Episode 2 To Build or Not to Build


Episode 2

Series following the trials and tribulations of self-builders. One couple build a gorgeous lakeside lodge, and a retired duo self-build in their back garden.


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Transcript


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We all dream of owning the perfect home,

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but finding a property that suits your wallet and your way of life isn't easy. I have a solution.

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

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'Every year, 20,000 people make the journey of a lifetime and opt to 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 the 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've been able to afford to buy what we've built and that's why we built.

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-'..and some frustrating lows.'

-I've spoken to the council

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and they can help me pull it down. Simple as that.

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'If they can overcome the trials and tribulations,

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

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So if you're looking for your perfect pad, the question is simple. To build or not to build?

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'Coming up today, the lakeside lodge in East Yorkshire

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'giving its self-builders a few sleepless nights.'

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One of the biggest problems with self-build

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is what it does to your sleep patterns.

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I am not sleeping at all well.

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'How building their own home cemented a couple's love.'

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It was the one year I don't think we had a wrong word.

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-Did we?

-It went very well, yeah.

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'And my skills fitting plasterboard leave a lot to be desired.'

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No. I can see straight away, you're making a fundamental mistake.

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There's something just mesmerising about a lake in the middle of gorgeous countryside.

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And when Michelle and Lance Bramley took over the running of this fishing lake near Hull,

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they fell in love with the place hook, line and sinker and decided they wanted to make it their home.

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However, realising their self-build in such a beauty spot

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turned into ten years of trials and tribulations.

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But the Bramleys were determined that this dream would not be the one that got away.

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'For Lance and Michelle, managing the fishing lake

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'means they enjoy a workplace with a view to die for.'

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-Has there been anything on the top today?

-Fingers crossed.

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'But this fishy business is more than just a living for the Bramleys.

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'They've been angling to live by the lake since buying it ten years ago.'

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What a spot! Go on, talk us through that.

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My ideal vision has always been a house by a lake surrounded by trees.

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-So what did you think when you pulled up here?

-That was it. Wow.

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Michelle, sorry to keep carping on about this,

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sorry, but that's where you're going to live.

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I haven't stopped smiling.

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It's just been a dream ever since we bought the place

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and hopefully it won't end in a nightmare. We'll have to wait and see.

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'But Lance and Michelle have already come through one nightmare. Planning permission.'

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What was it like when you heard that the appeal had been successful?

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-We both cried.

-SHE LAUGHS

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You must have just been...

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Every time I think about that particular time...

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What can you say?

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Were there times when you thought, "Do you know what? Let's just give up and live in the local village

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-"and just work up here"?

-Yes.

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-There was, but it didn't last long, did it?

-No.

-Didn't last long.

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A few days later, you'd be sat there and there's birds flying around and you'd think,

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-"Sod it, we'll have another go."

-I'm not jealous of many people.

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-I think I'm jealous of you two.

-Thank you.

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Look at it! And to realise your life's dream, as well.

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How long have you had that dream?

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Since I was five.

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Well, I say five, I could've even been younger than that.

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In my head, I've always lived by a lake

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surrounded by trees. HIS VOICE FALTERS

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Soft sod. THEY LAUGH

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'It's no wonder Lance is choked.

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'After that seven-year struggle, lakeside living is about to become reality.

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'The couple bought this 25-acre plot, including the lakes and the fishing business, in 1999

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'at a cost of £85,000.

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'And their home from heaven isn't costing the earth, either.

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'Their build budget is around £170,000.

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'That's an equivalent price to other detached homes in the area.

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'But what Lance and Michelle are getting is their own bespoke dream home,

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'a timber-framed, four-bed dormer bungalow

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'that's tailored to their specific design.

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'The house, which comes as a kit, will sit on top of a steel frame

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'one metre above ground level at the back

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'and four metres above water level at the front.

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'Basically, on stilts, which is all about forward thinking.'

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In 200 years' time, there's a one in 200 chance

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that it might flood.

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So that's why we've got to have it high up here.

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Hang on, so you are designing and siting a new build

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possibly with climate change in mind?

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-Yes. In 200 years' time.

-For when the North Sea invades the rest of the land around here.

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30 centimetres lower, we're knackered. THEY LAUGH

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You're not. Your great-great-great grandchildren could be in big trouble.

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Well, it looked amazing from the other side of the lake.

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From here, with the elevation, it looks better!

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-It's a good view, isn't it?

-It's an amazing view!

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This side of the front is a patio

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with a lounge going to the front that side

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and on top of that, there's another patio

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and our bedroom leads out onto that.

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Ahh! So you actually open your curtains in the morning to that.

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-Yes.

-It's lovely, isn't it?

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'The timeframe for the build is an ambitious eight to nine months.

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'But before the Bramleys can enjoy their room with a view,

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'Lance has some serious project managing to do.'

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Is that for budgetary reasons, or just because that's the kind of fella you are?

