Series following some of the UK's 20,000 self-builders. Hilary Maddren and her partner John Robson build a new home inside the walls of a 200-year-old derelict barn on Teeside.
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We dream of owning the perfect home, but finding a place that suits
your wallet and way of life isn't easy. Well, I have a solution.
Stop searching for something to buy and consider somewhere to build.
Every year 20,000 people make the journey of a lifetime
and opt to build their own home, and we'll be following some of them
as they go from foundations to finishing touches.
I've built it in my head a thousand times. It's exceeded all expectations.
Along the way our brave self-builders will experience amazing highs.
Yes, we've done it!
And some frustrating lows.
I didn't expect the level of hatred that I feel that has been thrown at us about having a house built.
But if they can overcome these trials and tribulations,
they'll end up with the home they've always desired.
So if you're looking for your perfect pad, the question is simple.
To Build Or Not To Build?
Coming up, the listed barn in northeast England
that's getting a truly modern makeover.
So it's a brand-new modern house, all wrapped up in history, isn't it?
How self-building an amazing home can leave you lost for words.
I was gobsmacked.
It was just fantastic, and I'd never realised that it would be
the wow factor that it actually is.
My sawing technique leaves me hacked off at building school.
If you've paid for a full saw,
I'd use all of it rather than just a third of it.
Today, I'm in Elton on Teesside to meet a couple who are planning
to convert an 18th-century barn into a contemporary new home.
Now, barn conversions are nothing new, but this one is definitely different.
To make it work, they're going to self-build a completely new house
inside the historic structure.
Florist Hilary Maddren knows a thing or two about immaculate presentation,
but it's not just her wedding bouquets that are perfectly arranged.
The 200-year-old farmhouse she shares with her partner, John Robson, is equally beautiful.
The couple bought the five-bedroomed Grade II listed cottage six years ago, and have spent
a considerable amount of time and money completely renovating the property.
But just when all the hard work had finished,
they decided to tackle another blooming big project.
As I approached your house, I thought, "What a beautiful house."
I've come inside - what a beautiful house. Why do you want to move?
Something a bit smaller.
We're just finding this probably a little bit too big for the two of us.
Honestly, that's the reason? You're downsizing into your own self-build?
Yes and no. The new house is possibly going to be about the same size as this.
Ha, I love this! "Oh, it's the old downsize...
"We're downsizing into exactly the same."
-Hopefully it's going to be a different style of living.
This is a traditional farmhouse,
this is going to be contemporary, open-plan living.
So we're going from one extreme to the other.
So the drop down is really a shift sideways, about 40 metres sideways.
Hilary and John originally planned to turn the derelict, roofless,
Grade II listed barn in their backyard into a walled garden.
Now though, they've decided to ditch the landscaping
and give it a totally new lease of life.
But self-building is very rarely a bed of roses, so are the florist
and her partner mad to move?
Who's to blame then? Because someone must've gone, "You know that barn,
"I think we could turn that into something nice"?
I think it was possibly him.
I think it was possibly you!
The average house price here in Elton is £350,000.
To make this project a reality is going to take a similar investment,
which Hilary and John hope to recoup from the sale of their current home.
While the barn's exterior walls will remain, they're adding two
additional floors and the whole ground floor will be open-plan.
The atrium skylight and wrap-around conservatory will provide
a contemporary contrast to the ageing brick facade.
Hilary and John are expecting the build to take between 10
and 12 months, and to reduce the stress, they've employed
a project management team to oversee construction.
To get the go-ahead for their modern build,
Hilary and John had to think inside as well as outside the box.
Well, this is it.
Wow! Believe it or not, this is really my kind of thing.
Honestly. But I've got a question for you immediately.
This is a renovation, it's not a new-build.
-Well, it is and it isn't.
-It depends who you talk to.
We've actually got a brand-new lightweight metal structure
going inside, and then these four walls will be tied
into the metal structure so we have a new house, complete new modern house.
-So it's a brand-new modern house all wrapped up in history, basically, isn't it?
A building's listed status means it's of special architectural or
historical importance, and this often means features can't be altered.
In this case, the four exterior walls.
