Episode 7 To Build or Not to Build


Episode 7

Series following some of the UK's 20,000 self-builders. A lorry driver and his wife face a difficult road self-building a new home made from polystyrene blocks in North Yorkshire.


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Transcript


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We all dream of owning the perfect home, but finding the right property 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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We'll be following some of them from foundations to finishing touches.

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It's certainly been relentless!

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

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It's been a dream. And it's starting to come together now.

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And some frustrating lows.

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How many more things can go pear-shaped?

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But if they can overcome these trials and tribulations, they'll have the home they 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:

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'we follow the trucker and his wife on their self-build journey.'

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I thought it had altered that way, not that way.

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'The kitchen's key to a tasty family home in the Scottish borders.'

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When we were thinking about designing the house, the house came from the kitchen.

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'And when it comes to learning tiling, I'm struggling to make things stick.'

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All you need to know about tiling is one on top of the other, shiny side out. OK?

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-Thank you.

-You can't go wrong.

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An industrial estate in Bradford may not seem the most salubrious setting for a self-build project,

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but I'm here to meet long-distance lorry driver Andy Scott and his wife Carol. Like Andy's job,

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their dream home has been a bit of a long haul, but after three years of waiting, it's underway.

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For trucker Andy Scott, moving isn't the problem.

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It's finding somewhere to call home that keeps driving him crazy.

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As a long-distance lorry driver, he's used to carrying his life around with him,

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but as retirement beckons, fulfilling a lifetime's ambition

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to build his own home means shifting up a gear.

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I guess when you're on the road, you get plenty of time to dream up your self-build?

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Yeah, spending a lot of time out of the country, in Germany, Switzerland, Austria,

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seeing all the different styles, what you can achieve and what's available.

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With all the will in the world, you're not here.

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-You're in a different country.

-That's probably the best thing! I don't get the earache from Carol!

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'To fund the work, Andy is going to have to keep on trucking, leaving Carol, who works in a bank,

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'to project manage the site and make sure it adds up.'

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That is an awful lot to take on. You're left holding the baby when your man's away on the road.

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I've had a few sleepless nights. Originally, I was working full-time.

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Now I'm only part-time so it gives me time to go over there.

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-It's working out OK at the moment.

-Well, we'll be the judge of that!

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I suppose in a way you said she was left holding the baby.

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I left her holding three kids under five when I was in Italy,

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-so she copes very well.

-So this is easy then, isn't it?

-I don't know!

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-Compared to looking after three kids? Got to be easier!

-It's another challenge.

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I think you're in capable hands. You have a certain calmness.

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-Yeah...

-Don't you be laughing!

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-No, you do. You have a very calm aura.

-I suppose I come home to the whirlwind!

-Mm.

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'And the centre of that whirlwind is the village of Cridling Stubbs in North Yorkshire,

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'where they bought this plot of land for £102,000.

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'It's here they're planning to build an energy-efficient home, flexible enough for their later years,

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'with bedrooms on both the ground and first floor. They're spending £150,000

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'using a bang-up-to-date system of ultra-light polystyrene blocks,

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'which are bonded together with concrete. The estimated total budget

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'is around £250,000, around 50 grand cheaper than similar-sized homes in the village.

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'Although this building method has been around for 50 years,

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'only 100,000 homes have been built worldwide.

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'The Scotts are happy to be among its pioneers here.'

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Wow!

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This is amazing! I've never seen this system before.

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-It's becoming more and more popular now with the heating costs.

-Absolutely.

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Yeah. You're making a house out of Lego! That's what it is!

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-Did you have Lego when you were little?

-Ah, the kids did.

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-It is a bit...

-Amazing. Once the builders know what they're doing,

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-it must be a fantastic system for them to use.

-Yeah. It's very quick.

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'The blocks may look like child's play,

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'but they don't come cheap. At seven grand, they're paying twice as much

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'per square metre compared to using traditional materials,

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'but because this is a quicker building system, it means they'll reduce the amount spent on labour

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'and there's less chance of being delayed by the climate.'

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-They can put this up whatever the weather.

-There's no fear of frost spoiling the mix. It just goes up.

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'The Scotts began work on their three-bed dormer bungalow a week before my visit.

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'The footings went in smoothly ahead of schedule and now they hope

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'this will turn into their own personal paradise in 6 months.'

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-So £150,000 on your build, about 100 grand for the site? Is that right?

-Yeah.

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-How many bedrooms?

-Three double, plus a bedroom study.

-Big footprint.

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-It's going to be very salubrious, very spacious.

-It should be!

