10 Great Contemporary Self Builds

Contemporary Devon Self Build on a Budget
(Image credit: Nigel Rigden)

Contemporary self builds come in many shapes, sizes and guises. While some new homes take their cue from modernist forms (think flat roofs, larges areas of glazing and white render), many of today’s crop of contemporary new builds embrace contextualism.

“Contextualism is all about an architecture that is a response to its surroundings and respects the locality. Contextualism is all about the site,” explains architect Darren Bray.

Often, this means a design which sits comfortably on its plot, embraces local materials and elements of vernacular architecture, but reinvents them in new and exciting ways.

This selection highlights the wide variety of contemporary self builds being built across the UK.

1. The Contemporary Treehouse

A Contemporary Self Build Home with Internal Courtyard

(Image credit: Jack Hobhouse c/o Edgley Architects)

This contemporary self build, designed by architect owner Jake Edgley, was built on brownfield plot in south London. The rear courtyard was designed around a 100-year-old pear tree on site.

  • Build cost: £2,000/m²
  • Location: Dulwich, London

2. A Brick-Clad Contemporary Self Build

A Striking Brick Self Build

(Image credit: Simon Kennedy c/o Tompkins Rygole)

Architect/owners Annelies and Peter Tompkins replaced a 1960s bungalow with a brick-clad self build. The new house uses a local brick, carefully laid in a bond which matches the vernacular style — and ties in with the neighbouring Arts and Crafts house.

  • Build cost: £335,000
  • Location: Berkshire

3. An Industrial-Style Riverside Home

An Amazing Riverside Self Build on a Brownfield Plot

(Image credit: Simon Maxwell)

This contemporary build, with its striking Cor-ten (weathered steel)-clad first floor, pays homage to the industrial buildings which once stood on site.

  • Build cost: £850,000
  • Location: Lewes

4. A Single-Storey Self Build

Contemporary Single Storey Self Build

(Image credit: Jeremy Phillips)

One couple built this single-storey home in the garden to their former Victorian house, for their retirement. A significant slope and the desire not to negatively impact on their former home was critical — the new house sits lower on the site, but makes the most of spectacular valley views.

  • Build cost: £327,900
  • Location: Derbyshire

5. Reinventing the White Box

Contemporary Devon Self Build on a Budget

(Image credit: Nigel Rigden)

Ben Warren’s contemporary self build, designed by Stan Bolt: Architect, has taken the concept of the white rendered box and reinvented it. The result is a home that combines different materials and breaks away from the box-like form with varying levels of scale and mass.

  • Build Cost: £300,000 (£1,382/m²)
  • Location: East Devon

6. A Contemporary Oak Frame Self Build

Contemporary Oak Frame Self Build Clad in Timber

(Image credit: Simon Maxwell)

Large expanses of glass and a predominately open plan ground floor give this oak frame self build a contemporary edge.

  • Build cost: £490,000
  • Location: Hertfordshire

7. A Low-Maintenance Contemporary Home

Modern Home Designed for Low Maintenance Living

(Image credit: Martin Gardner, Michael Sinclair)

Concrete and timber cladding – not to mention that gravity-defying cantilever – combine to create a minimalist-inspired home. The large chimney breast ‘anchors’ the building to its site, while the roof overhangs create shading in the summer.

  • Build cost: £3,660/m²
  • Location: Dorset

8. Traditional Materials Meet Contemporary Design

A new home in Hampshire mixes contemporary design with traditional materials including clay tiles and brick walls

(Image credit: Nigel Rigden)

This well-insulated, airtight home was constructed in SIPs, but features natural clay tiles, brick and timber cladding as a nod to the vernacular.

  • Build cost: £495,000
  • Location: Hampshire

9. A Contemporary Self Build on a Restricted Corner Plot

Contemporary Home on Awkward Brownfield Plot

(Image credit: Simon Maxwell)

This striking new build on a corner plot in Bristol replaces a row of derelict garages. The contemporary self build has been designed in three parts in order to maximise privacy and minimise overlooking.

  • Build cost: £300,000
  • Location: Bristol

10. Embracing Organic Architecture

A Steel Frame and Stone Home

(Image credit: John Need)

This contemporary Scottish self build, with dynamic roof planes, features natural materials which help it sit comfortably within its setting. The interiors take their cue from mid-century modern design.

  • Build cost: £500,000
  • Location: Argyll & Bute
Claire Lloyd

Claire is Editor in Chief of Homebuilding & Renovating website and magazine. She became Editor of Homebuilding & Renovating in 2016 and has been a member of the team for 15 years. An experienced homes journalist, her work has also appeared in titles such as Real Homes and Period Living.

She has a particular interest in green homes and sustainability, and interior design is a passion too; she has undertaken qualifications in this area. 

After finishing a major renovation of a period cottage, she is now onto her next project: overhauling a 1930s property in the Shropshire countryside.