Episode 9 To Build or Not to Build


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Episode 9

Series following some of the UK's 20,000 self-builders, including a couple building an eco-cottage in Bedfordshire and a Sheffield builder fulfilling a 30-year dream.


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We all dream of owning the perfect home,

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but finding a property that suits both your wallet

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and your way of life isn't easy. Well, 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

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and opt to build their own home. We'll be following some of them

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as they go from foundations to finishing touches.

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It's certainly been relentless.

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You don't get any time off for good behaviour.

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Along the way, our brave self-builders will experience

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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 could go pear-shaped?

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But if they can overcome these trials and tribulations,

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

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So if you're looking for your perfect pad,

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the question is simple...

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to build or not to build?

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On today's show...

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We follow the professional builder

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taking a tiring busman's holiday to build his own home.

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It is a wearing process. You keep thinking,

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we'll get to the next stage and then I'll put my feet up.

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The self-builders in Sheffield who finally realised a lifelong ambition.

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You put your heart and soul into it for such a long time.

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I think it's lived up to my dream. Yeah, definitely.

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And I'm learning plumbing at building college

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where it's clear I should pipe down and pay more attention.

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More pipe!

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We all know that when it comes to property, location is crucial.

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Many people find what they hope will be that very special place

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only to discover that whilst they love the delightful neighbourhood,

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the res is not quite as des as they'd hoped.

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Whilst many may choose to look elsewhere,

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braver souls opt to stay put and go for a far more dramatic option.

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This is Scott Nicholls and Emma Robinson.

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They've always had their heart set on having a home here

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in the picturesque Bedfordshire village of Felmersham.

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Two years ago, that desire became reality

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when they bought a 19th century one-bedroom stone cottage

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in the heart of the village for £185,000.

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But they soon realised that while the location was fantastic,

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their historic home wasn't.

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The old house has got quite a lot of problems.

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It's very small, built for a different era really

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and it's very damp.

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No central heating.

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It's absolutely freezing cold with only a back boiler.

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Someone had built an extension on it in the Sixties

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and it had just been really poorly done.

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It's come to the end of its natural life.

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Scott and Emma originally intended to extend their cramped cottage,

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but they were devastated when the planners turned down

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the application because it would look out of place in the village.

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Remarkably, they advised Scott and Emma to tear down the whole lot

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and design something new that was in keeping with the surroundings.

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And that's exactly what they intend to do.

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The new five-bed detached home

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will be three times the size of the old place

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and match neighbouring properties built in local stone.

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While it will be traditional on the outside,

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this place will be packed with the latest green technology

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to boost energy efficiency to the max.

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Scott hopes to build this stunning family home in under seven months

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and for around £200,000.

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We wanted to build a low-energy house that looked

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like a conventional stone house in one of those little villages

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just to prove that it doesn't have to be a modern, avant-garde,

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all glass, all concrete looking box

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to have the sort of really low energy consumption that we're aiming at.

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A builder by trade, Scott had the confidence

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to take on the job of the demolition by himself.

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He's worked in the family construction business for the last 14 years

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and has opted to take a break from building other people's homes to concentrate on his own.

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But just because he's a professional doesn't mean this is going to be a smooth ride.

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Whenever we build something, you see things you don't like

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and you say, well, it's their house, it's their decision.

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But if we don't like anything, it's obviously going to be down to us

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and the buck stops here. Obviously, it's my money at risk as well.

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If there's any problems in the footings...

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Normally, if it's a customer's house and we find bad ground,

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then they have to foot the bill. Obviously, in this situation, we do.

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While Scott's on the job building,

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saleswoman Emma's on the road working

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and day dreaming about the finished house.

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Really looking forward to having a large kitchen

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so we can have friends over.

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I love to have people in the house and entertain

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and I can't wait to have the ability to have people over to stay.

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Having wilfully flattened their home,

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the couple will live with Scott's parents

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for the duration of the project.

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Let's hope Emma gets on with the in-laws.

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Seven months is a long time to play happy families.

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That won't be the only relationship under pressure

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and I'm in Felmersham to meet the builder and his demanding client.

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Right then. Come on, tell us what's going on. Explain to us.

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What we have is...

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This is a biggish single garage down here,

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leading to a utility room behind.

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This is a kitchen diner.

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That's where the sink'll be, that's the sink waste.

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This is the kitchen?

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Yeah, that is the beginnings of a kitchen.

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Are you happy with the position of the sink?

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There's going to be a window here where I can look out onto the street.

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-Isn't that worrying, a view across to the pub?

-Very.

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Turnaround, clients. What are we looking at a now, builder?

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Um... There's a set of treble opening patio doors at the end

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looking out onto the garden, dining room...

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and there'll be a log burner there-ish.

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And then this will all be kitchen cupboards

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with a little peninsular unit to separate the two off.

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And whose idea was it to have this really opened-through view

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so you can look from the front to the back of the house clean through.

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Funnily enough, I think we've always been keen on a kitchen-diner.

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You can have friends in the dining room sitting around

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and somebody'll be cooking.

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-We're always at the kitchen in parties, frankly.

-Definitely.

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For me though, the real party piece of this home

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will be its environmental credentials.

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Is that quite important to both of you,

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the fact that you're doing this in a sustainable way?

