Episode 5 To Build or Not to Build


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Episode 5

Series following UK self-builders. A retired couple sell their spacious family home in Edwalton, Nottingham, to build a modern, German kit-home just around the corner.


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Finding a home that suits your wallet and your way of life

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isn't always easy.

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Well, stop searching for something to buy

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and consider somewhere to build.

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'Every year, 20,000 people make the journey of a lifetime

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'and opt to build their own home.

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'We're following some of them from foundations to finishing touches.'

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I built it in my head a thousand times. It exceeded all expectations.

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'Our brave self-builders will experience amazing highs...'

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Yes! We've done it!

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'..and some frustrating lows.'

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I didn't expect the hatred thrown at us about having a house built.

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'If they can overcome these trials and tribulations,

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

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If you're looking for your perfect pad, the question is simple.

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To build or not to build?

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'We follow the Continental kit house with some typically British issues.'

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It's always a joke, isn't it?

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The Germans are here on time and the Brits let them down.

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'The young couple who self-built an idyllic cottage in the country.'

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Our fantastic house in a beautiful plot.

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'I go to building college to become a chip off the old block.'

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It's all about common sense - something I've never had.

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When the kids have flown the nest, many people realise

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that the once over-crowded family home is now, well, too big.

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Buying a smaller place is an option,

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but when retired couple Richard and Irene Atkins decided they needed a more suitable house,

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nothing seemed to fit the bill.

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Could the solution be to self-build a dream home instead?

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'This is the prosperous suburb of Edwalton

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'on the outskirts of Nottingham.

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'It's an area where palatial properties command a king's ransom when they hit the market.

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'It's a place former engineer Richard and wife Irene can't bear to leave,

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'as they've lived here for more than a quarter of a century.

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'Their current home boasts five beds,

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'an outdoor pool and a garden big enough to graze cattle!

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'Are they mad to want to swap all this to self-build?'

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-Listen here.

-Yeah?

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-You have this fabulous, salubrious, affluent house.

-Mm-hm.

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Why do you want to move out?

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Well, it's a bit big, now there's only two of us rattling around.

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-You're not talking the dreaded downsize word?

-I'm afraid so.

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I think "downsize" is actually not quite right.

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I'm not sure that the new house is going to be a great deal smaller than this house.

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But the garden's going to be a lot smaller.

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Oh, yes. Our gardener retired, and he was wonderful. We do miss him.

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We tried replacement gardeners but they weren't up to the same standard.

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This has got to be the first time in my life I've ever heard

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that anyone is going to move out of their home and build a new one because their gardener retired.

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-Well, Simon, you haven't met the Atkins before.

-True enough!

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'It's not just Dick and Irene's fear of mowing this massive lawn

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'that led them down the self-build path.'

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We have an apartment in Spain, which we delight in going to.

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When we came back from being in Spain to this house, we found that there was so much to do.

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'So, a home that's low-maintenance and future-proof is the plan.

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'But before Dick and Irene could build,

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'they first needed to find a plot.

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'They bought a small 1970s bungalow in the heart of Edwalton village

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'for a pricey £390,000.

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'It took a whopping three years of battling with the planners

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'before they got permission to bulldoze the bungalow and make way for their dream home.

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'This won't be a traditional brick-built property.

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'Dick and Irene have opted for a contemporary kit house.

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'Pre-manufactured in Germany,

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'it's shipped to site in pieces, then built like a giant jigsaw.

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'This means construction's extremely quick but, at £600,000,

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'it's not cheap.

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'For this significant investment,

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'they'll get an energy efficient three-bed home in under six months.

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'Features include a basement, a lift in case the stairs get too much,

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'and a smaller garden.

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'As soon as work on the foundations began,

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'things started to fall apart.'

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A-ha! So, here we are!

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-You've made a right mess here, haven't you?

-Yeah!

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Yes, but it's not us that made the mess!

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-It was the groundworkers when they were here last time.

-When was that?

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-Eight weeks ago.

-If that was eight weeks ago, why has nothing happened?

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When the groundworkers arrived on the site on Monday morning, 7.30,

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I came down and found them already busy at work.

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They were digging away, marking out the site for the house,

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and I thought, "Great! It's happening!"

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Later that morning, the foreman of the basement company

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came round with a crane man, to look at what the crane would be doing.

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I said to them, "You have got the road closures sorted out?"

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They said, "Oh, yeah. Don't worry. It's all dealt with."

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'But an administrative error beyond the contractor's control

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'meant the paperwork hadn't been submitted to the council.

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'The result, a three-month postponement to process the application.

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'This left Dick and Irene with a long delay and a deserted site.'