So the key is to work closely with the local authority's
conservation officer, to find out exactly what you can and can't do.
This can sometimes be a long and drawn out process, especially
if your plans are quite radical, but fortunately in Hilary
and John's case their application was accepted with minimal fuss.
Well, to be honest, the listed building people have been very, very good with us.
Basically, they've said to us they would like to go down the contemporary line,
keep as much of the external features as they possibly can.
That's brilliant. So they have given you carte blanche to turn this into
-the juxtaposition of the old and the new.
-Right, come on. Take me around your new house if you would, please. What's down this end?
Self-building takes a lot of imagination.
Hilary, paint the picture if you please.
OK, so this is our new front door - in a way.
So we will come in here,
and we will walk down, and the rest of it's open-plan.
We have dining, sitting, kitchen areas.
-Is the tree staying?
So this now, is our open-plan atrium,
so we're open three storeys right to the roof,
a couple of oak beams going in there and a big glass roof.
-Oh, so there's nothing between us and the roof at that point?
Would you walk us through to the kitchen diner, please, madam?
-Here we go... (Barking.)
Kitchen. This is the island.
-That's the island?
-This is my island here.
So where we were standing in the other house,
-we're now standing in the same spot here?
-Yeah, this is it. Yeah.
Do you think it takes a certain type of person to have
the imagination to see that in a derelict barn?
I think so. THEY LAUGH
My guess is, at this moment, you would make more money
if you sold this derelict barn with the planning permission it's got
than when you've completed it, is that right?
-So why don't you do that?
-Well, there's no adventure in it, is there?
-Good lad. That's what I like.
Self-builders - all barking mad!
There you go - as we stand amongst the trees in the kitchen.
But it's standing in the bathroom that poses the first real problem before building work even begins.
We have mocked up the wooden frame,
marking out the size of the en suite bathrooms for the two attic bedrooms,
only to find out that unfortunately the architect has
placed toilets where it's impossible to sit on and stand up again.
As you can see, John's head is sticking through the roof.
And it's not just toilet trouble...
I can't get in the bath.
Cos the bath's going to finish round about here.
SHE LAUGHS You could get in the bath if you were on your hands and knees,
and you could throw yourself over the side into the water.
This could have been a massive issue if they'd not spotted it early,
but by bringing their plans to life,
Hilary and John haven't been caught short. The bathroom is redesigned
and the potentially major problem has been averted.
Before Hilary and John can begin building their new home,
the old overgrown barn needs an industrial clear-out.
I've got to admit at my age there's not many things that get you really, really excited -
and 7:00 on Monday morning, a couple of low loaders arrived
with a whole load of boys' toys on them,
and it was just so exciting, it was untrue.
It was like Christmas when you're tiny.
'This is it. This is building work.
'We have arrived.'
And you just saw this transformation.
I just kept...being silly and clapping.
It's just so exciting.
They've actually removed 126 tonne of earth from
the interior of the barn, so they had to go down obviously quite a bit.
Work is finally on the way, but John isn't happy.
He's worried about the size of the conservatory.
We were up at 2:00 the other morning.
Not sleeping about it.
In his underwear, prancing round the kitchen with the tape measure
going, "Oh my God, this conservatory is going to be far too small."
That's a bit too much information, Hilary.
But while John's having sleepless nights,
she's not worried about size.
Just look how sunny it's going to be.
Look how small it is.
I don't know. I just think if it was another metre longer that way.
I just think another metre is going to be a lot more expense.
Still, nothing we can do about it now.
No, there's not, John, and with building work about to begin Hilary's got history on her mind.
The men that'll have built this 200 years ago,
will have never dreamed in their wildest dreams that all
this time later that somebody would dream of living in this barn,
but all they've done is keep the hay in it, keep their animals in it
and we're going to make it into this 21st-century, fabulous home.
The future looks bright, but there is one dark cloud on the horizon.
Hilary and John need to sell the farmhouse as they simply can't
afford to pay a mortgage on two properties.
There's always that underlying problem that if we can't sell the farmhouse,
there's the possibility that we may have to sell this,
but we just seem to have put so much, two years of dreaming about this that
it would be absolutely heartbreaking if we did have to sell it, really...
