Episode 18 To Build or Not to Build


Episode 18

Series following some of the UK's 20,000 self-builders. Building an art-deco style family home in Sheffield requires young architect David Cross to have some steely resolve.


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Transcript


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Finding a property that suits your wallet and your way of life isn't easy.

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Well, I have a solution.

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

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'Every year in Britain, 20,000 people build their own home.

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'We'll be following some from foundations to finishing touches.'

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I was gob-smacked.

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I'd never realised that it would be the wow factor that it is.

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

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We'd never have been able to afford to buy what we've built.

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'..and some frustrating lows.'

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The council can help me pull it down if I have to pull it down.

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'But if they can overcome these trials and tribulations,

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

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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, back to the drawing board.

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'The architect battling to build his own home.'

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I've got no contingency.

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We'll have to beg, steal and borrow that last few thousand.

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But we'll get there.

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'How messing about on the water led one man to create

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'a nautical themed home on the Thames.'

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Only accessible by boat!

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I love it!

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A great source of pride.

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'And I'm raising the roof at building college.'

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-Look at the state of that!

-LAUGHS

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Design your own house?

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Nothing to it, really. There you go.

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Beautiful.

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If there's one property that should be drawn up absolutely perfectly

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it's that of architect David Cross.

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He is designing a contemporary home in Sheffield.

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How will his best-laid plans turn out?

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'David Cross spends his working life designing houses for other people.

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'Now this young architect has taken on his biggest challenge to date.

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'He's planning an ambitious contemporary home for his family -

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'wife Toni and children Eva and Fred.

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'They're building in the affluent suburb of Ranmoor,

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'three miles outside the city centre.

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'With detached properties costing £600,000,

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'the family's budget couldn't stretch that far.

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'That wasn't going to prevent them living in their ideal location.

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'I'm going to meet David and Toni at their rented flat, to find out about their plans.'

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How did you find the land?

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After Eva was born, I was commuting to work from Barnsley to Sheffield.

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I was pestering, "Let's move to Sheffield."

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You were quite reluctant so we used to drive round and say, "Where would you live?"

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-Toni being Toni, she picked one of the most expensive parts of Sheffield.

-It worked out!

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"If I'm moving to Sheffield, I'm living here." I looked on a website.

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It said, "Land, Ranmoor, 175."

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-So we jumped in the car.

-Made an offer there and then.

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'The plot hardly looks like the ideal place to locate a des-res.

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'But at £175,000, these two run-down garages

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'were a bargain for building land in this area.

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'David wants to create a house that reflects his passion

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'for the Art Deco style of the 1930s.

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'This includes an eye-catching curved glass corner

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'that will give them views over the city.

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'Other features include a balcony, and a garden on top of the garage.

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'To achieve this ambitious design,

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'David and Toni have a modest 200,000 for the build.

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'At one stage, it looked as if transferring David's dream from the drawing board might never happen.'

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The stress hasn't been anything to do with the build, just finance.

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Obviously, the banking crisis.

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Being an architect, the profession that's officially the worst hit -

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architect unemployment's up 2,000% - my income's taken a hit.

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We wanted to do a new-build, high risk.

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Everything's conspired against us

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to the point where the bank we got the money from to lend on the land

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said, "Actually, we're not going to give you the money to build."

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'That was a huge blow, but despite being turned down by more banks,

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'David and Toni found one brave enough to back them.

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'Can our architect deliver a stunning home with such a limited budget?'

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We've got 200,000 to build.

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There's only five grand in the budget for a kitchen.

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We'll have to call in favours.

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-We've got something like 2,000 for bathrooms. Again...

-Whoa!

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An architect knows full well that every single build

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-ever done in the whole world, goes over budget.

-Ours can't.

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'This is going to be a challenge, both creatively and financially.

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'It's too late to turn back now.

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'After almost a year of planning,

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'work on site begins on a gloomy winter's morning.

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'The diggers get to work demolishing the old garages

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'and clearing the overgrown site of debris.

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'They're making excellent progress,

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'but David's thinking of potential problems.'

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We're not sure what the ground's like. It's rock in Sheffield.

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The architect I spoke to for that house said that it was mudstone,

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which is quite soft to dig through.

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I'm worried that it's going to be hard rock, sandstone or granite.

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Chances are, it'll be OK.

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'As the clearance crew get going, they attract interest from locals.'

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-Are you the person that's moving in?

-Yeah, and architect.

-And architect!

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-How long do you think it'll take?

-Six months. Ten months...

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-I mean to clear the site.

-Two, three days.

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'But not everyone is as positive about the new house.

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'Some neighbours are concerned about the modern design,

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'that it might infringe on the views of other homes and reduce the value of properties in the area.'

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We get this on all developments that we work on.