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So, you have a date for the road closure. How far away is that?

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Three weeks on Monday. Yes. And that's the first road closure.

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That's when the basement gets put in.

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How quickly will this place go up?

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The basement will be put in within a three-day period.

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Then, about three weeks later on from that,

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the house people deliver the house and erect it within three days.

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-That's amazing, isn't it?

-Yes.

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The irony is, you've got a house which, all said and done,

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could be erected, start to finish in a week and...

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we're waiting because of one piece of paper.

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You can see how relaxed I am about it(!)

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I think you're lucky you've got that place in Spain!

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'It's build month three.

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'The site's finally woken from its enforced siesta

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'and there's a lot going on.

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'The groundworks team preparing the foundation for the basement are back

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'and they've not wasted any time getting stuck in.'

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From it being the same as it was for the last 12 weeks,

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all of a sudden, we've got a fairly good hole!

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And it's getting bigger all the time.

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It's really quite exciting.

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'With 100 square foot of basement, the size of many people's homes,

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'the digger's going to be non-stop for a couple of weeks

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'to remove more than 16,000 cubic feet of earth.

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'Already, Dick's imagination's running wild.'

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In a few weeks,

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this is going to be transformed, with the basement down there.

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And then, just in six weeks time, we're going to have a house

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going up and up and up just here.

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It's just incredible to think, after all of this time,

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that it's almost within touching distance.

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'And as the days fly by, the hole keeps on growing.

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'It's soon ready for the concrete that will form the basement floor.

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'Things are running like clockwork and the concrete's set in good time

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'for the arrival of the flat-pack basement.

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'It's build month four,

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'after the three-month delay, the road closure's in place and construction can start.

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'Determined not to miss any of the action, Dick's on site bright and early, ready for work to begin.'

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I think, walking round in the basement, it brought it home to me

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that it was actually really happening.

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We're going to have a house,

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and you can start to see the scale of the house as well.

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You can start getting a feel of where the house is going to be.

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'While Dick and the German crew examine the plans...'

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The stairs also today?

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-They're coming next lorry.

-Next lorry. OK.

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'..sadly, it seems even the best laid plans can go awry.'

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The crane was due at 7.30 this morning.

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Then the lorry, the one here,

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the first of three, was due at 8 o'clock.

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The lorry is here at 7.30, but the crane isn't.

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You couldn't write the script if you wanted to. It's always a joke.

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The Germans are here on time and the Brits let them down because the crane doesn't arrive on time.

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'All everyone can do is wait.

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'And watch the clock.'

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Half past nine, so we're expecting the crane just about any time.

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We hope.

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'After three and a half hours of hanging around,

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'Dick spots something on the horizon.'

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Is this a crane?

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It looks as though it could be.

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Well! At last we might have a crane.

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And it's only ten to 11!

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Ten to 11 instead of half past seven.

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'A flat tyre had been responsible for the crane's late appearance.

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'For Dick and Irene, three is the tragic number.

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'Today's three-hour setback was a mere hiccough

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'after three years of planning and a three-month wait for a road closure.

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'But things are looking up.'

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It's unbelievable.

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We've waited so long for this, we can't believe it's happening.

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Here we go.

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'This is the moment they've waited for.

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'Piece number one is on its way and Dick and Irene's home has lift-off.

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'But there's one final obstacle to overcome.'

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I'm still quite concerned about that telephone cable.

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'Don't panic, Dick! A puncture might have affected his punctuality,

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'but the crane driver's in complete control, avoiding the hazard.

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'With true German efficiency,

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'the first piece slots into place perfectly.'

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Look at that!

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-A wall and a window, I do believe!

-A wall and a window!

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That's the first bit of the house, isn't it?

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'It will take another week and a half to complete the basement,

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'and a further seven days to finish the groundworks.

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'For Irene, this day hasn't come soon enough.'

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It's just so good to think that, finally, it's happening.

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If it hadn't happened soon I was going to get bored of the project and give up!

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Absolutely.

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Irene might want to head for the hills,

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but she'll have to hold her nerve to survive this self-build journey.

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Patience and perseverance were the key for Matt and Zoe Jackson,

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whose desire to escape to the country led them to build a gorgeous cottage in rural Herefordshire.

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'In the quaint village of Stoke Prior near Leominster,

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'the average house price is over £400,000.

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'After several years of city living, Matt and Zoe

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'fancied returning home to the countryside

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'to be closer to family.

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'But they didn't fancy those prices.

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'The alternative? Build their own.'

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There we have it.

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This is our fantastic house in a beautiful plot.

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Which is a huge plot, really. More than enough garden for me.

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'The couple's dream became a reality

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'when they inherited a plot of land from Matt's grandmother.