I'm getting choked up.
I don't want to.
When it comes to Hollywood glitz and glamour,
Burnham in Buckinghamshire is no stranger,
as it's just a stone's throw away from the famous Pinewood Studios.
But while the movie megastars come and go filming the latest blockbuster,
the village is also setting for a self-build home with real showbiz style of its own.
The leafy Home Counties village of Burnham definitely has
celebrity A-lister appeal.
So when professional property renovator Alexa Collins had
the chance to build her own home,
she created a house that's a real show stopper.
And this huge five-bed, four-bathroom family house certainly
wouldn't look out of place in Beverly Hills.
I was gobsmacked. It was just fantastic.
I'd never realised that it would be the wow factor that it actually is.
Alexa lives with her young daughter
and jointly owns the house with her brother, and the design needed to be
extremely flexible to accommodate their wildly differing lifestyles.
We have an unusual dynamic.
My brother lives abroad and he has a wife and four children.
I'm here most of the time just with my daughter who's eight.
But when we're together, we need to expand and change that space.
The whole thing was designed around this central open space,
which gives such a luxurious feeling, and also it works for us
because even if my daughter's upstairs and I'm downstairs,
we can be in the same space together,
and it's just my favourite part of the house.
But what makes this family house even more special
is that the plot was where Alexa and her brother lived as children.
I grew up playing in this garden.
We moved here when I was 11. My mum died about ten years ago.
My dad has Alzheimer's and isn't around any more.
So we had to decide what to do with the house - do we adapt it, do we just sell it?
In the end we decided that what we would do,
is we would knock it down and build a new one.
The plot deserved to have a good house built on it.
A special house. And I think that I've done that.
Although much-loved, the original family home had become tired and in need of refurbishment.
From demolishing the old house, Alexa set herself a 12-month deadline
and a budget of £350,000 to build the new house.
To keep costs under control,
she used her experience in property renovation to get some great bargains.
I've done the kitchen and the utility room for under £15,000.
Everything is negotiable these days. Go out and get a deal and ask for 20% or 30% off.
You might not get it, but you will get a discount.
But things didn't always go according to plan.
One of Alexa's other major headaches was the glass balustrade
central to the house's theme of light and openness.
I had to do all the specification work myself, which was really, really scary.
Throughout the whole of the project, I was on site pretty much every day.
The day this balustrade arrived,
I checked the boxes to know that it was all there
and it was all in one piece, and then I couldn't bear to watch it.
If it was wrong, it would have been so wrong, and it would have been my fault.
The stunning interior finishes meant that Alexa spent significantly more than she budgeted for,
and the final bill came in at a hefty £500,000.
I went with my gut instinct on a number of things
without getting exact quotes,
and I was woefully under on some major things,
like the electrics and the plumbing, and also on the fabulous lighting.
That wasn't in the budget at all.
The high quality finish might have blown her budget, but it was worth it.
The house is now valued at an impressive £1 million plus.
But doubling her investment wasn't Alexa's motivation to self-build.
It was about keeping her family tree firmly rooted in the place she grew up.
I sit here sometimes - this is where my mum used to sit -
and I think about whether they would like it, whether my parents would like it,
and I know my mum would absolutely adore the whole thing, with it being so modern.
It would probably be a bit too modern for my dad's tastes,
but then there's a very traditional snug at the front
where he could sit with his Financial Times with the fire lit,
even in the middle of summer, shut the door,
and know that his grandchildren are playing outside, but that no-one was going to bother him.
So I think that they would absolutely love the space.
In Teesside, Hilary and John are transforming the 200-year-old roofless barn
in their back garden into a 21st-century home.
The barn is a Grade II listed property,
so while the four walls must remain,
they're building a steel frame inside them, creating a four-bed, three-storey house.
It's effectively a building within a building.
We're really excited.
We might not look it, but we are really, really excited, aren't we?
-We are, yes.
-We come out every night.
John comes out with his gloves on and his hammer
and takes a few more bricks out and cleans a few bricks up,
-and feels like he's actually...
-Doing my bit.
Doing something quite constructive.
Hilary and John were tempted to co-ordinate the build themselves,
but instead they've employed two project managers, Tracey and Jeff.