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-You're like me, you just can't help it?

-Budgetary.

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-THEY LAUGH

-Ah, fair enough.

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'Lance and Michelle have sold their previous home to fund the build

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'and they'll be renting until they can live by the lake.'

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-That might look nice grassed.

-All that slope?

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I bet you're good with a lawnmower. SHE LAUGHS

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Apart from paying for it, money's nothing to do with it. It's the lifestyle.

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It's just living the dream.

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Could you have found somewhere already done

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with this kind of outlook for that money?

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-Nowhere I know.

-No. And you've been looking your whole life.

-That's true.

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'A week after my visit work's underway, starting with digging trenches for the electricity cables.

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'To get connected to the grid would usually require digging up the road at significant expense.

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'Fortunately, Lance has found a cheaper shortcut.'

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Our neighbour has very thoughtfully allowed us to take the electric cable through his field

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and probably saved us a good few thousand pounds.

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And the rest of the concrete goes in.

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'Once the foundations are laid, Lance's main concern is over the steel-frame base.'

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All the concrete's been laid.

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What we've got to do now is undo these nuts on these bolts,

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take the template off and then waggle the bolts

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so when the steel frame is delivered,

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there's a bit of movement to allow for any errors in measurement.

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Hopefully not too much.

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'As project manager, the buck stops with Lance.

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'And he has been doing all the measuring himself

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'so any problems and he'll know who to blame.'

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I've just finished measuring the height of the columns for the steel frame

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using a laser level and a piece of wood.

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Hopefully, it's right. I've done it three times

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and it's taken me most of the day, so fingers crossed.

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'Project managers aren't cheap. They typically charge between seven and 15 percent of the total build cost.

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'But taking it on yourself can be a huge responsibility, as Lance is finding out.'

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Well, it's the big day tomorrow. Steel work's coming.

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Now things are starting to move a bit, I'm starting to think

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a bit more about, "I've got this to organise, that to organise."

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Getting people to ring you back is a problem. You've got to be on everybody's backs all the time.

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'It's a massive day for Lance and Michelle.

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'It all starts here as the steel work arrives.'

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The steel's all starting to come in now

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and actually seeing it physically there, even though it's not up yet,

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there's a bit of a buzz going on.

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And I think I'm going to need something to calm down later on in the day.

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When the actual frame's up and you can walk out

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and feel the actual proper size of the frame and get the viewpoint you're going to get

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when you're stood on the balcony, that's what I'm looking forward to.

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You'll be up four metres in the air and looking right across the lake.

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You should be able to see just about everything.

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Whoo.

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'And Lance is still a bit worried that he wasn't on his mettle when measuring.'

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My stomach's doing butterflies by the dozen.

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But I've every confidence in my measurements that it won't happen.

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Well, a bit of confidence...

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'The first piece of steel is lowered into place.'

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First piece of steel going on.

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Hopefully the rest will progress nice and quickly.

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'But the beams will be the big test of Lance's calculations.'

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The main one I'm worried about, it's from this column to that column, with it going down the slope.

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-Is everything going all right, then?

-Well, yeah, so far.

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The columns are all sitting right. It's whether the beams fit in between.

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'If Lance has got it wrong, his lakeside self-build

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'could've hit choppy waters before it's truly set sail.'

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It's the retirement dream of millions.

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Lovely garden, potting shed and the chance to smell the roses

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after all those long years of working hard.

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But in Guisborough in North Yorkshire,

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one newly-retired couple had been nurturing a much grander plan - to build their own home.

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'For Alan and Anne Jackson, the idea of self-building

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'has been germinating throughout their 40 years of marriage.

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'Then, with time on their hands following retirement, it burst into bloom.

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'The result - a stunning five-bedroom home

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'which they built brick by brick in their old back garden

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'for £190,000.'

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I've always wanted to do this, so why not do it now?

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-I'll never get another chance. I was fit, everything was OK.

-We'd talked about it all our married life.

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That was the ultimate, wasn't it?

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The ultimate was going to be build our own house.

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'Despite having a sizeable garden already,

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'they still needed to spend £7,000 on buying a chunk of land

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'next door to create enough space for the build to go ahead.'

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I wanted a big, lovely, red kitchen

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and I wanted a lovely big lounge.

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-And a nice big bathroom.

-And a lovely big bathroom.

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'To get all these lovely big things in,

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'the house had to be carefully squeezed in between a mains drain and an area of greenbelt land.

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'But just as they were about to start, a minor planning snag threw their schedule into a spin.'

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-Oh, it was really stressful.

-Yes.

-Cos we had bricklayers organised

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and we had to say to the bricklayers, "Sorry, we can't start".

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Well, that was their job for several weeks.

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And then we had a very wet spell when we dug the footings out

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and they were four feet deep in water, which we bailed out by bucket.

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'Despite the setback, Alan used his experience as a manager at a large chemical company

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'to keep the project bubbling along and saved £40,000 by acting as site manager

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'throughout the 11 months it took to build.'