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That's the beauty of self-building. We can design it as we want it.

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You get more house for your money. Don't you? You can put in the things that you want

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and hopefully you build a house that has less running costs at the end of the day.

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And it suits your lifestyle.

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'And that change in their lifestyle can't come soon enough.

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'Although they sold their house quickly enough to pay for the plot,

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'long delays in getting the right builder means they've been forced to live with their son Gareth.

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-Tea or coffee?

-Usually if anything is to happen, the kid moves back with the parents,

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-not this way round.

-Normally, yeah.

-How long did they say when they said they'd stop off?

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It was meant to be six months.

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And that was...

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over two years ago.

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We had to get some revenge back!

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-I bet you're looking forward to this house going up more than they are.

-I want to get my bedroom back!

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'Don't worry, Gareth, if it all goes according to plan, the parents will soon be out of your hair.

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'Now the build is underway. Carol is juggling her job of working part-time in a bank

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'with her days overseeing the work.

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'The polystyrene blocks are being used for the exterior walls only and builder Andy Pierce,

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'one of the few people with experience of this, knows how critical the first stage is.'

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Once we've got the initial level and set of the building,

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and get it right, the rest of the building will fly up.

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Once you get the square in the right place, it's just one on top of two.

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They're so light that every block you're effectively laying a metre of wall.

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'It's Month 2 and it's time to get the downstairs rooms on a firm footing.

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'Andy casts a professional eye as the concrete beams to underpin the house arrive on site.'

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These are the beams for the flooring on the ground floor.

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Everything's just beginning now to come out of the ground and we can see where we're going.

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It's quite exciting, in a way.

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'But today's arrival will put novice project manager Carol's skills to the test.

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'She needs to be sure all the measurements for the floor and foundations are perfect

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'or it could cause major problems. And straight away there's an issue with the plans.

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'It seems the house is slightly wider at one end, which will have repercussions for the floor.'

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It appears we've gained a little space we didn't know we had.

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'Builder Andy's solution is to add an extra beam to the floor.

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'However, Carol thinks she's spotted another measurement that's wrong,

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'but no one's too sure which measurement it is.'

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I thought it altered that way, not that way.

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'But a re-examination of the blueprints reveals Carol was worrying unnecessarily.'

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I've checked and checked and double-checked. Measure twice, cut once.

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The sooner it's built, the better!

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'With everyone happy, the team can move on,

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'but with Andy about to go abroad, the next time the build throws up an obstacle,

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'Carol might have to come up with a solution on her own.'

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Carol's not doing a bad job. It's the communications to get her to realise what is involved.

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We just had a case in question with the concrete beams.

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-She didn't know where...

-How they all fit together.

-..the insulation goes and what have you.

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It just needs a little bit of explaining.

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That's why I leave the technical things to you, dear.

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'With the foundations and floor fixed, the following few days see the house start to flourish.'

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I think this is recording.

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Yep.

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We're getting to the exciting bit now. This is going to be the corner of the lounge and study.

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So, um, it's really good that all the floor is in now

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and we're really starting to see the house go up.

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'And soon there's plenty going on inside, too.

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'Now the polystyrene shell is up, the builders can get cracking with the interior walls

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'and the Scotts' dream home is beginning to take shape.'

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The chance to design and build that dream home is the culmination of years of planning and hard work

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for the majority of self-builders.

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However, for kitchen designers Gerry and Shona Ponder, building a ranch-style house in Scotland

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came completely out of the blue.

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'Stretching out over 20 rooms and proudly standing in a complex of its own paddocks

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'this eye-catching mansion in the Scottish borders is a prime candidate for Monarch of the Glen.

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'But while it may look like the local laird's latest luxury, it's a happy accident it's here at all.

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'Reluctant self-builders Gerry and Shona Ponder weren't really thinking of moving.

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'Then somebody made the mistake of showing them the plot and their lives took an unexpected twist.'

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It looked a fabulous place, really. A wonderful place to build a house.

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So we decided to try to negotiate the purchase, which we did privately, and build a house.

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-And have a bit of a life change.

-We have six children and need lots of space

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and lots of areas to live without falling over each other.

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The kids can be one side and we can be the other. They can have 20 friends in and we don't hear it.

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'It's the perfect example of how being brave enough to self-build can be an unforgettable mystery tour.'

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There were quite special circumstances. We found a plot, then decided to build a house.

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Most people probably do it the other way around.

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'The timber-framed house draws on Scottish, Canadian and Victorian influences and took 13 months.

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'Gerry and Shona run a kitchen design business and cooking up the right eating space was crucial.'