With it being listed, it does make it a little bit more difficult.
We have to make sure that we are sympathetic to the building that was there,
and stick to the guidelines we've been given to work in.
You can see the walls on the original barn were between two and three bricks solid,
so where we've had to create new openings, it's been
exceptionally hard work for some of the lads,
because although it LOOKS like it's run down
and starting to fall to bits, it's not -
it's a very solid structure for its age on proper foundations.
That's the past, but, with concrete laid,
Hilary and John can start to picture the future and their open-plan ground floor.
-So where John's stood now, that is the start of the lounge.
The lounge-cum-open-plan dining room.
And then, as he walks over to the other bar on the line, that shows you the outside line
of where the staircase will run from there.
He looks like an air stewardess!
It's month three,
and it's definitely the biggest day of the build so far.
Today, we are expecting delivery of the steel frame.
But the weather is working against them.
The dirt track leading to the site has been turned into a swamp.
But the track leading up to the barn, as you can see,
is severely wet and rutted.
To make the path manageable for the steel delivery wagon,
50 tonnes of hardcore are brought in,
hitting the budget to the tune of £700.
But, with the steel now on site, spirits aren't dampened for long.
Well, this is really quite exciting, because this is the first fixing
of the first bit of internal steel, so this is how you can see it's taking shape.
The steel-framed panels have all been manufactured to order.
For supervisor Jonathan and his team, construction is usually pretty straightforward.
All the work is in the setting out, making the panels in the factory
and once they come here, they stand up and screw together. It's like Meccano. It's not difficult...
as long as it's plumb.
"As long as it's plumb."
There lies the issue. A very big issue.
The barn walls aren't straight, unlike the frame which is machine-made to precise dimensions.
So the meeting of the old and the new isn't as realistic as it is romantic.
I feel a bit sorry for the guys, cos they're normally used to putting up this nice, square,
metal framework, to build something new
or to go inside a new building.
And I think they've really been tested, because this building,
albeit it looks like four square walls in a rectangular shape,
it was built 200 years ago by a load of farm labourers.
-About 15 mil out. They don't build 'em like they used to!
The wonky walls mean this job is nothing like as straightforward as expected,
and the problem has led to a design U-turn when it comes to some brick pillars.
Because of the way the walls go, and the depth of them varies in places,
we were actually going to lose quite a bit of space
on the overall width and length, so the pillars are now back to square one,
back to the original thinking of
they're being repointed and they're going to be features.
So while they were originally going to be covered over, they'll now be on display.
It's the first rule of house design -
take a problem and turn it into a feature.
And with complications starting to crawl out of the steel work,
Hilary and John are glad to have their project managers to take the strain.
And then we'll sign off the next floor...?
Project managers come at a price, usually between 7% and 15% of the build cost,
but the cash their organisational skills can save you
has to be weighed up against their invoice, as does the amount of hassle they can prevent.
You don't hear about any problems
until after they've been talked through with the relevant people
and sorted out, so we only hear about things afterwards.
It's build month four, and while the steel struggles have been sorted,
there's another major issue -
lifting the specially made wooden roof joists.
With a crane already on site for the steel staircase,
the plan is to save money and lift the oak roof beams, as well.
But with Hilary and John obliviously enjoying a holiday in the sun,
the wind is causing project manager Jeff a huge health-and-safety headache.
We're not confident with the lift in these conditions.
There is some movement in the truss, and what we don't want
is the truss to break apart mid-air, obviously.
Safety-wise, it's just a no-go. It's too unstable.
It is a breezy day, and we just don't want anything to go wrong.
It'll cost Hilary and John an extra £200
for a crane to lift the oak another day when it's a little less breezy.
Five months after my first visit, I'm back to see how it's all going.
I think, of all the places I've been to see, this was the one - I don't know why -
that I was most looking forward to coming back to see.
How's it been going?
They're really progressing very well. Up to the roof level.
First fix plumbing's in. Without the roof on.
-We're all a bit back to front...
-See, I knew you were mad!
We booked a holiday, just to go away for a week.
We did think we might come back to the roof being on, and it wasn't.
-But we're getting there.
