Guest Post: Building your own Home

Building your own home is not an easy task. At first it sounds amazing, like a dream, until the windows arrive in the wrong size, you’re up all night doing finance calculations, and you have to borrow more money from the bank.

Me and Jay want to build our next home. It’s a huge task, which is why I’ve brought this guest post to you from Elle at Ridge and Furrow. I first noticed Elle on Instagram, and her amazing barn conversion which her and her husband built up from scratch. I was intrigued about how they’d achieved the home they have now, so invited her to share her story with me:

 

Firstly, where’s your home and when did you buy it?

Location: we’re in Gloucestershire along the Cotswolds’ ridge.  We bought the barn in 2012 when I was 7 months pregnant with our first child. We were living in a nearby town and wanted to move to the country but stay in the area.

 

What made you consider building your own home?

I’d always dreamed of building my own home. I wanted to be an architect when I was a kid but didn’t care for the technical side of it. When I met my husband we got talking about building on our first date. He shared my zeal and promised he’d build me a house one day.

 

How did you choose the land/building/location?

We searched for years for a home in the countryside that we could afford and wasn’t too much of a compromise. We also searched for land in NZ (where my husband is from) thinking that if we were going to build it would have to be over there as land for building in this country is really difficult to come by, usually exceedingly expensive and or compromised by location/size. Then there’s planning restrictions to contend with.

We weren’t looking for a barn but we stumbled upon it advertised in the window of the estate agent just across the road from us in town. We’d put in a sealed bid which is a nerve wracking process but we got lucky. We weren’t the highest bidder but our proposal pleased the owner.

The barn already had planning permission to become a 2-bed house. We didn’t like the plans though as they covered over all the internal structure of the barn and didn’t make use of the height of the space. So we drew up our own plans. We did this by ourselves without an architect, though we did consult a structural engineer to make sure everything load bearing would hold up.

 

Was there any work you did yourself? Or did you mostly hire tradesmen?

My husband did all the work himself including the trades – plumbing and electrics but got in professionals to check and sign off these. The only things that were here when we bought the place were the brick and stone walls and the roof. My husband made everything else including the fireplace and chimney, all the wooden frames that make the upper floors, stairs, and wooden division walls. We did get a professional carpenter to make the doors and windows.

 

How long did it take you to finish it?

We’ve been living here for 2 years. We moved in with a temporary kitchen which is only now being finished. It’ll never really be finished but it feels less like a building site now.

 

Top Tip:

Hold your nerve and remember what you wanted to achieve in the first place.

 

Did building your own home take longer than you thought? If yes, what setbacks did you have?

No real set backs but we weren’t realistic to start with. We wanted to be in before our first child began walking, but he was 3 before we moved in and he had a baby brother who was just starting to walk.

 

Where did you live during the renovation?

We stayed on in our house in town with the kids as long as we could afford, then rented a house on the other side of the village for a year. I visited with the kids most days and we played/worked in the garden whilst husband worked on the house. Husband is self-employed and just took on fewer jobs for a couple of years.

 

Is there anything you would have done differently?

Only initial paint choices which we’re now altering. We listened to the advice of others rather than going with our own instincts but it’s easily altered.

We’ve not lost the zeal for building and we’re still contemplating what the next project will be 🤔

 

You can find Elle on Instagram to see more of her incredible build.

 

barn door on pigsty barn before renovation

 

Inside of barn

 

Building your own home - putting scaffolding up.

 

Barn from the outside with flowers

 

Inside finished bathroom, bare brick wall with mirror and sink

 

Barn with small library, ladder and armchair

 

Living room with bare brick wall, beams and modern grey sofa

 

Where And What House To Buy Next

Struggling to know where and what house to buy next?

Deciding what to buy, or even where to buy can be a bit annoying. There’s so much to think about, especially if you’re up and moving with your family. Is the area safe, what are the housing prices like, what are the schools like?

So much will be going round your head, and often you can’t have everything you want when it comes to buying a house. You’ll find that your dream home is too far away from the local shops, or the schools aren’t good. So finding something that has a bit of everything is a bit of a task. Luckily, there’s a few places dotted around the UK that’ll give you that great life you desire.

If you’re still looking, then read on to get some inspiration.

 

London

London is good if you want to experience that crazy hustle and bustle lifestyle. However, this lifestyle isn’t for everyone, and London is seriously expensive. The townhouse above might sell for £300,000 somewhere outside London, or in the North. But London prices would probably put it on the market for £1 million and above. 

You could instead choose to live just outside the city centre where things start to get a little less expensive. It’ll be worth paying extra in travel to live outside of the capital city. 

If you do choose to live in London, you’ll probably be looking at earning more in the city anyway, so the living costs might then even out.

There is so much to do inside London, that you’ll never be bored. There’s so much culture and excitement, it really is a truly wonderful place to live. There are some huge houses and beautiful apartments for sale or rent if London takes your fancy.

 

Stunning bungalow cottage on a river/canal with flowers everywhere.

Wales

So, from hustle and bustle to something a little more quiet. There’s something about Wales that just offers so much tranquillity, especially the rural area. A lot of my family are from Wales, and although I grew up in England, I’ve lived in Chester on the border of North Wales my whole life. 

If you were still looking for something a bit more exciting, you could try Cardiff or Swansea, both have so much character. But a lot of people move to Wales in order to live the relaxing lifestyle.

It is however, rather far out from other areas of the UK, so hiring a moving company is definitely going to be needed. A lot of them don’t like to travel around the rural areas, so try companies such as Shiply who will compare tonnes of different companies that can meet your needs.

If you are thinking of rural Wales, be prepared to be out in the sticks a bit with nothing around. If you do chose something such as Cardiff, the nightlife and day life is a lot more upbeat, it just depends on what you’re looking for.

Wales offers some wonderful town houses, as well as huge houses in the hills full of land. It is the complete opposite from London, but you can get a lot more for your money, and the living costs are a lot cheaper. Jobs may be a bit scarce however if you go rural. Prepare to travel quite a way for work.

 

Important Things to Consider

When we bought our house, we looked at the location, the amenities, the number of bedrooms, the surrounding house prices. If we had children, we might not have bought our house with it being on a main road, and we definitely would have looked at local schools.

You need to work out what your priorities are. Ours was the location. Jay works as a mechanical engineer and therefore works in large industrial units. We live close to the motorway so it’s easy to get to Liverpool, where he used to work, and also into North Wales where he currently works. I also wanted to stay close to Chester without having to pay Chester prices. We’re 20 minutes outside of Chester, near enough to both of our families, and yet the house prices are much more reasonable.

We were sensible and knew we couldn’t afford to live in Chester, so didn’t bother looking. You also need to think about house size. We have a 3-bedroom semi with a large double garage in the garden. Again, we don’t have children so didn’t need a huge garden. Jay also wanted, as a priority, some sort of workshop or garage to keep cars in so he absolutely got his wish.

We compromised on the busy road. It’s not too loud, especially as the traffic dies off at night, but it’s difficult to reverse into our drive when it’s busy, and it’s on a major bus route that goes from Liverpool to Chester. Definitely a regret of mine, but I love our house so probably wouldn’t change it!

 

So there are two major, yet wonderful places that you could live in the UK. There’s so many more amazing areas you could try though, prepare to be amazed by what the UK has to offer.