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.
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.