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'It took five years of planning and saving

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'before work could finally begin on their timber framed cottage.'

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The reason we went for this style of property is it's in keeping

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with the traditional build in a Herefordshire village.

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We've both been brought up in older style properties.

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It's a fantastic opportunity to have the character of an old property

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blended with all the modern sort of...

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-Under-floor heating.

-..aspects of a new build.

-Big shower!

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'Estate agent Matt designed the house himself.

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'But getting this DIY des-res off the ground wasn't straightforward.'

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Two things you hear about self-builds is you always go over time and over budget.

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We were digging the groundworks for the foundations

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and they found that the ground was too soft.

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They had to put in extra things, so within a couple of weeks of starting

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we were over our budget.

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'To recoup this unexpected overrun, they called in a few favours.

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'A friend landscaped their driveway for half the original quote.

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'It took just seven months to build this traditional style cottage

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'that incorporates ideas of modern living.'

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We're in the kitchen, which is my favourite part of the house.

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I really, really wanted this to be a space where we spent time, really.

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When we get in at night and we're pottering around cooking,

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we wanted to be together, not me next door and him in here.

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Right, so this is the entrance hall and lounge.

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Being an estate agent, I'd already seen a number of properties

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that you walked in and it was a nice open space.

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It was something I was keen to do right from the start.

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If you're having friends around, you can use this space as well.

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So this is the master bedroom.

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We could have had four bedrooms in this size of property,

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but we decided to go for three larger rooms

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and have a really nice master bedroom with en suite.

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'In the end, Matt and Zoe went £45,000 over their 200-grand budget.

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'But thanks to Grandma's generous gift of the plot,

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'they saved a massive 50% compared to buying a similar sized property.'

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-From the point of view of building the house, financially...

-It's worked very well.

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'As Matt knows only too well,

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'property prices have been down in recent times.

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'Not that this estate agent plans to sell any time soon.'

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-I think we've chosen well, in regards to a property that will...

-Be desirable.

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And hold its value, yeah.

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-But we've done it to live in.

-It doesn't matter.

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I can't imagine... I don't think you'll allow me to sell, especially having chosen everything.

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I think we'll be here for a number of years to come.

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'Although the interior needs a bit of work already.'

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One of the rooms is going to have a new resident.

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A little baby in May,

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so we'll start to get one of the bedrooms worked out as a nursery.

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-Yeah.

-Very exciting.

-More interior designing.

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'Self-building was the only way Matt and Zoe could afford to live

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'in this gorgeous rural setting.

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'With a baby on the way, they'd best enjoy the peace and quiet while they can.'

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'In Edwalton, it's a beautiful day for Dick and Irene's house build.

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'For once, everything's on time,

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'including the trucks that have brought the house from the German factory.

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'While it was a lengthy process to get to this stage,

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'this build is really going to fly.'

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The house is here!

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But can you imagine a house...here?

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The answer is, no you can't yet.

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But in maybe half an hour or so,

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we'll be able to see the first part of the house go on to the slab.

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All of a sudden, there'll become a reality into it,

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rather than an anticipation.

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'It seems Irene's still coming to terms with her new home arriving on the back of a lorry.'

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We've been to other sites

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and looked at their houses.

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We know what happens, but we can't believe this is ours.

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It's all these lorries with stuff on and a crane.

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And, my goodness! What are these idiots doing? Gosh. It's us.

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'Fortunately, supervising engineer Ralph and his crew

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'have had quite a bit of practice,

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'and their schedule is certainly speedy.'

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The plan is, for today, to build the external walls, the internal walls,

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and also, by the late afternoon, to get the roof and ceiling panels on.

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That's our target for the first day.

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By Thursday afternoon,

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the crane should leave the site.

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The superstructure, everything should be finished by Thursday.

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'How many days, Ralph?'

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Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. Three days in total.

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'Let's hope three is the magic number!

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'Choosing a kit house means your house is built uber quickly,

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'thanks in part to components like windows already in place.

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'But it can cost up to a third more, compared to conventional methods.

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'Fortunately, the excitement is keeping Dick's mind off the £600,000 bill!'

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Irene, this is where you're going to sit and look out into your garden.

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'Irene doesn't seem that convinced.'

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I can just see two chairs and a coffee table there, can't you?

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Friends sitting there, having coffee with me.

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Not really. I'm sure it'll all be all right when it's done.

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'As the construction team make their final preparations,

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'The first piece of the house is ready for take-off.

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'This is the most crucial part of the build.

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'Any miscalculations will have knock-on effects

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'for the rest of the construction.'

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That very first piece,

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that's the key to the whole puzzle, really.