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The house has been designed to be an eco house,

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it should have a very low space heating demand.

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It should generate a lot, if not all of its own electricity,

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have some solar thermal on the roof.

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We also have a rainwater harvester.

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It's dug into the ground already and it'll collect the rainwater

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and flush the toilets so we won't be on the meter for things like that.

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Installing these eco features

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will add approximately £20,000 to Scott and Emma's build budget.

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But, with new initiatives such as the ability to sell any excess

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electricity they generate to the National Grid,

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the couple's investment should begin to pay back almost straight away.

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We think if we put the amount of solar electricity on the roof

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that we want, we could possibly get up to two mortgage payments a year.

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-Say no more.

-It's a holiday.

-Absolutely.

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It certainly is a holiday. And you'll need one after this.

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'While Emma can escape the mud back to her day job,

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'this is unlikely to be a summer of fun for Scott.'

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Do you think the builder feels more or less pressure

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because he's building your home?

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More. Definitely more.

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Yeah, it's there and we're under time pressure,

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because obviously on this there's no-one else picking up the bill.

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We're under a lot of pressure that way.

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Not only that we're going to be living here,

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so we need to get the finish right and we need to do it quickly.

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You mentioned you got to get on with this, get it finished,

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get on with it.

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We should check out the local, shouldn't we? Enjoy, see you later.

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'The next stage is preparing the foundations.'

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However, these ground works provide the odd shock

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for both Scott and his neighbours.

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We've just finished doing

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our first day's proper foundation.

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A little bit traumatic because of that.

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That's a joint mains electricity cable.

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When we dug around it it went pop

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and everyone up the street spent the night without any power.

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So we're not that popular at the moment.

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It's all fixed and we've got some footing in, which is good.

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Building sites can cause no end of disruption,

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so keeping your neighbours onside is crucial.

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After all, you're going to end up living next door.

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Busy saleswoman in the week, come the weekend,

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Emma's job is on site giving Scott and the team a hand.

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And many hands make light work of the heavy concrete floor beams.

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Into the second month of the build

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and activity on site is a little less frenetic.

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However, a decision about his window supplier

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is causing Scott to get stressed.

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The initial company we wanted to use for the windows,

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took a very long time to get our quote back.

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So I went out to someone else.

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But the window specification is slightly different which means

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the openings in the building are slightly different,

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so everything's been rejigged.

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By switching supplier, in mean Scott's windows are now

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a different size to the spaces he's allowed for them.

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And not knowing the exact measurements

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could ultimately hold up the build.

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Bearing in mind if you going to start stonework on Monday,

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we need to know the size of the frames for then

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because some of the door frames and full-length windows

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come down to where we're now.

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So it's something we need to know now, which means

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getting information from other people, which is always a nightmare.

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There's at least one thing that's lifting Scott's mood.

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Getting ready for the first bit of super-duper insulation

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we're putting in which is a load-bearing blown glass

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which goes in the brick course to stop the cold coming up

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or all the warmth going down from the house.

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It's quite a new product in this country so we're excited.

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We're getting it tomorrow, I think.

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At £1,000, that one row is 25 times the cost of normal breeze blocks,

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but insulation is probably the most important,

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energy-saving feature you can install and any additional cost

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should eventually be outweighed by future savings.

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Those reduced heating bills are a long way off

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and with self-building there's only one way to keep on budget.

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Just have to work longer, harder and quicker.

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So I've got loads of extra money at the end.

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So I can have my posh kitchen.

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The chance to build your own home is often

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the result of years of planning and dreaming.

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Growing up in Sheffield, paper company director,

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Paul Ferne's childhood ambition was to become an architect

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and build his own perfect place.

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30 years later,

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he's finally been able to fulfil at least one of those lifelong desires.

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This anonymous looking bungalow in a Sheffield suburb

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may not appear that special, but this place is anything but ordinary.

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Because this is the house that led to one young man

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realising his dream to design and build

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his own fantastic family home.

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And boy, after more than 30 years of waiting, how he's pulled it off!

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For Paul, his wife Cathy and their daughter Maddy, the vision

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he planned at the bottom of his parents' garden

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has paid off spectacularly.

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They lived in it for about 32 years. They sold it to us because they had

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permission to build a house in their back garden.

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And we then started altering the plans on that house

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to build the house that we wanted.

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You don't get many opportunities like that,

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so we just had to take it.

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And take it they did.

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But the idea still took another six years to fully blossom.

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Various initial plans were rejected as being wildly over ambitious

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but after scaling the project down, work finally began in May 2009.

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We could have just given up.

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We'd come that far and we got 90% of the house there.

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We just had to scale back a little bit, chop little bits off.

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But as it happened we ended up with a bigger house

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for much less than we originally priced up for.

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The house and garden cost the couple £320,000

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and they set themselves a similar budget to build.

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The design is contemporary with three different exterior finishes

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built around a timber clad, central drum.

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This is the hub of the house.

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We've designed it so we'd got a huge open area, living area.

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We've tested this out as a dancefloor already and it's good.

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The drum area was designed because it's south-facing

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and we've put punch windows in everywhere, so you get little bits

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of light coming in all over it and it changes throughout the day.

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People say to us, "Are you not going to put curtains or blinds up?"

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Obviously that would be a huge expense,

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but it's there for a reason because it looks good.

