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,
but finding a property that suits both your wallet
and your way of life isn't easy. Well, I have a solution.
Stop searching for something to buy, and consider somewhere to build.
Every year, 20,000 people make the journey of a lifetime
and opt to build their own home. We'll be following some of them
as they go from foundations to finishing touches.
It's certainly been relentless.
You don't get any time off for good behaviour.
Along the way, our brave self-builders will experience
It's been a dream and it's starting to come together now.
And some frustrating lows.
How many more things could go pear-shaped?
But if they can overcome these trials and tribulations,
they'll end up with the home they've always desired.
So if you're looking for your perfect pad,
the question is simple...
to build or not to build?
On today's show...
We follow the professional builder
taking a tiring busman's holiday to build his own home.
It is a wearing process. You keep thinking,
we'll get to the next stage and then I'll put my feet up.
The self-builders in Sheffield who finally realised a lifelong ambition.
You put your heart and soul into it for such a long time.
I think it's lived up to my dream. Yeah, definitely.
And I'm learning plumbing at building college
where it's clear I should pipe down and pay more attention.
We all know that when it comes to property, location is crucial.
Many people find what they hope will be that very special place
only to discover that whilst they love the delightful neighbourhood,
the res is not quite as des as they'd hoped.
Whilst many may choose to look elsewhere,
braver souls opt to stay put and go for a far more dramatic option.
This is Scott Nicholls and Emma Robinson.
They've always had their heart set on having a home here
in the picturesque Bedfordshire village of Felmersham.
Two years ago, that desire became reality
when they bought a 19th century one-bedroom stone cottage
in the heart of the village for £185,000.
But they soon realised that while the location was fantastic,
their historic home wasn't.
The old house has got quite a lot of problems.
It's very small, built for a different era really
and it's very damp.
No central heating.
It's absolutely freezing cold with only a back boiler.
Someone had built an extension on it in the Sixties
and it had just been really poorly done.
It's come to the end of its natural life.
Scott and Emma originally intended to extend their cramped cottage,
but they were devastated when the planners turned down
the application because it would look out of place in the village.
Remarkably, they advised Scott and Emma to tear down the whole lot
and design something new that was in keeping with the surroundings.
And that's exactly what they intend to do.
The new five-bed detached home
will be three times the size of the old place
and match neighbouring properties built in local stone.
While it will be traditional on the outside,
this place will be packed with the latest green technology
to boost energy efficiency to the max.
Scott hopes to build this stunning family home in under seven months
and for around £200,000.
We wanted to build a low-energy house that looked
like a conventional stone house in one of those little villages
just to prove that it doesn't have to be a modern, avant-garde,
all glass, all concrete looking box
to have the sort of really low energy consumption that we're aiming at.
A builder by trade, Scott had the confidence
to take on the job of the demolition by himself.
He's worked in the family construction business for the last 14 years
and has opted to take a break from building other people's homes to concentrate on his own.
But just because he's a professional doesn't mean this is going to be a smooth ride.
Whenever we build something, you see things you don't like
and you say, well, it's their house, it's their decision.
But if we don't like anything, it's obviously going to be down to us
and the buck stops here. Obviously, it's my money at risk as well.
If there's any problems in the footings...
Normally, if it's a customer's house and we find bad ground,
then they have to foot the bill. Obviously, in this situation, we do.
While Scott's on the job building,
saleswoman Emma's on the road working
and day dreaming about the finished house.
Really looking forward to having a large kitchen
so we can have friends over.
I love to have people in the house and entertain
and I can't wait to have the ability to have people over to stay.
Having wilfully flattened their home,
the couple will live with Scott's parents
for the duration of the project.
Let's hope Emma gets on with the in-laws.
Seven months is a long time to play happy families.
That won't be the only relationship under pressure
and I'm in Felmersham to meet the builder and his demanding client.
Right then. Come on, tell us what's going on. Explain to us.
What we have is...
This is a biggish single garage down here,
leading to a utility room behind.
This is a kitchen diner.
That's where the sink'll be, that's the sink waste.
This is the kitchen?
Yeah, that is the beginnings of a kitchen.
Are you happy with the position of the sink?
There's going to be a window here where I can look out onto the street.
-Isn't that worrying, a view across to the pub?
Turnaround, clients. What are we looking at a now, builder?