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This is probably our favourite room. When we were thinking about designing the house,

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the house came from the kitchen.

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We've got these lovely views. The last thing I wanted was

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to be standing looking at a wall. I wanted to look out from the island, over the views,

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and everybody sitting round the table. It's a family kitchen.

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'While family get-togethers and parties are in the kitchen,

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'complete with a walk-through bar, the house is flexible enough to include separate lounges

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'for both adults and children, letting the gap fit the mood.'

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This room is, I suppose, my room. It's a "me space" room.

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I come here in the evenings and I love it. It's very relaxing after a hard day

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and no children in here!

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'And the children value their independence in the other room.'

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We definitely use this room more.

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They have their peace and quiet and we have ours.

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'The huge hall provides a welcoming link between the two.'

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The beauty of this house is it's quite long and quite big, but you never feel

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as if you're isolated in a corner.

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Everybody can see everybody and even in the sitting room I can see through the windows

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and into the kitchen and into the family room. A big, open space.

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'The house spreads over 20 rooms.

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'This includes six spacious bedrooms and five luxurious bathrooms.

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'And while the house is certainly large, the Ponders were keen for it to have a cottage-y feel.

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'Self-building was the only way they could achieve their goal.'

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I don't think we could have afforded a house like this just to buy on the open market.

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And that's even assuming we could have found the right house that suited us and our lifestyle.

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That's the beauty of self-building. You can customise for every need and want.

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'And that goes for the extended family, too.

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'By building a second home next door, they got friendly neighbours.'

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This is my mum and dad's house, which is like a lodge house to the main house.

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And, you know, it's quite pretty and it's lovely to have them at the bottom of the garden.

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It's the outlaws living here.

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'Including the plot, the cost of these two unique houses came to £800,000,

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'but with the estate recently valued at £1.2 million,

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'their spur of the moment decision

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'to self-build certainly has paid off.

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'In North Yorkshire, and four months into their build,

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'polystyrene pioneers the Scotts watch their building take shape.

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'Trucker Andy is back home after another long trip abroad

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'and is catching up on progress with his wife and project manager, Carol.'

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-Our bedroom.

-It's beginning to look nice and large.

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What eventually will be the ensuite.

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'The couple have been living with their son Gareth

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'and at last Carol can start dreaming about somewhere other than a suitcase to store her clothes.'

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-Wardrobes down this wall.

-You're stood in them.

-The whole wall!

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-So...

-4.5 metres of female clobber.

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We've sort of been living for two years with just, like, a rack.

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And I daren't buy anything new because I've nowhere to put it.

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So I'm going to have a really good sort-out and then there may be a few new clothes coming!

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-If you've got any money left!

-If!

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-It's beginning to come together.

-And it's what we envisaged.

-It is.

-It's all going to work.

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-It's all coming together a lot better and a lot faster than I anticipated it would.

-Yeah.

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'It's taken them four months to get to this stage and today they hope for a giant leap forward.

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'The thick wooden blocks which make up the first floor have arrived and these, known as cassettes,

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'and the roof trusses are about to go up.

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'It's a major part of the build and a big moment for project manager Carol.'

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-Yeah.

-A little bit nervous.

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-Mainly being up on this scaffolding.

-I'm always nervous when a crane is taking things off a wagon!

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That's when things can go wrong.

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You've just got to make sure they're all in exactly the right place.

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'Each of the cassettes has been engineered to fit a particular part of the house

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-'and watching makes anxious viewing.'

-Just lift it up a touch.

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John and Mike at the moment are checking the plans to see which goes in which pre-ordained order.

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-'But eagle-eyed Carol notices a problem.'

-At the end is where the fireplace goes.

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They're not coming off in the right order, are they?

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'They've been put on the lorry out of sequence and careful plans have been thrown off kilter.'

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Had they been loaded in a set order, we'd have been able to lift them straight off the wagon - 1, 2, 3, 4.

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And they would have fit all together at the same time. Hasn't happened.

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They're having to drop them in different places and when the last few go in they'll have to

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shuffle them up to make sure they're all in the right spot for when the roof trusses come.

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'It all means a bit more work for the crane driver,

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'but builder Andy seems unruffled and eventually all the major wooden bases are carefully in their place.'

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-Down a touch more.

-The last piece just going in now.

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You always get snags in construction, but you work it out. It's a bonus when it goes right!

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'Phase one of today's transformation is now complete

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'and after a minor stumble with the floorboards, conducting the timber trusses is trouble-free.

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MUSIC: "The Blue Danube"

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'With builder Andy orchestrating affairs,

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'the frames soon glide gracefully into their allotted roles in a performance that raises the roof.

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'Fitting the floorboards and roof has been a waltz. It's taken just four and a half hours

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'and Andy and Carol's project has definitely reached a new peak.'

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We're beginning to see now where the roof's going to go, the height of it.

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-All the trusses are going in and everything's falling into place.

-It's quite a big step forward.

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-It's a massive step forward.

-Yeah.

-I look forward to sitting in the garden with a glass of something.

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Heaven.

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'Over the next few weeks, the site is buzzing again

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'as the house is made watertight and the concrete flooring is laid.

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'Five months in and with the house protected from the elements,

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'I'll check up on what Carol is making of her tough site manager's role.'

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-How do, guv'nor?

-Hiya.

-How are you?

-Fine, thanks.

-Where's Andy?

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-Oh, he's working today.

-What, he's on the road?

-Yeah.

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-Shall we have a look then?

-Okey-doke.

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I'll get my hat on.

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-Well, I am very, very impressed.

-It's not doing so bad.

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-It's doing great, innit?

-Yeah.

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There was this theory that when you went for the polystyrene block system,

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it would make it easier to construct and it's gone up at a good rate.

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-It has. There is a lot more to it than you think.

-Isn't that always the way?

-Always.

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I were thinking two weeks up, what have you, but then by the time they've built it all up

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and they've sealed it all off and then made it solid, so they can put the concrete in,

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obviously, you know, all that takes time.

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-We can't go in here. It's all been screeded.

-You must leave it a week.

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-The ground floor went to plan. I don't want to see that. What have you been changing?

-Everything.

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-Go on, I'll foot the ladder. You go.

-Oh, gosh.

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'The couple plan to live entirely on the ground floor

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'with a suite of bedrooms upstairs for occasional guests only.

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'No chance of son Gareth getting a permanent bed then.

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'Their original idea was to have just two rooms upstairs,

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'but they've had a rethink after seeing the size of the roof space and decided on three beds instead.'

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This one had an en-suite here, then the family bathroom was there.

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-OK.

-But then we realised that the two bedrooms were actually bigger than our bedroom downstairs,

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so we can't have that.

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You changed your plans just because you can't have your guest bedrooms bigger than your master bedroom?

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Of course.

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'Although upstairs may not be used that often,

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'the decision to add an extra bedroom could put £25,000 on to the house's value.

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'With the couple's master bedroom downstairs, this is now turning into a substantial four-bedroom home.

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'It promises to be cosy too.

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'One main reason the couple warmed to this type of build

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'was because the polystyrene blocks are designed to ensure the house retains its heat.'

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-Can you tell how efficient this is?

-Yeah.

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If you put your hand against it just here

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or lean on it...

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-Lean...?

-Lean on it.

-OK. All right. All right.

0:24:070:24:10

(She's lost it!) OK, so we're just leaning on your wall.

0:24:100:24:14

Yeah, and then you can feel the heat.

0:24:140:24:17

-Blimey!

-Your own heat is reflected back to your...

-You really, really can as well.

0:24:170:24:23

I can feel my hands now getting warm because none of my heat is going into that.

0:24:230:24:28

-It's all being reflected back into the room.

-Yeah.

0:24:280:24:31

'But is the whole project enough to give Carol a warm glow inside?'

0:24:310:24:36

You seem in fine fettle.

0:24:360:24:38

Has it been as easy as you thought or has it been harder?

0:24:380:24:42

Where are you sitting with this whole thing emotionally?

0:24:420:24:46

I've had a few sleepless nights over it.

0:24:460:24:49

What has been the one thing that kind of kept you awake, going, "Oh, no"?

0:24:490:24:54

Probably the money side of it. As the house goes up, your money's going down.

0:24:540:24:59

And it's just sort of hoping that one's going to match the other when it gets to the end.

0:24:590:25:05

And have you felt added pressure because Andy's been away and back on the road?

0:25:050:25:10

And has he felt pressure as well because of that?

0:25:100:25:14

-He must be quite frustrated.

-I think he is.

0:25:140:25:17

It was his idea originally to build our own house.

0:25:170:25:21

-I reckon that you're probably jealous of him and he's probably jealous of you.

-Yeah, probably.

0:25:210:25:28

He can get away from it all and it's not his responsibility.

0:25:280:25:32

But the flip side of that coin is you're here in the heart of it, in the thick of it,

0:25:320:25:37

watching it all happen with the excitement going on, and he's thinking, "I want to be there."

0:25:370:25:43

-I think you should swap places. You get in the truck.

-Maybe not a good idea.

-OK, just a thought.

0:25:430:25:49

'A few weeks later and Carol might have wished she'd gone for the job swap after all.

0:25:560:26:02

'Although on the outside, everything looks good, the story inside is far from rosy.'

0:26:020:26:09

We knew our job was going too well, really.

0:26:090:26:12

We've had a bit of a disaster in this last week.

0:26:120:26:17

On one day, we were expecting delivery of our ventilation unit.

0:26:180:26:24

When it came, only half of it arrived,

0:26:240:26:27

so...not too pleased about that, really.

0:26:270:26:30

The same day, we thought the garage door was being delivered.

0:26:300:26:36

It was supposed to have a two-week run-in

0:26:360:26:39

and we'd ordered it at least eight weeks ago.

0:26:390:26:43

They've told us it'll be another eight weeks before that's delivered.

0:26:430:26:48

Unfortunately, it's held everything up.

0:26:480:26:51

'The setback threatens to throw the couple's carefully laid plans off schedule.

0:26:510:26:56

'And with money becoming tight, the danger is their finances could be blown off course as well.

0:26:560:27:02

'Dabbling in DIY is a good way for self-builders, in fact any home owner, to save some cash.

0:27:070:27:13

'But it helps if you know what you're doing, so I'm taking a crash course of classes.

0:27:130:27:20

'Today, I'm trying tiling with tutor Paul Anderson.'

0:27:210:27:25

-I'm ready for a night on the tiles or that should be a day on the tiles. Sorry, Paul.

-That's terrible.

0:27:330:27:39

I don't get any better. See if you can get me better at tiling.

0:27:390:27:43

'Paul's marked an area he wants me to tile and the spirit level ensures I'll fix them in straight lines.

0:27:440:27:51

'Time to pick out a pattern.'

0:27:510:27:54

-OK...

-I'd just like to point out that it's Paul choice of tiles, not mine. I wouldn't have gone for them.

0:27:540:28:00

I've got them in my bathroom.

0:28:000:28:02

Have you?

0:28:020:28:04

'He's obviously joking... I think!

0:28:040:28:07

'I've done tiling before, but today I'm getting great professional tips

0:28:090:28:13

'from the wooden batten to keep the tiles in place

0:28:130:28:16

'to only applying adhesive one row at a time.'

0:28:160:28:20

You can put enough on for one square metre, but be careful of the water taking moisture out of the adhesive.

0:28:200:28:26

-That's when you get loose ones after you've finished.

-Falling off, yeah.

0:28:260:28:30

-Have you had that before?

-I just feel sorry for anyone who's bought a house off me.

0:28:300:28:37

'I reckon Paul thinks I'm a bit of a cowboy

0:28:370:28:40

'and my adhesive application doesn't win him over.'

0:28:400:28:44

Have you ever decorated cakes? LAUGHTER

0:28:440:28:47

'Paul shows me how it should be done.'

0:28:470:28:49

-Then holding that at about 45 degrees to the wall...

-Yeah.

0:28:490:28:53

'And we're ready to tile.'

0:28:550:28:57

Which way are they in your bathroom?

0:28:590:29:02

-That way.

-OK, I'm sticking with your missus.

0:29:020:29:05

'To give me a helping hand, Paul kindly starts me off.

0:29:050:29:09

'Between the tiles, two millimetre spacer pegs.'

0:29:110:29:15

We don't use matchsticks as people seem to think.

0:29:160:29:20

'Who would do that?'

0:29:200:29:23

All you need to know about tiling is one on top of the other, shiny side down.

0:29:240:29:29

OK? You can't go wrong.

0:29:300:29:33

'Armed with those words of wisdom, this cowboy becomes the Lone Ranger.'

0:29:330:29:38

-Next six tiles, how long are you going to give me?

-Eight minutes.

0:29:400:29:44

-Eight minutes? OK. Starting...?

-Now.

-Right, here we go.

0:29:440:29:48

'If this was a game show, I'm pretty sure I'd be winning...

0:29:490:29:54

'nothing.

0:29:540:29:56

'And as a host, Paul is very much in the Anne Robinson mould.'

0:29:560:30:01

You should have some tiles on by now.

0:30:010:30:03

-Four minutes.

-OK, OK.

0:30:060:30:09

'Although to be fair, he does become the apprentice and cuts my tiles.'

0:30:090:30:13

-There you go, boss.

-Yeah.

0:30:140:30:17

Whatever, yeah. Who's done that?

0:30:170:30:19

-How did I do?

-One minute...over.

