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


Makeover Your Roof for Winter

The roof is the most integral part of any home. It is what provides us with warmth, protection and stops us from experiencing the elements outside.

Our roof is the most important part of the home to keep maintained. Eventually you may find that you want to update the roof of your home to make it more secure. Before your choose to undergo roof maintenance, make sure you take in the following tips.


Do your research

Make sure you really take the time to look around when you are trying to find the builders for roof maintenance. Many people make the mistake of choosing a roofer solely on the price point, but actually this isn’t always an accurate measure of competence.

Ask around your family and friends for who they would recommend. Try visiting sites such as certainteed to see if your builder has got a good reputation in the field.

Strip It

You’ll have to have the old roof taken down and stripped ready for a new one to be installed. The big advantage about having your roof stripped ready for the builder to come in is that they will be able to install different layers of installation to protect your home from harsh weather conditions as well as stop damp getting into the house.

If you have the original wood shingles up in the attic you will need to get on some steel trestles and get those removed too to make way for the new roof. It is at this point you may decide that you want a roof window.

Good Quality

The roof isn’t like other parts of your home. You will only need to replace the roof every decade or maybe even less depending on how well they last. This is why it is crucial that you save your money and really fork out for the best quality roof. It isn’t a job that you want to be redone any time soon so make sure it doesn’t have to be. You can even buy 50-year-shingles if you can afford it.

Read The Small Print

Roofing requires a lot of different paperwork. This is most likely because it is an incredibly crucial part of the home. Everything needs to be planned well in advance and needs to be of the highest standards.

You will likely need a building permit if you have work going on outside the home, a contract between you and the builders to make sure you get the best deal and you understand the terms. This is what you need to take the time to read over to make sure that you are 100% happy before going ahead with the work.

Make Sure They Clean Up

Whatever you do, don’t pay the roofers until they clear up the nails they have stripped from your roof. As they strip the old shingles, up to 10,000 nails can come with it and scatter around your garden. This can be dangerous for your children and animals if they don’t get picked up.


Roof maintenance is the key to a healthy home. If you maintain it properly, it won’t need replacing as often. It’s a job best for the summer so that you’re prepared as we move into the colder months.

7 Home Improvements That Don’t Require Planning Permission

Are you bored of your home, but don’t want building work to go through planning permission? I’ve outlined 7 home improvements that don’t require planning permission, so you can start straight away!

The decision to improve your home is an exciting one for any homeowner, but it can quickly become stressful.

First, you’ve got to save up enough money, then you’ve got to find the perfect contractor, and then, on top of everything else, you have to get planning permission. Unfortunately, I can’t help you out with the first two, but the last one is another story.

There are plenty of home improvements that don’t require planning permission, so don’t let it hold you back. Here is a list of seven major ones to give you some inspiration.


  1. Remodel The Inside

You can usually remodel the inside of your house however you like, without the need to seek planning permission, so you can do anything from adding new flooring to taking out entire walls (as long as you comply with building regulations).

This means that you can install one of those classic kitchens that you’ve had your eye on, buy a new bath, or even create an open-plan space for your kitchen, dining room, and living room.


  1. Loft Conversion

Converting your loft into a new bedroom, a games room, or an office is a great way to utilise loft space, especially considering how little disruption it causes within your home and the fact that it usually doesn’t require planning permission.

As long as your loft isn’t more than forty cubic metres, you don’t intend to add height to the property, and the materials used are similar to the originals, you should be fine.

However, some areas don’t allow loft conversions at all, so always be sure to check.


  1. Add A Porch

As a general rule, you always need to ask for planning permission if you intend to extend the front of your house. Adding a porch, however, is an exception to this rule.

As long as your porch is three metres or shorter, covers no more than three metres squared, and isn’t within two metres of a footpath you shouldn’t need planning permission. You also need to be sure to keep your original door where it is.


  1. Garage Conversion

Garages are rarely used to store cars nowadays. Instead, they become sort of like a shed, holding tools and the occasional piece of forgotten gym equipment. This is a waste of space that could easily be used for a bedroom, an office, a family room, or a gym.

As your internal garages are a part of your home, they don’t usually require planning permission. But don’t extend the garage, as this does need permission.


  1. Construct A Conservatory

Conservatories are a great way to increase space in your home and can be the perfect place to spend your time, especially in the summer.

There are a few rules that you need to follow if you want to build a conservatory without planning permission. For example, it can’t be higher than your house, and can’t cover more than half of your garden. As long as you follow these rules, you can be on your way.

There are so many options to choose from with conservatories, so pick one to suit your style.


  1. Build An Outbuilding

If you wanted a home office or a den that’s away from your home, then you’re in luck.

Certain types of outbuildings can be built without obtaining planning permission. Like with your conservatory, your outbuilding can’t cover more than half of the size of your garden, so as long as you have a large garden, you should be okay.

However, you have to remember that all extensions are taken into account to reach this total. If your conservatory covers a quarter of your garden, your outbuilding has to cover a quarter or less.