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The sleek, modern look is continued inside,

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but while the couple agreed a most of the interior design,

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they did have differing opinions

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when it came to the smallest room in the house.

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So we just decided to split up on the bathrooms, I do one,

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he does the other.

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Ladies first.

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I wanted it to the opulent,

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I thought the chandelier was a nice touch.

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This is the one that I had more design influence over.

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I think it's more of a masculine sort of bathroom.

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Square taps, Cathy's is more flowery with chandeliers.

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It's the feel I wanted, it's a nice spar, relaxing feel.

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What ever spat they had over the bathrooms

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were resolved over a good meal.

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I love cooking, so I wanted

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it to be a space where we could invite people round

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and as I'm cooking you can talk to people at the same time.

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And after that we've got speakers above,

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so we can blast music out and everyone can just start dancing.

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It's a great area to be,

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and it's definitely my favourite part of the house.

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The kitchen cost £14,000 and Paul's mighty glad he bought it

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before their budget began to burst.

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With unexpected costs from essential road closures, drainage and materials,

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they were heading for a hefty overspend of £50,000.

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The one tip I'd say to anyone who's self-building,

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if there's anything you want, whether it's a piece of art,

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a kitchen, bathroom, whatever it happens to be,

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buy it at the very beginning because if you get to the end,

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you just won't be able to afford it.

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For daughter, Maddie,

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the home's flexible design has hit just the right note.

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With the music room

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and the bedroom with a walk-in wardrobe

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and the mini library, the transformation

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has been both an adventure and an education.

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I wasn't too sure when I moved in, but now I'm really love it.

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I like it that I can come out of my room

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and pick any book and just begin to read it whenever.

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For Paul and Cathy, who's an accountant,

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it's been a richly rewarding experience.

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The whole design for us has been such fun.

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I hate the word organic, but it has been like an organic process,

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that we've just gradually grown bits and altered bits and changed bits.

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And house looks good on the balance sheet too.

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They can sell their parents' bungalow

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for as much as they bought it

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and the £400,000 they spent on building

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has translated into a dream home worth 650,000.

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It's priceless, a house like this. Just, your own thing, isn't it?

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It's part of you. I don't know if anybody else would like it.

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Most people do. I wouldn't say it's to everybody's taste.

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You've got to live in it at least 10 years.

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You've spent all this time building it,

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you've put your heart and soul into it for so long, haven't we?

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I think it's lived up to my dream, yeah, definitely, yes.

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I can't think of anything that we'd change.

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I just think it's worked out perfect.

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While Paul might not have grown up to become an architect,

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by hoping to design and build this amazing home,

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his childhood ambition ultimately did come true.

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Back in the Bedfordshire village of Felmersham, three months

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after demolishing their old cottage,

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builder, Scott, and partner, Emma, are making good progress constructing their new one.

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After receiving the right measurements for the windows and doors,

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Scott's team got cracking with the stone walls,

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much to Emma's delight.

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They'll be at the first floor at the beginning of next week.

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Get the joists down and then we'll be on to the first floor, rather than the ground floor.

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We're doing really well. I can't believe how quickly it's gone up.

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Inside, rooms are rapidly starting to take shape too.

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This wall will be part of Scott's posh kitchen.

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But, it's not all good news.

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Work on re-routing the stream that runs through their garden

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has landed them in hot water with the authorities and Scott and Emma aren't happy.

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On Thursday, we had a site visit by the Environment Agency.

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It was regarding the fact that we put a pipe in the ditch

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rather than leaving it free flowing, which is what we had to do.

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Scott and Emma's building inspector advised them

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to divert the troublesome stream to prevent potential erosion

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of the foundations by the flowing water.

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But, before altering any watercourse

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that flows through your land, you first need to submit your plans

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to both the local authority and the Environment Agency for approval.

0:18:580:19:02

They didn't do both and Scott and Emma are now left with a raft of new issues to deal with.

0:19:020:19:07

We just need, possibly, to take it out and get permission,

0:19:070:19:10

then put it back in. If they won't give us permission,

0:19:100:19:13

we'll have to sort out the issues the building inspector has with the ditch,

0:19:130:19:17

which would mean probably getting involved with things like

0:19:170:19:20

structural engineers and soil samples and that sort of thing,

0:19:200:19:23

just to make sure that the house is going to stand on a decent foundation.

0:19:230:19:27

Unlike the stream, it's Scott and Emma's budget

0:19:270:19:30

that could now burst if they have to ditch the pipe.

0:19:300:19:33

It's just another potentially costly situation

0:19:330:19:36

for an already stressed-out Scott to deal with.

0:19:360:19:38

A month later and the house has had another growth spurt.

0:19:440:19:48

Things are moving so quickly, Scott's not sure

0:19:500:19:52

how long it's taken to get from the foundations to the current stage.

0:19:520:19:56

We are at week...

0:19:560:19:58

We're about week 12, I think, now.

0:20:040:20:07

We're more or less up at roof plate, which is where we want to be.

0:20:080:20:13

That means the house is almost ready for the rafters that will form the roof.

0:20:150:20:19

But, the speedy progress onsite has resulted in things coming to a standstill in the village.

0:20:210:20:27

We're working up to the boundary on the roadside, so the guys had to work in the carriageway

0:20:270:20:31

and even though it's a country lane, people do tend to fly up there a little bit.

