Episode 19 To Build or Not to Build


Episode 19

Series following some of the UK's 20,000 self-builders. Dentist Stephen Robinson and wife Rachel set out to build a stylish new home but it is not without its teething problems.


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Transcript


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We all dream of finding the perfect home, but finding a property

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

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Well, I have a solution. 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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I was gobsmacked and I'd never realised that it would be wow factor that it actually is.

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

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We just never would have been able to afford to buy what we've built. And that's why we built.

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And some frustrating lows.

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I've spoken to the council and they're going to 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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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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The Buckinghamshire family whose supposedly super-quick

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German kit house is anything but speedy.

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Today is 4 July and, as you can see, no house again!

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Take me to the river!

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The stunning home on the banks of the Trent in Nottingham.

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This is exactly why we built it here.

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-Roger's favourite view.

-The best view, I think.

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And I'm in deep when it comes to fitting a bath at building college.

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I'll show you how you put a bath in.

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"Kev the plumber? I need a bath putting in. What are you doing on Thursday?"

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If there's one man that knows all about winning, it's legendary Olympian Sir Steve Redgrave,

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and here in his home town of Marlow in Buckinghamshire,

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dentist Stephen Robinson and his wife Rachel are hoping to emulate the great man's success

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and strike gold by building a contemporary kit house which should be awesome.

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Set in its leafy gardens in London's commuter belt, this 1970s dormer bungalow

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might look like a perfectly presentable pad, but delve a little deeper

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and it's clear all is not what it seems.

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With its battered roof and rotting woodwork, it's clearly in need of some serious TLC.

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But, believe it or not, Stephen and Rachel plan to transform this into their dream family home

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for them and their three boys, Sam, Ben and Josh.

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Time for me to meet Mum and Dad and find out more.

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So, Marlow? Very desirable place to live. Why were you looking here?

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We used to live about half a mile up the road, which we sold about two years ago.

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-We moved in above my business.

-Right.

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We lived there and we wanted to move back into Marlow, so we found this, it came up for sale.

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-We bought it as soon as it came up for sale.

-Yeah...

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I hate to point the obvious out to you, but this programme is about building your own house!

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-Rachel, there's a house here already, you see.

-Yeah.

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-The house that's here is not quite big enough for myself, Stephen and the three boys.

-Ah, OK.

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Also it's not really to our taste.

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It's always been our dream to build our own house, to have something that's perfect for us.

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This is a great piece of land, and it's in an area which we want.

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For the Robinsons, this is clearly the right location but the wrong house.

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Fast-forward to the future and this is what they plan to put in its place,

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a unique kit house they've helped to design that will be made in Germany

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and then erected on site in four months.

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The contemporary detached property will have four bedrooms, three bathrooms

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and be packed with the very latest in eco-friendly features.

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The plot with the existing bungalow has already cost them...

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And they plan to spend another...

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That's a total of...

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That's the equivalent to some top-end prices for similar-sized homes in the area,

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but before they knock down this dated dormer, we're going on a trip back in time.

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-Oh, we are back to the '70s, aren't we?

-Lovely, isn't it?

-I like this.

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Now, I'm all in favour of a bit of retro chic now and then,

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but this kitchen takes the biscuit.

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Wow!

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-Now, there's pine with a bit of extra pine involved.

-Oh, it's fantastic, isn't it?

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It's kind of like kitchen meets Finnish sauna, isn't it?

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Absolutely fabulous! You should keep the wood and make your own steam room.

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And as my trip down memory lane continues, there's another '70s classic.

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There's something about it makes me want to say, "I think this is an original!"

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That's fantastic, isn't it?

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They really just don't make them like that any more,

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and particularly the black pointing just really is a bit special, isn't it?

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But if that doesn't light your fire,

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there's one feature no self-respecting '70s house could afford to be without

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its very own bar!

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Oh, you kept a surprise for me, didn't you?

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-We did indeed.

-Look at this!

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Cork tiling, bamboo...

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-not just effect.

-TAPPING

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Real bamboo...and look at that!

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I think I'm going to have to have a word with the authorities.

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This whole place needs a preservation order put on it.

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You should not pull it down!

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But, while the current house might have plenty of faults,

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its garden seems to have a few pluses.

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Will the outdoor swimming pool go the same way as the house, though?

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Is that going to end up in there, if you know what I mean?

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-No, it's not. The swimming pool's going to stay.

-Is it?

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-Yes, absolutely.

-Cos that's actually...

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it's almost a bold decision in the 21st century, if you know what I mean.

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-People don't do swimming pools any more, do they?

-It's there.

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And it needs a little bit of refurbishment, but we might as well use it if it is there.

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I completely agree, absolutely!

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With a growing family, the Robinsons are looking for plenty of space from their new home,

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and a top priority is somewhere they can feel relaxed.

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We've created a big open-plan downstairs, but with two separate rooms,

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and adults' room and a children's playroom...

