It does seem that one of the crazy parts of self-building is that you invest a lot of time in learning and then once your project is complete you never use that knowledge again. Few people go through the process more than once because they have already created the house of their dreams and understandably want to stay put!

However, if you do tackle a few projects there is no doubt that you get wiser and can draw on your past experience to be more efficient. In my latest podcast I chat with David and Penny Learmonth, a couple who I think have done exactly this. Having completed three renovations over the years they felt ready to take on a new build and it all came about due to a serendipitous opportunity. They lived in a listed farm house but one day they started getting calls from developers who were keen to buy an adjoining paddock off them. This was because the development boundary for the village had been extended to include this plot of land. Instead of selling, they saw it as a perfect time to build a house for their retirement that was more comfortable, designed to meet their needs and had low running costs.

Working to a tight budget they also had to be clever with their money and I believe this is where their experience served them well. They invested in the fabric of the building and kept the form very simple. Although they had high ticket items, such as triple glazed windows and mechanical ventilation with heat recovery, they cut costs elsewhere and opted for bottom of the range fixtures and fittings (such as light fittings and doors). The logic behind this was that these things could be upgraded relatively easily at a later date as and when more money is available.

They have also been very sensible in how they are going to live in the house and considering how their use of space might change. Listen to David and Penny’s interview by downloading the podcast from iTunes.

  • Dominic Eves

    Good post Ben, I’ve just discovered your podcast, I’ll be downloading them all very soon. Look forward to hearing them all.


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