0:20:310:20:35

So, for their safety, and just to make it possible,

0:20:350:20:38

we had to close one side of the road off.

0:20:380:20:42

But, in sleepy villages like Felmersham,

0:20:420:20:45

even the smallest disruption can ruffle a few feathers.

0:20:450:20:48

Some people are moaning about the traffic lights being in the road, but it had to be done.

0:20:480:20:54

After cutting off power in the village earlier in the build,

0:20:540:20:58

trouble over his traffic lights is the last thing Scott needs

0:20:580:21:01

when it comes to keeping the neighbours happy.

0:21:010:21:04

Three months after my first visit to Felmersham, the sun's shining

0:21:040:21:07

and it's the first day to catch up with Emma and Scott.

0:21:070:21:11

-A hive of activity?

-It is.

-It's coming on, though, isn't it?

-It really is.

0:21:110:21:15

The roof's on, or starting to go on.

0:21:150:21:18

That's pretty good going, isn't it?

0:21:180:21:19

-Yeah, it is, definitely.

-You must be getting excited now?

0:21:190:21:22

I think, once you can start to see the rooms it really does make a big difference.

0:21:220:21:26

You start to think about what you're going to put in the rooms, your furniture, everything.

0:21:260:21:31

Woah, give the lad a chance, Emma!

0:21:320:21:35

Scott's not even got the roof on and you're picking the soft furnishings!

0:21:350:21:40

Time to meet the man in charge and check out his handiwork.

0:21:400:21:43

First stop on my inspection, the kitchen-diner.

0:21:430:21:48

Now then, this is more interesting. View out to the back.

0:21:480:21:52

Yes. That's going to be where the wood burner sits.

0:21:520:21:57

It'll be the heat source for the entire house.

0:21:570:22:00

Are you both getting to a point,

0:22:000:22:02

where particularly you, as the builder,

0:22:020:22:04

you're in your comfort zone at the moment.

0:22:040:22:07

-Yeah.

-Is this going to take you out of your comfort zone?

0:22:070:22:10

I think so. The worry always is that you don't supply enough heat.

0:22:100:22:13

'To heat a home this size using a single wood burner is a bold move,

0:22:130:22:18

'but it's all part of Scott and Emma's aim to make their new house energy-efficient.

0:22:180:22:22

'The theory is that this one stove, coupled with the super insulation

0:22:220:22:26

'they're installing, should reduce heating bills,

0:22:260:22:30

'while keeping their home cosy.

0:22:300:22:32

-'But will it be enough?'

-We've had all calculations done.

0:22:320:22:34

It should work out fine. But until you actually get in

0:22:340:22:38

and go through the seasons and see what it does,

0:22:380:22:40

it's a bit of a worry.

0:22:400:22:42

If it does all go wrong, we have the option of putting a little boiler in

0:22:420:22:45

but obviously, the idea is not to do that and to have a house that

0:22:450:22:50

basically has a zero carbon heat demand.

0:22:500:22:53

Greener living's the goal.

0:22:530:22:54

By having a more conventional back-up option,

0:22:540:22:58

Scott's covered all eventualities - a very wise move indeed.

0:22:580:23:01

Downstairs, the rooms are shaping up nicely.

0:23:010:23:05

How about things on the first-floor?

0:23:050:23:08

So, stood here... Over this side?

0:23:080:23:11

Bedrooms two and three through there, more or less split down the middle, so half each.

0:23:110:23:16

-And this side, Emma?

-We've got the master bedroom through into a dressing room with an en-suite

0:23:160:23:21

and then the master bathroom at the end.

0:23:210:23:25

Family bathroom down the landing. Look at you and your fancy walk-in wardrobe!

0:23:250:23:29

-I'll just have to buy some clothes, then!

-Sorry, I'm being sexist here.

0:23:290:23:33

-It's not your walk-in wardrobe, is it?

-No, I have two items of clothing.

0:23:330:23:37

-Exactly, yeah! And you've got one on!

-That's it!

0:23:370:23:39

Like the way you dress, homes also reflect their owners' personalities,

0:23:410:23:46

especially when you've designed and built the place yourself.

0:23:460:23:49

With a further two rooms in the attic, this home's large,

0:23:490:23:52

but like Scott and Emma, it's definitely understated.

0:23:520:23:57

It seems bigger than you had before, that's fairly obvious, but still not too much.

0:23:570:24:01

-Do you know what I mean?

-I think so.

-Modest, isn't it?

0:24:010:24:04

-I think it'll give some decent living accommodation. It's not going to be huge.

-Yeah.

0:24:040:24:09

I suppose we've not gone massively luxurious but then,

0:24:090:24:12

we're not really massively luxurious people, I suppose.

0:24:120:24:17

'No lavish extras on the horizon.

0:24:170:24:19

'How healthy are Scott and Emma's finances

0:24:190:24:22

'midway through their self-build?'

0:24:220:24:25

I think we're on budget.

0:24:250:24:26

We've had to spend more on windows by a considerable amount.

0:24:260:24:30

It ended up being about £10,000 more for the windows than we thought.

0:24:300:24:34

-That's a big hit.

-It is, yeah.

0:24:340:24:36

-It always seems to be the case that change is what costs.

-Yeah.

0:24:360:24:40

If you change anything, there's always a cost implied.

0:24:400:24:44

-Well, it's coming on brilliant.

-We're not going to change anything else.

0:24:440:24:48

He said that. You heard that, didn't you?

0:24:480:24:50

Whether you're building your own house or not, it's definitely handy

0:24:550:24:59

if you're handy at DIY.

0:24:590:25:01

I'm putting my skills to the test, at Leeds College of Building.

0:25:020:25:07

Today's lesson is plumbing, and my teacher is Mark Cawood.

0:25:120:25:16

Pipes, talk me through them. Go on, pipe up.

0:25:240:25:28

Within the plumbing industry, there's a variety of pipes.

0:25:280:25:32

We've got copper, which comes in various sizes,

0:25:320:25:35

and we've got plastic, which is probably the newer stuff.

0:25:350:25:38

'When it comes to getting your copper pipes to the right length,

0:25:380:25:42

'you'll need this ingenious tool,

0:25:420:25:44

'surprisingly called a copper cutter.'

0:25:440:25:46

On the pipe, turn it around, all right? It slips through there.

0:25:460:25:52

'The traditional way to connect copper pipes is soldering,

0:25:520:25:57

'but you can use simple plastic push-fit connectors

0:25:570:25:59

'that easily and quickly join pipes together.

0:25:590:26:02

'Although, if you don't want to spoil the more aesthetically

0:26:020:26:05

'pleasing copper look, there is another way to pipe round corners.'

0:26:050:26:08

'The imaginatively named pipe bending machine.'

0:26:110:26:14

-Once that's parallel with that side...

-That's clever.

0:26:150:26:19

I like that. That's almost artistic, that.

0:26:190:26:22

'But I can't just stand around admiring pipe art.

0:26:230:26:25

'It's time for me to feel a bit of pressure.'

0:26:250:26:28

OK, Simon, this is our little task we've got set up for you.

0:26:310:26:34

We have a tap here, and we have a water pipe down there.

0:26:340:26:38

It's a case of joining that water pipe there up to this tap here.

0:26:380:26:44

-So, two push-fits and you want one kind of formed bend.

-Yes.

0:26:440:26:49

Just one question, why do you need another tap? You've got loads.

0:26:490:26:53

'Just for that comment, Mark has only given me ten minutes.'

0:26:560:27:00

'Oh, I won't need that, I don't think.'

0:27:020:27:05

-And it's as simple as that, you say?

-As simple as that.

0:27:070:27:11

You didn't mention that you need a grip...

0:27:110:27:14

Oh, hello, I like that, that's clever.

0:27:140:27:17

'Let's see how I do with that pipe bending machine.'

0:27:200:27:24

Here's hoping, hey?

0:27:240:27:26

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! I think there's a tiny problem.

0:27:260:27:30

More pipes!

0:27:340:27:36

'With two different width settings,

0:27:360:27:37

'it turns out I picked the wrong one for this size pipe.'

0:27:370:27:41

-15 mm, instead of the 22.

-That's what I did wrong?

0:27:410:27:45

-That's what you did wrong.

-Thanks for that clue.

0:27:450:27:48

'I'm feeling the nerves, now. Copper's not cheap these days.'

0:27:480:27:52

I'll have a tantrum if it doesn't work this time, I'll tell you that for nothing.

0:27:540:27:58

You can keep your set square.

0:28:000:28:03

'Now I'm competing with the clock.'

0:28:030:28:05

-Three minutes to go.

-Oh, hey!

0:28:070:28:10

One minute.

0:28:150:28:16

I hate that glee in your voice, you know that, don't you?

0:28:160:28:20

-30 seconds!

-Oh, it's wet down here!

0:28:220:28:24

Five,

0:28:260:28:28

four,

0:28:280:28:30

three,

0:28:300:28:31

two,

0:28:310:28:32

one.

0:28:320:28:34

Well, I finished, yeah, absolutely fine, that, mate.

0:28:350:28:39

'Time for the moment of truth. hopefully Mark will be

0:28:390:28:42

'gushing with compliments when I turn the water on.'

0:28:420:28:45

-Do you dare me?

-Go on, then.

-Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.

0:28:460:28:50

You have got sponges and towels and all that kind of stuff ready?

0:28:510:28:55

'Mission accomplished. We have running water.'

0:29:000:29:03

-It's coming out the tap.

-Turn the tap off.

0:29:030:29:06

Are you sure we want to turn the tap off?

0:29:060:29:09

'Err, in fact we have a bit too much running water.'

0:29:100:29:13

All right, that, mate. Don't look. I've got a little tiny leak here.

0:29:130:29:19

A slight drip, I can see.

0:29:190:29:21

Apart from that it seems all right, mate.

0:29:210:29:24

The water's supposed to be in the pipe.

0:29:240:29:27

'I don't think anyone will be tapping me up for plumbing jobs.'

0:29:270:29:30

Back in Bedfordshire, it's been five months since Scott Nicholls

0:29:400:29:44

and Emma Robinson began their self-build journey.

0:29:440:29:47

It's now July and their new home is really taking shape,

0:29:470:29:50

and the exterior is almost complete.

0:29:500:29:52

The sun may be shining, but Scott has winter firmly in mind.