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This is housing land.

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We're within all the guidance, the national planning guidance.

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We've got to be 21 metres, window to window.

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We've got something like 26 metres. They're quite big back gardens.

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You don't have any right in English law to a view.

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You have rights to light and that's all, so that's not a case.

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So we've done everything by the book but you understand.

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He bought this house for a view and the view's gone.

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'Two weeks later, the site had been transformed.

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'The construction team were measuring out, for the foundations.'

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Having drawn it, you know where everything's going to be.

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This is more painful for me than anything else, cos it's so slow.

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In my mind, it's built.

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I can feel the stone and see the views from each window,

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but getting there is a long process.

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'By build month three, things have brightened up.

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'I'm in Sheffield to check out the plot.'

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After all the fun and games you had with the finances for this place,

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did it all go smoothly once you started digging into this plot?

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The only problem we could imagine having

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was hitting rock, so we didn't do any ground investigation,

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-which is a bad idea...

-Turn away.

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You're an architect and you didn't do any soil investigation?

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-Well if I found rock it might put me off buying the land.

-I see.

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-It's better...

-What you don't know doesn't hurt you?

-Yeah.

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-You cross that bridge when you come to it.

-I can see rock there.

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We started digging and we hit rock reasonably early, but it's mudstone.

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It's soft rock.

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So we dug out and ended up with perfect ground-bearing land.

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-So that was pretty jammy.

-Yeah. It was.

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'To minimise the home's impact on the neighbouring properties,

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'David's had to design the house to extremely strict guidelines.'

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We had a height restriction imposed by people we bought the land off, cos they've got this lovely view.

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-So we worked quite closely with the height restriction and we're absolutely bang-on.

-How closely?

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Millimetres. That's why we have all these lasers.

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It'll be to the millimetre.

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-It's got to be.

-It can't go over.

-You'll have to take your roof off.

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'Hopefully, David will be able to keep a roof over his head.

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'If this house is going to get finished some time soon,

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'we need to clear off and let the builders pour the foundation slab.

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'David's witnessed this on countless other people's sites.

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'Today, he's putting down foundations for his family's future.

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'It's a huge moment.'

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-There's your house!

-I know.

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-Is it exciting? Are you getting excited?

-I didn't think I would.

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I'm feeling strangely chuffed.

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You're beaming from ear to ear! They're only pouring concrete.

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But it's going to be my family home for my kids and my wife.

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Self-building doesn't float everyone's boat.

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When Jonty Steel had the opportunity to build a home on an island in the Thames,

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he dived in head first.

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'Former rower Jonty likes nothing better than messing about on the river.

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'When a plot on a tiny island on the outskirts of London came up for sale

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'his dream of creating a riverside home was well and truly launched.'

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There it is. I stuck a regatta sign up.

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That's the house. Only accessible by boat. I love it.

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A great source of pride.

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'Jonty's riverside home is one of just 20 on the island.

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'And designing it himself means there's no place for landlubbers.'

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Having a ship's wheel. The bathroom mirror is a porthole.

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The stairs are ship's stairs, or paddle stairs.

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They lead up to the mezzanine floor.

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I put a rowing blade up as a handle.

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'The plot came available after a house on the site burned down.

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'Jonty was rowing past and kept an eye on developments

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'before putting in a successful

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'£163,000 bid for the land.'

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I wanted to design my own house.

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When you buy houses, and I've bought a few,

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you end up picking up other people's places.

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There's something joyous about having your own house.

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'Jonty's son's a builder.

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'They steered their way through

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'the choppy waters of construction on their own.'

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When your son built it and everybody says, "It's lovely!"

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"Yeah. That was my boy! My son Mark did that."

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That's a really lovely feeling.

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'With no bridges to the island,

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'everything for the build had to be shipped over by boat.

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'Jonty opted for a timber-framed kit house to keep journeys across the water to a minimum.'

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The thing when you get a kit house, it comes all in one go.

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It filled a barge, a big barge, and a half.

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I had to borrow the plot behind, which was derelict,

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to store everything.

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Obviously, everything has to go by boat. That's it. Everything.

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'The house took just five months to complete.

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'The challenge was to make the most out of limited space.'

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I wanted a house that seemed bigger than it actually is.

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People referred to it as a TARDIS.

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It looks smaller from the outside than it is inside.

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I wanted to use the maximum amount of space

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available to me on this plot.

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'Finding a solution meant putting nautical experience to good use.'

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It was like building a boat, but I wanted an indoors, outdoors feel

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so that I could use this deck as much as possible in the summer.

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'As well as the £163,000 for the plot,

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'Jonty spent £120,000 on building the house,

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'half of which was on the timber frame which went up in three weeks.

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'With the latest valuation of 450 grand,

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'his finances are well and truly buoyant.'

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I'm really happy with the house, absolutely love it.

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I enjoyed the process and I think I know where the pitfalls are.

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With self-build, there'll always be a pitfall, or something goes wrong.

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It's a question of just being confident,

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and in my case obstinate, to put it right.

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'Seems like self-building has been water off a duck's back to Jonty.

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'The experience has enabled him to navigate his way

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'to something he would never have been able to achieve -

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'an opportunity to combine his love of the water with a desire to create

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'a unique space of his own.'

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'Life on the river, or particularly on the island, is great.

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'It's quite eccentric, though.'

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Come on, Tony! Get a move on!

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LAUGHS

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'We tend not to be in each other's pockets,

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'but when we do get together, there's quite a lot of wine

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'and it's always good fun.'

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It is quite different.

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It's not really like living on the mainland.

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'Back in Sheffield,

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'young architect David Cross

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'is trying to build a stunning family home on a small budget.

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'The site should have been a hive of activity but, sadly,

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'work's ground to a halt.

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'In a city famous for its steel,

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'a design issue with David's steel frame is causing problems.'

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Here we are again. You can see that work's stalled.

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We've had the prices back off the steel fabricators,

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and that's double the original estimate.

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When we tendered the house,

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we assumed the steelwork would be between £9,000 and £10,000.

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The design that came back, came back at £20,000.

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'The plans David had drawn himself included a large steel frame

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'to support the curved glass section at the front of the house.

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'With limited funds, he can't afford to overspend at an early stage.'

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Well, the ten grand is our entire contingency on this project.

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We didn't want to blow the contingency on something which, effectively, you can't see.

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We'd rather spend £10,000 on the gardens, bathrooms or kitchen,

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not on steelwork hidden within the floor zones.

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'To prevent the budget being blown, David's gone back to the drawing board.'

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We've refined the design to get it back on budget.

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We should have designed the steelwork before we tendered.

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And we didn't. We made an assumption and if you make assumptions, invariably, it can go wrong.

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'David's new design will use half the amount of steel.

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'While he's kept on budget

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'this has added a delay of around six weeks to the schedule.'

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By now, I would hope we'd have been at least on to the ground floor,

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or even up to first floor level.

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Considering the weather, changing our minds and the design,

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we're quite far behind from where I wanted to be, but such is life.

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'There's finally some progress on the Cross family home.

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'The correctly priced steel frame has arrived and is being erected.

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'Much to David's delight.'

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It feels fantastic to finally see it take shape.

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You can really see the form of the house.

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You can see the height, where the curved corners are going to be, the detail of the metal.

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So, yeah, happy days.

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The floors are pre-cast concrete planks.

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They'll be installed very quickly.

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The stairs are pre-cast concrete. The house should go up pretty quick.

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Should!

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'This very personal project clearly means the world to David.'

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I've seen lots of buildings being built.

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This is my second self-build project, but this means more.

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This is a family home and the pressures are greater.

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We're in the middle of a recession.

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Architects' practices are going bust.

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There's no finance. People are losing their jobs.

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So, yeah, it means a lot this time.

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'I'm back in Sheffield with the Cross family,

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'to see how their new home is coming along.

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'They're behind schedule and there isn't a huge amount to look at.

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'David's putting on a brave face when it comes to lack of progress.'

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If I remember rightly, you said, um...

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you'd be in in...about five months, six months.

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-What did he tell you?

-The same.

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He did, didn't he?

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Come on. Explain yourself, young man.

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-We can move in now if you want.

-SIMON LAUGHS

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'It might be missing walls, floors and a roof,

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'but you can see the building's distinctive design emerging.'

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Theoretically, we're behind.

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-Yeah.

-But when we started, we had a lengthy programme.

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-So we gave Steve nine months.

-Yeah.

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-He said he only needed six months.

-Right.

-He's got five to finish it.

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We're already out the ground.

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We've got retaining walls in, the raft in, the steel frame up,

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the floors are going in the first floor next week.

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-If you look carefully, three walls are built.

-Have a look again.

-See?

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-Use your imagination.

-Exactly.

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He's got a great imagination!

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'This forlorn steel frame should be transformed

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'into this gorgeous family home.

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'Even at this skeletal stage, I'm quite taken with it.'

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-It's got a lovely shape to it.

-Thank you.

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-It's promising.

-Promising!

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I like that tone. You're so supportive. That's lovely.

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I'm not getting too worried about it. I'll trust the builders.

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If it gets to November and we're still looking like this,

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I'll get worried.

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It's nice to actually see something on site, rather than a big ditch.

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'So, seven months in, the site is still a little more open-plan

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'than I'd imagined it would be.'

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I'm not sure I need this. There's nothing above me. I'm only messing.

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Listen, I can see, seriously, I can see that the bones of it are here.

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Definitely.

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You should get an impression that all of that's glass.

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-There's a big balcony overlooking the views.

-That is going to be...

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-Amazing.

-Hopefully. That's what all the pain

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this steel frame has caused, is going to make it worthwhile.

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That's why you've designed it in this manner.

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'David had to redesign the frame in order to use 50% less steel

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'and so bring it in on budget - a tortuous process.

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'But he's determined to have his curved corner, even it means the schedule suffers.'

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The programme that we started off with allowed, probably, at least four months of flex in it anyway.

0:20:500:20:57

So, theoretically, we're still on programme.

0:20:570:21:00

-So you keep trying to convince me.

-And on budget.

-Very important.

-Yeah.

0:21:000:21:04

Well, we can't go over budget cos the contingency we had we've spent.

0:21:040:21:09

Ha ha! Right. But that always happens, doesn't it?

0:21:090:21:12

Yeah, but you normally spend it on the build. We've spent it on living.

0:21:120:21:16

'David and Toni are stretching every penny to build this house.

0:21:160:21:21

'As well as the horrendous delays on site,

0:21:210:21:24

'David's business is suffering due to the recession.

0:21:240:21:28

'With cash extremely tight,

0:21:280:21:31

'they've been forced to use their contingency pot to keep afloat.'

0:21:310:21:35

Do you feel extra pressure? You've stuck your neck above the parapet.

0:21:350:21:40

The hardest thing is when you're a dad and this does mean something.

0:21:400:21:46

I probably couldn't have picked a worse time to build a house.

0:21:460:21:51

I've just got to...hang in there.

0:21:510:21:54

You are hanging in there. It'll be all right, you know.

0:21:540:21:58

-Thanks.

-It will!

0:21:580:22:00

Still be finished by Christmas.

0:22:000:22:03

-It will.

-You can come for Christmas dinner.

0:22:030:22:06

'As last, there's positive news.

0:22:120:22:15

'Things are finally moving up,

0:22:150:22:17

'with the pre-cast concrete floors and stairs going in.

0:22:170:22:21

'David is cleverly maximising his outdoor space as much as possible.

0:22:210:22:26

'Uniquely, David had designed his garden

0:22:260:22:30

'to go on top of his garage.

0:22:300:22:32

'Yes! On top of his garage!'

0:22:320:22:35

This is the end of the garden,

0:22:350:22:38

which didn't look very big, but now seems a bit bigger.

0:22:380:22:41

The garden spreads out and goes over the top to where Steve's stood.

0:22:410:22:46

So by designing the house a little bit underground,

0:22:460:22:49

we've created more garden, and something which is worth having.

0:22:490:22:54

'They've been imaginative with building materials, too,

0:22:540:22:58

'using giant concrete planks for the floor.'

0:22:580:23:01

Steve's got a solid platform to build from.

0:23:010:23:04

We'll be stood on the next floor in about three weeks.

0:23:040:23:08

'To get another floor up, they need more stairs,

0:23:080:23:11

'and something doesn't add up.'

0:23:110:23:13

Basically, the stairs are 40 mil out so they have to make them again.

0:23:130:23:19

'The concrete company have misread the plans

0:23:190:23:23

'and have to start from scratch and re-cast the entire staircase.

0:23:230:23:27

'It won't cost David any cash,

0:23:270:23:29

'but it's another frustrating hold-up on a project

0:23:290:23:34

'that's already months behind schedule.'

0:23:340:23:38

'If you're building your own home, there's a chance

0:23:420:23:45

'you might have to roll your sleeves up and get stuck in.

0:23:450:23:49

'When it comes to DIY, I reckon I'm quite handy.

0:23:490:23:51

'To ensure my skills are up to scratch,

0:23:510:23:54

'I'm taking a crash course at building college.

0:23:540:23:58

'I'm having another lesson with the man who puts a roof over your head.'

0:24:040:24:08

Terry, I was so pleased with me work last time,

0:24:160:24:20

I had a night on the tiles. I'm sorry. What am I doing today?

0:24:200:24:24

You're going to finish it off and do the cappings,

0:24:240:24:27

bedding and pointing the ridge tiles.

0:24:270:24:30

So if I go up, I'll put the first one on.

0:24:300:24:34

Then you can take it from there.

0:24:340:24:36

All right. Show us how it's done, then.

0:24:360:24:38

'Ridge tiles are often secured in position using a mechanical system

0:24:380:24:43

'of fixing nails, ridge boards and plastic seals.

0:24:430:24:46

'We're doing things traditionally, using good old mortar.'

0:24:460:24:50

What you don't want is mortar staining all down the roof tiles.

0:24:500:24:54

Yeah. This is like the crowning glory, isn't it?

0:24:540:24:58

That's what everybody sees as they look up.

0:24:580:25:01

Sit the ridge tile on top of that.

0:25:010:25:03

Then push with the edge of the tile.

0:25:030:25:07

You've got your broken bit in there.

0:25:070:25:09

'This broken tile gives the mortar added strength,

0:25:090:25:12

'and will also prevent the ridge tile from cracking.'

0:25:120:25:17

-How often do you lose your bucket of mix?

-Depends how windy it is.

0:25:170:25:21

'As well as having a close eye on your bucket,

0:25:210:25:24

'it's important to keep checking the ridge is level.'

0:25:240:25:27

If only that was all I had to do, look after the spirit level.

0:25:270:25:32

'No chance of that, though. Time for me to hit the roof.'

0:25:320:25:37

-OK, Simon. I put the first two on. You can put the last four on.

-OK.

0:25:380:25:42

-I found your level, so I'll give you 15 minutes to do that.

-15 minutes?

0:25:420:25:47

-Are we off?

-We're off.

0:25:490:25:52

'In my book, rooftops are for birds, Spider-Man and Father Christmas.'

0:25:520:25:57

It just kills your legs!

0:25:590:26:02

There's no comfy place on a roof!

0:26:020:26:04

'Not that I'm likely to get any sympathy from Terry.'

0:26:040:26:08

I deduct points for dropping it all over the roof.

0:26:080:26:12

I've been trying to be too clever.

0:26:130:26:15

I've not put enough on, which, I guess, makes the job harder.

0:26:150:26:19

-You just put your weight on it and knocked it all down.

-I knew that(!)

0:26:190:26:25

Ah! He'll never see that!

0:26:270:26:29

You've been five minutes already and you haven't got first one on yet.

0:26:310:26:35

I'm getting up to speed!

0:26:350:26:37

-You've a big hole there.

-I think that's on yours, meself.

-No.

0:26:380:26:43

'I really can't be doing with back-seat tilers.'

0:26:450:26:48

I was hoping you weren't coming round this side.

0:26:480:26:51

He can spend all tomorrow cleaning roof.

0:26:520:26:55

It's going to rain in a minute.

0:26:550:26:58

-It's high at that end.

-Eh?

0:26:590:27:02

Tap it down on your left-hand side.

0:27:020:27:05

I wouldn't fancy this...in January,

0:27:100:27:14

with the wind blowing in.

0:27:140:27:17

This is a hard game, roofing.

0:27:190:27:21

Come on, Simon. You've only a minute.

0:27:210:27:25

-Oh, look at the state of that!

-LAUGHS

0:27:270:27:32

'This isn't going well and I wish I hadn't made the weather forecast.'

0:27:320:27:38

Hurry up. It's going to start raining.

0:27:380:27:40

LAUGHS

0:27:400:27:42

Yeah, yeah. I'll come down now, boss. Definitely starting...

0:27:440:27:48

Get your ridge covered up before you come down.

0:27:480:27:52

It's going to run down that roof, look.

0:27:520:27:55

Very funny(!)

0:27:570:27:59

YOU said it were going to rain.

0:27:590:28:02

I've seen worse...

0:28:040:28:07

but I just can't remember when.

0:28:070:28:10

-Come on, then. Out of ten.

-Oh!

0:28:100:28:13

I used to like Brookside. I'll give you four.

0:28:130:28:17

Four?

0:28:170:28:19

Anyway, mate. I think that rain set in. Nothing more we can do today.

0:28:230:28:29

'Back in Ranmoor in Sheffield, David and Toni cross were hoping

0:28:340:28:39

'their family home would be completed by now.

0:28:390:28:42

'Delays mean it's a long way from being ready,

0:28:420:28:45

'but at least things are progressing.'

0:28:450:28:49

We're at full height now.

0:28:490:28:52

There's just the coping stones to go on top of this, another 100 mil.

0:28:520:28:56

The roof's going on today, the plywood decking.

0:28:560:29:00

Then there's the insulation and the waterproof membrane

0:29:000:29:03

but, effectively, we've got a house.

0:29:030:29:05

'It's taken a long time to get here and, despite the bad luck,

0:29:050:29:10

'David's refusing to be downbeat.'

0:29:100:29:12

We wanted to be in for Christmas which, for obvious reasons,

0:29:120:29:16

would have been wonderful, but it doesn't really disappoint me.

0:29:160:29:20

We've got plenty of Christmases to come.

0:29:200:29:23

The main thing is seeing it take shape, seeing the form of it.

0:29:230:29:27

It's better than expected so how can you be disappointed with this?

0:29:270:29:32

'Two of David's most important clients -

0:29:320:29:35

'wife Toni and daughter Eva - seem happy with the new house.'