-But the windows were in.
-The windows were in!
No roof, but windows.
So, just to remind you as well,
the last time I stood here there was literally...
We were wading our way through nettles and trees and stuff. So what a change.
-So this is like the kind of central living space, is it?
-This is going to be the living area.
How much of this is going to be open above us? Will we just see the flying staircase above us?
The idea is that, when it's all finished,
this'll look like it's...floating, I suppose is the best way I could describe it.
In this very spot, I distinctly remember we stood here
and you told me where the kitchen stuff was going to be.
-This is my island.
-This is it.
-I did have trees and what have you here.
-But we have a massive big island going in here.
This is exciting. I can hear excitement in your voice.
I've got to calm myself down a bit because you just get really, really excited.
We were going to have this as a kitchen and a sitting area,
so we were going to have a two-way fireplace,
-but we think now we're just going to make this a big kitchen with a dining table.
It's probably going to be a one-sided fire,
which he's delighted about because it's saved us £2,000.
There you go. That works. That's how to claw it back. Yeah.
Brilliant. Let Hilary change her mind and hopefully it'll be a cheap change of mind.
-That's how it works.
-Yeah, but sometimes it works in reverse.
More often than not will be my guess!
Next stop, the rooms with a view in the roof.
-And this space is just fantastic up here.
-This is a glass wall at the end. We've got glass doors,
a glass panel either side then you step out on to a little balcony.
We thought this might be our summer bedroom
and the one below will be our winter bedroom.
That is possibly the most ostentatious thing I ever heard in my life.
-A summer and a winter bedroom!
It'll be nice in the summer to sit on the balcony and have a glass of wine and just look out.
-A bit more cosy in winter.
So much for downsizing. Having different bedrooms for different seasons
means their new home towers over their old farmhouse. But of course,
-the future of this place is tied in with the future of that place.
Where would you be if you couldn't find a buyer for that?
We will have to seriously think about putting this on the market and selling this.
We have to sell one or the other.
We'll just have so much money tied up in these two properties...
That you have got to release it somewhere.
-That doesn't bear thinking about it, does it?
Hilary and John are waiting until the new house has a roof before putting the farmhouse on the market.
It'll therefore look more attractive to potential buyers,
but the depressed housing market is a big concern.
-So basically, if all goes well, but...
If their future is to be under this new roof,
they certainly need to sell the old place sooner rather than later.
If you're self-building, then being a dab hand at DIY
is a good way to save money. But you'll definitely need the know-how.
I'm taking a crash course of classes at building college.
Today, it's joinery and, touch wood, I'll hopefully impress the teacher.
In the joinery department, Mark, what have you got me doing today?
-Today, you are going to fit architrave around the staff room.
Architrave provides the finishing touch to any door
as it covers the unsightly gap between the door frame and the wall.
I have fitted, it must be 50 pieces of architrave in my time,
and I have never got it right on one single occasion.
So how long would it take you to do this?
-So I'd give you ten minutes.
Thanks, Mark. I can see this going very badly wrong again. Right,
-I better get on it, hadn't I?
-You certainly had.
'Because I have previous experience, Mark's letting me go it alone.
'Hopefully, he'll point out where I've been going wrong. First, I need to measure and mark the points
'where the architrave will sit.'
And that line's got to meet up. That's the way.
'The biggest challenge is get the edges to fit snugly.
'Then the key is cutting 45-degree angles in the wood and for that, you need a combination square.'
And then you want to mark across it 45.
'I think we all know where I've been making mistakes in the past!'
It's like a chimp's tea party!
'Now, seeing as Mark is an expert, I really should listen.'
If that's moving, you may want to clamp that down
so you can worry more about cutting than you are holding it steady.
I'll do the next one like that. It's taken on board.
'But I'm just a bit lazy.'
I kind of see what you mean.
Also, with your saw, if you paid for a full saw,
I'd use all of it rather than just a third of it.
You also get straighter cuts if you use a full blade,
which we may find...
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I'm in a hurry, I can't hear you!
Now, I would advice you, Simon, to leave your nails proud
because the way you're hitting it,
you're damaging the architrave, which is meant to be a finish.