0:29:530:29:58

I'm just putting some ducting in

0:30:010:30:04

for the heat recovery ventilation system.

0:30:040:30:07

We need to get it in before we cover in,

0:30:070:30:10

because where it goes up the sloping parts of the ceiling,

0:30:100:30:14

we need it to be in the insulation, so we're just tying that in.

0:30:140:30:18

The heat recovery system Scott is fitting will take warm air

0:30:200:30:23

from the kitchen and bathroom, and circulate it back around the house.

0:30:230:30:27

No radiators required, in theory.

0:30:270:30:29

This eco feature cost around £9,000, but Scott is convinced

0:30:290:30:33

this significant investment is sound.

0:30:330:30:36

They reckoned a good recovery ventilation system

0:30:390:30:41

can lower your energy bills by 40%,

0:30:410:30:44

so the payback time on it is really quite good.

0:30:440:30:47

Though the systems here should be doing a fine job

0:30:490:30:51

of conserving energy, the same can't be said for Scott.

0:30:510:30:55

Despite being a builder by trade,

0:30:550:30:57

the non-stop hard graft is taking its toll.

0:30:570:31:01

I'm quite tired.

0:31:010:31:03

I've got a lot of things going on on a lot of fronts.

0:31:030:31:05

Still trying to run a business and still trying to do this

0:31:050:31:08

is a wearing process, but you keep thinking,

0:31:080:31:12

"We'll get to the next stage and I'll put my feet up,"

0:31:120:31:14

but it never happens.

0:31:140:31:15

But, when you're building a home all by yourself,

0:31:150:31:18

there's few opportunities to relax.

0:31:180:31:22

A month later, and despite the fatigue,

0:31:270:31:30

Scott's determination isn't showing any signs of letting up.

0:31:300:31:34

The roof is now complete,

0:31:340:31:35

only missing a rather expensive cherry on top.

0:31:350:31:38

Today we are going to fit the photovoltaic panels to the roof

0:31:410:31:47

which we've already prepared with this in-roof mounting system.

0:31:470:31:51

So it should just be a case of wiring them together,

0:31:510:31:55

sticking the wires through into the roof space

0:31:550:31:58

and screwing them to the roof.

0:31:580:31:59

The panels cost 10 grand, but under a new

0:32:010:32:04

Government incentive, you'll be able to sell £1000

0:32:040:32:07

worth of energy every year

0:32:070:32:08

back to the National Grid for up to 25 years.

0:32:080:32:12

-0.02 of a volt.

-That should do.

-That'll do.

0:32:120:32:16

That'll get the old hairdryer going.

0:32:160:32:18

So recouping the cost of the solar panels shouldn't be difficult,

0:32:180:32:23

unlike fitting them evenly on the roof.

0:32:230:32:27

The solar panels aren't quite in line.

0:32:270:32:29

Got a bit of a step down and it's a bit difficult to see

0:32:290:32:32

how that's come about.

0:32:320:32:33

While the panel not fitting properly is only an aesthetic problem,

0:32:330:32:37

its cause has left Scott slightly baffled.

0:32:370:32:40

It's just weird, man.

0:32:400:32:41

I think it's just sitting on a lumpy bit of rafter.

0:32:410:32:45

But what can you do?

0:32:450:32:47

Oh, simply crack on, Scott.

0:32:470:32:49

The remaining 13 are soon up and neatly in position.

0:32:510:32:55

Scott will just have to live with that one wonky panel.

0:32:550:32:58

Two months later the scaffolding is down, the windows are in

0:33:040:33:07

and the solar panels are catching the October sun.

0:33:070:33:10

Inside, the plasterers are tackling the walls, leaving Scott

0:33:120:33:16

with the more exciting task of fitting his long-awaited kitchen.

0:33:160:33:20

But there's an early snag.

0:33:200:33:22

The problem here is that, um...

0:33:220:33:25

we're having to set the units ever so slightly in at one end

0:33:250:33:28

because the corner of the wall is slightly out of square.

0:33:280:33:31

It's probably about 3mm in.

0:33:310:33:32

This is where you'd normally point an accusing finger

0:33:320:33:35

at your builder, but in this case Scott is the builder. Scott?

0:33:350:33:38

I think the wall probably would have been square but perhaps

0:33:380:33:42

when the plasterers have plastered it they've put a little bit

0:33:420:33:45

too much in that corner.

0:33:450:33:46

Yeah, we'll pass the buck. It was definitely not us, it was someone else.

0:33:460:33:50

Oh, nicely wriggled!

0:33:500:33:52

For Scott and Emma, the kitchen was always going to be

0:33:520:33:55

the centrepiece of their new self-built home.

0:33:550:33:58

Their original budget was £20,000 but the unexpected extra glazing

0:33:580:34:01

cost earlier in the build meant they are now

0:34:010:34:04

down to just 10 grand for the kitchen.

0:34:040:34:07

When the windows quote came through it was a lot higher than what

0:34:070:34:12

we had originally been quoted, so we actually have to budget

0:34:120:34:15

for the kitchen in order to get some of the money back for the windows.

0:34:150:34:19

Despite the budget deficit, they still wanted the kitchen

0:34:190:34:22

to be as impressive as their triple glazed windows.

