Episode 14 To Build or Not to Build


Episode 14

Series following some of the UK's 20,000 self-builders. William Guthrie's dream to build his own home near Middlesbrough is proving to be a nightmare for his reluctant wife Velia.


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Transcript


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We all dream of owning the perfect home,

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but finding a property that suits your wallet and your way of life isn't easy. 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 in Britain, 20,000 people build their own home.

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'And we'll be following some of them as they go from foundations to finishing touches.'

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It's certainly relentless. I'm getting time off for good behaviour.

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

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It's been a dream. And it's starting to come together now.

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'..and some frustrating lows.'

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How many more things could go pear-shaped?

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'But if they can overcome the 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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'Coming up, a one-man self-build dream is proving to be a nightmare

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'for his reluctant wife.'

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At no point did he ask me if I wanted to move.

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It was time for me to make the only decision I've ever made.

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'The cutting-edge home in Wales that really has the wow factor.'

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I wanted to build something completely different

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and I think that's what we achieved.

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'And I get into a bit of a tangle

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'learning to fit underfloor heating at building college.'

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It's like wrestling with a boa. And I don't mean a feather boa.

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One of the Tees Valley Giants, an art installation which cost

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in the region of £2.7 million

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and has certainly divided opinion amongst the residents of Middlesbrough.

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But those big steel rings aren't the only construction in town

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which has caused some controversy, as I'm about to discover.

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'For many families, the decision to build a new home is the culmination of a shared vision,

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'the chance to finally get the home of their dreams.

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'But for the Guthrie family, it's a decision that's dividing rather than uniting them.'

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-Where am I sitting, Mam?

-Just there.

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'William and Velia live with their teenage sons, William Henry and Charles, in Middlesbrough.

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'And together, they run a children's nursery in the town centre.'

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Absolutely. So it should be all right.

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'But convincing his wife that moving from their bungalow they've lived in for the past 18 years

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'to a brand new self-built home hasn't been child's play.'

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It's a blunt question but a valid question. Whose idea was this?

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My wife's.

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-It was not my idea, it was his.

-Come on.

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-Who is telling the truth?

-It was his silly idea. SIMON LAUGHS

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The way she said silly idea, I'm starting to think, William, it was your idea.

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It won't be the first time we've disagreed, but it's not a silly idea.

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I found a piece of land and pursued a gentleman farmer to sell it to me

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-and eventually he did.

-So this plot of land wasn't even up for sale?

-No.

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Every eight or nine weeks, I knocked on his door, until eventually he gave up and decided to sell it.

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-He wore to poor man down.

-Were you involved?

-No.

-I discussed it with her.

-He didn't.

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At no point did he ask me if I wanted to move.

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Four years he was courting this farmer and I wasn't involved.

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She's made every other decision in our marriage.

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It was time for me to make the only decision I've ever made.

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'You can't beat a bit of loving banter, can you?

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'When William spotted a plot of land two miles away

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'in semi-rural Hilton, he couldn't resist making an offer.

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'His £175,000 bid was accepted

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'and despite Velia's reluctance, he pressed on with his dream to build an eco-home with a difference.'

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In 1990, I looked at a house which was made out of polystyrene

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and it had the wow factor and it was THE way to build,

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it's very energy efficient, which is very politically talked about these days.

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This is not a common build method, certainly in this country.

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Not in this country, no, but it's very, very common on the continent.

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But for some reason, modern methods of construction haven't really got much foundation in this country.

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Oh, very good!

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'William and Velia have budgeted around £175,000

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'to build the sizeable three-storey, four-bed detached house.

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'From the exterior, the house will look like a traditional red-brick home,

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'but that's just a planning stipulation.

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'The bricks will effectively be wallpaper.

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'It's the polystyrene blocks filled with concrete

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'that form the solid supporting structure of the house.'

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-So you're pioneering. Have you got a pioneering spirit?

-It's only pioneering for Britain.

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It's pioneering as far as my wife's concerned, cos she's very worried.

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'For Velia, it's not the building system that's the real concern.

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'The reason she doesn't want to sell their current home and move is simple. The family.'

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-Come on then, Velia, who built this street?

-It was actually my brother, Ernie.

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-He bought a piece of land and had ten plots.

-Right.

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-And there's three bungalows along here.

-You live in the end one.

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-The little one in the corner.

-Who lives here?

-This is my brother, Ralph, the head of the family.

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-End one?

-This is my sister, Carmelina, who lives there with her husband Peter

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-and she has four children.

-So let's just recap.

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You're on the end, brother, sister.

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-And we get to the end of the cul-de-sac. Is that where the family connection finishes?

-No.

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If we get to the end of the drive here, you bear right, and then my sister Maria is just at the end.

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-This is like Little Italy.

-That's what we wanted to call it cos we were going to put some gates on here

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and call it Little Italy. So lots of memories, really. Why on earth would I want to move?