  1. Two Becomes One

Nope, I’m not referencing the Spice Girls. I’m talking about converting two separate homes into one.

Do you live in a house or flat that’s attached to the one next door? You might be able to buy it and knock down a wall to double the size of your home.

However, don’t assume that you can do the opposite too. If you wanted to convert one home into two, you would need planning permission.


If you’re bored of your home, then I hope that these home improvements that don’t require planning permission inspire you.

Just make sure that you don’t undertake any work without checking with your local planning authority first. There is always a chance that the rules or regulations are different where you live.

How to fund a home renovation

Financing a home renovation or extension can be a challenge.

Most people save up for weeks or even months to get enough money for a single renovation. So you may be wondering how you could realistically fund your project. In this article, we’re going to describe a couple of acceptable ways to fund a home renovation.


Use your savings

Once you start putting money into your savings, it can add up quickly. Instead of letting your money just sit in a bank account ‘for a rainy day’, use it.

Renovations can be expensive which is why people tend to save up a lot of money just to pay for them.

To help remedy this, your savings account could pay for the entire job. Or you could put some funds towards the renovation to offset the costs that you have to pay from your own ages and salary.

The point of a savings account is to have money for when you need it. If your renovation counts as a needed improvement, there’s no shame in breaking out the piggy bank.


Take out a loan

There aren’t many situations where it’s acceptable to take out a loan for the sake of a renovation.

However, if you require an urgent renovation then it does warrant the need for emergency funds. In this case, it’s perfectly acceptable to take out a loan (assuming you can pay for it before the interest piles on) for the sake of a home renovation.

If you’re dealing with bad credit history, you can take out adverse credit loans to help you pay for the renovation. In short, only consider taking out a loan if you need to fix something urgently.

Don’t rely on loans as a means to pay for a renovation that you want for the sake of luxury.


Doing it yourself

Although this isn’t a way to fund a home renovation, it’s a much cheaper way to get the job done. You don’t need to spend money on professional services all the time. Occasionally, you require someone with experience. It’s absolutely recommended to use a professional for some aspects like wiring or electric. But you can save a lot of money if done correctly.

If you want to save money and learn how to repair and maintain different parts of your home, then DIY training is perhaps the easiest way to do so.

You learn from your mistakes more than a book, so hands-on experience is always appreciated. As long as you have someone supervising or at least monitoring what you’re doing, you’ll find that it’s incredibly easy to get DIY work done as long as you put your mind to it.


Out of all the methods you might have to fund a home renovation, these three are arguably the most common and should be used when possible.

Tools to Home Make DIY Easier

For a lot of people, DIY isn’t a passion which fills them with joy and satisfaction, but you can make DIY easier.

Instead, this sort of work is done out of necessity, as you want to save money around your home. But it isn’t always easy.

In a lot of cases, barriers will be presented to you, and you won’t have a way to overcome them. To help you out with this, this post will be exploring some of the best tools out there to make DIY easier.


  • Cutting


One of the hardest jobs a novice DIYer will have to undertake is cutting. Unlike paper or other thin materials, wood and metal aren’t a simple matter of using scissors. Instead, you will need a saw, but you have to choose the right one.

For most jobs, a mitre saw will be enough to make all of the cuts you need. Along with this, you should also consider the idea of a cheap circular saw to help you out, too.


  • Measuring


Before you can make a cut, it’s always good to make sure that you’ve measured it twice. However, with all the modern tools on the market, you don’t really need to go to this effort.

Laser measuring tools have become very reliable over the last few years and make DIY easier. Offering unparalleled accuracy, this sort of tool is perfect for anyone who struggles to measure the right lines.


  • Joining


Once you’ve measured and made the cuts of the material you need, it’s time to start putting things together. For wood, one of the best ways to do this is using a nail gun. This sort of tool is perfectly safe if you use it correctly. You have to be careful, though. This sort of tool can often damage softer woods. Along with this, nails aren’t always the most attractive option, anyway.

To solve this issue, glue is here to save the day, and you have loads of examples to choose from. Spray adhesives have come a long way over the last few years, with a lot of companies offering options which can dry within minutes, giving you years of strong hold. We put brackets on our mantelpiece to hold our oak beam, but then glued the beam to the wall. Worked perfectly and saved using any nails to mount it!

This sort of material won’t always be appropriate for the job you’re doing. So, it’s always worth doing some research to make sure you’re getting the right glue for your project.


  • Painting


Finally, it’s time to think about one of the biggest jobs a DIYer will ever have to do; painting.

In a lot of cases, this work will take up a huge amount of your project time, and can be very hard to get right. To help you with this, there are loads of modern paint systems out there which take this work out of your hands. They dispense the paint for you at an even rate; it’s never been easier to give your walls a perfect coat.


Hopefully, this post will inspire you to start taking on some bigger projects, while also making them a lot easier for yourself. A lot of people will be daunted by a job they think they can’t do. Make DIY easier by finding some kind of tool to help you, and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune.