn't the only bit of trouble a tired-looking Chris has had with his tiling.
We then employed tiler number one.
After about three days,
I realised some of his tiles were not particularly straight.
He's not used to people pointing out imperfections
in his work and to cut a long story short, after the end of the week,
he decided he wasn't going to work here any more.
Tiler number two could talk the talk, told me he's brilliant and so on and so forth.
He started the job and as you can see behind me,
this is some of his fantastic tiling.
The grout lines don't line up.
Having invested considerable time and energy creating the perfect family home,
Chris wants every aspect to be right, or at least every tile to be in a straight line.
So, the dilemma I'm in at the moment
is do I pull a lot of the tiles off the wall,
not only damage the tiles but the wall as well,
so it's going to slow us down even more.
I don't know exactly what I'm going to do.
If I've got to redo the bathrooms, it's going to cost me about £6,000.
In the end, Chris realises that even he will have to compromise
on this part of the build and decides to stick with
the current tiles to keep his costs under control.
Three months later,
I'm back in Surrey to check in with the McHales for the final time.
It's 14 months since airline pilot Chris and wife Claire
took to the controls of their self-build home.
They've had to juggle full-time jobs
and raising a family throughout the build,
so will they have managed to keep this ambitious project on course?
I am dying to find out whether Chris and Claire
have managed to create their grand vision on a very, very tight budget.
Here we go.
And while work is still continuing on the landscaping,
the first signs are that the McHales' jumbo building has really taken off.
With its Scandinavian-style timber cladding,
it clearly looks at home in this woodland plot.
-Give us a hand over.
What a beautiful place!
Inside, the scale of this house hits you immediately.
With its reception hall, great hall and five bedrooms,
the amount of legroom just isn't an issue.
-This is stunning.
-Do you like it?
-Do YOU like it?
Oh yeah, I know. It's fantastic, I really love it.
I'm really pleased.
It's a fabulous space. Makes me happy every time I walk in here.
The bold design of the great hall
sets the tone for the rest of the house.
Where once the family was crammed into its dingy bungalow,
here they are awash with space and that's something
that's got the couple's children, Anna, Andrew and Jonathan jumping for joy.
All three of their bedrooms are on the ground floor
along with Claire's pride and joy, the hand-made kitchen diner.
I really love it. It's where we spend so much of our time.
The family are in here, it's just such an amazing space for cooking.
For me, it's just absolutely everything.
Chris set out without full planning permission for the extension
that houses the kitchen which is definitely a risky thing to do.
Planning is always a very contentious issue.
I walked a long time on a strategy to maximise the size of the house.
Yeah, but if it hadn't paid off, you'd have been in big trouble.
I'd have been... What's that word...? Without a paddle.
That's right, but I calculated the risks and weighed it up
and luckily for us, it worked.
Their gamble paid off in spades and this is a great family space.
Downstairs there's still some finishing off to do.
This room will eventually be the snug.
But upstairs, Claire and Chris have created a haven they can escape to.
Beautiful. Master bedroom, but not too ostentatious.
Quite simple but bright and spacious
-which is what we were looking for.
-Lots of light coming in.
Wandering through I see to the en suite. Fantastic.
And even a view of your garden here. Absolutely gorgeous.
It's a little area of sanctuary
where we can lock ourselves away from the kids.
Although the house is exactly what they wanted,
there's still a few wistful thoughts about the bungalow they left behind.
It was so sad when it went, because we had all the kids there
and that's their first home.
It's sort of destroyed now which is a bit sad but obviously...
It kind of makes a void just a bit, doesn't it? I bet it does.
In a way, the old house is always going to be here
because the old house is now the new drive,
so it's all been crushed up and we drive over it every day.
And that's just typical of Chris's determination not to let anything go to waste.
When it comes to the cost of this family home, how will the sums add up?
The plot cost £405,000.
A last-minute splurge on their kitchen has meant
the original budget of £300,000 stretched to £325,000.
That brings the total project cost to £730,000.
But when it comes to a valuation,
has the McHales' build stalled on the runway
or been a jet-propelled success?
As you know, we've had an estate agent give this place the once over.
They think this place has a market value of around £1.65 million.
By my reckoning, that brings you in just short
of making a million quid in just over a year.
It's not just about the money.
It's about the experience of actually building a house from scratch for you.
For me, it's been the experience of being able to get a house that's
specifically made for our family.
You know, you can't put that into money, really.
Achieving such a stunning financial return has been down to
Chris's shrewd bargaining skills on every aspect of this house.
From the foundations to the fixtures and fittings.
And as a souvenir, I've come with a gift he might like.
Just as a little memento of the whole process,
you said something very early on and I think you've been true to your word.
This is a keepsake for you both.
-That's really kind.
-That is fantastic.
If you take care of the pennies,
the pounds will take care of themselves and we've very much
done that on this project, but without compromising quality.
I would agree. That's for you.
Pick a spot to put it up but I completely agree,
you have not compromised quality.
And vision as well, I think the style of this place works fabulously.
Really, you should both be proud of yourselves.
Yeah. I think we are. I'm very proud of Claire as well.
She's had to put up with me for the last 14 months working fairly hard.
Without her support, I wouldn't have been able to do it, so we work very well as a team.
So, for pilot Chris and his family crew, this fabulous project
has definitely reached its final destination - cloud nine.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
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Airline pilot Chris McHale has got clearance to build a fabulous family home in Surrey but it is far from a smooth flight. Plus the barn in Cambridgeshire built for a bargain £126,000 and presenter Simon O'Brien tries his hand at plastering at building college.