Ian and Helen Hardy have replaced a run-down bungalow with a charming cottage-style family home, pulling out all the stops to achieve a remarkably low build cost

Ian and Helen could teach a thing or two to most self-builders about thrifty homebuilding. It’s easy to assume that the couple, who built their beautiful cottage-style home in a quiet, leafy Surrey village for just £158,000, cut a few corners, or have perhaps been ‘economical’ with their figures. But on the contrary the couple invested in the best-quality materials they could afford, and are proud to share a detailed cost breakdown with HB&R readers.

The story begins in November 2007, when the couple, who have two young daughters, Annie and Jesse, purchased the 84m² run-down bungalow next door to Ian’s parents’ house, with a view to renovating and extending it. It quickly became apparent though that the best solution would be to knock down and rebuild. “Aside from the benefit of a more energy-efficient structure, we believe it would have actually been costlier to extend, plus we saved the VAT and have a 10-year warranty,” says Ian.

Conscious of fitting in with the street scene, Ian and Helen employed a local house designer to draw up plans that would increase the original property’s footprint yet maintain an appealing, sensitive façade. “Unfortunately he did a bad design that pleased no one, especially the planning officer,” recalls Ian.

Eventually, with the help of the planning office, approval was granted on the style which Helen and Ian had originally asked the designer to create and which was based on the footprint of the original bungalow.

By maximising space to the rear, Ian and Helen have managed to create an attractive cottage-style home with rooms in the roof which doubles the original property’s size without impacting on the street scene. “It’s a simple, strong design,” says Ian.

The couple jointly project managed with Ian acting as main contractor, secondary to his tree surgeon business. “I filled in the ‘grey areas’, which no one trade seems to take responsibility for,” he says. “Doing so much work meant we got the best house we could for the least money.”

The finished house is of brick and block construction with Celotex insulation and includes a steel frame, which runs up one side of the roof.

Inside, the highlight of the house is the ‘orangery’ dining area. Open plan to the kitchen, it has a vaulted ceiling decorated with oak beams – which give the impression of an oak frame structure – and opens out to the garden though patio doors. Protruding out from the main body of the house, this single storey space forms an L-shape. The adjacent living room, with a centrepiece Handol stove, also opens outside.

The couple are clearly delighted with their home, although they admit they have only just started really enjoying it. “It’s been a long process, and we’ve had our fair share of worry — but we know we have got a wonderful family home. We aren’t planning another project anytime soon!” laughs Helen.

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