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We've developed a very large, open-plan lounge. Nice view onto the rear.

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In summertime, all the cherry trees are in full blossom, so it's really beautiful.

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It's grand and it's airy and it's just lovely.

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We did the ceiling height at eight foot, as well,

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to give a feeling of spaciousness. We're just overall delighted with it.

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And, of course, look at this lovely bathroom.

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Film star mirror.

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Lovely deep bath. What more do you want?

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'Building from scratch meant the couple could throw themselves into contemporary design.

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'The floral flourishes and trappings of traditions of their previous house

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'have been replaced by clean lines and minimalism.

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'And being able to watch their dream home take shape

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'from the comfort of their old living room had practical benefits, too.'

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We're very lucky because the plot's just next door to our house, part of the garden,

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so we could run electricity cables from the old house, and the water, so it was easy.

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I used my garden hut as a storage for tools and the cement.

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Every morning, I would get up, take the dog for a walk, get back for about 7:45,

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get the mixer going for the bricklayers then spend the whole day with them. It just went very well.

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'And the new house wasn't the only positive thing to come out of their self-build journey.'

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It was the one year I don't think we had a wrong word.

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-Did we?

-It went very well, yeah. Very well.

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-Cos normally...

-SHE LAUGHS

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And this is true, we didn't have a wrong word. And it's brought us together.

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-It changed...

-Not that we were apart before.

-No, but it changed our relationship in a different way.

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-Didn't it?

-Yeah. It made me appreciate Anne's skills and ideas

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-and I think she appreciated mine, as well.

-But we've always worked together, haven't we?

-Yeah.

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We stood and went, "Yes! We've done it!"

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'Swapping bulbs and buddleias for a building has made huge financial sense for the Jacksons.

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'Their new home was valued at £650,000,

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'a saving of more than 70 percent

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'compared to buying a similar ready-built home in the area.

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'By choosing to self-build in their back garden,

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'Alan and Anne have saved a blooming fortune and got their perfect pad, too.'

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'Back in East Yorkshire,

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'it's the second month of Lance and Michelle Bramley's build.

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'And they're anxiously watching the construction of their home's steel work base.'

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That one. I'm still worried about that.

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'Having measured the foundations himself,

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'project manager Lance is now sweating over whether his maths is spot-on.

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'A fraction out and the steel base won't fit.'

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-That's good to see!

-'It's a huge relief. It appears Lance's calculations add up.'

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It looks as though it fits. We have one success, at least.

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'With one early hurdle successfully cleared,

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'they are already allowing themselves to dream about the finished house.'

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-It's unbelievable, isn't it?

-They're a lot wider than I thought.

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I know. I know. Room for the kids at last.

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-SHE LAUGHS

-It's lovely. I can't wait.

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Looks a bit more permanent now, doesn't it?

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You can actually think, "Oh, there's going to be a house on there soon".

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'But there are lots of bridges to cross before the Bramleys can enjoy this view from their own balcony.'

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The house will be arriving on the back of a big artic

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and they've told me that if it's really windy, the crane can't work so much.

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Seven to nine days, up and watertight and then the roofers come in.

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So by the end of June, barring the balconies,

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the outside of the house should look more or less finished.

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In theory.

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'A week later and work on site is moving up a level.'

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The scaffolding lads are getting on well with the job, it's coming together.

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I'm up on the scaffolding

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about the height of our bedroom balcony.

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So it just gives you an idea...

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..of the sort of view we'll get. I can't wait.

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It's like we're up in the treetops here.

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'But despite all the excitement, project managing is starting to take its toll on Lance.'

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I think one of the biggest problems with self-build

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is what it does to your sleep pattern.

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Because even though everything's really gone quite smoothly,

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I am not sleeping at all well.

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And when I am sleeping, I'm dreaming about building.

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Last night, I was doing the scaffolding

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and then I was in absolute terror

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because the design was all wrong of the house.

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But it wasn't the house we're building, it was a church we were converting.

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So I don't really know what's going on there.

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'Given Lance's new sleeping arrangements, it's no wonder he's having nightmares.'

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We've borrowed my dad's caravan and it's the darkest hole you ever want to live in.

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I can sit in there for two hours and feel depressed. But it's handy.

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'The couple do have a rental home to escape to, but staying on site does have its advantages.

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'It provides extra security for the build,

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'and if you can stand it for the total duration, it could save you thousands of pounds on rent.

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'It's the third month of building

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'and the Bramley's self-build is really about to take shape.

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'It's 7am and the team have arrived from Scotland with the timber frame

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'and building work can properly begin on the house.

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'But while the early start's not an issue for on-site camper Lance, the same can't be said for everyone.'

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The crane's a hour late, so it's slowed the job right down.

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I'm not happy. Not at all happy. Especially as I rang to confirm the time last week.