0:34:220:34:25

While some people might have been tempted to blow the budget anyway,

0:34:250:34:29

the couple cut their cloth accordingly.

0:34:290:34:31

Instead of buying from a retailer,

0:34:310:34:34

saleswoman Emma went direct to the supplier and used

0:34:340:34:37

her negotiating skills to get a high-spec kitchen they loved at a low, low price.

0:34:370:34:42

Going to the manufacturer direct has meant we've saved

0:34:420:34:47

10 to 15% off the cost. It's definitely one thing I think we've learned

0:34:470:34:51

from doing the house - get your first price,

0:34:510:34:53

try and beat them down and try and beat them down again,

0:34:530:34:56

because, more often than not, they'll try and do what they can for you.

0:34:560:34:59

Sound advice indeed!

0:34:590:35:01

With their self-build journey so close to completion, Emma's keen to

0:35:020:35:07

finally move out of the in-laws' and into her own home again.

0:35:070:35:11

It's been 10 months since we've had our own house and,

0:35:110:35:15

yeah, we do miss our own space.

0:35:150:35:18

Having your own time, having your own...

0:35:200:35:22

Just doing whatever you like, being able to get up

0:35:220:35:25

and wander to the bathroom when you want

0:35:250:35:27

and things like that.

0:35:270:35:29

And it's things like that that you miss, actually -

0:35:290:35:31

simple things that you'd never think about.

0:35:310:35:34

We're now at the point where Scott's stressed and I'm excited,

0:35:350:35:40

which isn't a great combination because, for Scott,

0:35:400:35:44

all he can see in this house is 10 more jobs,

0:35:440:35:48

and he knows exactly what way they have to be done

0:35:480:35:52

and how long they're going to roughly take and things like that,

0:35:520:35:55

whereas I just want to move in.

0:35:550:35:57

Well, it's four months since Scott drew up

0:35:590:36:01

that final countdown of jobs to do,

0:36:010:36:03

and it's about time I went back to Bedfordshire

0:36:030:36:05

to see how many he's managed to tick off.

0:36:050:36:08

Do you know what I love about Felmersham?

0:36:080:36:11

The peace and quiet of village life. No sound of a hectic self-build.

0:36:110:36:16

The village curtains were certainly twitching

0:36:180:36:20

when Scott and Emma decided to knock down

0:36:200:36:22

their quaint old cottage almost a year ago.

0:36:220:36:26

But what they've replaced it with has done them

0:36:260:36:30

and this much cherished plot proud.

0:36:300:36:32

That's a really simple,

0:36:350:36:37

traditional-looking house,

0:36:370:36:39

and it feels like it's been here forever.

0:36:390:36:41

This five-bedroom house is undeniably handsome and,

0:36:410:36:45

though it might give passers-by the slip by coming over all

0:36:450:36:47

traditional on the outside, it's clear that's just a front.

0:36:470:36:51

The solar panels are a shining example

0:36:510:36:53

of Scott and Emma's commitment to modern living.

0:36:530:36:56

And everywhere you look its heart is bang up to date.

0:36:560:37:00

-Hello, hello! Are you all right?

-How you doing?

0:37:000:37:03

It looks fantastic from the outside,

0:37:030:37:04

-but I'm dying to see inside. Can I?

-Come in, then.

0:37:040:37:08

Inside, the contrast between the old and the new couldn't be clearer.

0:37:130:37:16

Here the mix of natural wood and muted colours give the house

0:37:160:37:20

a calm, ordered feel which makes it a welcome refuge from the trials

0:37:200:37:24

they've had to endure during the construction.

0:37:240:37:27

The kitchen, which they feared they'd have to compromise on

0:37:280:37:31

because of the extra money spent on windows doesn't look second best.

0:37:310:37:36

You always said this was supposed to be kind of the heart of the home.

0:37:360:37:39

And it is, it definitely is.

0:37:390:37:42

We practically live in here don't we?

0:37:420:37:44

We spend a lot of our time in here,

0:37:440:37:47

we've had a few big meals, we did Christmas in here.

0:37:470:37:49

It works really well.

0:37:490:37:51

Scott and Emma are keen to keep their new house clear of clutter

0:37:530:37:56

and there's an understatement about much of what they've created.

0:37:560:38:00

Time to check out the bedrooms.

0:38:020:38:04

There are five in total on two different levels

0:38:040:38:07

and all of them provide ample room for when guests come to stay.

0:38:070:38:12

One area where Scott never pushed the boat out

0:38:120:38:14

is on their own bedroom suite, where one door...

0:38:140:38:18

And this is the master bedroom.

0:38:200:38:22

It's not too big, not too small.

0:38:220:38:25

It's just right.

0:38:250:38:26

'..leads to another...'

0:38:260:38:28

Walk-in wardrobe.

0:38:280:38:29

That's not a walk-in wardrobe. Good grief!

0:38:290:38:32

'..and Another.'

0:38:320:38:34

Hang on, I know what's through here.

0:38:340:38:37

Wow!

0:38:390:38:40

This is what I call an en- suite bathroom.

0:38:420:38:46

It's beautiful, really pleased with it.

0:38:460:38:48

Yes, it really works.

0:38:480:38:50

So I take it all back, I thought you were modest people, but you know.

0:38:540:38:59

But why not?

0:38:590:39:00

It's a bit of luxury.