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If that isn't vertical, in exactly the right place,

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none of the other bits and pieces can actually work away from it.

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Get that one right, all the others can flow from it.

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'This is one section Ralph's not rushing.

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'There's absolutely no margin for error.'

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It's important to have the first thing done properly. Then it goes step by step quite easily.

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'As you might expect, it all fits perfectly.'

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Good!

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We're professionals. We know what we're doing.

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It's never going to be the same again.

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This nice flat open site is going to have a house on it soon.

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'Satisfied with the initial section, the builders get cracking

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'with the rest of the house.'

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-They make it look so easy.

-I know. Yes!

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'Within minutes, Dick and Irene's first room's in position.'

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Here we are, in the lounge. Isn't this great?

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'Earlier, Irene struggled to visualise what the house would be like.

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'Now, she's thinking well ahead.'

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We could go out this afternoon and buy a fireplace!

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I don't need a fireplace today.

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It can wait till tomorrow, or maybe the next day.

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'The speed these chaps are going, you might need one by the end of the week.

0:21:290:21:35

'Over a couple of hours, the ground floor of the house takes shape.

0:21:350:21:40

'And with every passing second, the structure is evolving.

0:21:400:21:45

'Blink and you might miss something.'

0:21:450:21:48

I've been away for how long?

0:21:480:21:50

Maybe three-quarters of an hour, maximum.

0:21:500:21:54

All the inside walls are there, apart from this one.

0:21:540:21:57

'By tea-time, the boys from Bavaria move upstairs.

0:22:020:22:07

'The flooring sections are slotted into place.

0:22:100:22:13

'By the end of the day, the lower half of the house will be enclosed.

0:22:130:22:19

'That's going some!'

0:22:190:22:21

I'm just blown away by the whole thing! It's amazing!

0:22:220:22:27

'Day two of the kit construction,

0:22:400:22:43

'and the gang get into the groove, building the upstairs of the house.

0:22:430:22:47

'By the end of the day,

0:22:490:22:51

'they expect to have all the exterior and interior walls

0:22:510:22:55

'fixed into position.'

0:22:550:22:57

Here we are, day two, six o'clock in the evening.

0:22:570:23:01

And I'm upstairs in one of our bedrooms!

0:23:010:23:04

I can't believe it still, that so much has happened

0:23:040:23:07

in such a short time.

0:23:070:23:09

'By day three, the well-oiled building machine

0:23:110:23:15

'is going through a slower patch.'

0:23:150:23:17

Things seem to be a bit slow.

0:23:190:23:21

I thought we'd see the main beam of the house on.

0:23:210:23:25

Then I anticipated that we'd see panels of roofing going on as well.

0:23:250:23:29

'The roof would normally come in large kit sections,

0:23:290:23:32

'like the rest of the house, but due to planning regulations,

0:23:320:23:35

'Dick's build will use a more conventional system.'

0:23:350:23:39

We're having rafters and purlins, a more traditional style

0:23:390:23:43

of construction of roof.

0:23:430:23:45

That's because of the type of tiles

0:23:450:23:47

that we've been asked by our planners to use.

0:23:470:23:50

'These tiles are in keeping with properties in the conservation area.

0:23:500:23:54

'They're heavier than the tiles the company usually use.

0:23:540:23:59

'A sturdier roof structure is required.

0:23:590:24:02

'Organising the extra components means the schedule's slipped.'

0:24:020:24:07

We expected to be watertight by lunch time today.

0:24:070:24:11

I'd be surprised if we were watertight by lunch time tomorrow.

0:24:110:24:14

'Because they're running behind, the crew needs to extend the crane hire to complete the job.

0:24:140:24:21

'At around £500 a day, this isn't cheap.

0:24:210:24:25

'Because Dick agreed a fixed price, it won't be him picking up the tab.

0:24:250:24:30

'Despite the slight delay, Irene's still in an upbeat mood.'

0:24:300:24:35

Can you believe that in three days this has happened?

0:24:350:24:38

I'm looking forward to seeing the roof on.

0:24:380:24:41

I think it's going to look quite pretty, with the terracotta tiles

0:24:410:24:45

and the copper downpipes.

0:24:450:24:48

'Even when the rain starts to fall, Irene's spirit's not dampened.

0:24:480:24:53

'But her bedrooms might be, if the team don't work fast to fit the remaining floor sections.

0:24:530:24:59

'Within an hour, the final panels are fitted.

0:24:590:25:03

'The house is watertight and the sun is shining again on the build.

0:25:030:25:08

'The next piece of this giant puzzle

0:25:080:25:10

'to be slotted into place is the attic stairs.'