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Does it worry you then, that, OK, I can see why you don't want to move,

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-but it's kind of going to happen.

-I know.

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From what I've seen in the past from this kind of project, you really do need to support each other.

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-Are you on board?

-Not quite. SHE LAUGHS

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-Not quite!

-I know why.

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-I'm sure I will be.

-Shall we go and see your sister?

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'Much as I understand the family ties, the move is only a couple of miles down the road.

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'Work started on site four months ago

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'and despite some horrendous weather, today being no exception,

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'project manager William has overseen the construction of the foundations.

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'The decision to invest £350,000 in self-building a new home here

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'could make serious financial sense for the Guthries.'

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So 350 grand for the whole build and looking at the house next door,

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it's going to be a very substantial detached property. Any idea,

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looking at the properties around here, what the equivalent would be?

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I think the money, paper value, and we're never going to get the benefit of it cos we intend to live here,

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but I would say approximately 7, perhaps 725.

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'With similar-sized houses in the area commanding around £550,000,

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'if William can keep the project on budget,

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'they'll save a staggering 200 grand compared to buying.

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'But it's not the only way this build will save them money.

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'Polystyrene is so energy efficient

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'that they'll save around £1,000 a year on heating bills.'

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We wouldn't expect any year, if heating bills didn't rise,

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to be above £170 per annum.

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On a house of this size,

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you would expect to be paying, let's face it,

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-£250 a quarter.

-Minimum.

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But what you're also getting, other than cheap heating, is a stronger home,

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a more durable home. I think it's a winner.

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'William's hoping to finish in another eight months,

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'bringing the total build schedule to 12 months.

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'Homes constructed using this method are often finished quicker,

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'but planning conditions require William to use traditional bricks to clad the house, adding more time.'

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It does seem really bizarre to build a house out of polystyrene and concrete

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with a concrete core so it has that strength

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and then to put a brick building round it that you don't really need,

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like a pseudo-building.

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Well, I'm sure on the continent, they'd be just as puzzled,

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but we have to comply with the local authority's permissions

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and it is a requirement to comply with the neighbourhood,

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which necessitates bricks,

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and I'm sure the neighbours will be horrified when it goes up like an igloo.

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They're going to look out... "That wasn't in the planning permission!"

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-It'll look very white.

-It'll look bizarre.

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'So the blocks might leave the neighbours dazzled,

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'but it's not the first shock they've had courtesy of William's build.

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'A workman managed to cut off the street's electricity supply on the very first day of construction.'

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The tipper wagon drove off with his tail up and took the cable down.

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-Well, you got to know the neighbours.

-Quickly.

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Make friends quickly. And they had oil-fired central heating, as well,

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-and unfortunately, you need electricity to make that work.

-Ouch.

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So I was very, very unpopular, I'm sure, but they put a brave face on.

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-They were very good about it.

-It's a learning curve.

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'As project manager, William will definitely be learning on the job.

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'It's build month five and it's a big day.

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'The polystyrene blocks have arrived from German

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'and work building the house up from the foundations is underway.'

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It literally was a 40-foot container wagon

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that was jam-packed full of the house requirements.

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But it was quite novel, having a house delivered in the back of a lorry.

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What you see here is about a tenth of the whole product that was delivered.

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'The rest of the blocks are being stored nearby and will be brought onto site when required.

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'They quickly and easily fasten together. In a few hours, the layout of the ground floor is visible.

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It's exciting times and dearly looking forward to moving in.

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'That may well be the case, William, but there'll be challenges ahead.

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'The biggest, convincing Velia to live in this polystyrene pad.'

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Many people choose to build their own house

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because they get something that is perfectly suited to their lifestyle.

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For some, that means using a tried and tested design.

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But for others, it means doing something slightly more unusual.

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'There are some buildings that are so radical in design, you have to be told what they really are.

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'This, for example. Is it a James Bond set?

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'Or a top-secret spy station?

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'Or could it simply be a home?

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'Self-builders Andrew and Chrissy Sandbrook like to keep people guessing.'

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I just wanted to build something that's completely different and I think that's what we achieved.

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Something that's different, contemporary and enjoyable.

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We love the fact that there's no light pollution here.

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Everything's very quiet and we just wanted to be out in the country.

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'The house sits in the heart of Britain's first ever area of outstanding natural beauty,

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'the Gower Peninsula in Wales,

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'and the couple wanted a home that would be equally stunning.'

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We knew exactly what we wanted and it was just a case of persuading the planners

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to buy into the dream more than anything.

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'From the clean lines of the interior to the clear views from the glass, this house oozes class.

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'There are three distinct wings, one especially for guests.

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'And the theme which links them all is light and space.'

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We wanted to create a space where we could entertain

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and thoroughly enjoy ourselves and be very private and secluded,

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but just to enjoy the elements of nature.