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'And the crane's not the only problem.

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'Lance has just discovered that some of the timber has been left north of the border.'

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We started unloading the wagon and we found out that

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the load-bearing frames that go in the middle

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weren't on the wagon, they're still in Scotland.

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They're getting round it. They're on their way back from Scotland

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to be delivered this afternoon, about six o'clock.

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So the crane driver's staying to get them unloaded

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so first thing in the morning, they can get things moving

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and hopefully we'll get caught up and it'll stop raining. THEY LAUGH

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'Not much chance of that.

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'But a spot of rain's not going to stop these determined Scotsmen.

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'Each super-insulated timber panel is precision engineered

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'to fit in a specific location on the foundations.

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'With an experienced crew, a house can come together at lightning speed, whatever the weather.'

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Ground floor done, barring the internals.

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Spot on. HE LAUGHS

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That's the back door.

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That's the kitchen/family room. That's the lounge. Out onto the balcony.

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I'll have to have a chair there and just looking down.

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So even in winter, you'll get a fantastic view.

0:21:110:21:15

'This is mid-summer, but you wouldn't know it.'

0:21:150:21:18

It's the end of day two in the big Bramley household.

0:21:200:21:23

It's been absolutely horrendous weather today.

0:21:230:21:27

And James and the crew have battled through torrential rain

0:21:270:21:31

and, as you can see,

0:21:310:21:34

all the roof rafters are on.

0:21:340:21:36

'And as the workforce push to have the house up and watertight in just four days,

0:21:380:21:43

'Lance has washing-up water on his mind.'

0:21:430:21:46

I was putting the kitchen sink against this wall,

0:21:480:21:51

which is...obviously facing plasterboard.

0:21:510:21:56

But Michelle's insisted that the kitchen sink goes against this wall so she can look out

0:21:560:22:01

while she's washing the pots. I might even do a bit of washing up myself.

0:22:010:22:05

And this is the bedroom balcony.

0:22:090:22:13

When we get up in the morning, this is what we'll see.

0:22:130:22:17

Right up in the treetops. Fantastic view.

0:22:190:22:21

And no doubt we'll be having plenty of breakfasts up here first thing.

0:22:220:22:26

I've built it in my head a thousand times,

0:22:260:22:29

but it's exceeded all expectations.

0:22:290:22:32

And you could never visualise the views you're going to get without actually being there.

0:22:340:22:39

'Looking back at the house is also proving quite pleasing to the eye.'

0:22:400:22:45

I knew it was going up this fast, but I just can't believe it until you actually see it.

0:22:450:22:50

I must be going soft in my old age, definitely.

0:22:510:22:53

I can't believe it. I get to bed on a night with a big smile. It's lovely.

0:22:540:23:00

'With Lance focused on project managing the build...'

0:23:050:23:09

Hi, Harry. How's it going?

0:23:090:23:11

'..Michelle is shouldering the burden of running the fishing business on her own.'

0:23:110:23:16

The general running of the business hasn't gone too bad. I have been stressed.

0:23:160:23:21

The worst part has been if I've been going back to Lance and he's had a lot on his plate,

0:23:210:23:26

so I've felt as though I've needed to do something to help him

0:23:260:23:30

and then not being able to do anything cos I would have to get on with my work here.

0:23:300:23:35

'But Michelle's role is every bit as important as Lance's efforts on the house.

0:23:360:23:41

'By single-handedly keeping the business going,

0:23:410:23:44

'she's crucially ensuring the couple's finances remain buoyant throughout the nine-month build.

0:23:440:23:49

'It's July and I'm back lakeside

0:23:550:23:57

'to see if all their hard work over the last four months is paying off.'

0:23:570:24:01

Gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous.

0:24:020:24:05

How's he been? Obsessed?

0:24:060:24:08

-A bit, yeah. He talks about it endlessly.

-SHE LAUGHS

0:24:080:24:12

It's been hard work, but it's going to be lovely when it's finished.

0:24:120:24:16

-Yeah.

-I've been quite stressed cos I've been doing this on my own

0:24:160:24:20

-and Lance has been busy, but yeah, we're getting there.

-I've had the easy bit.

0:24:200:24:24

'There's no doubting this project is a real labour of love for Lance.

0:24:260:24:30

'From this side of the pond, it certainly looks fabulous. Time I took a closer look.'

0:24:320:24:36

I just like the way it's floating. It's great.

0:24:360:24:41

'With the partition walls in place, it's now possible to visualise

0:24:410:24:45

'how the finished home is going to look.'

0:24:450:24:47

-It's almost a house!

-It's taking shape.

0:24:470:24:50

'And the kitchen/diner is definitely a room with a view.'

0:24:510:24:54

Just imagine, not so long now and you'll be sitting here,

0:24:540:24:58

chilling out. This is your living room with that view.

0:24:580:25:02

-Yes, it'll be lovely.

-And you know what I want to see.

