Jude Hesselgrave and her partner, Roger Page, are self builders in the absolute truest sense, building their log cabin home by hand and going on to make doors and furniture, then searching out bargain salvaged pieces to decorate their evolving home. It’s a project that began in 2009 and concluded in 2015, with the cabin added to and upgraded over the years as funds allowed.

For Jude, in particular, their home harbours sentimental value because it sits within Sussex farmland that’s been in her family for three generations.

The couple had already sussed out the perfect spot to self build, favouring the site of a 400m dilapidated cattle and hay barn with a collecting yard, and a lovely outlook over the fields. Practically, there was drainage on site and they could connect to the mains electricity. They figured a log cabin would be the sensible route for their circumstances and pocket. They chose an inexpensive, basic structure — something they could build themselves and dismantle with ease if necessary.

Project Notes

  • Project: Self build
  • Location: Horam, East Sussex
  • Land cost: Already owned
  • Build cost: £60,000
  • Current value of property: £250,000

Jude and Roger went to see local company Log Cabins Factory Direct. They chose a design where they could introduce more windows on the south side facing the garden, and patio doors on the west orientation leading to a veranda overlooking the views. To maximise the space, they realised they’d have to buy two cabins and fix them together.

The couple received a Certificate of Lawful Development in September 2015, permitting the property to remain their permanent home, and giving them good reason to sit back satisfied with what they’ve achieved. Jude says she and Roger are incredibly attached to their home. “The build was such a lovely process and we enjoyed every minute. We had our hard times, of course, but we’ve realised the potential now and I feel like we’re living the dream.

“We’ve put so much of ourselves into the project. We’re really proud of our achievements— this is a super special place for both of us.”

The log cabin sits on the family's farmland which has been in the family for three generations

The log cabin evolved over time and the couple added a bedroom and then a living room extension, which encloses the plot. Steps down from the bifold doors lead into a garden of planter beds

The dining room in the log cabin features an exposed oak frame

The living room is a separate timber-frame build with a sloping roof to allow the extension to tie into the existing roofline. The exposed oak frame is structural, sourced from a 15th-century farmhouse. Roger made the ‘post box’ window set high on the wall to draw in south-facing light and to add interest to the mustard-coloured wall

The kitchen in the Hesselgrave's log cabin

The kitchen and bathroom in the larger log cabin sit next to each other for drainage reasons and are separated by a studwall. The compact space is packed with Jude’s clever storage ideas such as the spice shelf above the window, the cookbooks above the door and shelves that slot into the studwall

There is a new breakfast room in the log cabin

The breakfast room began life as a bedroom and now forms the entrance into the cabin where the original floors have been left bare and the exposed walls roughly painted in wood primer for a rustic finish

The bathroom in the log cabin features timber wall panels

The bathroom was upgraded in 2014 with wall insulation and new sanitaryware from Wickes, and the window was upgraded to better quality double glazing in 2015. The cast iron roll-top tub was reluctantly replaced with an acrylic bath because the water didn’t stay warm long enough. Roger added tongue and groove panelling to the room; the shelves came from a flea market

The master bedroom in the log cabin has been designed with a rustic feel

The old living room became the bedroom when the second extension was built. During the changes, extra insulation was added to the west-facing wall and the room painted a cocooning dark grey. The patio doors open onto the veranda

A woodburning stove offers warmth to the log cabin

The Franco Belge red woodburning stove, sourced from eBay, is the primary source of heating (together with a handful of storage heaters). The stove is fuelled entirely by wood collected on the farm, and provides enough heat to keep the cabin warm in winter. The fireplace was designed around the reclaimed oak (found on site) that forms the mantelpiece

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