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-cos open-plan can be very noisy and I want to be away from the noise.

-I can see the design already.

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I can see what is driving this design.

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-How can we have a family home and some peace and quiet?

-Yes.

-Yeah?

-Absolutely.

-Absolutely.

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One striking feature of their new kit house is that it comes with its wiring already in place.

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This means they've already had to think clearly about exactly how the rooms will be laid out inside,

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and they've been involved in a lot of the design work themselves.

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If you build a normal brick-and-block house, you put the structure up,

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and then you go "I want a plug socket there, I want a plug socket there." With a kit house,

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you have to decide where every single cable run goes before you start,

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which means you have to know where your furniture is going to go,

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you have to have your kitchen design done. It's building a house backwards!

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-The imagination needed to do that as well...

-Yeah.

-..Is incredible!

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-Yeah.

-I bet you're scared!

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Yes!

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You've got to be scared. You can't be going, "The telly looks rubbish there!"

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And it's got to stay there!

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But before they're in a position to get their wires crossed over the TV,

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they need to get rid of the old place first.

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First thing on the list is to make the site safe,

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and the pool has to be emptied of water.

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But although the Robinsons are desperate to get on with their demolition,

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their extremely tight four-month schedule soon springs a leak.

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Because of a mix-up over switching off the gas supply to the house,

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it's not been properly disconnected,

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and they've been told it could take another three months to secure permission to demolish the house.

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Weeks go by and not a brick of the bungalow had budged.

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My feeling about it at the moment is frustration,

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but I'm also trying very hard not to get stressed about it.

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I'm sure there are going to be a lot more stressful things in the coming months...

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so I'm trying to take quite a laidback attitude.

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The most frustrating thing is everybody's asking me when the house is going to be demolished,

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and I keep having to repeat the same story over and over again... so we'll get there.

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It's a huge setback. What should have been a rapid four-month build

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is now running months behind schedule,

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and with the house still standing and plenty of groundwork still to do

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the arrival of the new home seems a long way off.

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Finally, some good news.

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It's build month 1 and the demolition crew are on site,

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but the build's running almost three months behind schedule already,

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not that the Robinsons' children mind about delays.

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Today's a chance for them to see some of their favourite boy's toys in action!

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-Oh, we wanted to smash the windows.

-You wanted to...

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I wanted to hear the siren.

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Seeing it come down is just... What a brilliant sight!

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Absolutely fab!

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-Can you see?

-Let me in!

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There goes the roof!

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There's a tank.

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Look! Look!

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Look at the digger. Is it going to take the tanks out?

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Oh, yeah, look!

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-It squashed it!

-It squashed it, didn't it?

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And it's not just the kids who are enjoying the show.

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I can't believe how flimsy these house are.

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I mean, I know they're not, but that digger is just going through it so...fast!

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It's just amazing.

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-And you want a go.

-And I want a go!

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For Stephen it's the first sign that his dream is starting to take off.

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You wonder if it's ever going to start

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-and now it is I'm quite happy... and the spending will commence even more!

-Yeah!

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I can feel my wallet crying out already, but it'll be worth it in the end.

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Once the bungalow has been knocked down, work can begin preparing the site for the new house,

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but until the site has been fully cleared,

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they won't know how difficult the next stage is likely to be.

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Now we'll see what's underneath, then.

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-Yes.

-We've got to get all the site level... we know what site level we want,

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but we don't know what's under the house and how much work that's going to be and if there are any problems.

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And there's still plenty more for the wrecking crew to get stuck into.

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The house might have been slowly falling down on its own,

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but it still takes another couple of days before it's totally demolished.

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With the bungalow turned to dust, Rachel can look to the future.

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Day 3 of the demolition.

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And, as you can see, the site is almost cleared now,

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ready for construction of the ground slab.

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We've had a date for the connection

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of the electricity to the house,

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which includes digging up some of the pavement outside,

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but otherwise everything's going to schedule.

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We're really, really happy.

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Something, at last, is being done,

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and hopefully things will move forward fairly quickly from now.

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It's easy to see why people dream of living by the waterside,

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but often self-builders can't compete with large developers

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when it comes to finding an ideal plot by the riverbank.

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However, when one couple noticed a rundown bungalow right on the Trent in Nottingham,

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they beat the big boys to it and built a beautiful home right on the river.

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Walking along the tranquil banks of the River Trent has always been a pastime of Roger and Jane Poulson.

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However, with every relaxing stroll they took, came a strong desire

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to live permanently down by the water's edge.

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I do like being by the river. I think it's fantastic.

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It's peaceful, and it was a bit of a derelict bungalow we found,

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and it started from there, really.

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The bungalow cost...

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..and they certainly pushed the boat out with the striking property that replaced it.

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What we wanted was a house full of light spaces,

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maximise the views and then to fit with how we live,

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so we do a lot of entertaining, so he made us all these spaces to fit how we live.