0:25:020:25:06

-It's got to be the view from the master bedroom.

-Yeah.

-Come on.

0:25:070:25:11

Well, I have to say,

0:25:170:25:20

your house looks fabulous from the other side of the lake

0:25:200:25:23

and the view just looks amazing from here.

0:25:230:25:26

-It is a good view, isn't it?

-It's an amazing view.

0:25:260:25:30

-It does tick all the boxes.

-It certainly does.

0:25:310:25:35

'I am genuinely jealous.

0:25:350:25:38

'Most people would pay a fortune for a home with vistas like these.

0:25:390:25:42

'But halfway through, how are the finances looking for Michelle and Lance?'

0:25:420:25:46

-Are you on budget?

-Yeah, we're more or less on budget.

0:25:470:25:51

Some things have cost a little bit more, some things less, but there's been no nasties.

0:25:510:25:55

'Despite all the stresses and strains that a project like this entails,

0:25:580:26:01

'it seems it's not just a home that's been built up here over the past four months.'

0:26:010:26:06

-Has it given you more confidence? Do you know what I mean?

-Oh, definitely.

0:26:060:26:11

-I...

-Definitely Lance.

0:26:110:26:14

-Because you're quite quiet.

-Yeah. I can sort of speak to people now.

0:26:140:26:18

Getting on the phone to somebody, going visiting people, it doesn't phase me now.

0:26:180:26:22

-Before I'd be, "You give them a ring". It's definitely improved my confidence no end.

-Definitely.

0:26:220:26:28

There you go. So once he's back in the business, your load will be eased!

0:26:280:26:31

So, from here, timescales? You're getting stuck in. You can't be far off now.

0:26:350:26:40

How many months do you think? How many weeks? Come on. Michelle wants to be in.

0:26:400:26:45

-Let's put him on the spot while I'm here.

-Where are we now? I would say...four months.

0:26:450:26:50

-He said that.

-Yes.

-Or six months.

0:26:500:26:53

No! Too late now! We'll take your first answer, thank you very much.

0:26:530:26:57

'When it comes to building a house,

0:27:050:27:08

'there could be as many as 20 different trades involved to turn it from suitable plot to superb home.

0:27:080:27:13

'I'm at Leeds College of Building

0:27:150:27:17

'to get a crash course in some of these skills.

0:27:170:27:20

'The more you do yourself, the more money you save.

0:27:200:27:22

'Today's lesson will be in the art of plasterboarding.'

0:27:260:27:30

We're going to take some plasterboards and fix it to this timber stud wall.

0:27:400:27:44

-All right.

-From floor level to ceiling height.

0:27:440:27:47

That bit doesn't scare me. I'm feeling a bit cocky at the moment.

0:27:470:27:51

It's the stuff, the liquidy stuff you put on afterwards.

0:27:510:27:54

The setting coat. We'll get to that a bit later on. You're saying you're cocky,

0:27:540:27:58

-let's get over the boarding part first, shall we?

-All right, then.

0:27:580:28:02

'So I've got all my school tools and I'm pretty confident of a boarding pass.

0:28:040:28:08

'As long as I get it the right way round.'

0:28:080:28:11

Ivory side out. Ivory side out.

0:28:110:28:14

'Or I was before Wayne hit me with the plasterer's secret motto.'

0:28:150:28:21

Always remember one of the most fundamental rules of plasterboarding,

0:28:210:28:25

always span the joist and stagger your joints.

0:28:250:28:30

-I'll leave you with that, OK?

-That's right, yeah.

0:28:300:28:33

Always span the...joist and stagger your...joints.

0:28:330:28:39

I'm right with him there. Clueless. There we go. OK.

0:28:390:28:43

'Hopefully all will become clear after I've got this first board fitted.'

0:28:430:28:47

OK, just be careful, cos it's not square there.

0:28:480:28:51

Again, one thing to remember, Simon, maybe you've gone slightly too far in.

0:28:510:28:55

'After that cracking start, I'm regretting being so cocky.'

0:28:550:29:00

You've got a plasterboard here flapping about. Tack it that side,

0:29:000:29:03

-tack it at this side, as well, and so on and so forth.

-Got you. OK.

0:29:030:29:07

'With the boards solidly screwed into the wall,

0:29:070:29:10

'looks as though I've worked out what spanning the joists meant.'

0:29:100:29:13

-Go on.

-'Time to measure up for the next layer.

0:29:130:29:16

'This plasterboarding lark seems fairly straightforward.'

0:29:160:29:20

If that's 900 and I can get a 900 by 1,200 board in there...

0:29:200:29:24

-No. Now, I can see straight away you're making a fundamental mistake.

-What?

0:29:240:29:28

'Wouldn't be the first time. You've guessed it.

0:29:280:29:31

'Rather than one on top of the other, I need to stagger the joints.'

0:29:310:29:34

'This helps strengthen the wall and reduces the risk of the plaster cracking.'

0:29:340:29:39

-Not so bad, guv?

-That's absolutely perfect.

-Got something right.

0:29:400:29:43

'Because I'm not allowed to fit one directly on top of the other,

0:29:430:29:47

'to get the boards to fit properly, I've got lots of cutting to do.'

0:29:470:29:51

-This is the bit that looks good.

-Snap it.

-I love it! Makes you look like a professional.

0:29:510:29:55

-Brilliant.

-Excellent.

0:29:550:29:58

-Push it this way a fraction, just to close this gap.

-If you're going to have a gap, you'd rather...

0:30:020:30:07

-I'd rather have it there because you'll put a standard skim bead on that angle.

-Right.

0:30:070:30:11

-So, you want to push that and close that gap.

-OK.

0:30:110:30:15

'Just as I think I'm mastering it...'

0:30:160:30:18

Yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks.

0:30:180:30:22

'..Wayne raises the bar. Time to hit the roof.'

0:30:240:30:28

-So, same principles apply?

-Exactly the same principles.

-Yep.

0:30:280:30:32

'It's easy enough with two of us, but on the next board, I'm flying solo, or trying to.'

0:30:340:30:40

I'm making a pig's ear of it!

0:30:410:30:43

The actual wall isn't built true and plumb. It might be slightly out, so...

0:30:430:30:47

-It's those brickies!

-It is, absolutely.

-It's always the brickies!

-We always follow the brickies.

0:30:470:30:53

'The buck smoothly passed, I now have to plane my ill-fitting board to size.'

0:30:530:30:59

Doing one is fine.

0:30:590:31:02

If I truly had to do a whole ceiling on my own...

0:31:040:31:07

I think it's a young man's game, plasterboarding.

0:31:070:31:10

-All right, guv?

-Looks fine. You?

0:31:120:31:16

I'm not going to become a plasterer, I don't think. See how I get on. How've I done?

0:31:160:31:20

There's no major gaps. You staggered the joints.

0:31:200:31:23

Fixings 150 mil apart.

0:31:230:31:26

I would definitely say probably eight, maybe even nine out of ten.

0:31:260:31:30

-That's a very, very respectable effort for your first time.

-Oh! Cheers, mate!

0:31:300:31:35

'Happily, the next time I see Wayne, we'll be getting plastered.'

0:31:350:31:39

'In East Yorkshire, Lance and Michelle Bramley

0:31:450:31:49

'are longing to live by the fishing lake they own and manage.

0:31:490:31:52

'And after a painful seven-year planning process, the build has been relatively plain-sailing so far.'

0:31:540:32:00

We've been lucky but I think, with a self-build,

0:32:000:32:05

you've got to arrange it like a military campaign.

0:32:050:32:10

Everything has got to be ordered in your head.

0:32:100:32:12

'It's an exciting day for project manager Lance,

0:32:120:32:15

'because for him, it's all about the view.'

0:32:150:32:19

Well, we're having the balcony fitted today

0:32:200:32:22

so I can't wait to see that, but I'm keeping out of the way.

0:32:220:32:26

I'm insulating all the pipework while they're doing that. Soon as they're done, I'll nip out and have a look.

0:32:270:32:34

-Just the underneath to sort out now, Lance, so...

-Ah, good. Good.

0:32:360:32:39

-Has it all gone smoothly, then?

-Yeah, spot on. Yeah. Great.

0:32:390:32:44

The rail holds, so now you can do your push test.

0:32:440:32:48

Once you get that hand rail on it, it'll stiffen up.

0:32:480:32:50

That's good, isn't it? I won't lean over here once the scaffolding has gone.

0:32:500:32:54

It's too big a drop for me. I'm just going to be sat out here anyway

0:32:540:32:58

with a glass of wine or a cold beer, depending on the weather.

0:32:580:33:02

'While Michelle keeps the fishing business running, Lance has been on site full-time,

0:33:040:33:08

'doing as much as he can, with a bit of help from the kids.'

0:33:080:33:13

I always said if I had the money, I'd get one where they put it up for you

0:33:130:33:17

and everybody else does the job. But I don't think it would feel the same, at the end of the day.

0:33:170:33:21

I think it's more your house because you've put sweat and blood and tears into it.

0:33:210:33:26

With me, blood, cos I'm a clumsy so-and-so.

0:33:260:33:29

If anybody gets the chance, I think they ought to go for it.

0:33:290:33:32

'But there are times when even Lance gets that sinking feeling.'

0:33:340:33:37

I just spent the last four or five days getting all the upstairs ready for the plasterboarders.

0:33:390:33:44

Absolutely knackered.

0:33:440:33:46

I've been working till nine, ten at night from about half six, seven in the morning

0:33:460:33:51

depending what time I get up. I'm lucky that I've been able to do this full-time. But by hell, it's tiring.

0:33:510:33:57

I've just dragged the heat ventilation recovery unit up into the attic.

0:33:590:34:03

It's a bit of a big box, as you can see.

0:34:030:34:07

'The HRV unit will replace stale air from the bathrooms and kitchen with filtered fresh air.

0:34:070:34:12

'By sourcing the unit himself, and designing the layout for the pipework,

0:34:120:34:16

'Lance has saved a whopping £1,000.

0:34:160:34:20

'However, a month later, it's time for a bit of turbulence.

0:34:220:34:26

'There's a problem at altitude with Lance's balcony.'

0:34:260:34:29

Well, I made a boo-boo.

0:34:290:34:33

Building regs does not allow anything that's climbable for children.

0:34:330:34:37

I've talked to the building inspector and he's agreed that I can...

0:34:370:34:41

This is a mock-up I did for him, to see if everything would be all right.

0:34:410:34:45

It's galvanised so it all goes in. It's just to stop children climbing over.

0:34:450:34:49

'The original balcony design would be fine on commercial premises but not for a family home.

0:34:510:34:56

'Fortunately for Lance, this error is easily corrected.

0:34:560:34:59

'But it's always worth checking with your local authority's building control department

0:34:590:35:04

'to ensure additional features, such as this, adhere to all the latest building regulations.'

0:35:040:35:10

I could have kicked myself. I was really annoyed

0:35:100:35:12

cos I'm normally quite thorough in looking at things. But I just totally overlooked it.

0:35:120:35:17

'A couple of months later,

0:35:190:35:21

'the house is really starting to feel like a home to Michelle.'

0:35:210:35:24

This is my daughter's room, Michaela. She's done all the decorating.

0:35:260:35:30

This is my son Louie's bedroom.

0:35:300:35:33

He's been doing the painting on the walls to match his duvet.

0:35:330:35:37

And this is going to be our room.

0:35:380:35:40

It's a bit basic at the moment, we've moved out of the caravan and put the bed in.

0:35:400:35:45

What we'd have in here is the changing room,

0:35:450:35:48

with a dressing table and a wardrobe there.

0:35:480:35:52

And Paul is here busy doing the painting.

0:35:520:35:55

'And throughout the build, helpful friends and family have been invaluable.'

0:35:550:35:59

It's great that everyone has helped us. It makes a big difference.

0:35:590:36:03

Cos, erm, it's amazing how

0:36:030:36:07

you think a job is going to take so long, but like with me tiling,

0:36:070:36:11

my first bathroom took over me a week.

0:36:110:36:13

And I thought a couple of days, foolishly, I'd have it done.

0:36:130:36:17

'Lance has done a great job on the bathrooms.

0:36:190:36:22

'But just when one task is completed, there's always another to tackle.'

0:36:220:36:26

Delivery of the kitchen. We're getting to the final phase now.

0:36:280:36:31

'Three months later, I'm back in East Yorkshire to see if Lance and Michelle have got everything done.'

0:36:350:36:40

Well, something is looking very impressive.

0:36:440:36:47

'And while the weather is hardly great, their new home manages to look absolutely fantastic.

0:36:480:36:54

'The natural wood cladding means that the house really does blend in and complement its surroundings.'

0:36:540:36:59

-Hello, hello!

-Come in!

-What a gorgeous looking home.

-Thank you.

0:37:020:37:08

'And there's been just as much devotion to detail inside the house.'

0:37:120:37:16

-Come through.

-Come through indeed!

0:37:230:37:26

'From the down-lighting to the luxurious black granite work surfaces,

0:37:280:37:32

'this kitchen-cum-family room, was always intended to be the focal point of the home.

0:37:320:37:37

'Trouble is with this place, you can't help looking out of the window.'

0:37:390:37:43

Because you can't see the edge of the lake this side, it feels like we're right in the water.

0:37:430:37:49

It is quite deceptive, really. You feel as though you're over it.

0:37:490:37:54

You see it in the morning when all the fish are topping, sat having your breakfast, it takes some beating.

0:37:540:37:59

'Not all the rooms have been furnished yet.

0:38:000:38:03

'Lance and Michelle are happy to be patient so they don't have to compromise on quality.

0:38:030:38:07

'But the master bedroom, with its separate dressing area,

0:38:120:38:16

'en-suite bathroom and treetop view from the balcony,

0:38:160:38:19

'is high living like they've never seen before.'

0:38:190:38:23

This is great. Another window here so it's not dual aspect, it's triple aspect.

0:38:240:38:29

Every view is different. We've got woodlands, we've got lakes, fields, you've got your own balcony.

0:38:290:38:34

HE SIGHS

0:38:340:38:38

-SHE LAUGHS It's nice.

-It's nice!

0:38:380:38:40

Very nice, it's lovely.

0:38:400:38:42

'The Bramleys bought most of their fixtures and fittings on the internet.

0:38:510:38:55

'When it came to picking out the bathroom suite, Michelle adopted a trial and error method.'