Um... There's a set of treble opening patio doors at the end
looking out onto the garden, dining room...
and there'll be a log burner there-ish.
And then this will all be kitchen cupboards
with a little peninsular unit to separate the two off.
And whose idea was it to have this really opened-through view
so you can look from the front to the back of the house clean through.
Funnily enough, I think we've always been keen on a kitchen-diner.
You can have friends in the dining room sitting around
and somebody'll be cooking.
-We're always at the kitchen in parties, frankly.
For me though, the real party piece of this home
will be its environmental credentials.
Is that quite important to both of you,
the fact that you're doing this in a sustainable way?
The house has been designed to be an eco house,
it should have a very low space heating demand.
It should generate a lot, if not all of its own electricity,
have some solar thermal on the roof.
We also have a rainwater harvester.
It's dug into the ground already and it'll collect the rainwater
and flush the toilets so we won't be on the meter for things like that.
Installing these eco features
will add approximately £20,000 to Scott and Emma's build budget.
But, with new initiatives such as the ability to sell any excess
electricity they generate to the National Grid,
the couple's investment should begin to pay back almost straight away.
We think if we put the amount of solar electricity on the roof
that we want, we could possibly get up to two mortgage payments a year.
-Say no more.
-It's a holiday.
It certainly is a holiday. And you'll need one after this.
'While Emma can escape the mud back to her day job,
'this is unlikely to be a summer of fun for Scott.'
Do you think the builder feels more or less pressure
because he's building your home?
More. Definitely more.
Yeah, it's there and we're under time pressure,
because obviously on this there's no-one else picking up the bill.
We're under a lot of pressure that way.
Not only that we're going to be living here,
so we need to get the finish right and we need to do it quickly.
You mentioned you got to get on with this, get it finished,
get on with it.
We should check out the local, shouldn't we? Enjoy, see you later.
'The next stage is preparing the foundations.'
However, these ground works provide the odd shock
for both Scott and his neighbours.
We've just finished doing
our first day's proper foundation.
A little bit traumatic because of that.
That's a joint mains electricity cable.
When we dug around it it went pop
and everyone up the street spent the night without any power.
So we're not that popular at the moment.
It's all fixed and we've got some footing in, which is good.
Building sites can cause no end of disruption,
so keeping your neighbours onside is crucial.
After all, you're going to end up living next door.
Busy saleswoman in the week, come the weekend,
Emma's job is on site giving Scott and the team a hand.
And many hands make light work of the heavy concrete floor beams.
Into the second month of the build
and activity on site is a little less frenetic.
However, a decision about his window supplier
is causing Scott to get stressed.
The initial company we wanted to use for the windows,
took a very long time to get our quote back.
So I went out to someone else.
But the window specification is slightly different which means
the openings in the building are slightly different,
so everything's been rejigged.
By switching supplier, in mean Scott's windows are now
a different size to the spaces he's allowed for them.
And not knowing the exact measurements
could ultimately hold up the build.
Bearing in mind if you going to start stonework on Monday,
we need to know the size of the frames for then
because some of the door frames and full-length windows
come down to where we're now.
So it's something we need to know now, which means
getting information from other people, which is always a nightmare.
There's at least one thing that's lifting Scott's mood.
Getting ready for the first bit of super-duper insulation
we're putting in which is a load-bearing blown glass
which goes in the brick course to stop the cold coming up
or all the warmth going down from the house.
It's quite a new product in this country so we're excited.
We're getting it tomorrow, I think.
At £1,000, that one row is 25 times the cost of normal breeze blocks,
but insulation is probably the most important,
energy-saving feature you can install and any additional cost
should eventually be outweighed by future savings.
Those reduced heating bills are a long way off
and with self-building there's only one way to keep on budget.
Just have to work longer, harder and quicker.
So I've got loads of extra money at the end.
So I can have my posh kitchen.
The chance to build your own home is often
the result of years of planning and dreaming.
Growing up in Sheffield, paper company director,
Paul Ferne's childhood ambition was to become an architect
and build his own perfect place.
30 years later,
he's finally been able to fulfil at least one of those lifelong desires.
This anonymous looking bungalow in a Sheffield suburb
may not appear that special, but this place is anything but ordinary.
Because this is the house that led to one young man
realising his dream to design and build
his own fantastic family home.
And boy, after more than 30 years of waiting, how he's pulled it off!
For Paul, his wife Cathy and their daughter Maddy, the vision
he planned at the bottom of his parents' garden
has paid off spectacularly.
They lived in it for about 32 years. They sold it to us because they had
permission to build a house in their back garden.
And we then started altering the plans on that house
to build the house that we wanted.
You don't get many opportunities like that,
so we just had to take it.
And take it they did.
But the idea still took another six years to fully blossom.
Various initial plans were rejected as being wildly over ambitious
but after scaling the project down, work finally began in May 2009.
We could have just given up.
We'd come that far and we got 90% of the house there.
We just had to scale back a little bit, chop little bits off.
But as it happened we ended up with a bigger house
for much less than we originally priced up for.
The house and garden cost the couple £320,000
and they set themselves a similar budget to build.
The design is contemporary with three different exterior finishes
built around a timber clad, central drum.
This is the hub of the house.
We've designed it so we'd got a huge open area, living area.
We've tested this out as a dancefloor already and it's good.
The drum area was designed because it's south-facing
and we've put punch windows in everywhere, so you get little bits
of light coming in all over it and it changes throughout the day.
People say to us, "Are you not going to put curtains or blinds up?"
Obviously that would be a huge expense,
but it's there for a reason because it looks good.
The sleek, modern look is continued inside,
but while the couple agreed a most of the interior design,
they did have differing opinions
when it came to the smallest room in the house.
So we just decided to split up on the bathrooms, I do one,
he does the other.
I wanted it to the opulent,
I thought the chandelier was a nice touch.
This is the one that I had more design influence over.
I think it's more of a masculine sort of bathroom.
Square taps, Cathy's is more flowery with chandeliers.
It's the feel I wanted, it's a nice spar, relaxing feel.
What ever spat they had over the bathrooms
were resolved over a good meal.
I love cooking, so I wanted
it to be a space where we could invite people round
and as I'm cooking you can talk to people at the same time.
And after that we've got speakers above,
so we can blast music out and everyone can just start dancing.
It's a great area to be,
and it's definitely my favourite part of the house.
The kitchen cost £14,000 and Paul's mighty glad he bought it
before their budget began to burst.
With unexpected costs from essential road closures, drainage and materials,
they were heading for a hefty overspend of £50,000.
The one tip I'd say to anyone who's self-building,
if there's anything you want, whether it's a piece of art,
a kitchen, bathroom, whatever it happens to be,
buy it at the very beginning because if you get to the end,
you just won't be able to afford it.
For daughter, Maddie,
the home's flexible design has hit just the right note.
With the music room
and the bedroom with a walk-in wardrobe
and the mini library, the transformation
has been both an adventure and an education.
I wasn't too sure when I moved in, but now I'm really love it.
I like it that I can come out of my room
and pick any book and just begin to read it whenever.
For Paul and Cathy, who's an accountant,
it's been a richly rewarding experience.
The whole design for us has been such fun.
I hate the word organic, but it has been like an organic process,
that we've just gradually grown bits and altered bits and changed bits.
And house looks good on the balance sheet too.
They can sell their parents' bungalow
for as much as they bought it
and the £400,000 they spent on building
has translated into a dream home worth 650,000.
It's priceless, a house like this. Just, your own thing, isn't it?
It's part of you. I don't know if anybody else would like it.
Most people do. I wouldn't say it's to everybody's taste.
You've got to live in it at least 10 years.
You've spent all this time building it,
you've put your heart and soul into it for so long, haven't we?
I think it's lived up to my dream, yeah, definitely, yes.
I can't think of anything that we'd change.
I just think it's worked out perfect.
While Paul might not have grown up to become an architect,
by hoping to design and build this amazing home,
his childhood ambition ultimately did come true.
Back in the Bedfordshire village of Felmersham, three months
after demolishing their old cottage,
builder, Scott, and partner, Emma, are making good progress constructing their new one.
After receiving the right measurements for the windows and doors,
Scott's team got cracking with the stone walls,
much to Emma's delight.
They'll be at the first floor at the beginning of next week.
Get the joists down and then we'll be on to the first floor, rather than the ground floor.
We're doing really well. I can't believe how quickly it's gone up.
Inside, rooms are rapidly starting to take shape too.
This wall will be part of Scott's posh kitchen.
But, it's not all good news.
Work on re-routing the stream that runs through their garden
has landed them in hot water with the authorities and Scott and Emma aren't happy.
On Thursday, we had a site visit by the Environment Agency.
It was regarding the fact that we put a pipe in the ditch
rather than leaving it free flowing, which is what we had to do.
Scott and Emma's building inspector advised them
to divert the troublesome stream to prevent potential erosion
of the foundations by the flowing water.
But, before altering any watercourse
that flows through your land, you first need to submit your plans
to both the local authority and the Environment Agency for approval.
They didn't do both and Scott and Emma are now left with a raft of new issues to deal with.
We just need, possibly, to take it out and get permission,
then put it back in. If they won't give us permission,
we'll have to sort out the issues the building inspector has with the ditch,
which would mean probably getting involved with things like
structural engineers and soil samples and that sort of thing,
just to make sure that the house is going to stand on a decent foundation.
Unlike the stream, it's Scott and Emma's budget
that could now burst if they have to ditch the pipe.
It's just another potentially costly situation
for an already stressed-out Scott to deal with.
A month later and the house has had another growth spurt.
Things are moving so quickly, Scott's not sure
how long it's taken to get from the foundations to the current stage.
We are at week...
We're about week 12, I think, now.
We're more or less up at roof plate, which is where we want to be.
That means the house is almost ready for the rafters that will form the roof.
But, the speedy progress onsite has resulted in things coming to a standstill in the village.
We're working up to the boundary on the roadside, so the guys had to work in the carriageway
and even though it's a country lane, people do tend to fly up there a little bit.
So, for their safety, and just to make it possible,
we had to close one side of the road off.
But, in sleepy villages like Felmersham,
even the smallest disruption can ruffle a few feathers.
Some people are moaning about the traffic lights being in the road, but it had to be done.
After cutting off power in the village earlier in the build,
trouble over his traffic lights is the last thing Scott needs
when it comes to keeping the neighbours happy.
Three months after my first visit to Felmersham, the sun's shining
and it's the first day to catch up with Emma and Scott.
-A hive of activity?
-It's coming on, though, isn't it?
-It really is.
The roof's on, or starting to go on.
That's pretty good going, isn't it?
-Yeah, it is, definitely.
-You must be getting excited now?
I think, once you can start to see the rooms it really does make a big difference.
You start to think about what you're going to put in the rooms, your furniture, everything.
Woah, give the lad a chance, Emma!
Scott's not even got the roof on and you're picking the soft furnishings!
Time to meet the man in charge and check out his handiwork.
First stop on my inspection, the kitchen-diner.
Now then, this is more interesting. View out to the back.
Yes. That's going to be where the wood burner sits.
It'll be the heat source for the entire house.
Are you both getting to a point,
where particularly you, as the builder,
you're in your comfort zone at the moment.
-Is this going to take you out of your comfort zone?
I think so. The worry always is that you don't supply enough heat.
'To heat a home this size using a single wood burner is a bold move,
'but it's all part of Scott and Emma's aim to make their new house energy-efficient.
'The theory is that this one stove, coupled with the super insulation
'they're installing, should reduce heating bills,
'while keeping their home cosy.
-'But will it be enough?'
-We've had all calculations done.
It should work out fine. But until you actually get in
and go through the seasons and see what it does,
it's a bit of a worry.
If it does all go wrong, we have the option of putting a little boiler in
but obviously, the idea is not to do that and to have a house that
basically has a zero carbon heat demand.
Greener living's the goal.
By having a more conventional back-up option,
Scott's covered all eventualities - a very wise move indeed.
Downstairs, the rooms are shaping up nicely.
How about things on the first-floor?
So, stood here... Over this side?
Bedrooms two and three through there, more or less split down the middle, so half each.
-And this side, Emma?
-We've got the master bedroom through into a dressing room with an en-suite
and then the master bathroom at the end.
Family bathroom down the landing. Look at you and your fancy walk-in wardrobe!
-I'll just have to buy some clothes, then!
-Sorry, I'm being sexist here.
-It's not your walk-in wardrobe, is it?
-No, I have two items of clothing.
-Exactly, yeah! And you've got one on!
Like the way you dress, homes also reflect their owners' personalities,
especially when you've designed and built the place yourself.
With a further two rooms in the attic, this home's large,
but like Scott and Emma, it's definitely understated.
It seems bigger than you had before, that's fairly obvious, but still not too much.