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So we have a house that we love with a view that we love.

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What they've created is a contemporary three-bedroom house, split over ten different levels,

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with almost all the rooms having views overlooking the water.

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This is exactly why we built it here.

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-Roger's favourite view.

-I think the view is fantastic.

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Designing this stylish home themselves did create a challenge.

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Fortunately their architect had a novel solution to their dilemma.

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He came with about 300 images that he'd torn out of a magazine

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and he just left us with these images and said, "Do it in three piles,

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"like it, don't like it, not sure."

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And that was the start of this process where you think you know what you like,

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but you're not very capable of articulating it. And so he made this house fit this plot.

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In keeping with the sharp, clean lines of the exterior,

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Roger and Jane didn't hold back when it came to the luxurious interior fixtures and fittings either.

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But building their dream riverside home wasn't plain sailing.

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I think the frustrating bits were the red tape.

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Planning permission was big thing. The architect worked hard for us,

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and we got stuck with the flood wall, so there was a big flood alleviation scheme

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that obviously had far bigger priority than us building our house.

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All the time you're worried because nothing much is happening,

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so a massive high when we finally got planning permission.

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After a four-year wait, work finally got underway

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but there was soon another unlucky break for Jane to deal with.

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We went skiing and I broke my leg in eight places,

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and they did wonder whether they were going to have to amputate it. That was a pretty low point.

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I couldn't get on the site, I couldn't get up to see what was happening...

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-That was a tough year. That was our hardest bit, I think.

-Yes.

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Jane spent the majority of the 14-month build with her feet up

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while Roger kept the project on course.

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It cost...

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..and including the plot...

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But with the home now valued at...

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it appears messing about

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by the river was definitely worth it.

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Quite sad, but we do often walk round here,

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particularly on an evening when you've finished work and we walk past,

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and sometimes, sadly, we even sit on the seat and look at the house,

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-and just think it looks lovely.

-We do.

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And we like it when people walk past and go, "Wow! Look at that!

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"What do you think that house is?" Yeah, it's lovely.

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It just gives you a glow looking at it, thinking you've left a landmark here on the river.

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And it's something quite different for here.

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Back in Marlow, it's now...

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and the skip full of builders' rubble marks the spot where Rachel and Stephen's dream home

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should now be.

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But a protracted legal wrangle over contracts involving the couple, their architects

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and the German suppliers of the kit means work on the house has been on hold

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since their old place was demolished.

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It's a bitter blow.

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We are incredibly angry.

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The structural calculations

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weren't done when they were promised.

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I want to get going, I want this to be done,

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I didn't want to be doing it this time in the year,

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I wanted to be in by this time,

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but, obviously, things have been taken out of our hands.

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The only thing they can work on, the swimming pool, has also become an unexpected financial drain.

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Close inspection has revealed this needs totally relining,

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setting the couple back a further £20,000.

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It's now...

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and desperate to get the build back on track,

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Rachel and Stephen take a bold decision

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to start on the foundations, despite no guarantee that their legal dispute with the house supplier

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will be sorted out.

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It's been a long time coming.

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We still have absolutely no idea when the house itself is arriving.

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At least work has started on the house again.

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With the trenches for the footings now dug, today is a crucial one for Stephen and Rachel's build.

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For the first time, the German team,

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responsible for making sure the measurements for the base of the house are accurate,

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have arrived.

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THEY SPEAK GERMAN

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But nothing has been straightforward on this site, and today, as they prepare for the concrete foundations

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to be laid, the temperature has plummeted to just above zero.

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And there's a question mark over whether it's too cold to go ahead.

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If it hits minus-4 and below, then the concrete isn't going to...

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..set properly.

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But what we are going to do is put insulation over it tonight

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to make sure no frost gets into it and keep it warm.

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If frost gets into the concrete, it loses its strength

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and the foundations would have to be dug out and the whole lot replaced.

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With the temperature hovering around the critical point,

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the building inspector arrives to decide whether it's safe to go ahead.

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As long as you protect it, we don't have a problem.

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- We've protected it. - OK, fine.

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Fortunately, they're given the thumbs-up and the concrete can start going in.

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Yeah! It's fabulous to see that!

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The team work quickly to get the concrete in before the temperature starts to drop any further.

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Come on, get out, so we can get the next one in.

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And there's ice on that one!

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With all the concrete now poured, it's time to make certain it's properly protected.

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For Rachel today has been a major step forward.

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Hopefully this is the start...

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although, again, we still don't know when the house is coming.

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We shall wait and see.

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Oh, I'm just so pleased!

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And cold!

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But by...

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the weather's changed, but the situation hasn't,

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and Rachel's patience is at breaking point.

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Today is 4 July and, as you can see, no house again!

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The whole project has been delayed by another two weeks.

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This is incredibly disappointing and frustrating now,

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especially as we were only told last Thursday, so four days ago,

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that it wouldn't be arriving on time.

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However, 18 July, we've been assured that this is going to be the date.

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I mean, how much more delays can we actually have?

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Two weeks later, and it appears the Robinsons' luck has finally changed for the better.

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It's 6.20

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on a very overcast Monday morning.

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We're now hoping that the house is going to arrive...

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in ten minutes or so, according to the schedule.

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But even with German builders and the crane on site,

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Rachel still can't believe her house is about to arrive.

0:21:240:21:27

I'm not believing this until I actually see a portion of house drop in.

0:21:270:21:32

It's been a long time coming, a lot of frustration, a lot of anger, a lot of upset,

0:21:340:21:38

but when that first bit goes in, I think I'm...

0:21:380:21:42

it's going to hit me that we're actually progressing with this,

0:21:420:21:46

and that we could actually have a house any time soon.

0:21:460:21:50

And with the first truck rolling up to site, it looks as if this build is going to happen at long last,

0:21:520:21:56

much to Stephen's relief.

0:21:560:21:59

Thought it would never happen. They're finally here, though.

0:21:590:22:01

The delays might have been agonising,

0:22:010:22:04

but once on site the German builders aren't hanging around.

0:22:040:22:08

The first wall is soon being lifted into place.

0:22:080:22:11

Very excited.

0:22:110:22:12

I just can't believe that the first wall...after waiting so long!

0:22:120:22:17

Are you excited?

0:22:170:22:19

You're excited! Good!

0:22:190:22:22

Too right, Josh, you might have your bedroom done by the end of the day.

0:22:220:22:26

It's gone up really quickly. I mean, we're now at what? 9.35.

0:22:340:22:37

We've got one internal wall left to be put in situ.

0:22:370:22:43

I've got walls for a living room, utility room, kitchen,

0:22:430:22:48

playroom, bathroom, snug... it's all here.

0:22:480:22:53

And it's brilliant. It's a good way of building...

0:22:540:22:57

if you get it right straightaway.

0:22:570:23:00

So far it's been straightforward, but the next stage will be much trickier,

0:23:010:23:05

lifting the two giant window sections that form the centrepiece of their house.

0:23:050:23:09

They'll put it upright, slot it in, secure it somehow, and job's done. How hard can it be?

0:23:090:23:16

-How hard can it be?

-Exactly!

0:23:160:23:18

With that kind of weight, it could be a little harder than you think, Stephen!

0:23:190:23:23

Can they just give that a bit of a push that way?

0:23:250:23:27

Whoa, whoa, whoa!

0:23:290:23:32

And halfway though manoeuvring the first piece there's a major problem.

0:23:320:23:35

They've just started to get the window to lift up to put it in the upright position,

0:23:350:23:40

and it's cracking the wood structure of the actual framework.

0:23:400:23:45

Now, I'm not sure if it's supporting and it's just going to be taken out afterwards,

0:23:450:23:49

or it's actually part of the structure. But there's a crack in the wood there.

0:23:490:23:53

The section's weight combined with the angle of lift means there's too much strain on the wooden frame.

0:23:530:23:58

The solution - a few more scaffolding planks screwed on to give extra support.

0:23:580:24:04

But will it hold this time?

0:24:050:24:07

It's straining a little bit but that looks cool.

0:24:100:24:13

With only minor damage to the wooden frame, it's lifted into position and the supports removed.

0:24:140:24:19

Fortunately, the second all-glass piece isn't such a "pane",

0:24:220:24:25

despite Rachel's nerves, as it's manhandled into position.

0:24:250:24:28

There's an awful lot of glass

0:24:280:24:31

and it's very, very tall!

0:24:310:24:34

So we'll just see... This is the nerve-racking one

0:24:340:24:38

probably of the whole build. Everything else is fairly simple compared to this.

0:24:380:24:42

But then we did ask for a bespoke house, so, hey...

0:24:420:24:46

Once this one is in, I think I'll be happier.

0:24:480:24:50

We can walk through our front door.

0:24:500:24:52

I haven't got a house, but we can walk through our front door!

0:24:520:24:55

Two days later, I'm back in Marlow to meet up with Rachel

0:25:030:25:07

and check on the rapid progress.

0:25:070:25:09

-I can see you are very excited now.

-Oh, yeah.

0:25:140:25:17

But how was it in the interim period?

0:25:170:25:20

Frustrating, because we were... we had a slab here.

0:25:200:25:24

We've had a slab here for the last seven months. Not good!

0:25:240:25:27

Er...we got on with other things.

0:25:270:25:30

The back garden's more or less... completely different.

0:25:300:25:34

LAUGHTER

0:25:340:25:35

-So you've spent a year gardening?

-Yes!

-Fantastic!

-Yes.

0:25:350:25:40

-Great big space. Is this going to be separated out at all?

-No, this is all open-plan.

0:25:400:25:44

-This is how it's going to be at the end of the day.

-All right!

0:25:440:25:48

So, obviously, welcoming entrance hall there, huge atrium...coming through to...?

0:25:480:25:54

Kitchen.

0:25:540:25:56

We've got a dining room, then we've got our little quiet area.

0:25:560:26:01

Downstairs there will be a couple of separate rooms too.

0:26:030:26:06

There'll be a gym-cum-playroom at one side,

0:26:060:26:08

while the lounge will include a state-of-the-art cinema system once it's finished.

0:26:080:26:12

Upstairs the decision to install the full-length windows becomes obvious.

0:26:140:26:19

-You really see the space here now, don't you?

-Oh, yeah.

0:26:210:26:23

It's standing here, just that window.

0:26:230:26:26

-Yeah.

-It's amazing.

0:26:260:26:29

-And it's a complete waste of space.

-Yes.

0:26:300:26:32

And why not? Sunlight in the house. I don't want a dark house.

0:26:320:26:37

You haven't got a dark house, that's for sure!

0:26:370:26:39

Each of the boys gets their own double room,

0:26:420:26:46

while the master bedroom benefits from an en-suite bathroom

0:26:460:26:49

and views over the already immaculate garden.

0:26:490:26:52

Are you now...? I can see you're excited, but has it been worth the wait?

0:26:520:26:57

-Yes. It...

-Would you have said that two months ago?

-No.

0:26:570:27:01

-Mmm...

-Er...

0:27:010:27:03

It's been worth the wait in the fact I've now got the house here.

0:27:030:27:07

It's solid. I can touch it now. And everything I've been looking at on 3D and 2D plans for so long,

0:27:070:27:15

is now coming to... It's here, it's exactly the way we wanted it.

0:27:150:27:20

Yes, there's still a lot of hard work to go,

0:27:200:27:23

because we still have to make sure that everything, all the services come in at the right time.

0:27:230:27:27

A lot of the stress has gone.

0:27:270:27:29

How quickly now till you've finished?

0:27:320:27:34

-Is there pressure with that?

-Yes, there is pressure with that.

0:27:340:27:38

We have to be out of our rented accommodation by 1 September...

0:27:380:27:42

which is very tight. Six weeks away.

0:27:420:27:46

-You've got to move out of your rented accommodation in six weeks' time?

-Yes.

0:27:460:27:49

There are ways and means.

0:27:530:27:54

Yeah, there are! It's called a tent.

0:27:540:27:57

If you're self-building, then being a dab hand at DIY is a good way to save money.

0:28:090:28:13

But you definitely need the know-how,

0:28:130:28:16

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

0:28:160:28:19

Today I'm dipping my toe into the world of plumbing again with tutor Mark Cawood.

0:28:230:28:28

-HE WHISTLES

-OK!

0:28:360:28:39

-Hi, Mark.

-Hiya.

-Ready for the bath?

0:28:390:28:42

What?

0:28:440:28:45

-I'm not having a bath?

-Well, you've got to assemble it and fit it first.

-No, no, no...

0:28:450:28:51

-Left for later.

-There's our bath, there's our fittings. What do you think we're going to do first?

0:28:510:28:56

-Put the bath together.

-What we need to do first of all...

0:28:560:28:58

We've got our fittings here. We need to put the legs on the bath,

0:28:580:29:01

we need to attach the taps to the bath, and put the waste on the bath.

0:29:010:29:04

Once that's all assembled, it's then easier to get it into position.

0:29:040:29:07

"Then it's easier to get it into pos..." Yeah, yeah!

0:29:070:29:10

Mark's given me just 30 minutes for this task and the first thing I need to do is tip the tub upside down.

0:29:110:29:16

Makes sense...that they go in there.

0:29:160:29:19

The frame which will support the bath's adjustable feet then needs fastening into place.

0:29:210:29:25

-You've done this before!

-No, I haven't!

0:29:250:29:27

No, I really haven't!

0:29:270:29:29

I'll show you how you put a bath in. I'll show you exactly how you put a bath in. It's dead simple.

0:29:290:29:34

You go, "Hello? Kev the plumber? I need a bath putting in. What are you doing on Thursday?"

0:29:340:29:39

So on with the four feet and the bath's central support.

0:29:410:29:44

Time to turn it over again.

0:29:460:29:47

Don't worry, I'll level it up later. Next, taps.

0:29:470:29:52

OK, trying to apply common sense to this, I think that as we use the cold tap more often than not,

0:29:520:29:57

cold should be on the right-hand side because we're right-handed.

0:29:570:30:01

-If you say so.

-Oh...!

0:30:010:30:03

So much for tapping up Mark for information.

0:30:040:30:07

It just makes sense to me, that. That's all I'm saying.

0:30:080:30:12

And I'm actually correct.

0:30:130:30:15

The standard is hot left, cold right.

0:30:150:30:17

Mark does give me some good advice when it comes to connecting the taps to the water supply.

0:30:220:30:26

Because that's a compression fitting there, I would attach it to the pipes before,

0:30:260:30:30

and then set the bath up,

0:30:300:30:32

because it'll be difficult to get two spanners in underneath the bath.

0:30:320:30:36

-And this will avoid all the cursing and screaming, to a degree, which is about to happen?

-Some of it.

0:30:360:30:43

-I can feel the pressure mounting. How long have I got?

-15 minutes.

-Oh, blimey!

0:30:470:30:51

Right, can you give us a hand, do you mind?

0:30:510:30:53

-Don't want to get your hands too dirty, like, you know!

-OK.

0:30:530:30:56

This was a nice tight fit.

0:30:570:30:59

-It's a real bathroom fit.

-Good grief!

0:30:590:31:03

We've shoehorned the bath into place, but it's nowhere near level.

0:31:030:31:07

All right, then? This is where the time's going to go, levelling it up.

0:31:080:31:14

Each foot needs individually adjusting and that's not easy.

0:31:140:31:17

If anyone wants it, I have got the number for Kev the plumber! He's very good...

0:31:170:31:22

very good rates.

0:31:220:31:24

And you'll never have to do this!

0:31:240:31:25

Time check, please, Mark.

0:31:270:31:28

-Eight minutes to go.

-Oh, my word!

0:31:280:31:31

That did it!

0:31:340:31:36

My bath!

0:31:360:31:38

-It's a bad corner, isn't it?

-It always is.

-Yeah, of course it always is.

0:31:380:31:42

Always is.

0:31:420:31:43

Horrible, horrible, horrible job!

0:31:430:31:46

Grrr!

0:31:460:31:48

So much for my relaxing afternoon!

0:31:480:31:52

Ouch!

0:31:550:31:56

I could really start to hate this, you know.

0:31:560:31:59

Two minutes to go!

0:31:590:32:01

Good!

0:32:010:32:02

I could do with some water on. I'd rather have water on than have it level.

0:32:020:32:06

OK.

0:32:060:32:08

And as the man requested...

0:32:080:32:10

..water on tap.

0:32:120:32:14

Have I finally perfected plumbing?

0:32:170:32:21

-Time.

-Thank you.

0:32:210:32:23

Thank heavens for that!

0:32:230:32:24

Let's have a look, shall we?

0:32:260:32:28

Feeling a little bit cocky here!

0:32:290:32:32

-Well, it's in.

-It is in.

0:32:340:32:36

It's...a little bit of tweaking on the level, but yeah...

0:32:360:32:40

-It was that tight fit.

-Yeah.

0:32:400:32:42

Tap's just a bit out of line, but, certainly under here, it's watertight.

0:32:420:32:46

I wonder if the waste is watertight? Let's have a look.

0:32:460:32:50

Let's put a bit of water in here.

0:32:500:32:52

Come on, then!

0:32:530:32:56

-Give us a score.

-Well, if you're telling me you've never fitted a bath before,

0:32:560:33:00

this is a half-decent attempt.

0:33:000:33:02

I think you have to be a bit leaner this time and I'll give you an 8!

0:33:020:33:07

I finally got a decent score off Mean Mark!

0:33:070:33:11

Well, in that case...

0:33:150:33:17

-if you'll excuse me... No leaks at all?

-No, not to worry.

0:33:170:33:20

-Is the hot plumbed in right?

-It looks all right,

0:33:200:33:23

-apart from a bit skew-whiff.

-Never mind that! Excuse me, I'm having a bath here!

0:33:230:33:27

Back in Marlow, Rachel and Stephen have come back down to earth with a bump.

0:33:330:33:37

After the euphoria of seeing their kit house go up in a flash,

0:33:420:33:45

a harsh reality has begun to sink in.

0:33:450:33:47

Because their self-build has overrun so dramatically, the lease has run out on their rented property,

0:33:480:33:53

and they've now decamped to a caravan in their garden.

0:33:530:33:56

We didn't want to have to live in a caravan,

0:33:560:33:59

but circumstances have said we've got to do this for a while.

0:33:590:34:02

We'll make the best of it.

0:34:020:34:05

But a series of problems with the roof is hampering progress on the build.

0:34:070:34:11

Some of the battens have had to be replaced,

0:34:110:34:14

and this has led to tears in the vital membrane which keeps the house watertight.

0:34:140:34:19

There's a tiny leak coming in from one of the nail holes in the structure.

0:34:190:34:25

And it seems it never rains, but it pours. Upstairs it's a similar story.

0:34:250:34:31

Yesterday we had it leaking through the ventilation pipes and actually coming into the floor.

0:34:310:34:37

In our bathroom, we had quite a major leak coming completely through the roof,

0:34:370:34:42

through the insulation, on to the floor,

0:34:420:34:45

so we collected quite a lot of water.

0:34:450:34:48

For the moment it feels like the build is going backwards.

0:34:500:34:53

The tarpaulin's across there at the moment to try and stop most of these water leaks,

0:34:530:34:58

hence the multicoloured sheets on the roof.

0:34:580:35:02

And pretty soon it becomes clear that it's not the only problem with the roof.

0:35:040:35:09

The local planning department has received a complaint that the building is too high,

0:35:090:35:13

and today an officer has arrived for a spot check

0:35:130:35:16

which could prove a far more significant setback to this build.

0:35:160:35:20

-All right, Rachel?

-Yeah.

-You pop up here.

0:35:200:35:22

A nervous Stephen and Rachel are roped in to help with the measurements.

0:35:220:35:26

-About there, isn't it?

-Yeah, got it, lovely. Yeah.

0:35:260:35:30

-If I hold it...

-I've got the tape.

-If you've got the tape, I'll...

0:35:300:35:35

And if the building's too high, they could be breaking planning laws.

0:35:350:35:39

The worst-case scenario would mean the whole house having to be knocked down.

0:35:390:35:43

4.3.

0:35:430:35:45

All in all, we're about 8.25 to 8.3, I'd say.

0:35:450:35:49

Worryingly, the measurements have revealed the house is 25cm higher than it should be.

0:35:490:35:54

Increased insulation in the floor, under-floor heating...

0:35:540:35:58

-that can push up the floor by 250mm.

-Yeah, we've got under-floor heating.

0:35:580:36:03

It's a nerve-racking development.

0:36:030:36:06

They'll now need to apply for special permission if the extra height is to be allowed to stand,

0:36:060:36:11

and hope the planners accept the changes.

0:36:110:36:13

We're going to have to get in contact with the architect and put a minor amendment in...

0:36:130:36:19

which, hopefully, will be accepted.

0:36:190:36:23

We don't know whether it means holding up the build or not, or whether we can carry on.

0:36:230:36:27

So we shall have to wait and see on that one.

0:36:270:36:30

And wait and hope is all they can do.

0:36:300:36:33

It's now build month 16,

0:36:380:36:40

and I've come back to Marlow for the final time

0:36:400:36:42

to Stephen and Rachel's home..

0:36:420:36:44

I first visited Marlow a year and a half ago.

0:36:440:36:47

Then nothing happened, but then, just before my last visit, things suddenly started moving on apace.

0:36:470:36:53

Let's see if that's continued.

0:36:530:36:55

Well, it's still a building site, but things are progressing.

0:36:560:36:59

Fortunately, the recent concerns about the size of the house

0:36:590:37:03

look to have been resolved with the local planning department, which is a massive relief for the Robinsons.

0:37:030:37:08

And I'm certainly impressed with how their home is shaping up.

0:37:080:37:11

Here we are!

0:37:170:37:19

-This is the space, isn't it?

-It is. It's a good space.

-It's going to be amazing.

0:37:190:37:23

Even in this state, you just walk in and you go, "Ooh, hello! This is a statement!"

0:37:230:37:29

Yeah.

0:37:290:37:30

-So close now?

-Yeah.

-How close? Does it feel close?

0:37:320:37:35

Or are you at that point when you just go, "I just want to be in!"

0:37:350:37:40

No, it's fine. The excitement's still there.

0:37:400:37:43

We're just coming up to the second fix, once the screeding's gone down.

0:37:430:37:46

We've got most of the bits, so it's all a case of putting in the second fix...

0:37:460:37:50

we can see the end.

0:37:500:37:52

Just can't wait to see it all finished.

0:37:520:37:55

By opting to self-build, Stephen and Rachel have designed a home

0:38:020:38:05

that's tailored to their family's lifestyle and that's certainly evident in the main lounge.

0:38:050:38:09

Well, I can have it as a living room but I also wanted to do a little home cinema effect,

0:38:100:38:16

and Rachel said, "Yeah, you can do whatever you want as long as it's hidden

0:38:160:38:19

"and it just looks like a living room when it's not in use."

0:38:190:38:22

So a fair bit of planning and changing joist positions,

0:38:220:38:27

-and, yeah, I've managed to do it.

-Does it work?

-It certainly does!

-Come on, then!

0:38:270:38:32

-That's outrageous!

-RACHEL LAUGHS

0:38:340:38:37

-I want one!

-The projector isn't in at the moment, but it has been trial-fitted,

0:38:380:38:43

-and it does fit...

-Right.

0:38:430:38:45

Just a couple of little issues we need to sort out with cables.

0:38:450:38:49

I have to say when you've got To Build Or Not To Build on, I will be more or less life-size!

0:38:490:38:54

Hello and welcome to To Build Or Not To Build.

0:38:540:38:57

-Today we're in Marlow... You can see it, can't you?

-Absolutely!

-Yeah!

0:38:570:39:00

That is a monster of a thing.

0:39:000:39:04

I knew I'd make it to the big screen!

0:39:040:39:07

Not to be outdone on the gadget front, Rachel's gone to town when it comes to the kitchen.