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'The plot cost £330,000

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'and they spent another £630,000 on the build.

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'At first, they wanted a two-storey house on the site,

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'but after repeatedly being turned down by the planners, their breakthrough came

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'when they lowered their roof line and their contemporary design was given the go-ahead.

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'It took 19 months to build and Andy saved money by project-managing from start to finish.

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'And when it came to designing the master bedroom, they definitely thought outside of the box.'

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As you can see, we put a window above the bed

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where during the night, if there's a clear sky, you can look up at the stars.

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-Absolutely wonderful feeling.

-'And if you're tired of the stars,

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'there's always the retractable TV at the foot of the bed.

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'But there's certainly more compulsive viewing from the bedroom's balcony.

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'Moving on to the visitors' wing, the three guest bedrooms have individual themes

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'based on pewter, silver and gold,

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'and two of them are linked by a central bathroom.'

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This is a Jack and Jill bathroom.

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So it can be shared with the second bedroom.

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It has everything here, Jacuzzi bath, shower,

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and then we go straight through to the second bedroom.

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All the rooms have these high glass panels which create privacy but allow extra light.

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'This unique house has now been valued at around £1.5 million,

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'which means they've saved themselves a massive £540,000

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'by opting to self-build.'

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It's not about the money, it's about creating your own dream home to suit your own lifestyle.

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And it's creating something unique

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and something that hopefully will leave a legacy to the Gower Peninsula.

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When you're involved in your own home build,

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you need that passion to see the end product finished.

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But I've enjoyed it and I would recommend it.

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'In Middlesbrough, William Guthrie is a man on a mission.

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'He's building his family a new house out of polystyrene blocks that will be filled with concrete.

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'But William's wife Velia isn't as enthusiastic about the build.

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'She doesn't want to leave the cul-de-sac where she's lived for the last 18 years

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'and where the neighbours are all close family.

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'William's hoping he'll win her round with a spacious three-storey, four-bed detached house

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'two miles from their current home.

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'Work's in full flow, assembling the polystyrene block walls.'

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Then you're going to cut it and put the shutter in?

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'And although the sun isn't shining, the dazzling white blocks means it's a dark glasses day for William.'

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Well, it's not just to look cool like Tom Cruise,

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it's to stop the glare of this white polystyrene.

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'But when his leading lady makes a rare appearance on site,

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'she's thinking this is mission impossible.'

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'Or maybe something for a younger audience.'

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You know the story about the three little pigs? I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow the house down!

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See?

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'And it's not just the polystyrene that Velia's picking holes in.'

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You're standing in the kitchen, I believe. It still doesn't look as big as the kitchen I have.

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Well, that's quite extraordinary. This kitchen must be 15 metres long

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and five metres wide and it's a small kitchen? It's not a small kitchen.

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It doesn't look as big as the one we've got.

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If it gets any windier today, I'll be surprised if this is still standing by tomorrow.

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'Undeterred, William and his team continue to pile on the polystyrene.

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'And to definitely ensure the big, bad wolf can't blow this house down, it's filled with concrete.

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'Two weeks into the block building and the ground floor of the house is in place

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'and William's delighted with the progress.'

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We've managed to get up to first-floor height,

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so in eight or nine working days, we've built half a house.

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But the Germans, you know,

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when we sent them the drawings for the product order,

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they were telling us confidently we should be ready for the roof in eight days.

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But we're on a learning curve.

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But we have created half a house in eight days, so we're half as quick, which is pretty good.

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'William's two sons, Charles and William Henry, are on site, too.'

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Look as if you're enjoying yourself.

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'He's hoping they'll come round, even if their mum doesn't.'

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From the very beginning, you've both been very, very doubting as to the strength of this building.

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Now we've got polystyrene on both sides and filled with concrete,

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-haven't we, Charles?

-Yeah.

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And do you not feel it's strong now?

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Er, sort of.

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'Hardly a resounding thumbs up, but there's nothing like bedroom boundaries to spark enthusiasm.'

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Is my bedroom going to be halfway in between there,

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that end and there and then onwards?

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It'll be exactly half, yes. You'll have exactly the same space as your brother.

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It'll be really cool, you know? Absolutely really cool.

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'Into build month six and William's up to the first floor

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'and busy with his blocks.'

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We're forming windows now. That's in. Just got to put two here.

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'He's now doing much of the work himself to save money

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'and with the house nearly up to roof level, William's feeling rather presidential.'

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I think the neighbours are starting to wonder if Barack Obama's moving into the white house.

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I'm sure I've had every joke thrown at me over the past two or three months,

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but the biggest one is it hasn't blown away, has it?

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Then finally you've got a five just to finish there.

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It's on.

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'And into the seventh month of the build.

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'The roof timbers are on and so is the midsummer heat.'

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It's like a sauna up here, boys, isn't it?

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'But William could be in hot water with his wife Velia over plans for the home's main staircase.'

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Velia did want this Hollywood staircase with a sweeping stair to it,

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but we've had to rein in her demands a little bit.

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She'll finish up with a super staircase, but it's going to have a turn in it as opposed to a curve.

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The curve didn't really fit the shape we were working with.

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Curved staircases are rather expensive, as well.

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Almost double the price.

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'So swerving the curving staircase will save William a massive £10,000,

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'but not a load of ear ache from his wife.

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'Ironically, concerns over money

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'are shaping Velia's attitude towards the new family home William's building.'

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I think it's been a battle of the wits, really.

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She is a constant worrier about finances.

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As a consequence, she hasn't had the fun and the involvement that perhaps she might have done.

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I've had that fun and involvement because I've been physically involved in the build of the house

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from the foundations to now.

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'So a lot of the decisions that I've made, I've made solo

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'because it's been very, very difficult to get an answer out of her

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'and I've realised I've had to take the bull by the horns and just do it myself

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'in the hope that she likes the end product. And I'm sure she will.'

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I want you to cut two sections off because we're creating a ladder.

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It's just a pity that we couldn't have had a lottery win at the beginning of the project

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to allay any financial fears she's still got.

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William will push the boat out,

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tie the noose around his neck as tight as he possibly can

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and he's done that since the day we were married, probably before.

0:21:560:22:00

I'm the other way. I'm a lot more reserved and a lot more cautious.

0:22:000:22:03

We probably wouldn't be living here if it hadn't been for William.

0:22:030:22:07

We'd be still stuck in a little two to three-bedroom semi somewhere.

0:22:070:22:11

So he's got his good points.

0:22:120:22:16

'William will just have to keep chipping away. However, he's got another more immediate problem.

0:22:160:22:22

'The site has been burgled.

0:22:220:22:25

'The thieves broke into a secured storeroom and snatched valuable tools.'

0:22:250:22:29

We've lost a fair bit.

0:22:290:22:31

Some tools of my own, the joiner's tools.

0:22:310:22:35

'The break-in cost William £1,600

0:22:350:22:39

'but it's not just the financial loss that's left him frustrated.'

0:22:390:22:43

This house has been built on part of a farm.

0:22:430:22:46

I knew the farm had rats. I didn't realise the rats were of the human kind,

0:22:460:22:50

but we know they're out there. Not good news.

0:22:500:22:54

'With more than £1 million lost to theft each week on UK building sites,

0:22:580:23:02

'sadly it seems William's not alone when it comes to being a victim of crime.

0:23:020:23:06

'It's build month eight and I'm back in Middlesbrough

0:23:080:23:11

'for a butcher's at William and Velia's big white house.'

0:23:110:23:14

How's it gone? Come on.

0:23:180:23:21

Erm, it's gone good. We're on budget. We're not on time, but we are on budget.

0:23:210:23:25

-The system, happy with it?

-Very happy with the system.

0:23:250:23:29

Bit disappointed now with the progress because I'm in the hands of everybody else.

0:23:290:23:35

It would be nice to speed it along, but things will take as long as they take.

0:23:350:23:39

'So things are moving slower than expected,

0:23:400:23:43

'but has all William's hard work over the past few months managed to win Velia over?'

0:23:430:23:47

He's been slaving over this place morning, noon and night, this beautiful big home.

0:23:490:23:53

Don't you try and tell me you're not excited.

0:23:530:23:57

-I'm not.

-Velia!

-I'm not.

0:23:570:24:01

You're frustrated, she's still not happy. Oh, blimey, I don't...

0:24:020:24:06

-Divorce is in the air.

-Recipe for disaster.

0:24:060:24:08

I know. I don't know where you go from here.

0:24:080:24:11

I think there's only one way to go from here. Let's have a look round.

0:24:110:24:14

Come on, young lady. Don't walk... She's trying to walk away now! Get in!

0:24:150:24:20

'Inside, the large rooms are shaping up nicely, from the downstairs living areas

0:24:240:24:28

'to the cavernous bedrooms in the loft.

0:24:280:24:31

'But amazingly, one of Velia's grumbles is that there's a lack of space.'

0:24:310:24:36

Right, Velia, come on. This is a big living room.

0:24:360:24:41

-Do you think it's bigger than the one we've already got?

-Yeah. You know it is.

0:24:410:24:45

I think I would've had a much larger window over there.

0:24:450:24:48

Never mind that! You're determined not to say something positive. They are a lovely feature.

0:24:480:24:52

'The two windows on the far wall that Velia says are too small will eventually flank a fireplace.'

0:24:520:24:57

If you'd opened up those windows any bigger and then put a fireplace in the middle,

0:24:570:25:02

the windows would've been disproportionate.

0:25:020:25:05

In this wonderful, very warm house, we don't need a fireplace, do we?

0:25:050:25:08

-You won't!

