Jonathan and Nicola Marsh have built a large home for their growing young family for just £139,000.

We didn’t have any children when we started building this house, but we planned for it to be a family home from the beginning,” says Jonathan Marsh. “The whole project has taken us years to complete — I was 29 when we bought the plot, and I’m now 38, with two daughters and a home I could only have dreamed of owning when I was younger.”

Family home exterior

Jonathan and his wife, Nicola, live in Leicestershire. “My father and his family were evacuated here from London, and lived in a tiny two-up two-down 1930s settlement house,” Jonathan continues. “I grew up in that house, which my parents demolished and self-built again whilst living in a caravan, so when I saw a similar property for sale just along the lane I decided to try to buy it and build something larger on the land.”

The Project

  • Name: Jonathan and Nicola Marsh
  • Build cost: £139,000 (£463/m²)
  • Build time: 7 years
  • Location: Leicestershire

The house stood on a half-acre plot. The asking price in 2002 was £150,000 and Jonathan agreed to pay £152,500 to secure the property, which was of great interest to local developers. “Nicola and I funded half the purchase price ourselves and took out a mortgage to cover the rest, leaving just £100,000 for the build.”

By chance the couple spotted a steeply gabled brick house being built in a neighbouring village, and this inspired the design of their new home. Jonathan made several visits to the planning office to discuss his ideas, in the hope that he would become a familiar face before his application was submitted. He drew up his own plans and sketched elevations, based on the house they’d admired, and these were then passed to an architectural technician friend to tweak for the planning application.

Country-style kitchen in a family home

The kitchen

“There was outrage from some people that we wanted to knock down the old house and build something three times the size,” Jonathan continues. “The footings were shallow and the old house was poorly built, plus we knew we wouldn’t be able to claim back any VAT if the project was classed as an extension, so we fought hard.”

The existing house was demolished and the site cleared, with new footings and drainage excavated ready to be filled with concrete. Bricklayers then constructed the shell, which has been roofed in concrete tiles. The roof structure includes six gable ends, with a central mansard section which enabled a further room with two dormer windows to be included upstairs. This was later divided into two bedrooms for the couple’s daughters.

Kitchen-diner in family home

“This was never going to be a rush job,” says Jonathan. “We had a very tight budget, but our patience has paid off because we’ve ended up with a home for life.”

The living room

The living room

The hallway

The hallway

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