How this wooden shack was rebuilt as a 'Good Life' style eco-home on a huge plot

Mark Millar stood next to couple Lucy and Mike, in front of their new self built timber framed home.
Mark Millar stood next to couple Lucy and Mike, in front of their new self built timber framed home. (Image credit: Build Your Dream Home in the Country.)

When passionate foodies Lucy and Mike bought a 1940s wooden shack on a large plot in Suffolk — the dream was to build a lifestyle rather than a house. 

Lucy had quit her stressful fashion job designing jewellery in London eight years earlier to become a quirky vegetable grower, while Mike was a well-established chef in Ipswich. And with their joint skills and knowledge they hoped to build a self sufficient home together where they, Lucy's two young children, and their goats could live off their surrounding one-and-a-half acres of land.

Their building a house journey, which they started in March 2022, was featured on celebrity builder Mark Millar's new television show Build Your Dream Home in the Country on Channel 5.

New home design rebuilt using same footprint

Mark Millar with couple Lucy and Mike stood in front of timber frame structure

Mark Millar with couple Lucy and Mike stood in front of their new timber frame structure on the old home's footprint (Image credit: Build Your Dream Home in the Country)

The original dilapidated shack was bought for £500,000, with the one-and-a-half acre plot being run down with weeds and plants growing up and around the property.

The old house was beyond repair, meaning it made sense for Lucy and Mike to knock it down and start again using the same footprint. They erected a new timber frame house, which took four months and cost £240,000 to construct. 

The design plans were summarised by Lucy who said: “We’re essentially rebuilding what was here already but to a modern safety standard.”

While the beginning of the build went more or less to plan, towards the end of the build the couple started to struggle with costs and were in a rush to complete their project as they ran out of funds. This meant they had to complete much of the work themselves but were happy to get stuck in, with the help of show host and experienced builder Mark Millar.

Recycled windows plus a WWII shelter as a planter

Lucy and Mike assemble an underground planter using an old WW2 shelter.

Lucy and Mike assemble an underground planter using an old WW2 shelter (Image credit: Build Your Dream Home in the Country)

The couple made huge cost savings by recycling wood and getting resources, such as energy-efficient UPVC windows, for free out of people’s skips. An old World War Two Anderson shelter was also used as an underground planter.

This positive approach to dealing with their dwindling lack of funds showed that nothing could stop the pair from building their dream four-bedroom, eco-friendly self build home. As a result, the finished home was exactly as they envisaged, a true "Good Life" style home, which including a converted conservatory for tropical fruits, an ornamental kitchen garden, plus habitat for chickens, geese, and goats, as well as a wildlife area on the land.

The lifestyle home wasn't just about how they used the surrounding land, it was in the actual build of the home too.

Larch clad with slate roof and solar panels

Mark Millar stood in front of newly built timber frame house with solar panels.

Mark Millar stood in front of newly built, timber framed house with solar panels. (Image credit: Build Your Dream Home in the Country.)

For the exterior of the house Lucy and Mike used decorative larch wood and slate roof tiles. 

Mark Millar explained the benefits of using this particular wood, “Larch is amazingly durable, a dense softwood that is full of resin. It will last for years with little maintenance.”

The wood will naturally change colour over time from a golden-brown colour to a silver-grey colour to blend into the woodland environment.

To go along with the eco-friendly theme in the eco house, solar panels were also installed onto the slate roofing to provide a sustainable energy supply to the home.

Five roof windows were also installed to bring in more light and also heat to help reduce heating bills, as well as high thermal efficiency roof lights.

DIY oak worktops mix with vintage furniture

The high-ceiling kitchen/dining area incorporated classic recycled furniture, with modern kitchen equipment to create a stylish design.

The couple decided to use old antique furniture and mixed this with more contemporary kitchen units and DIY oak worktops for a unique look.

The pair created the oak worktops with oak planks fused together. They then made a large oak worktop and added it to some vintage furniture to create a large homemade kitchen island, with a little help from Mark

Mark said “I love how they have mixed pieces of vintage furniture next to contemporary kitchen units. It shouldn’t work, but it does.” 

Joseph Mullane
News Editor

News Editor Joseph has previously written for Today’s Media and Chambers & Partners, focusing on news for conveyancers and industry professionals.  Joseph has just started his own self build project, building his own home on his family’s farm with planning permission for a timber frame, three-bedroom house in a one-acre field. The foundation work has already begun and he hopes to have the home built in the next year. Prior to this he renovated his family's home as well as doing several DIY projects, including installing a shower, building sheds, and livestock fences and shelters for the farm’s animals. Outside of homebuilding, Joseph loves rugby and has written for Rugby World, the world’s largest rugby magazine.