-So therefore...

-But it's still nice to have the focal point. You know that.

0:25:080:25:13

'Upstairs, and when it comes to the master bedroom,

0:25:150:25:19

'it appears you can have too much of a good thing for Velia.'

0:25:190:25:22

Right, the master bedroom.

0:25:240:25:27

Now this is the make or break of the property surely for you, Velia.

0:25:270:25:31

I think it might be a little too big. This isn't just the bedroom. Through there, there's a dressing room.

0:25:310:25:36

Oh, you haven't given her a dres...

0:25:360:25:39

William! What woman wants a dressing room and walking through to an en suite?

0:25:390:25:43

You're a disgrace!

0:25:430:25:45

Listen up, ladies. This lady here has been provided with a fabulous, massive bedroom,

0:25:470:25:52

views across the countryside, never-ending,

0:25:520:25:55

own dressing room, walking through into her own en suite.

0:25:550:25:58

-Is that correct? That's how it's been designed?

-Absolutely.

0:25:580:26:01

-Fantastic selling point, Simon.

-Agh!

0:26:010:26:04

'She's a hard woman to please, but I sense that Velia might eventually come round to liking this new home.'

0:26:060:26:13

-Is it going to happen?

-I don't know.

-That's better than when I started.

0:26:130:26:16

-That wasn't a no, it was a don't know.

-I think we've made progress.

0:26:160:26:19

He keeps asking me. He's wearing me down!

0:26:190:26:22

That's what I'm doing.

0:26:220:26:24

Listen, mate, on that note, I've got you going there,

0:26:240:26:27

I'll leave you. See you later.

0:26:270:26:29

Lovely master bedroom. Smashing, that.

0:26:290:26:32

Ciao for now, eh?

0:26:330:26:36

'If you're building your own home or just want to improve the one you're currently in,

0:26:420:26:47

'trying your hand at DIY is a good way to save some cash.

0:26:470:26:50

'But it helps if you know what you're doing, so I've been taking a crash course a building college.

0:26:520:26:58

'Today I'm back in the plumbing department to get to grips with underfloor heating

0:26:590:27:03

'with tutor Mark Cawood.

0:27:030:27:05

'Now I've always thought underfloor heating is something you find in a football stadium,

0:27:140:27:19

'but it's becoming more and more popular in family homes.'

0:27:190:27:22

Today, underfloor heating. Now, me being the old-fashioned guy I am, I've never used this system before.

0:27:220:27:28

Does it actually make the room warmer?

0:27:280:27:30

I think it's the comfort level in the room.

0:27:300:27:33

The heat starts at lower level

0:27:330:27:35

-and the heat level in the room is at a comfortable level.

-And heat rises,

0:27:350:27:40

so it's heating all the air above your head, whereas underfloor heating heats the room up to you.

0:27:400:27:46

-That's right.

-It always looks like it could turn out to be a mess, though.

0:27:460:27:49

Once installed properly, it is a fantastic thing.

0:27:510:27:54

-Right. You've just said it there, though. If installed properly.

-Yes.

0:27:540:27:59

'And while it might look scary, it's actually quite a simple system.'

0:27:590:28:03

One pipe disappears into the floor, zigzags around the floor,

0:28:060:28:10

then comes back and goes back into our return and then goes back to the boiler to be reheated.

0:28:100:28:14

-Basically, they're your radiator ends.

-Yes.

-So you've got an in valve and an out valve

0:28:140:28:19

and your underfloor heating coil, your loop,

0:28:190:28:24

-is just that, really.

-It is, yes.

0:28:240:28:27

OK, you've sold this to me. I'm quite keen to learn this system. What do we do?

0:28:270:28:31

We're going to zigzag around our little demonstration rig.

0:28:310:28:34

Normally that would be laid on the floor.

0:28:340:28:36

'So just to keep this nice and confusing,

0:28:380:28:40

'I'm installing underfloor heating on the wall.'

0:28:400:28:43

-Right, here we are. This is another thing you'll need, a bit of pipe.

-Yep.

0:28:430:28:48

On the bench, we've got our tools laid out, so help yourself.

0:28:480:28:51

'To make things harder, Mark's making me go it alone.'

0:28:510:28:55

How long are you going to give me?

0:28:550:28:58

-Well...

-Don't be tormenting me. Realistically?

-You should be able to do that in ten minutes.

-Ten minutes?

0:28:580:29:04

-On your marks, get set, go.

-Right.

0:29:040:29:07

'With only ten minutes, I'll cut some corners and skip measuring and cutting the pipe to length

0:29:090:29:14

'and get stuck straight in.'

0:29:140:29:17

Blimey, Mark! I'm not even going to get the... What's that called again?

0:29:170:29:22

I'm not even going to get one of them in!

0:29:220:29:24

'Fitting the connector which attaches the pipe to the hot water supply valve isn't easy.