And they'll be finished off with a nail punch.
I know I shouldn't bite my nails, can't help it!
Two minutes left now, Simon.
You better get a move on.
Looks like you're getting the hang of this.
'A rare compliment from Mark.
'I might have finally got architrave nailed...
'..but then again...!'
Nothing a bit of filler won't sort out.
The last 30 seconds, Simon.
With seconds left, a bit of guesswork is required.
Really got to move quickly here.
No time for your fancy mitering.
-Right, I'm afraid, that's it.
'And it turns out, freestyle cutting is my forte.'
Do you know, for a rushed 45, that's not far off.
In fact, I did it better without the square.
That's where you're going wrong at home, you're trying to do it.
It's not all positive feedback though, there are of course
the usual hammer blows to the woodwork and my pride.
You've left a few marks in the timber and damaged your frame
and your architrave with the hammer.
Go on, then.
Give me the dreaded mark out of ten.
Well, I would've said seven, but because of damage you've left, six.
Six? From you?
That is cause for celebration, cheers, mate.
Well, what can you expect, from a bodger?
In Teesside, Hilary and John
are building a futuristic home inside a 200 year-old barn.
Six months in, the build is more or less on schedule.
As for the budget, a change of heart has hit them in the pocket.
I'm sat here on this really, really nice oak staircase.
Absolutely beautiful staircase.
It's been made to quite specific specifications by the architect,
but unfortunately, I don't like it.
All the rest of the staircase is a completely different design
and it just doesn't work.
It really, really doesn't work.
So, I made the big decision.
We're actually going to take this staircase out
and Steel Frame Company are making a staircase now,
that is going to match, imitate everything else.
Changes this late in the build always have cost implications,
so to avoid expensive mistakes,
it's important to carefully comb through all the fine details of your plans
and spot a problem like this before it's too late.
According to Hilary,
the decision to switch her stairs has cost £1,200.
But she's knocked a bit off for imaginative recycling.
Because we're going to reuse the staircase somewhere else,
You have to look at it.
Tell them where we're going to use it.
We have to look at it that what we're actually doing is what we wanted in the first place
-so that is not the extra cost.
-Tell them where we're going to use it.
The answer Hilary is avoiding,
is that the very expensive hand-crafted wooden staircase
is actually heading for their current home,
the neighbouring farmhouse, in the garage.
Which is, at the moment, a pull-down wooden attic ladder.
So instead, it's going to have a hand-made oak staircase, but it will look really nice.
I think we should re-shoot this
because every time we film and talk about it, it comes down in price.
So, if we keep re-shooting, I might feel a bit happier!
Into build month eight, and the house is starting to look like a home.
Decorating is under way and Hilary and John are hard at work.
Things are just all, like, really coming together now.
But is Hilary getting just a bit too fussy?
I just noticed that there was a bit of a delve up here.
I'm just straightening up around the socket.
They're just not square.
As the sockets are going on, they need filling in.
It's just become an obsession with her.
She's driving me nuts.
Hilary is fixated with the smallest details,
but there's a much bigger concern just round the corner.
They still face the prospect of having to sell this new-build
if they can't shift the farmhouse.
It's been on the market for six weeks now
and we've had three offers which we've turned down.
They were very low offers.
We're just hoping we haven't cooked our goose.
So come March or April, if nothing's happening,
then we will start panicking a bit, but we might rent the farmhouse.
It would break our hearts now to have to sell this.
We've become so attached, it's so personal.
11 months since work started, Hilary and John are moved in
and I'm back at the barn to see how things have turned out.
The "Sold" sign outside their farmhouse is an encouraging start.
I know you're not supposed to have favourites,
but when I first looked round John and Hilary's derelict barn, I got very excited.
I can't wait to see how it's turned out
and it's already looking fabulous.
It's incredible to think that when I first came here ten months ago,
this was just a ramshackle old barn.
Talk about a transformation.
And there's clearly been no expense spared inside the house.
Hilary's attention to detail has really paid off.
Oh, this is it. This is it. That's kind of modest, isn't it?
This is a fantastic space. This is just amazing.
Do you pinch yourself?