0:30:210:30:24

You were messing about with the cutting. I'd have been all right otherwise.

0:30:250:30:30

'OK, so we've not left my handiwork for the recommended 24 hours,

0:30:310:30:36

'but I'm not leaving without some tips on grouting.'

0:30:360:30:39

I've done grouting plenty of times and I always make a pig's ear of it, so I'm willing to learn, definitely.

0:30:390:30:46

'The first thing to do is clean off all the excess adhesive.'

0:30:480:30:53

Put a bit of effort into it, if you want.

0:30:530:30:56

Grout float, OK?

0:30:590:31:01

-So this is the answer.

-Yeah, yeah. Brilliant.

-It's to have the right tools.

0:31:020:31:08

-Just watch out for the spider holes.

-The spider holes?

0:31:080:31:12

-What's a spider hole?

-Just a hole where spiders can come out of.

0:31:120:31:16

But that is actually the...?

0:31:160:31:19

You're having me on. You're making this up as you go along!

0:31:190:31:23

'Ten minutes later, and with the grout smooth between the tiles, my work here is done.'

0:31:230:31:30

-Out of ten?

-Out of ten? Let's have a good, close look at it.

0:31:300:31:34

He's serious here as well.

0:31:340:31:37

Look at him.

0:31:370:31:39

-I'd give that a nine out of ten.

-A nine?

-Yeah.

-Yes!

0:31:390:31:43

-Oh, spider hole! Could be eight.

-There is a spider hole there.

0:31:430:31:48

'Those flipping spider holes! They drive me up the wall!'

0:31:480:31:52

'In North Yorkshire, the Scotts' build is a month behind schedule

0:31:580:32:03

'and starting to creep over budget too.

0:32:030:32:07

'Delays in equipment arriving have meant the builders have had to stay on the job for a few weeks longer.

0:32:070:32:14

'To save cash, Andy and Carol have decided to roll up their sleeves

0:32:140:32:19

'and tackle some of the interior plasterboarding themselves.'

0:32:190:32:23

There we go, the whole piece up.

0:32:270:32:29

It's taken us about 40 minutes, but, uh...

0:32:310:32:35

From what I can see, we haven't done a bad job.

0:32:350:32:39

'That's just as well because guess who's got to paint it all too!'

0:32:390:32:44

It seems a bit of a daunting task because every single room is going to need decorating,

0:32:440:32:50

but hopefully, we'll get the downstairs done, then we can move in

0:32:500:32:55

and then finish the rest, you know, at our leisure sort of thing.

0:32:550:33:00

'But the race to cross the finishing line is bringing its own pressures.'

0:33:000:33:06

Up to now, it sort of seemed quite calm. Every week, somebody's been coming, doing a bit,

0:33:060:33:12

then just this last couple of weeks, everybody's been coming and so many things are having to be delivered.

0:33:120:33:19

There's lots and lots of things happening all at once

0:33:190:33:22

and it's just a matter of keeping all the balls in the air, juggling.

0:33:220:33:27

'On the plus side, a complication with the garage door which caused part of the overrun is now fixed.'

0:33:270:33:33

Today, we're having the garage door fitted, and after that, it will be sealed up.

0:33:330:33:38

Hey!

0:33:390:33:41

Good seal on there.

0:33:420:33:46

'But while the ducting has been fitted for the all-singing, all-dancing ventilation system,

0:33:460:33:51

'the main pump unit has still not arrived and its delay is causing a bit of a stink.'

0:33:510:33:57

We've been told it's in Germany,

0:33:570:34:00

but my husband goes to Germany every week.

0:34:000:34:04

We've offered to bring it over, but we've not had any reply yet.

0:34:040:34:09

It is becoming a little bit of an issue now.

0:34:090:34:12

When we originally ordered the unit,

0:34:120:34:14

seemingly, it hadn't been passed for the British building regulations,

0:34:140:34:20

the new ones that have come in.

0:34:200:34:22

It has now, seemingly,

0:34:220:34:25

but whether that was something to do with the delay...

0:34:250:34:28

'When ordering household equipment from abroad,

0:34:290:34:32

'it's always worth checking it complies with British building regulations

0:34:320:34:37

'or you could face potentially costly problems.

0:34:370:34:41

'The Scotts have lost about £1,000 in delays and paperwork to do with their fresh air supply.

0:34:410:34:46

'But will all these expensive hold-ups ultimately affect the final finish?

0:34:460:34:52

'11 months after the polystyrene blocks arrived to signal the start of this build,

0:34:530:34:59

'trucker Andy and his wife Carol's dream home has reached the end of the road.

