“We bought a dormer bungalow with the idea of redeveloping it” explains Alexa, a self-employed designer. Unfortunately the couple’s improvement plans involved knocking down all but three of the ground floor walls, and so they came to the conclusion that self-building from scratch was a more sensible approach.
“We wanted a modern home with bespoke functionality and the kind of details you can only get by building yourself,” explains George. “Alexa also wanted to demonstrate she had the design skills to create an amazing-looking house — and I think she has more than proved the point.” Although they had strong ideas about what they wanted, they hired architect Tim Ody at MAA Architects in Hampton to bring their ideas to life.
“We wanted a family-friendly five bedroom house with underfloor heating throughout and plenty of open space in the main ground floor living area,” adds George. “A modern functional kitchen was high on the list and we wanted to use folding sliding doors to open up the whole of the back of the house, so the living space could flow into the garden.”
The first set of plans submitted were withdrawn after the local authority recommended refusal, but it gave clear direction on the changes required for approval. George and Alexa realised that finding the right builder was key to the success of the project, as they would not be doing any work themselves. From the four quotes they received, the couple chose the lowest price, only to discover just three months into the build that the builder they had selected had financial problems.
Luckily, the subcontractor undertaking the groundworks, Chris Sully, also operated as a general contractor and when they asked him if he would consider taking on the whole project, he jumped at the chance.
George is first to admit that Alexa took the lead role in the project, and is full of admiration for her achievement: “Even 18 months after moving in I still get goosebumps. Friends and family love the house and are seriously impressed by Alexa’s interiors.”