0:29:240:29:28

'But I'm still feeling confident.'

0:29:280:29:32

It's actually a simple thing. It's not as scary as you think.

0:29:320:29:35

I thought, "Underfloor heating? Ohh, that modern, fancy stuff, I don't know whether I could do that."

0:29:350:29:41

But it's fiddly but doable, I suppose.

0:29:410:29:45

'I really need to learn to keep my mouth shut.'

0:29:450:29:49

I'm off and running.

0:29:490:29:51

-No, I'm not!

-HE LAUGHS

0:29:520:29:55

Oops. You didn't see that then. Don't be giggling!

0:29:580:30:03

Oh, eh...

0:30:040:30:06

As if this isn't hard enough, I've got half the college standing over there sniggering.

0:30:100:30:15

Haven't you got things to do, you lot?

0:30:190:30:22

-How am I doing, Mark?

-Five minutes gone.

0:30:240:30:27

It's hard work, this!

0:30:310:30:34

It's like wrestling with a boa.

0:30:340:30:36

And I don't mean a feather boa.

0:30:360:30:38

A minute to go.

0:30:380:30:40

Ow!

0:30:420:30:44

Are things like this designed with little bits to catch your fingers on purpose

0:30:440:30:48

just so you give up and get a proper plumber in to do it?

0:30:480:30:51

30 seconds.

0:30:510:30:53

'The heat is on but there's not going to be any coming from my system.'

0:30:540:30:59

Time.

0:31:000:31:02

Can we just get my lad in? That's hard work, that.

0:31:030:31:06

'If I'd cut the pipe to the correct length first,

0:31:060:31:10

'it might have been easier to cut it as a plumber.'

0:31:100:31:13

I just went for unrolling it like that.

0:31:130:31:15

-Would you normally have measured out your length?

-You would, yes.

0:31:150:31:19

Yeah. You know how far you're going and what turns you've got, you would measure out your length.

0:31:190:31:24

OK, guv, I didn't get it finished, but come on, a mark out of ten.

0:31:240:31:28

-I'll give you a five.

-A five? A five?

0:31:280:31:30

Look at it! They're lovely lines.

0:31:300:31:33

-OK, it's not connected so it doesn't work, but come on!

-No, I'm afraid a five's a five.

0:31:330:31:39

Thanks, Mark. It's lovely to break into a sweat. I see you didn't.

0:31:430:31:48

You don't need underfloor heating if you're putting underfloor heating in, if that makes sense.

0:31:480:31:54

'In Middlesbrough, it's build month ten and now it's clad in red brick,

0:32:000:32:04

'William and Velia's polystyrene palace looks like any ordinary house.'

0:32:040:32:08

We've now got a traditional-looking house

0:32:080:32:11

that I think is as good as I thought it was going to be and more.

0:32:110:32:16

I think it's lovely. Absolutely lovely.

0:32:160:32:18

I don't know how you can get passionate about bricks, but I have.

0:32:180:32:22

'But William had hoped they'd already be moved in by now.'

0:32:240:32:28

What I was in control of, which was the build of the polystyrene,

0:32:300:32:33

went up very, very quickly.

0:32:330:32:36

The minute you start making phone calls

0:32:360:32:39

and having deliveries of this and that,

0:32:390:32:41

one thing compounds another and before you know where you are, it's easy to slip behind.

0:32:410:32:46

'The build is several months behind schedule. But William is determined to keep control of the budget.

0:32:460:32:52

'And a bit of forward thinking meant spending a penny saved him a few pounds.'

0:32:520:32:56

We were paying £21.50 loo hire and we saved that sum many months ago

0:32:590:33:04

because I did the soil and surface water drains at the very outset of the build.

0:33:040:33:09

'By fitting a permanent loo early,

0:33:090:33:12

'William has saved around £100.

0:33:120:33:14

'But every penny counts on a project like this, so why flush money away?'

0:33:140:33:18

Here we are. It's rather lovely.

0:33:180:33:21

'William's big concern is that wife Velia, who's keeping out of the way running the nursery,

0:33:220:33:27

'isn't too keen to move from their current home.'

0:33:270:33:30

Velia has visited the house, most definitely, but I think she visits it secretly

0:33:310:33:36

cos this is one of her running routes.

0:33:360:33:38

I must confess, I did have a sneaky little drive up there the other day

0:33:380:33:42

I think she's hopefully slowly warming to it.

0:33:420:33:48

'Despite her reluctance to self-build,

0:33:520:33:55

'it seems Velia's secretly proud of her husband's achievements.'

0:33:550:33:58

Well, I would never tell him to his face,

0:33:580:34:01

but I suppose by the time he gets round to watching this,

0:34:010:34:05

he's done well.

0:34:050:34:08

I don't compliment him very much or give him any praise,

0:34:080:34:11

but he does push the boat out all of the time

0:34:110:34:14

and will drive it and is driving it

0:34:140:34:17

and he will realise his dream,

0:34:170:34:21

which is to build this house in Hilton.