0:34:590:35:05

'They've moved in and I'm back to have a sneaky look over the wall to see what they've achieved.'

0:35:050:35:10

The wall looks very familiar, but what's going on behind it?

0:35:100:35:15

Well, something is looking very pretty in pink.

0:35:160:35:19

'The four-bedroom home is a testament to the couple's hard work

0:35:220:35:28

'and although there is still some tidying up in the garden to do,

0:35:280:35:32

'all the major headaches are now behind them.'

0:35:320:35:35

-Hi.

-Hello, hello.

-Come in. Hiya.

0:35:350:35:37

-Is it warm? It should be. Hiya.

-Hiya.

-How are you?

0:35:370:35:41

'Downstairs, the floor plan of kitchen, lounge and bedroom has been designed

0:35:420:35:48

'to give them everything they need within reach as they get older.

0:35:480:35:52

'Carol's done the majority of the decorating herself, but I've noticed one thing she's missed.'

0:35:520:35:58

How can I put this diplomatically? I'm not sure about the rustic flooring.

0:35:590:36:04

Well, you know, beggars can't be choosers.

0:36:040:36:07

What do you mean by "beggars can't be choosers"?

0:36:070:36:11

I think the money went elsewhere and we'll get round to it.

0:36:110:36:15

We'll have to wait a few months before we do this

0:36:150:36:19

because the piggy bank is empty at the moment.

0:36:190:36:23

'That also means that some of the rooms upstairs are still works in progress.

0:36:230:36:29

'However, they've finished the main family bathroom.

0:36:290:36:33

'And one of the guest bedrooms is almost complete too.

0:36:350:36:39

'For the moment, Carol and Andy are happy enough enjoying their downstairs living.'

0:36:390:36:44

-Wow!

-This is the kitchen-diner.

0:36:440:36:46

Great space. You immediately gravitated here. Is this the heart of the home?

0:36:460:36:51

-Without a doubt.

-If ever we have guests or visitors, friends round,

0:36:510:36:56

we always tend to end up in the kitchen,

0:36:560:36:59

so we like it because nobody is cut off at all.

0:36:590:37:03

-We're sat round the table.

-It's 21st century living, isn't it?

0:37:030:37:07

'The ventilation system which caused them so much grief has finally come up trumps,

0:37:070:37:12

'especially as it comes with its own integrated vacuum system.'

0:37:120:37:16

-You switch it on and then you get a brush. You can brush all your bits and things in there.

-No!

0:37:160:37:23

SOUND OF VACUUM SYSTEM DROWNS OUT SPEECH

0:37:230:37:26

..into the garage.

0:37:270:37:29

That's fabulously lazy!

0:37:310:37:34

'The couple had been staying with their son Gareth for the last three years,

0:37:350:37:40

'but at last, they've got their own bedroom back.'

0:37:400:37:44

It must be such a delight to get all your own stuff out of storage again.

0:37:440:37:48

It's wonderful, yeah. We've got our own bed and we can get a decent night's sleep.

0:37:480:37:53

You forget what you've got. It was a while in storage and it was nice to unpack everything again.

0:37:530:38:00

'And crucially, they are no longer living out of a suitcase.

0:38:000:38:04

'The huge wall-to-wall cupboards Carol dreamt of

0:38:040:38:07

'mean they've both got plenty of space to let their wardrobes breathe.

0:38:070:38:13

'So far, so good. But before the tour continues, there's one thing I need to ask Carol on her own.'

0:38:140:38:20

-There's something I'd like to do with you upstairs. Excuse us.

-OK.

0:38:200:38:24

'Last time I was here, Carol and I had a rather unusual experience in one of the bedrooms.'

0:38:240:38:31

-So we're just leaning on your wall?

-Yeah.

0:38:310:38:34

Then it all feels warm.

0:38:340:38:36

'I'm keen to see if her affection for the upstairs rooms will remain the same.'

0:38:360:38:41

OK, here we go. Are you ready?

0:38:410:38:43

You are the only person I've ever met that made me hug a wall, so I thought we'd try it out again.

0:38:430:38:49

'One of the reasons the couple chose their polystyrene block construction was to cut down on fuel bills.

0:38:490:38:55

'The walls reflect heat and don't allow any warmth to escape.'

0:38:550:38:59

-Upstairs in the house, there's no radiators or...

-Or under-floor heating.

-Or under-floor heating.

0:38:590:39:05

-Yet it's just absolutely fine.

-Yeah.

0:39:050:39:08

Anyway, we'd better get back down. He'll be worried. Come on.