0:25:100:25:14

New steps into the upper area, the roof area.

0:25:140:25:19

Here we go. Yes! It's just the right thing!

0:25:190:25:22

Absolutely smashing! How good is that?

0:25:220:25:26

'It's thumbs-up all round.

0:25:260:25:28

'The remaining gable ends are secured into position,

0:25:300:25:33

'ready for the main roof beams to be lifted in tomorrow.

0:25:330:25:37

'Day four, these giants that will support the roof

0:25:390:25:42

'are craned into place.

0:25:420:25:45

'And the guys make rapid progress fitting the rafters.'

0:25:450:25:50

It's just terrific.

0:25:500:25:52

It's magic. If you're not careful, I'll throw my hat into the air.

0:25:520:25:57

'It's definitely hats off to the German builders.

0:25:570:26:01

'In just six days, the team have done all this.

0:26:030:26:07

'I'm back on site and, I have to confess, I'm totally blown away.'

0:26:070:26:14

-I bet you can't believe your eyes!

-No.

-No.

-No.

0:26:150:26:18

-No, no and double no!

-Every time you turn, "Oh! My word!"

0:26:180:26:23

You know it's going to happen cos they've told you.

0:26:230:26:26

-But that's not the same as it actually happening to you.

-Exactly.

0:26:260:26:31

It was just as though we laid the plans on the concrete slab

0:26:310:26:36

and then just watered them and saw it go up and up.

0:26:360:26:41

Like watering it and it blossoms, and here we are.

0:26:410:26:44

It's incredible how far we've got.

0:26:440:26:46

'These guys work so fast, it's hard to comprehend what's been achieved in such a short space of time.'

0:26:490:26:55

So, look at this. Let's explain, get this fixed in our heads.

0:26:550:27:00

This wasn't a room. This was nothing less than a week ago.

0:27:000:27:04

That's right. Five days ago, they put that wall we are looking at...

0:27:040:27:09

-That went in at ten o'clock in the morning.

-The first wall.

0:27:090:27:13

-Good proportions in here.

-Yeah. It's a nice room.

0:27:130:27:16

I'm quite gratified that the house has worked out

0:27:160:27:20

just as I'd anticipated.

0:27:200:27:22

'In a conventional build, it would have taken four months

0:27:220:27:26

'to get from solid foundations to this stage.

0:27:260:27:29

'We're already able to stroll up the staircase

0:27:290:27:32

'to check out the first floor.'

0:27:320:27:35

Master bedroom.

0:27:350:27:37

We've also got our dressing room and a good-sized shower room.

0:27:370:27:41

What do you mean a good sized shower room?

0:27:410:27:44

That's bigger than my bedroom!

0:27:440:27:47

And a really nice outlook.

0:27:470:27:49

It's amazing! You've got windows! What have been the problems?

0:27:490:27:53

Where is the stress? It sounds like, when you get the kit guys in from Germany,

0:27:530:27:58

the stress almost disappears.

0:27:580:28:01

The stress - if you do stress -

0:28:010:28:04

but the stress was really in the preparation, in the organising.

0:28:040:28:09

This is relatively straightforward for us.

0:28:090:28:11

'While they've held a tight rein over their new build,

0:28:110:28:15

'the property market means Dick and Irene have much less control

0:28:150:28:19

'when it comes to the sale of their old house.

0:28:190:28:22

'They need a good price to pay for the extras in their new place,

0:28:220:28:27

'like the lift and a double garage, otherwise they'll have to wait.'

0:28:270:28:31

We put the existing house on the market, what, ten days ago.

0:28:310:28:36

Had an offer within three days, so we think we've got the asking price.

0:28:360:28:42

And that is such a relief. It's wonderful.

0:28:420:28:46

We can really do what we want to do.

0:28:460:28:49

So everything really is...

0:28:490:28:51

-Touch wood.

-There's lots of it about.

0:28:510:28:54

Touch wood, everything is falling into place for you.

0:28:540:28:58

It seems to be at the moment, yes.

0:28:580:29:00

-That's right.

-"At the moment"? You'll be finished in three days!

0:29:000:29:05

'From building a wall through to tiling and papering it,

0:29:110:29:15

'if you're building your own home, it's useful to know some basics.

0:29:150:29:19

'I'm at building college, to learn some of the skills

0:29:190:29:23

'that are needed to build a house.

0:29:230:29:25

'I'm ready to get stuck in but before I can start bricking it,

0:29:280:29:32

'I begin with blocks, one of the most common materials used in house construction.

0:29:320:29:38

'My tutor for today...'

0:29:410:29:43

Blockwork today. I'm with Malcolm.