0:34:210:34:24

'So does this mean she's coming round to the idea of moving house?'

0:34:270:34:31

William wanted to do it, wants to do it, it's his project.

0:34:330:34:37

I might have to move in with him.

0:34:380:34:40

'By build month 15,

0:34:430:34:45

'the interior fixtures and fittings are being installed.

0:34:450:34:48

'For William, today could be make or break.

0:34:480:34:51

'While Velia's involvement with the new house has been minimal, one of her few requests

0:34:530:34:57

'was for a grand sweeping staircase. Space and money constraints

0:34:570:35:01

'means William's come up with an alternative he hopes she'll love.'

0:35:010:35:05

Velia's about to see it for the first time in about five minutes. I love it. I really do like it.

0:35:050:35:12

'But will this be a stairway to heaven for Velia?'

0:35:120:35:16

-You've been waiting for this, haven't you?

-Mm.

0:35:160:35:20

It's not quite what...I had in mind.

0:35:210:35:25

'However, after a few tentative steps...'

0:35:280:35:32

Do you think the bottom step could be bigger?

0:35:330:35:36

'..Velia appears to be coming round.'

0:35:390:35:41

When they're all finished, I'm sure the finished product will be lovely. I'm sure it will.

0:35:420:35:49

'So maybe there's some hope, William. But it's still very much an uphill battle.

0:35:510:35:55

'It's now build month 20

0:36:010:36:03

'and I've heard the house should be just about finished

0:36:030:36:06

'so I'm back in Middlesbrough for the final time to see how the Guthries have got on.'

0:36:060:36:11

Even though this is a really imposing house-shaped kind of house,

0:36:120:36:16

the handmade bricks give it a soft look.

0:36:160:36:19

I like it. But it's not me that needs convincing, it's Velia.

0:36:190:36:22

'The family, including Velia, are planning to move lock, stock and barrel in the next couple of weeks.

0:36:280:36:33

'But for now, it's easy to see the grand proportions of the rooms

0:36:330:36:36

'from the vast kitchen-diner through to the main living room.'

0:36:360:36:40

It's really close, the finish is just around the corner.

0:36:420:36:45

The quality of the finish looks great. Happy with that?

0:36:450:36:48

I'm really happy with it. We've had to work within the confines

0:36:480:36:52

-of what we've had to spend, but I think generally we've created a lot.

-Yeah.

0:36:520:36:57

'And while some of the rooms have been partially furnished,

0:36:570:37:00

'this house will certainly feel more like home when Velia can put her stamp on it.

0:37:000:37:05

'However, she's still not convinced about the entrance hallway.'

0:37:050:37:09

The staircase. Simple but very effective.

0:37:100:37:13

-We happy with that?

-THEY LAUGH

0:37:130:37:17

Well, I... No, I wanted a grander entrance, you know?

0:37:170:37:21

-She's disappointed.

-A bigger bottom step and...

-I should've done better.

-Yeah.

0:37:210:37:26

-Have you had that feeling all the way through, William?

-Every day.

0:37:260:37:30

Do you like the look of the place from the outside?

0:37:300:37:33

Yes. Yes.

0:37:340:37:36

-It'll be better when it's finished.

-Yeah, of course. The ground works need finishing off.

0:37:360:37:40

-But do you like the choice of brick?

-Yes.

0:37:400:37:45

-Mm. See? William, she loves the place.

-Absolutely, yeah. She's very positive.

0:37:450:37:50

She is. On that positive note, let's have a look around.

0:37:500:37:53

'Downstairs, the snug is anything but,

0:37:560:37:59

'while the lounge is even more spacious with light flooding in from the large bay window.

0:37:590:38:05

'There's also a separate dining room that leads on to a high gloss and granite kitchen.'

0:38:050:38:10

Now, very important.

0:38:110:38:14

-The heart of the house, I guess, the kitchen.

-Yes.

0:38:140:38:17

-Are we happy with this?

-Mm.

0:38:170:38:20

Yes, I do like the kitchen.

0:38:200:38:22

I very much like the granite.

0:38:220:38:24

-You do, don't you?

-I do.

-William! Velia likes the kitchen!

0:38:240:38:28

-It was still a hesitant yes.

-Hey, it doesn't matter. I think it's great.

-A yes is a yes.

0:38:280:38:33

We didn't know whether to have an island, and I'm pleased we chose not to

0:38:330:38:38

-because I prefer spacious areas.

-Yeah, definitely.

0:38:380:38:42

-So I think this...

-That breaks up the space, anyway.

-Yes.

0:38:420:38:46

-And that's the breakfast bar at the far side.

-Yes.

0:38:460:38:50

-Really, really nice space. It flows very nicely into the dining room.

-Yes.