0:39:000:39:02

Absolutely, if you're going through the heartache and stress

0:39:020:39:05

to get to this, absolutely brilliant.

0:39:050:39:08

I'm jealous now.

0:39:080:39:09

Scott and Emma have been living with Scott's parents

0:39:110:39:13

while their own house took shape.

0:39:130:39:15

Now with three luxury bathrooms of their own,

0:39:150:39:18

there's no longer any need to queue for a shower.

0:39:180:39:21

Downstairs, there's plenty more reason why it's nice

0:39:210:39:25

to be back in the home of their own.

0:39:250:39:27

It must feel fabulous to have all your personal possessions,

0:39:290:39:32

which have just been boxed up, where you want them?

0:39:320:39:35

One of the strangest things I've missed is paintings and ornaments.

0:39:350:39:42

-Personal things?

-Yeah.

0:39:420:39:44

It's a long while and it's nice to get your stuff out

0:39:440:39:47

and half of the stuff you forget you've got.

0:39:470:39:49

'Scott might have plenty of experience as a builder,

0:39:490:39:52

'but nothing has quite prepared the couple for the challenges they faced.

0:39:520:39:57

'from cutting off the village's power through to the still

0:39:570:40:00

'unresolved issue of the pipe in the stream,

0:40:000:40:03

'building their own house hasn't been easy.'

0:40:030:40:07

I guess there's no downtime?

0:40:070:40:09

It's all the time and you just can't get away from it.

0:40:090:40:12

I suppose as far as satisfying Emma goes,

0:40:120:40:15

she was as harsh as other customers can be.

0:40:150:40:17

All I wanted was my home.

0:40:170:40:19

I did put pressure on Scott,

0:40:190:40:21

but just because you want it done, you wanted done as quickly as you can.

0:40:210:40:25

The whole thing was very, very stressful.

0:40:250:40:28

Did the place turn out as you had envisaged it?

0:40:280:40:34

The whole way through I could picture

0:40:340:40:37

exactly what it was going to look like.

0:40:370:40:39

Even before we knew what colour the kitchen would be,

0:40:390:40:43

I knew where the table was going to sit and everything.

0:40:430:40:46

So yes, it's exactly as I thought it would be.

0:40:460:40:49

Scott and Emma spent £20,000 on eco-friendly measures which

0:40:490:40:52

will give them a small carbon footprint.

0:40:520:40:54

The solar panels and wood-burning stove which provides

0:40:540:40:58

all their heating and hot water are already giving them a warm glow.

0:40:580:41:02

It's nice to know we've done something that's energy-efficient.

0:41:020:41:05

It's funny you should say that,

0:41:050:41:08

because I've brought a present which will help you be even more efficient.

0:41:080:41:12

So we bought you your very own log maker.

0:41:120:41:15

You need old newspapers and cardboard,

0:41:170:41:20

you pulp it up and then squish it down

0:41:200:41:22

and it makes logs and then you dry them out.

0:41:220:41:25

They burn very well.

0:41:250:41:26

Who's in charge of the woodpile?

0:41:260:41:29

It immediately pointed to you, Scott, there you go.

0:41:290:41:31

Fantastic, I'll start making some immediately.

0:41:310:41:34

'Making your own logs is one thing, but building your own house

0:41:340:41:38

'can be a sure fire way of burning money, so do the sums here add up?'

0:41:380:41:42

Scott and Emma spent £185,000 on the plot

0:41:430:41:46

and another 220,000 building their dream home.

0:41:460:41:49

That's 20,000 more than they planned

0:41:510:41:53

and it pushed the total cost to £405,000.

0:41:530:41:58

So, was it money well spent?

0:41:580:42:00

We've had nosing around a valuer and...

0:42:010:42:05

they valued this house at 475.

0:42:050:42:09

What do you think of that?

0:42:090:42:10

Erm...

0:42:100:42:12

Come on.

0:42:140:42:16

I think it's really mean.

0:42:160:42:18

I think it's a bit mean.

0:42:180:42:19

We're still going to make money at that.

0:42:190:42:22

It's still good money at the end of the day.

0:42:220:42:26

And it's worth what it's worth on the market, isn't it,

0:42:260:42:29

at the end of the day.

0:42:290:42:30

Scott and Emma's decision to self-build

0:42:300:42:33

was never about making money.

0:42:330:42:35

It was more about saving it.

0:42:350:42:37

We've got everything we could ever want in this house,

0:42:370:42:40

all the green technologies we could ever choose.

0:42:400:42:43

And nobody else would have done that.

0:42:430:42:45

It's a big process, but you end up with exactly what you want,

0:42:450:42:49

a bespoke house which exactly as you'd imagined it.

0:42:490:42:53

You've ended up with a fabulous house

0:42:530:42:55

in an absolutely beautiful location.

0:42:550:42:58

Brilliant.

0:42:580:43:00

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:43:150:43:18

E-mail [email protected]

0:43:180:43:21

Professional builder Scott Nichols is taking a busman's holiday to build an eco-cottage for himself and his partner Emma Robinson in the picturesque Bedfordshire village of Felmersham. Plus the Sheffield self-build that is the realisation of a thirty year dream for its owner, while presenter Simon O'Brien feels the pressure while learning plumbing at building college.