0:29:520:29:55

There's no blocks around. Why are we stood here?

0:29:550:29:58

We need to mix something to stick the blocks together with.

0:29:580:30:01

Right, I'm ready. Here's me spade.

0:30:010:30:04

Best thing might be to actually start the mixer first.

0:30:040:30:08

Always helps if it's turning.

0:30:080:30:10

I knew that! If you could turn it on please, mate? Yeah.

0:30:100:30:14

'I've got enough to think about - turns out that mortar-mix maths

0:30:170:30:21

'is much more important than I'd ever realised.'

0:30:210:30:24

You may have seen brickwork where the joints are a different colour.

0:30:240:30:29

-Yeah.

-They've either got too much cement in or not enough.

0:30:290:30:33

Today, we're actually going to gauge the sand and the cement.

0:30:330:30:37

'We are mixing four perfectly measured bucketfuls of sand

0:30:370:30:42

'to one bucket of cement.'

0:30:420:30:44

-It would help if you got the sand in the bucket.

-Most of it's going in!

0:30:450:30:51

'With the right amount of water, the mortar is good to go.'

0:30:510:30:54

-It's all about common sense.

-Yes.

-Something I've never had.

0:30:540:30:59

'Time to get out the blocks.'

0:31:000:31:03

First, we need to make sure the mortar is at the right height.

0:31:050:31:09

The top of the block flush with the line, and a nice clean face.

0:31:090:31:14

You make it all sound so simple, Malcolm.

0:31:140:31:17

Place it tight against the profile.

0:31:180:31:20

The top corner of the block is level with the line.

0:31:200:31:25

There's just a very slight gap between.

0:31:250:31:28

Get that in position.

0:31:280:31:31

Clean off the excess.

0:31:320:31:35

Front and also the back as well.

0:31:360:31:39

Behave yourself! You're just being a perfectionist.

0:31:390:31:42

These days, your inspector, that's his job,

0:31:420:31:45

to peer down the cavities and if there's mortar down there...

0:31:450:31:49

I get the point. Just keep 'em clean, all right. Thanks.

0:31:490:31:54

I think you're ready to have a go yourself now. Feel confident?

0:31:540:31:59

No, but I'll have a go.

0:31:590:32:01

I know the first thing you do is this.

0:32:010:32:04

I don't know why, but they all do it.

0:32:040:32:07

It makes you look dead good on site.

0:32:070:32:09

Your mortar would be laughing now cos you're tickling it.

0:32:140:32:18

LAUGHS

0:32:180:32:20

'Tickling it? Time to show Malcolm a bit of my brute strength.'

0:32:200:32:25

He did it one-handed. I'm doing it one-handed.

0:32:260:32:30

No, I'm not!

0:32:300:32:32

'I'm no weightlifter, but I'm soon getting the hang of blockwork.'

0:32:320:32:37

I think you're about ready now.

0:32:400:32:43

You do these two courses. I'll go have a cup of tea.

0:32:430:32:47

-I'll be back in five minutes.

-Two courses?

0:32:470:32:50

'I might have said I was getting the hang of it...'

0:32:500:32:53

I can't believe he left me!

0:32:530:32:56

'..but I'm not sure I'm ready for a solo time trial.'

0:32:560:33:00

I've done two blocks.

0:33:040:33:06

Three and a half minutes gone. Not a chance!

0:33:070:33:10

'There's a crowd gathering.

0:33:120:33:14

'Hoping to learn a thing or two!

0:33:140:33:17

'As I've always said, when the chips are down, cheat.'

0:33:170:33:21

I'm never going to do this. Boys, are you any good at this?

0:33:210:33:26

Fancy helping me finish it? I've got two minutes for the next course.

0:33:260:33:30

Come 'ead. Come on!

0:33:300:33:32

'So much for us brickies sticking together.'

0:33:320:33:36

He's coming back. I've had it.

0:33:370:33:40

'Looks like my head's on the block.'

0:33:400:33:44

-How are we getting on?

-All right, boss. Yeah...

0:33:440:33:48

-You've taken a course off?

-No I haven't!

0:33:480:33:50

That's me best effort.

0:33:500:33:52

-Five minutes!

-We said five. It must be six or seven now.

0:33:520:33:56

I even tried to recruit help. They all just watched and laughed.

0:33:560:34:00

'Will Malcolm find my efforts as funny? Marks out of ten, please.'

0:34:020:34:07

-That's a good seven out of ten.

-Seven?

0:34:070:34:10

'I might not be a total blockhead after all. I breezed through that!'

0:34:100:34:16

'In Nottingham, the builders are fitting some luxurious extras.