0:38:500:38:55

'Upstairs in the attic, sons Charles and William Henry made sure

0:38:560:39:00

'the important things have been moved in already.

0:39:000:39:03

'So far, Velia's been relatively upbeat about the home. But will it be ding-dong rather than ping-pong

0:39:030:39:09

'when it comes to the master bedroom?'

0:39:090:39:11

And the master bedroom. Now, Velia, last time I was here,

0:39:110:39:15

I'm sure you weren't happy with this room for one reason or another.

0:39:150:39:20

I thought it was probably too big.

0:39:200:39:23

-The master bedroom was too big?

-Yes.

-It's not, is it?

0:39:230:39:26

Well... Yes, you're right, it doesn't look as big as it did feel

0:39:260:39:31

this time last year when you were last here.

0:39:310:39:34

You've got views over countryside, your own walk-in wardrobe

0:39:340:39:37

-and en suite. You must be pleased with this.

-Yes, it is nice.

0:39:370:39:43

We just need a lot of furniture to go in it, I think.

0:39:430:39:46

'The sizeable interior space has meant there's had to be a compromise when it comes to the back garden.

0:39:480:39:54

'But the patio's still a great spot for soaking up the sun.'

0:39:540:39:57

How has the experience been? Quite a long build.

0:39:580:40:01

Yeah. We've been at the project about 20 months

0:40:020:40:06

and former to that, you could argue,

0:40:060:40:09

was wasted with two bad winters of build opportunity.

0:40:090:40:13

So in reality, maybe 16, 17 months.

0:40:130:40:16

-But a positive experience for you?

-Very.

-Velia?

0:40:160:40:21

Do you regret that at all, the fact that you did take such a back seat

0:40:210:40:24

because you were so attached to the old place?

0:40:240:40:27

Not regret it, but I do wish I'd had more input in the beginning

0:40:270:40:31

-for the layout and the way it was designed.

-That sounds like a regret.

0:40:310:40:35

All right, then, OK. No, not regret. THEY LAUGH

0:40:350:40:39

It will be nice moving into something completely brand new

0:40:390:40:43

-because it's a long time since we've done anything at home, really.

-Nice?

0:40:430:40:47

-People would die for this house!

-Yeah, it'll be nice.

-Yeah.

0:40:470:40:52

'Time to do the sums. The plot cost £175,000

0:40:530:40:58

'while the final build cost has come in at around £205,000.

0:40:580:41:03

'That's 30 grand over budget.

0:41:030:41:06

'But what will William and Velia's impressive finished house be worth?'

0:41:060:41:10

We've had a valuer nosing round the place.

0:41:100:41:13

They think, because it's a very sought-after location

0:41:130:41:19

in a very nice part of the area, Velia...

0:41:190:41:24

Yeah, all right.

0:41:240:41:27

If this was to go to market right now,

0:41:270:41:29

you'd be looking somewhere between

0:41:290:41:32

675 and 695.

0:41:320:41:35

That's what you've said all along.

0:41:360:41:38

'William might be cool about it, but opting to self-build

0:41:400:41:43

'has saved them a massive £300,000.'

0:41:430:41:46

I think the key is location.

0:41:460:41:49

I think you're always protected, if you are building,

0:41:490:41:52

to build in a location that can reward, if you're looking at resale.

0:41:520:41:56

-We're not, as it happens, but...

-No, we could move in for six months

0:41:560:42:01

-and then sell it.

-Don't you start!

0:42:010:42:03

-Right, listen...

-675?

0:42:030:42:06

Ah, now that's got you thinking, hasn't it?

0:42:060:42:10

I think you're going to be very happy here. I think you've done a fantastic job

0:42:100:42:14

and I've got a present for you. Stay there.

0:42:140:42:16

-Oh, it's a...

-It's our first plant.

0:42:160:42:20

Listen, because we knew there was a certain amount of strife with this build,

0:42:200:42:25

slight disagreements about whether you should move in at all,

0:42:250:42:28

-we were going to give you an olive branch...

-THEY LAUGH

0:42:280:42:32

..but in the end, we thought we'd give you the whole thing.

0:42:320:42:36

There you go. There's your olive tree.

0:42:360:42:39

-Put it where you will.

-Thank you very much.

0:42:390:42:42

-Congratulations. I think you've done a fantastic job.

-Thank you. It's been worth all the trouble.

0:42:420:42:48

-WILLIAM LAUGHS

-It has, hasn't it?

0:42:480:42:51

-Lovely home.

-Don't...

0:42:510:42:55

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0:42:580:43:02

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0:43:020:43:06

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0:43:060:43:06

William Guthrie's dream to build his own home near Middlesbrough is proving to be a nightmare for his reluctant wife Velia. Plus the cutting-edge home in Wales that really has the wow factor and presenter Simon O'Brien gets hot under the collar learning how to fit under-floor heating at building college.


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