0:29:350:29:39

I can't tell you how much I love it. I'm so excited.

0:29:390:29:42

It just gets better week by week, doesn't it, Eva?

0:29:420:29:46

Yeah? Is it exciting now we can see the rooms and walk inside?

0:29:460:29:51

See where the kitchen is and the living room?

0:29:510:29:55

Yeah?

0:29:550:29:57

'But two weeks later, in the freezing cold,

0:30:030:30:07

'David has hit another snag.'

0:30:070:30:09

As you can see,

0:30:090:30:11

the windows are all boarded up.

0:30:110:30:14

That's because the aluminium window system that we've chosen,

0:30:140:30:20

we had a bit of a, um...negotiation period with the window company,

0:30:200:30:24

so we were behind when we ordered them.

0:30:240:30:26

The main problem we've got is the weather's so cold

0:30:260:30:30

we can't lay the coping stones.

0:30:300:30:32

So on the flat roof, we've got the smooth coping stones.

0:30:320:30:36

They've all been made, ready to be delivered, installed,

0:30:360:30:40

but because the weather's too cold, we can't lay any cement.

0:30:400:30:45

'You can't predict the weather.

0:30:450:30:47

'It is having a serious impact on David's schedule.'

0:30:470:30:50

We started in the snow.

0:30:500:30:52

A delay on the steelwork caused us two months of delays.

0:30:520:30:55

Now we've had the weather again and it's another two weeks behind.

0:30:550:31:00

So we've extended the contract period to February 16th.

0:31:000:31:04

Steve's pretty confident that we'll get in for that date.

0:31:040:31:08

Let's see.

0:31:080:31:10

'They are four months behind.

0:31:120:31:15

'For David, keeping costs down is as important as keeping to schedule.'

0:31:150:31:19

We're calling in as many favours as we can.

0:31:190:31:22

The flooring, my father-in-law, who's got a carpet business,

0:31:220:31:26

he's going to do it for free. I'll pay him back at some point,

0:31:260:31:29

but that's a few thousand pound saved on flooring.

0:31:290:31:33

The tile company, they're doing my tiles at cost

0:31:330:31:35

because we specify them on lots of projects.

0:31:350:31:38

It's calling in favours where we can.

0:31:380:31:41

'They're now £4,000 over budget.

0:31:410:31:43

'With his architect's practice being hit hard by the property downturn,

0:31:430:31:48

'their funds have run out.'

0:31:480:31:51

We haven't been paid for months, from the practice.

0:31:510:31:55

And we've lived off every last resource we've got.

0:31:550:31:59

We'll have to beg, steal and borrow that last few thousand.

0:31:590:32:02

But we'll get there.

0:32:020:32:04

'While it's been a stressful process,

0:32:090:32:11

'back at their rented flat, Toni knows the tough times on the build

0:32:110:32:16

'are almost over and that all the hard work will be worth it.'

0:32:160:32:20

Things have been hard with the business, we've not had as much cash as we'd liked.

0:32:200:32:25

In the grand scheme of things, it's a two-year process.

0:32:250:32:29

What's a few weeks here and there? It's not the end of the world.

0:32:290:32:33

We're going to be in this house a long time, so I seriously can't wait to be in.

0:32:330:32:39

'It's now month 13 on a build that was scheduled

0:32:430:32:46

'to take between six and seven months, and there's more bad news.

0:32:460:32:49

'Awful weather is hampering work on site.

0:32:490:32:52

'Coupled with the delays with their steel frame,

0:32:520:32:55

'the Cross family are nowhere near moving in.'

0:32:550:32:58

As you can see, the curved windows, they're not in yet,

0:32:580:33:02

and unlikely to be in till 14th February.

0:33:020:33:05

As a minimum.

0:33:050:33:07

The problem we've had is the snow's delayed the bending plant.

0:33:070:33:12

Once they're bent, they go off to be painted,

0:33:120:33:15

get sent back to the window company and then fitted.

0:33:150:33:19

So we're thinking about 14th February.

0:33:190:33:22

'The windows are holding up the plastering and having a knock-on effect on the schedule.

0:33:220:33:28

'Does David have any idea

0:33:280:33:30

'when they might eventually have a house they can live in?'

0:33:300:33:35

We're hoping 1st March. We can't delay it much further.

0:33:350:33:39

The rent costs we're paying are now killing us, basically.

0:33:390:33:44

'David has always stood by his design and even though he could have made life simpler,

0:33:440:33:50

'he's sticking to his guns when it comes to the feature window.'

0:33:500:33:55

No way I would have changed the curved glass.

0:33:550:33:58

The whole design of this house hinges on this curved corner

0:33:580:34:02

and the opposing curve on the back.

0:34:020:34:06

Wouldn't change it even if it was another three months, four months.

0:34:060:34:10

This is going to be a fantastic house, so what's another couple of months?

0:34:100:34:16

'Three weeks later, the large curved pieces have finally arrived on site.

0:34:190:34:25

'With more than £8,000 of fragile glass to be unloaded

0:34:250:34:29

'then lifted into position, David's more than a little nervous.'

0:34:290:34:33

There's no word to describe how I'm feeling. Tense is nowhere near.

0:34:330:34:38

'One false move here and the glass, along with David's hopes

0:34:380:34:42

'of moving in some time soon, will be shattered.

0:34:420:34:46

'So far, so good.'

0:34:490:34:51

That was quite nerve-racking.

0:34:530:34:55

We've only got to lift it up now.

0:34:550:34:58

It's a fairly impressive piece of glass!

0:34:580:35:01

'If that was scary,

0:35:010:35:03

'David can hardly bear to watch the quarter-tonne piece of glass

0:35:030:35:07

'being precariously lifted into place.

0:35:070:35:11

'The first piece is safely fixed into position.'

0:35:130:35:17

I'm glad that's in. Safe and secure now.

0:35:170:35:20

So nothing can go wrong.

0:35:200:35:23

He says!

0:35:230:35:25

'Fingers crossed, Mr Cross.

0:35:250:35:28

'But if David liked the look from the exterior,

0:35:280:35:32

'he's even more impressed with the view from his living room window.'

0:35:320:35:36

Wow!

0:35:360:35:39

It's totally different from inside, isn't it?

0:35:390:35:43

From outside, you can't see in, but you can see out. Fantastic.

0:35:430:35:47

Everyone looks really thin. It's like Blackpool.

0:35:470:35:50

'This build's certainly been a roller coaster ride for the family.

0:35:500:35:54

'In the end, the final interior finish added a whole three months.

0:35:540:36:00

'16 months after their self-build journey began, I'm in Sheffield to see the finished home.'

0:36:000:36:06

I cannot believe that, last time I stood here, all there was

0:36:060:36:09

was a piece of steel standing up in the air. Look at it now!

0:36:090:36:13

'David has really made his mark,

0:36:210:36:23

'and the exterior,

0:36:230:36:25

'especially the curved glass, is totally stunning.'

0:36:250:36:29

-Hello, hello, hello.

-Hello.

-How are you?

0:36:290:36:32

-Can I come in?

-Come in.

-I'm excited.

0:36:320:36:35

'Inside, the decision to situate the main family living area

0:36:400:36:44

'on the first floor, means the open-plan lounge, dining room and kitchen

0:36:440:36:50

'are bathed in light flooding in through that curved window.'

0:36:500:36:53

Oh! Hello!

0:36:560:36:58

This is fantastic!

0:36:580:37:01

I love the curved corner from outside.

0:37:010:37:04

It works just as well in here.

0:37:040:37:07

-You've got three distinct areas. Kitchen looks great.

-Yeah.

0:37:070:37:11

Happy with everything.

0:37:110:37:13

That terrace is going to be gorgeous in the summer.

0:37:130:37:16

Kids can play. I can be pottering in the kitchen.

0:37:160:37:19

-Shall I show you?

-Yeah. Come on.

-Let's go.

0:37:190:37:22

'To maximise space, David designed the patio on top of the garage.

0:37:240:37:29

'The garden's bigger than they expected.'

0:37:290:37:32

-It's worked quite well.

-Yeah.

0:37:320:37:34

When we first bought the land, remember how small it felt?

0:37:340:37:38

Then they dug it out, it didn't look like any garden at all.

0:37:380:37:43

We've got quite a nice garden.

0:37:430:37:45

'The space feels quite private.

0:37:450:37:48

'Which brings me to another issue they had to deal with.'

0:37:480:37:51

-They're happy now they've seen it.

-We've had a bottle of champagne.

0:37:510:37:55

-I think we're...

-In the good books.

-We've been invited to a party!

0:37:550:37:59

That's a turnaround!

0:37:590:38:01

That's amazing! "Hello, everyone. Lovely house!" That's fantastic.

0:38:010:38:06

I haven't seen the rest of it.

0:38:060:38:08

'The guest bedroom, complete with large en suite,

0:38:090:38:13

'as well as David's office, are all located on the ground floor.

0:38:130:38:17

'But I want to go higher.

0:38:170:38:19

'The second floor houses the family bedrooms.

0:38:190:38:22

'It's clear that Eva and Fred approve of Daddy's drawing skills.

0:38:220:38:26

'Strangely, though,

0:38:260:38:29

'David's favourite feature isn't the curved glass or unusual design.

0:38:290:38:33

'It's the landing.'