0:34:190:34:26

'Copper guttering and downpipes

0:34:260:34:28

'need to be in place, in preparation for the roof tiles.

0:34:280:34:32

'Now they're racing against the clock.

0:34:320:34:35

'In just over two months, the Atkins must leave their old house.

0:34:350:34:40

'The heat's on the building team,

0:34:400:34:42

'and will soon be on Dick and Irene, too.'

0:34:420:34:46

We're off to Spain tomorrow.

0:34:460:34:48

We'll be away from the house build for not quite two weeks.

0:34:480:34:54

I'm sure it'll be very different by the time we come back.

0:34:540:34:58

'Sure enough, after a relaxing break on the Costa Blanca,

0:34:590:35:03

'Dick and Irene's white house in Edwalton is looking stunning.'

0:35:030:35:08

We were very surprised and delighted to see how much work had been done.

0:35:080:35:13

Not only was the roof virtually complete -

0:35:130:35:16

there's just a few tiles missing because there weren't quite enough -

0:35:160:35:21

but also, all of the plaster boarding inside has been done.

0:35:210:35:25

That was absolutely great.

0:35:250:35:27

They got on very much more quickly than we'd anticipated.

0:35:270:35:31

'The render adds a Spanish feel.

0:35:310:35:33

'Underfloor heating means it'll be as toasty as Torremolinos in August.

0:35:330:35:38

'The scaffolding's come down to reveal the whole gleaming exterior.

0:35:410:35:47

'Inside, the electricians are well on the way with their second fix,

0:35:480:35:53

'which includes the centrepiece of the entrance hallway.'

0:35:530:35:57

We'd been searching for a light for a long time.

0:35:570:36:01

We needed something really long to go down through this void

0:36:010:36:05

from this high ceiling,

0:36:050:36:08

down to the ground floor as well.

0:36:080:36:11

It is Murano glass.

0:36:110:36:13

That's a bit special.

0:36:130:36:17

'Imported from Italy at an incredible cost of £5,000,

0:36:170:36:21

'this is one luxury item that bust the budget.

0:36:210:36:24

'While the electrics are almost ready,

0:36:240:36:27

'sparks have flown over getting the water connected.'

0:36:270:36:31

Here's the water pipe. We can see it here.

0:36:310:36:34

There it is.

0:36:340:36:36

It needs to be connected to the actual...

0:36:360:36:40

-Just down here is the...

-Mains.

-Yeah. The water mains.

0:36:400:36:45

'It's a matter of inches between their pipe and the mains.

0:36:450:36:50

'After two months of negotiating, it's no nearer being connected.

0:36:500:36:54

'It won't delay the build, but it's a headache they could do without.'

0:36:540:36:59

You actually just can't believe

0:36:590:37:01

that it can take two months. No, more than two months.

0:37:010:37:06

The thick end of three months from application to get a water connection.

0:37:060:37:12

'It took several weeks and numerous phone calls to their water supplier

0:37:120:37:16

'before they were eventually connected.

0:37:160:37:20

'You need to be persistent when dealing with utility providers.

0:37:200:37:24

'At least everything else was on target for their moving in deadline.

0:37:240:37:28

'Two months on, having given them time to settle in,

0:37:280:37:33

'I'm back in Edwalton to cast my eye over Dick and Irene's kit house.'

0:37:330:37:38

They wanted a low-maintenance place they wouldn't have to worry about

0:37:380:37:42

when they jetted off to their beloved holiday retreat in Spain.

0:37:420:37:45

I've brought them a little reminder of Espana.

0:37:450:37:49

SPEAKS IN SPANISH

0:37:490:37:53

'In six months,

0:37:540:37:56

'this site has gone from hole in the ground to stunning detached home.

0:37:560:38:00

'Despite delays with planning and road closures,

0:38:000:38:04

'the Atkins have the house they've been waiting patiently for.'

0:38:040:38:09

-Hello, hello, hello.

-Hello.

-Look at you in your gorgeous home.

0:38:090:38:14

-I bring a present.

-Well, how absolutely lovely.

0:38:140:38:18

It's to remind you of Spain when you're not there,

0:38:180:38:21

when you're back here in your lovely new house, which I am dying to see.

0:38:210:38:25

-May I?

-You're more than welcome. Come in.

-Absolutely.

0:38:250:38:30

'The hallway alone with its seven-metre high ceiling

0:38:300:38:34

'and rather extravagant light

0:38:340:38:36

'provides a fabulous welcome.'

0:38:360:38:38

You're just immediately drawn in and upwards.

0:38:380:38:43

-That is a fantastic space.

-It's absolutely great.

0:38:430:38:47

It sort of carries you upstairs.