-Do you know what I mean?
-I think so.
-Modest, isn't it?
-I think it'll give some decent living accommodation. It's not going to be huge.
I suppose we've not gone massively luxurious but then,
we're not really massively luxurious people, I suppose.
'No lavish extras on the horizon.
'How healthy are Scott and Emma's finances
'midway through their self-build?'
I think we're on budget.
We've had to spend more on windows by a considerable amount.
It ended up being about £10,000 more for the windows than we thought.
-That's a big hit.
-It is, yeah.
-It always seems to be the case that change is what costs.
If you change anything, there's always a cost implied.
-Well, it's coming on brilliant.
-We're not going to change anything else.
He said that. You heard that, didn't you?
Whether you're building your own house or not, it's definitely handy
if you're handy at DIY.
I'm putting my skills to the test, at Leeds College of Building.
Today's lesson is plumbing, and my teacher is Mark Cawood.
Pipes, talk me through them. Go on, pipe up.
Within the plumbing industry, there's a variety of pipes.
We've got copper, which comes in various sizes,
and we've got plastic, which is probably the newer stuff.
'When it comes to getting your copper pipes to the right length,
'you'll need this ingenious tool,
'surprisingly called a copper cutter.'
On the pipe, turn it around, all right? It slips through there.
'The traditional way to connect copper pipes is soldering,
'but you can use simple plastic push-fit connectors
'that easily and quickly join pipes together.
'Although, if you don't want to spoil the more aesthetically
'pleasing copper look, there is another way to pipe round corners.'
'The imaginatively named pipe bending machine.'
-Once that's parallel with that side...
I like that. That's almost artistic, that.
'But I can't just stand around admiring pipe art.
'It's time for me to feel a bit of pressure.'
OK, Simon, this is our little task we've got set up for you.
We have a tap here, and we have a water pipe down there.
It's a case of joining that water pipe there up to this tap here.
-So, two push-fits and you want one kind of formed bend.
Just one question, why do you need another tap? You've got loads.
'Just for that comment, Mark has only given me ten minutes.'
'Oh, I won't need that, I don't think.'
-And it's as simple as that, you say?
-As simple as that.
You didn't mention that you need a grip...
Oh, hello, I like that, that's clever.
'Let's see how I do with that pipe bending machine.'
Here's hoping, hey?
Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! I think there's a tiny problem.
'With two different width settings,
'it turns out I picked the wrong one for this size pipe.'
-15 mm, instead of the 22.
-That's what I did wrong?
-That's what you did wrong.
-Thanks for that clue.
'I'm feeling the nerves, now. Copper's not cheap these days.'
I'll have a tantrum if it doesn't work this time, I'll tell you that for nothing.
You can keep your set square.
'Now I'm competing with the clock.'
-Three minutes to go.
I hate that glee in your voice, you know that, don't you?
-Oh, it's wet down here!
Well, I finished, yeah, absolutely fine, that, mate.
'Time for the moment of truth. hopefully Mark will be
'gushing with compliments when I turn the water on.'
-Do you dare me?
-Go on, then.
-Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.
You have got sponges and towels and all that kind of stuff ready?
'Mission accomplished. We have running water.'
-It's coming out the tap.
-Turn the tap off.
Are you sure we want to turn the tap off?
'Err, in fact we have a bit too much running water.'
All right, that, mate. Don't look. I've got a little tiny leak here.
A slight drip, I can see.
Apart from that it seems all right, mate.
The water's supposed to be in the pipe.
'I don't think anyone will be tapping me up for plumbing jobs.'
Back in Bedfordshire, it's been five months since Scott Nicholls
and Emma Robinson began their self-build journey.
It's now July and their new home is really taking shape,
and the exterior is almost complete.
The sun may be shining, but Scott has winter firmly in mind.
I'm just putting some ducting in
for the heat recovery ventilation system.
We need to get it in before we cover in,
because where it goes up the sloping parts of the ceiling,
we need it to be in the insulation, so we're just tying that in.
The heat recovery system Scott is fitting will take warm air
from the kitchen and bathroom, and circulate it back around the house.
No radiators required, in theory.
This eco feature cost around £9,000, but Scott is convinced
this significant investment is sound.
They reckoned a good recovery ventilation system
can lower your energy bills by 40%,
so the payback time on it is really quite good.
Though the systems here should be doing a fine job
of conserving energy, the same can't be said for Scott.
Despite being a builder by trade,
the non-stop hard graft is taking its toll.
I'm quite tired.
I've got a lot of things going on on a lot of fronts.
Still trying to run a business and still trying to do this
is a wearing process, but you keep thinking,
"We'll get to the next stage and I'll put my feet up,"
but it never happens.
But, when you're building a home all by yourself,
there's few opportunities to relax.
A month later, and despite the fatigue,
Scott's determination isn't showing any signs of letting up.
The roof is now complete,
only missing a rather expensive cherry on top.
Today we are going to fit the photovoltaic panels to the roof
which we've already prepared with this in-roof mounting system.
So it should just be a case of wiring them together,
sticking the wires through into the roof space
and screwing them to the roof.
The panels cost 10 grand, but under a new
Government incentive, you'll be able to sell £1000
worth of energy every year
back to the National Grid for up to 25 years.
-0.02 of a volt.
-That should do.
That'll get the old hairdryer going.
So recouping the cost of the solar panels shouldn't be difficult,
unlike fitting them evenly on the roof.
The solar panels aren't quite in line.
Got a bit of a step down and it's a bit difficult to see
how that's come about.
While the panel not fitting properly is only an aesthetic problem,
its cause has left Scott slightly baffled.
It's just weird, man.
I think it's just sitting on a lumpy bit of rafter.
But what can you do?
Oh, simply crack on, Scott.
The remaining 13 are soon up and neatly in position.
Scott will just have to live with that one wonky panel.
Two months later the scaffolding is down, the windows are in
and the solar panels are catching the October sun.
Inside, the plasterers are tackling the walls, leaving Scott
with the more exciting task of fitting his long-awaited kitchen.
But there's an early snag.
The problem here is that, um...
we're having to set the units ever so slightly in at one end
because the corner of the wall is slightly out of square.
It's probably about 3mm in.
This is where you'd normally point an accusing finger
at your builder, but in this case Scott is the builder. Scott?
I think the wall probably would have been square but perhaps
when the plasterers have plastered it they've put a little bit
too much in that corner.
Yeah, we'll pass the buck. It was definitely not us, it was someone else.
Oh, nicely wriggled!
For Scott and Emma, the kitchen was always going to be
the centrepiece of their new self-built home.
Their original budget was £20,000 but the unexpected extra glazing
cost earlier in the build meant they are now
down to just 10 grand for the kitchen.
When the windows quote came through it was a lot higher than what
we had originally been quoted, so we actually have to budget
for the kitchen in order to get some of the money back for the windows.
Despite the budget deficit, they still wanted the kitchen
to be as impressive as their triple glazed windows.
While some people might have been tempted to blow the budget anyway,
the couple cut their cloth accordingly.
Instead of buying from a retailer,
saleswoman Emma went direct to the supplier and used
her negotiating skills to get a high-spec kitchen they loved at a low, low price.
Going to the manufacturer direct has meant we've saved
10 to 15% off the cost. It's definitely one thing I think we've learned
from doing the house - get your first price,
try and beat them down and try and beat them down again,
because, more often than not, they'll try and do what they can for you.
Sound advice indeed!
With their self-build journey so close to completion, Emma's keen to
finally move out of the in-laws' and into her own home again.
It's been 10 months since we've had our own house and,
yeah, we do miss our own space.
Having your own time, having your own...
Just doing whatever you like, being able to get up
and wander to the bathroom when you want
and things like that.
And it's things like that that you miss, actually -
simple things that you'd never think about.
We're now at the point where Scott's stressed and I'm excited,
which isn't a great combination because, for Scott,
all he can see in this house is 10 more jobs,
and he knows exactly what way they have to be done
and how long they're going to roughly take and things like that,
whereas I just want to move in.
Well, it's four months since Scott drew up
that final countdown of jobs to do,
and it's about time I went back to Bedfordshire
to see how many he's managed to tick off.
Do you know what I love about Felmersham?
The peace and quiet of village life. No sound of a hectic self-build.
The village curtains were certainly twitching
when Scott and Emma decided to knock down
their quaint old cottage almost a year ago.
But what they've replaced it with has done them
and this much cherished plot proud.
That's a really simple,
and it feels like it's been here forever.
This five-bedroom house is undeniably handsome and,
though it might give passers-by the slip by coming over all
traditional on the outside, it's clear that's just a front.
The solar panels are a shining example
of Scott and Emma's commitment to modern living.
And everywhere you look its heart is bang up to date.
-Hello, hello! Are you all right?
-How you doing?
It looks fantastic from the outside,
-but I'm dying to see inside. Can I?
-Come in, then.
Inside, the contrast between the old and the new couldn't be clearer.
Here the mix of natural wood and muted colours give the house
a calm, ordered feel which makes it a welcome refuge from the trials
they've had to endure during the construction.
The kitchen, which they feared they'd have to compromise on
because of the extra money spent on windows doesn't look second best.
You always said this was supposed to be kind of the heart of the home.
And it is, it definitely is.
We practically live in here don't we?
We spend a lot of our time in here,
we've had a few big meals, we did Christmas in here.
It works really well.
Scott and Emma are keen to keep their new house clear of clutter
and there's an understatement about much of what they've created.
Time to check out the bedrooms.
There are five in total on two different levels
and all of them provide ample room for when guests come to stay.
One area where Scott never pushed the boat out
is on their own bedroom suite, where one door...
And this is the master bedroom.
It's not too big, not too small.
It's just right.
'..leads to another...'
That's not a walk-in wardrobe. Good grief!
Hang on, I know what's through here.
This is what I call an en- suite bathroom.
It's beautiful, really pleased with it.
Yes, it really works.
So I take it all back, I thought you were modest people, but you know.
But why not?
It's a bit of luxury.
Absolutely, if you're going through the heartache and stress
to get to this, absolutely brilliant.
I'm jealous now.
Scott and Emma have been living with Scott's parents
while their own house took shape.
Now with three luxury bathrooms of their own,
there's no longer any need to queue for a shower.
Downstairs, there's plenty more reason why it's nice
to be back in the home of their own.
It must feel fabulous to have all your personal possessions,
which have just been boxed up, where you want them?
One of the strangest things I've missed is paintings and ornaments.
It's a long while and it's nice to get your stuff out
and half of the stuff you forget you've got.
'Scott might have plenty of experience as a builder,
'but nothing has quite prepared the couple for the challenges they faced.
'from cutting off the village's power through to the still
'unresolved issue of the pipe in the stream,
'building their own house hasn't been easy.'
I guess there's no downtime?
It's all the time and you just can't get away from it.
I suppose as far as satisfying Emma goes,
she was as harsh as other customers can be.
All I wanted was my home.
I did put pressure on Scott,
but just because you want it done, you wanted done as quickly as you can.
The whole thing was very, very stressful.
Did the place turn out as you had envisaged it?
The whole way through I could picture
exactly what it was going to look like.
Even before we knew what colour the kitchen would be,
I knew where the table was going to sit and everything.
So yes, it's exactly as I thought it would be.
Scott and Emma spent £20,000 on eco-friendly measures which
will give them a small carbon footprint.
The solar panels and wood-burning stove which provides
all their heating and hot water are already giving them a warm glow.
It's nice to know we've done something that's energy-efficient.
It's funny you should say that,
because I've brought a present which will help you be even more efficient.
So we bought you your very own log maker.
You need old newspapers and cardboard,
you pulp it up and then squish it down
and it makes logs and then you dry them out.
They burn very well.
Who's in charge of the woodpile?
It immediately pointed to you, Scott, there you go.
Fantastic, I'll start making some immediately.
'Making your own logs is one thing, but building your own house
'can be a sure fire way of burning money, so do the sums here add up?'
Scott and Emma spent £185,000 on the plot
and another 220,000 building their dream home.
That's 20,000 more than they planned
and it pushed the total cost to £405,000.
So, was it money well spent?
We've had nosing around a valuer and...
they valued this house at 475.
What do you think of that?
I think it's really mean.
I think it's a bit mean.
We're still going to make money at that.
It's still good money at the end of the day.
And it's worth what it's worth on the market, isn't it,
at the end of the day.
Scott and Emma's decision to self-build
was never about making money.
It was more about saving it.
We've got everything we could ever want in this house,
all the green technologies we could ever choose.
And nobody else would have done that.
It's a big process, but you end up with exactly what you want,
a bespoke house which exactly as you'd imagined it.
You've ended up with a fabulous house
in an absolutely beautiful location.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
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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.