0:39:080:39:12

'As the wife of a long-distance lorry driver,

0:39:190:39:22

'Carol is used to a journey with a few twists and turns.

0:39:220:39:26

'But steering this build through to delivery while Andy was on the road has brought unexpected rewards.'

0:39:260:39:32

Carol, as this process has gone on, you started off... I wouldn't say unsure of yourself,

0:39:320:39:38

but not too certain of yourself and now you're almost a different person, having managed this.

0:39:380:39:44

-I'd agree with that.

-It's true.

0:39:440:39:46

At first, I didn't want to take it on. That was the worst thing.

0:39:460:39:50

Then once I'd decided to, it was like, "Right, I'd better find out what I'm doing here."

0:39:500:39:56

It was a case of that you had to take it on.

0:39:560:39:59

We were looking at project managers and we just couldn't find anybody

0:39:590:40:04

that would really give us what we wanted.

0:40:040:40:07

'And it seems bank clerk Carol has definitely managed to do that.

0:40:100:40:14

'But how has she fared when it comes to the finances?

0:40:140:40:18

'The land cost the couple £102,000,

0:40:180:40:20

'while the build came in at 180,000, including an overspend of 30 grand.

0:40:200:40:25

'So with a total bill of £282,000, do the sums add up?'

0:40:260:40:32

-We've had this place valued.

-Right.

-Right.

-Yes.

0:40:330:40:37

It's around 275.

0:40:370:40:40

-So...

-Right.

0:40:400:40:42

I wouldn't say a small loss because you're not finished yet.

0:40:420:40:46

-No.

-When you've finished turfing and all that. So break even at least. What do you think?

0:40:460:40:52

Actually, that's better than I would have thought

0:40:520:40:55

-because anybody who bought a house three years ago would probably be losing a lot more.

-Oh, yes.

0:40:550:41:02

Or it wouldn't be worth what they paid for it at the time.

0:41:020:41:06

'The plot was bought at the top of the market and to break even during the slump that followed

0:41:060:41:12

'is no mean achievement.'

0:41:120:41:14

-Stay there. I have a present for you. Don't you move.

-Ooh!

0:41:150:41:19

'The house might represent Andy and Carol's future, but they can't quite escape their past.

0:41:190:41:25

'Their son Gareth, who has put them up for the past couple of years, likes the new house so much,

0:41:250:41:31

'he might sell up and move in. Just in case he does, I've got a present to make everyone feel at home.'

0:41:310:41:37

I know you're missing Gareth and everything, so...

0:41:370:41:41

LAUGHTER

0:41:410:41:43

When did you get him to do that?

0:41:430:41:45

We just had a word with him.

0:41:450:41:47

That's wonderful.

0:41:470:41:50

All the gestures mean something. "Where are you?"

0:41:500:41:53

-Yeah.

-"Isn't it about time you moved out?"

0:41:530:41:56

"Thank heavens they've gone!"

0:41:560:41:59

-"Hello, I'm moving in with you!"

-Yeah.

-That is brilliant.

0:41:590:42:03

-There you go.

-Thank you.

-That's for you.

-Yeah, that's brilliant.

0:42:030:42:07

-We shall have to find a spot for that.

-I'll kill him.

0:42:070:42:11

-Put it up in Gareth's new bedroom!

-Yeah.

-Yeah.

0:42:110:42:15

'So even if this whole project means their family life goes back to square one, was it all worth it?'

0:42:150:42:21

-Definitely worth it in the end. I can say that now.

-If I need a project manager, I'll be calling, mate.

0:42:210:42:27

Well, I'll tell you this much about you two.

0:42:270:42:30

I have seen people collapse when they've just had the builders round to have their kitchen extended.

0:42:300:42:36

In panic, in a sweat, and just can't organise that.

0:42:360:42:41

So, to take it on, and I know you agree with me, Andy,

0:42:410:42:45

to take this on, to be project manager and end up with this amazing result,

0:42:450:42:50

it's hats off to you both, really.

0:42:500:42:53

And also you having the trust in her to do that is just fantastic.

0:42:560:43:00

Well done, you two. What a brilliant job you've done!

0:43:000:43:04

Subtitles by Subtext for Red Bee Media Ltd 2011

0:43:190:43:23

Email [email protected]

0:43:230:43:26

Can long-distance lorry driver Andy Scott and his wife Carol navigate a difficult road while self-building a new home made from polystyrene blocks in North Yorkshire? Plus the tale of the kitchen designers with six children who built their very own ranch in the Scottish borders, and presenter Simon O'Brien tries his hand at tiling at building college.


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