0:38:470:38:49

'The lounge was once rather more open-plan.

0:38:520:38:55

'Complete with that fireplace Irene was keen to order, it's more cosy.'

0:38:550:38:59

Do you know what? It's got a really peaceful atmosphere in here.

0:38:590:39:05

It really has been delightfully quiet and peaceful.

0:39:050:39:10

You feel very comfortable in here.

0:39:100:39:13

'Like the living room, the dining room is very traditional.

0:39:170:39:20

'When it comes to the kitchen, there's been a shift in style.'

0:39:200:39:25

In this room, with all your furniture,

0:39:250:39:28

you really seem to embrace the very modern kit house.

0:39:280:39:32

Yeah. We'd had 20 years of a wooden painted kitchen.

0:39:320:39:36

We thought this has got to be different.

0:39:360:39:38

'The kitchen cost £40,000.

0:39:380:39:41

'The high-gloss feel came courtesy

0:39:410:39:44

'of these glitzy imported Spanish tiles.'

0:39:440:39:48

It all started from the floor tiles and we worked up and outwards.

0:39:480:39:53

'Speaking of outwards, downsizing from a massive garden

0:39:530:39:57

'to something more manageable, even if it's not yet totally landscaped,

0:39:570:40:01

'was important to Dick and Irene when planning their house.'

0:40:010:40:05

A key feature of wanting to move

0:40:050:40:08

was to have a much smaller, simpler garden.

0:40:080:40:11

My ambition is to be able to garden with a vacuum cleaner!

0:40:110:40:15

'Upstairs, there are three bedrooms, all with en suite bathrooms.'

0:40:150:40:21

'The real hub of the home is the huge open-plan landing.

0:40:220:40:26

'Part study, part TV lounge, this area replicates

0:40:260:40:29

'a room they both loved in their old property.'

0:40:290:40:33

This is the point, isn't it, of building your own place.

0:40:360:40:40

You can use all your experience of what worked in your old house

0:40:400:40:44

and bring it here, put a modern twist on it and come up with this.

0:40:440:40:49

Some people would say, "You've built it for yourselves.

0:40:490:40:52

"If you wanted to sell it, it wouldn't be somebody else's dream."

0:40:520:40:56

But I'm not moving again, Simon.

0:40:560:40:58

They're going to carry me out of here. Please note.

0:40:580:41:02

I am not moving again!

0:41:020:41:04

Well, perhaps...

0:41:040:41:06

-THEY LAUGH

-Oh, Dick! Don't you start!

0:41:060:41:10

Well, we've learnt how to do it now, haven't we?

0:41:100:41:13

-No, no, no.

-Well, we have.

-We have learnt how to do it.

0:41:130:41:18

'With more than a little help from the wunderbar German build team,

0:41:180:41:21

'Dick and Irene have created a home

0:41:210:41:24

'that is tailor-made to fit their lifestyle.

0:41:240:41:28

'However, the build price,

0:41:280:41:30

'including the lift and double garage they're still to install,

0:41:300:41:35

'slipped over their £600,000 budget by 60 grand.

0:41:350:41:38

'Including the plot, the cost of building their home

0:41:380:41:42

'comes in at around...

0:41:420:41:45

'Even with a 10% overspend, has building their own house given the Atkins value for money?'

0:41:450:41:52

We've had this place valued.

0:41:520:41:55

-Really?

-Yes.

-Ah.

0:41:550:41:59

And for a very unique house in a very good area,

0:41:590:42:03

this place has been valued at...

0:42:030:42:07

-Really?

-Ah! We've spent the money!

0:42:110:42:13

'Ultimately, Dick and Irene have broken even, compared to buying.

0:42:150:42:19

'But this build was never about the price.'

0:42:190:42:23

We weren't building for the value to be matched.

0:42:230:42:26

-You weren't doing this to make a killing.

-No.

0:42:260:42:29

-You were doing this to create...

-A home for us.

-Yes.

0:42:290:42:33

So, the question is, to build or not to build?

0:42:330:42:38

And the answer is...

0:42:380:42:40

-Oh, yes.

-I would say so.

0:42:400:42:43

You get what you really want.

0:42:430:42:46

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:43:030:43:06

E-mail [email protected]

0:43:060:43:09

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 their dream home that's perfectly suited to their way of life and their wallets but each build's a rollercoaster ride packed full of trials and tribulations.

On today's programme, retired couple Dick and Irene Atkin are selling their spacious family home in Edwalton, Nottingham and building a modern German kit-home just around the corner. Plus the estate agent and his wife who've built an idyllic cottage in the country and presenter Simon O'Brien finds out that building a block wall isn't a breeze at building college.