Michael and Pippa Goodhart’s self build is situated in the village where Pippa grew up, not far from Michael’s childhood home in Cambridge. The plot itself was carved out of garden land owned by his family.

They have not only built a beautiful house, but they are surrounded by family, friends and memories, and they have gone to great lengths to personalise their build in ways rarely seen. In many ways, it all makes for an ideal self-build.

It helped that Michael works as an architect, but his specialism has been in looking after ancient buildings and he had never acted as project manager for a new house, so the learning curve was almost as steep as it is for many people who are new to self-build.

The Project

  • Name: Michael and Pippa Goodhart
  • Build cost: £340,000 (£1,472/m²)
  • Build time: 11 months
  • Location: Cambridgeshire

Michael and Pippa’s home owes much of its distinctive rural charm to the waney-edge cladding and beautiful oak porch

The couple began by subscribing to Homebuilding & Renovating and visiting the National Homebuilding and Renovating Show at the NEC in Birmingham for inspiration and to get ideas on what was possible.

The Goodharts decided that they wanted to keep the house fairly simple in both concept and execution, so chose to build using a largely conventional palette of materials. Having said that, the house positively bristles with new technologies such as an air-source heat pump, underfloor heating and computer-controlled lighting. But it’s the personal touches which mark this house out.

Enabling works started in July 2011, the building was weathertight, secure and topped-out by Christmas, and the family finally moved in in June 2012.


Michael and Pippa were living in Leicestershire during the build and so much of the responsibility for the construction fell on the shoulders of the trusted Norman Wells, who acted as foreman whilst undertaking most of the carpentry and joinery work. Pippa acted as the client and Michael spent a lot of time procuring the materials and engaging the trades and craftspeople.

“Both of us wanted a good workspace, something we didn’t have in our previous home, hence the large through-room studio upstairs with ‘his and hers’ ends for desks, and built-in shelving and cupboards,” says Pippa.

“We also have a large collection of books which we wanted to house and display, and we needed somewhere inviting to sit and read. So we’ve built a landing library lined with shelves that are backed in bright lime green, and are lit to stunning effect.


The slate kitchen worktops, window cills and a panel within the mantelpiece all come from a quarry in the Lake District which Michael had used on a previous job. Pippa and Michael toured the quarry and slate workshop before the build, so the choice of stone was individual to the project. Some of that slate has been carved beautifully by Eric Marland to create inscriptions.

They also commissioned artist Susan Moxley to create two stained-glass windows placed at the front of the house. And Pippa’s sister, Jo Eddleston, crafted some beautiful glass tiles featuring butterflies and dragonflies in shiny metallic insets; they now adorn the walls in the bathroom and wetroom.

This coming-home project is a real success in so many ways. In a charmingly understated way, Pippa and Michael have created a new home that feels like it is full of memories already.

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