0:38:330:38:35

All the stairwells and landings feel like they work really well.

0:38:350:38:39

Well, this is my favourite space.

0:38:390:38:42

You've got this brand new house.

0:38:420:38:44

You've got your lovely living area, a nice bedroom en suite,

0:38:440:38:48

and your favourite space is your landing?

0:38:480:38:51

This is what I class as the architect's space. It's minimal.

0:38:510:38:56

It's got the curve, the curve,

0:38:560:38:59

this lovely piece of glass.

0:38:590:39:01

The light comes down and it lights up the hallway.

0:39:010:39:04

It just makes the whole house feel so bright.

0:39:040:39:08

This doesn't look like much, but it's dragging light down

0:39:080:39:11

two floors to that dark hallway.

0:39:110:39:14

That's clever.

0:39:140:39:15

That's why you're an architect.

0:39:150:39:17

-I love this light.

-A friend of ours made this.

0:39:170:39:21

We wanted it to feel industrial, for Sheffield's metal.

0:39:210:39:25

Hence, it's not a glass chandelier.

0:39:250:39:27

It's not anything fancy. It's quite industrial.

0:39:270:39:31

'The master bedroom with en suite needs a few finishing touches,

0:39:370:39:42

'but it's hard to beat the panoramic view over the city.'

0:39:420:39:47

Another thing I like about this landing - lovely original artwork.

0:39:480:39:54

'How did architect David enjoy building this family home?'

0:39:540:39:58

What's the best bit about this?

0:39:580:40:00

-Standing here now!

-That we're in! That we've survived!

0:40:000:40:04

-Is that how it feels, Toni, like you had to survive this process?

-Yeah.

0:40:040:40:08

This last push has been very stressful.

0:40:080:40:12

-I'm just so glad we're in.

-For me, it's slightly different.

0:40:120:40:16

The biggest stress is understanding it's for the kids, for me wife.

0:40:160:40:21

The pressure is I want to create a beautiful family home.

0:40:210:40:25

To be honest, it's everything and more that I could have hoped for.

0:40:250:40:30

'David and Toni budgeted £200,000 to build the house,

0:40:300:40:34

'on top of the £175,000 to buy the plot.

0:40:340:40:38

'Remarkably, despite all the delays, they only went £5,000 over budget.'

0:40:380:40:43

What's helped me is, because we've had a strict budget,

0:40:430:40:47

there's not been 50,000 things I can choose from.

0:40:470:40:51

I've had a smaller choice, so it has been easier.

0:40:510:40:54

-Kitchen wise...

-That can help, can't it?

-Yeah.

0:40:540:40:58

-You two can project manage my next job.

-It costs. We're expensive.

0:40:580:41:02

-I see. You're not going to do it for this price again?

-No.

-No.

0:41:020:41:07

'So that's an overall spend of £380,000.

0:41:070:41:12

'When it comes to putting a market price on David's design,

0:41:120:41:16

'what would an estate agent think?'

0:41:160:41:19

You're looking at a value of £575,000 upwards.

0:41:190:41:22

-Where we expected.

-But we're not selling!

0:41:240:41:27

It's irrelevant. It's nice to know that there's money in it.

0:41:270:41:31

But this was never about the money.

0:41:310:41:34

It was about the location.

0:41:340:41:36

'That's an impressive saving of £195,000

0:41:370:41:41

'compared to buying a similar property in the area.'

0:41:410:41:45

You've built something modern that fits in with the traditional houses.

0:41:450:41:49

Everybody seems to like it.

0:41:490:41:51

Neighbours have said that everybody in the area loves the house.

0:41:510:41:56

-For a modern house, it's quite an achievement.

-It is.

0:41:560:42:00

People don't like change.

0:42:000:42:02

The main issue you've had with this build has been time.

0:42:020:42:05

In the end, you got around to it.

0:42:050:42:08

With that in mind, and the fact that we're in Sheffield,

0:42:080:42:12

I've got a little gift.

0:42:120:42:14

-There you go.

-You open it.

0:42:140:42:17

THEY LAUGH

0:42:170:42:20

-"A round tuit".

-Well, it is the home of steel.

0:42:200:42:23

You now have your own official "round tuit".

0:42:230:42:27

Cos you did, in the end...

0:42:270:42:30

-Get around to it!

-Congratulations!

0:42:300:42:32

-Thank you.

-I think this house is a triumph.

0:42:320:42:35

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:42:500:42:53

E-mail [email protected]

0:42:530:42:56

Building an art-deco style family home in Sheffield requires young architect David Cross to have some steely resolve when the project hits problems. Plus how messing about on the river led to one man's dream to build a home on an island in the Thames and presenter Simon O'Brien is left high and dry when it comes to fixing a roof ridge at building school.


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