0:39:090:39:14

-Is there a vision for the kitchen yet?

-Our kitchen's built.

0:39:150:39:19

-Is it ready to go, yeah?

-It's ready to go.

0:39:190:39:21

Has been for the last year.

0:39:210:39:23

-Describe, describe.

-Describe?

0:39:230:39:25

I have a wall, bank of units, so fridge, freezers, oven, microwave,

0:39:260:39:31

-plate-warmer...

-Yeah.

-It's a high-gloss, burgundy red.

0:39:310:39:36

-I say!

-Floor to ceiling.

0:39:360:39:38

And in the middle an island

0:39:380:39:41

which, last measurement, was something like 1,200 by 2.5 metres.

0:39:410:39:46

-That's a big island.

-It is a big island.

-That's more or less the size of the Isle of Wight!

0:39:460:39:51

Yeah! The only discretion we've had is the worktops.

0:39:510:39:54

We're actually going to a recycling manufacturer

0:39:540:39:59

who will recycle shells and car-wing mirrors and TV screens and put it all in a resin for us.

0:39:590:40:06

-And make it into a comp...

-Yeah, it's a composite...resin-based...

0:40:060:40:10

-Because of the size of our island...

-Will you be able to see what the bits are?

-Yes.

0:40:100:40:13

-You will?

-Yes.

0:40:130:40:15

-That could be very cool or an absolute disaster.

-Yes.

0:40:160:40:20

-It's hard to picture.

-It is. But we do have a sample.

-Let's have a look.

0:40:200:40:24

It's got to be seen.

0:40:240:40:26

All right.

0:40:260:40:28

-OK, all of a sudden, you can see that that's really going to work.

-Yeah.

0:40:280:40:33

-Because you can actually see the little shards of glass and mirror.

-Yeah.

0:40:330:40:37

The plastic's 3D so if you get glass with a shell underneath, it becomes 3D.

0:40:370:40:42

-Yeah, you can see bits of shell. That's a really strange mixture as well, isn't it?

-Yeah.

0:40:420:40:46

OK, I'm with you. I think that's going to look absolutely fantastic.

0:40:460:40:50

I'm glad you showed me a piece.

0:40:500:40:52

Despite the delays they've had to endure, at least when it comes to cash

0:40:550:40:58

Stephen and Rachel are on target to build this house within their...

0:40:580:41:01

..including...

0:41:040:41:05

..that's £775,000 for this soon-to-be stunning home.

0:41:080:41:11

Let's talk figures because we haven't had to have this valued, because you just have.

0:41:110:41:17

Yeah, we spoke to the local estate agent for insurance purposes to see what it needs to be,

0:41:170:41:23

so, he... First of all he found it very hard to value because there's just nothing else like it.

0:41:230:41:30

But he valued it between 950 and 1.1.

0:41:300:41:34

950 and 1.1? That's...that's...

0:41:340:41:37

Well, you can see why. Where it is, it's a great location,

0:41:370:41:41

and what it is, it's a fantastic house.

0:41:410:41:44

You must be so pleased, so chuffed with the whole thing.

0:41:440:41:47

We're chuffed with it. Money doesn't make any difference to us.

0:41:470:41:50

That's a potential saving of...

0:41:500:41:53

..compared to buying a similar property in this area,

0:41:550:41:58

not that many match this amazing house!

0:41:580:42:00

Hard to imagine when you look back to the '70s dormer disaster that once stood on this site.

0:42:000:42:05

The bar's gone, but there's a little bit of something just to celebrate the fact...

0:42:060:42:11

-It's got our names on it.

-Absolutely!

0:42:110:42:14

So that's yours to drink whenever you will,

0:42:140:42:16

-perhaps when you do actually move in.

-Thank you.

-But it doesn't really tell the whole story, does it?

0:42:160:42:22

Because you've lost... how can I put this? You've lost a certain bit of kitsch,

0:42:220:42:26

a beautiful historic kitsch, so just to kind of add a little element back...

0:42:260:42:31

-we just thought...

-Babycham!

-You just can't get...

0:42:330:42:37

That will always make you think of that gorgeous unique bar that once was here.

0:42:370:42:42

-There you go.

-Thank you very much.

-Treasure them.

-We will!

0:42:420:42:46

-Pride of place.

-Honestly, no expense was spent.

0:42:460:42:49

Truly, congratulations to you both,

0:42:500:42:52

because despite all the delays and everything this is going to be an absolute triumph of a property!

0:42:520:42:58

-It really is fantastic!

-We hope so.

-Yeah.

0:42:580:43:01

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:43:080:43:13

E-mail [email protected]

0:43:130:43:17

Dentist Stephen Robinson and wife Rachel set out to build a stylish new home for their family in Marlow, but it is not without its teething problems. Plus the stunning modern home on the River Trent that certainly catches the eye and presenter Simon O'Brien is not prepared to throw the towel in while fitting a bath at building college.


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