I did last week when I walked in from doing the shopping
and I walked in the front door
and this lovely kind of "oh" feeling - "This is our home.
"This is our house". It just looked fab.
Just as Hilary and John intended, this is every inch the 21st-century home.
The 200-year-old exposed brick work columns which they originally intended to cover up,
are a subtle reminder of the building's past,
but there is nothing dated about Hilary and John's fabulous kitchen.
Hilary, I'm just going to remind you
that you stood more or less exactly where you're standing,
and said, "My kitchen island is going to be here",
and there was a tree between us and weeds and rubble.
-And people must have thought you were mad at that point.
And here it is.
-We knew it would be here all along, didn't we?
-We did. We did. Very confident.
You forget that this
is a box within a box.
That's amazing. Because the illusion is complete in here, isn't it?
-Amazing. Absolutely gorgeous.
More. More. Come on, let's go. Let's go!
The interior looks stunning, but there are a few finishing touches to add,
the all-glass sun room and the landscaping will be finished later in the year.
Back inside, and Hilary's decision to replace the very traditional staircase
with this modern white-rendered version might have been expensive,
but it helps retain the overall contemporary design of the house.
Hilary and John originally told me they were downsizing,
but this new place has four bedrooms across two floors
while their en-suite bathroom is one of four in the house.
This was the most expensive,
-and the guest bedroom was next. And then...
-As you work up the house!
-..they get cheaper!
-And less people will see them!
But there hasn't been much compromise anywhere else.
Selling the farmhouse eased the financial pressure and allowed Hilary
to spend a little more of their £350,000 build budget
on the luxurious fixtures and fittings.
We were hoping to bring it in at a lot less,
but I think once we realised - it's a bit of a shock to John, this -
but once we realised...
You've never added up all these figures, have you?
No, I've left it to Hilary and just buried my hand head in the sand, basically.
Hilary and John already owned their plot,
which gave them a financial advantage when it came to building.
Their total outlay on the build came in at £400,000,
which means they've overspent by £50,000.
So was transforming this historic barn into a modern home worth it?
We've had this place valued,
and... I know, this is the first time I've seen Hilary looking nervous.
..and this place has been given a market value of £695,000.
-I would have been happy if we'd have broken even.
That's a huge saving of £295,000.
And breathe, Hilary.
That's good. Yeah.
I was panicking, yeah, because... Yeah.
I know why you were panicking. Because you haven't compromised one penny!
But it's not just about facts and figures.
Hilary and John clearly love this home
and they've enjoyed the self-build experience, most of the time!
The worst parts of this
were when John and I had to make a decision together, the two of us.
-You're serious, as well, aren't you?
-I'm serious, yeah.
We have had domestics in every tile shop,
every flooring shop.
The things we had to specifically go and choose, design and pick.
-Every lighting store, there has been...
-There's been trouble.
There has been massive, massive trouble. Massive trouble between us.
-I lost every one.
And look out, John, it seems Hilary has caught the self-building bug
and might have itchy feet already.
-I've heard she is looking for a piece of land.
-Yeah, we've seen a plot of land.
You'd do this again?
Yes, because we have come through the other end now
and we're in this lovely house and we love it.
The only thing I can liken it to is childbirth.
At the time, it's absolutely horrendous,
but somehow you forget all of that and you suddenly start thinking,
"It was easy. We could do it again."
But after all that slightly obsessive attention to detail,
Hilary and John are going to enjoy this place for a little while yet.
If they do take the plunge again, though,
surely nothing will be harder than fitting a modern home inside a wonky old barn?
Now, listen, as a little keepsake to help you remember us and to help you remember this process,
we've got you something.
There you go. We thought, as you had an old house that didn't have any straight walls,
you might like a spirit level.
That is absolutely amazing. Fantastic.
So you can now go around and make sure everything is level!
I just want to check that that light is...
-You do as well, don't you?
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
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Hilary Maddren and her partner John Robson build a brand new home inside the walls of a 200-year-old derelict barn on Teeside. Plus, the woman who knocked down her childhood home and replaced it with a stunning six-bed detached house in Buckinghamshire and presenter Simon O'Brien cannot see the wood for the trees when it comes to carpentry at building college.