0:38:550:38:59

I went into the town and sat in a lot of the baths and felt for the shape,

0:39:010:39:07

and if it was a bit small for me, I knew it would be too small for the boys.

0:39:070:39:10

-You did? In your clothes, I hope?

-Yes.

-OK. OK.

0:39:100:39:15

'There was a time Lance and Michelle thought this house would never be built.'

0:39:210:39:25

How long was this in the planning process?

0:39:260:39:29

-Seven years.

-Seven years?

-Yeah.

0:39:290:39:32

-Does that still bite or have you let it go now?

-It's all gone.

0:39:320:39:36

-Are you pleased?

-Just a bit. Just a bit.

0:39:380:39:42

Do you find yourself stopping on the far side of the lake and going, "Oh, hello"?

0:39:420:39:46

-Yeah.

-Do you?

-Yes. It will wear off though, won't it?

0:39:460:39:51

-Give us 20 or 30 years.

-Exactly.

0:39:510:39:53

'Lance's next important job is to return his dad's caravan,

0:39:560:40:00

'a painful reminder of his self-imposed exile.

0:40:000:40:04

'But the end result makes up for all those long days and sleepless nights.'

0:40:040:40:08

What's been the best part for you, Michelle, of this journey?

0:40:090:40:13

I think the moving in at the end,

0:40:140:40:17

when all the family was together and it was lovely, wasn't it?

0:40:170:40:21

I was quite used to the peace and quiet, to be honest. THEY LAUGH

0:40:210:40:24

'Project manager Lance hit his build target of nine months.

0:40:240:40:29

'Time to see if the other figures add up.'

0:40:290:40:31

So go on, then, how much have you spent?

0:40:320:40:35

-£171,000.

-£171,000?

0:40:350:40:38

Hang on a minute. I'm sure you told me 170.

0:40:380:40:41

But that includes table and chairs and...

0:40:410:40:46

All right! I take the point, you are on budget.

0:40:460:40:49

'So, it's cost Lance and Michelle £171,000.

0:40:530:40:57

'That's on top of the £85,000 they paid for the plot

0:40:570:41:01

'and fishing business ten years ago. A total spend of £256,000.'

0:41:010:41:07

-We have had this place valued.

-Mm-hm.

0:41:090:41:11

Now, I've got to tell you, it doesn't include the commercial aspect.

0:41:110:41:16

It doesn't include all your land.

0:41:160:41:18

They think that this place would easily sell at the moment

0:41:180:41:23

for somewhere between £380,000 and £400,000.

0:41:230:41:27

-Gosh!

-Oh, that's nice.

0:41:270:41:30

-I'm surprised it's as much as that.

-I am.

-I must admit.

0:41:300:41:33

I thought, maybe if we got what we'd spent, it would be lovely.

0:41:330:41:37

That's even better, isn't it?

0:41:370:41:40

Very pleasant surprise. We're not going to sell it, but...

0:41:410:41:44

'And who would want to part with such a fantastic home?

0:41:450:41:49

'For Lance and Michelle, self-building has saved them

0:41:500:41:52

'at least £120,000,

0:41:520:41:55

'and that's before factoring in their business.'

0:41:550:41:58

Your results are staggering, I think.

0:41:580:42:02

To be on budget, on time,

0:42:020:42:06

-feels like it's been well worth it, doesn't it?

-It certainly does.

-Yeah.

0:42:060:42:10

-And did I mention the view?

-THEY LAUGH Oh, is there a view?

0:42:100:42:14

And before we go, we've got a little something for you.

0:42:140:42:17

-There you go, there's a...

-THEY LAUGH

-There you go.

-It's Hobbit's Hall!

0:42:170:42:22

Well, it's just, kind of, reminiscent

0:42:220:42:25

of that caravan life that you suffered, mate,

0:42:250:42:28

and also just something for the birds, as well.

0:42:280:42:31

-Thank you very much.

-It's our pleasure.

0:42:310:42:34

'So a new home to make the birds happy.

0:42:370:42:39

'And I'm sure Lance and Michelle will be more than happy in theirs.'

0:42:390:42:44

-This is a childhood dream.

-It is.

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Come true. That doesn't happen to people.

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It has now. Ever since...

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Well, as long as I can remember, it's house, by lake, surrounded by trees.

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Perfect.

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Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

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E-mail [email protected]

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Every year 20,000 people in the UK make the bold decision to build their own home and we're following some of them as they go from foundations to finishing touches.

All our self builders are aiming to build a dream home that's perfectly suited to their way of life and their wallets. But each build is a rollercoaster ride packed full of trials and tribulations.

On today's programme, fishing lake owners Lance and Michelle Bramley realise a life-long ambition to build a gorgeous lakeside lodge near Hull. Plus the retired couple from North Yorkshire who self-built in their back garden, and presenter Simon O'Brien learns how to fit plasterboard at building college.


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