After living in London for 20 years, minus a short stint in Brighton, and with a couple of renovation projects under his belt, Stephen Yeomans was keen to sink his teeth into his first self build. The resulting home is a head turner — wrapped in vibrant cor-ten steel, it sits between chalky cliffs and the River Ouse, boasting views over a nature reserve and marking the gateway into the beautiful town of Lewes.

The rather remarkable site was previously home to a derelict timber shed-like structure, which had once been used as a social club for the local cement works in the 1950s before being left to rot. After speaking with several architects, Stephen enlisted Sandy Rendel to create a design for a new home on the plot.

Project Notes

  • Project: Self build
  • Location: Lewes, East Sussex
  • Land cost: £400,000
  • Build cost: £850,000
  • Current value of property: £1.7m

After being encouraged by the planners to come up with a bold design, Stephen and architect Sandy took the opportunity to take a stronger approach with the exterior. Being built on the river wall, roughcast concrete has been used for the ground floor of this self build project, with grey ash-glazed bricks (which can be found within the town) on the road-facing façade.

The roof and first floor walls have then been built using structural insulated panels (SIPs) and wrapped in an expanded cor-ten steel mesh which acts as a rainscreen while allowing water to filter through to the gutters hidden beneath the metal sheets.

The exterior of this self-build in Lewes has been clad in for-ten steel on the first floor

The close proximity of the river wall on this narrow plot meant that the construction of the first floor was tricky — requiring the use of cantilevered scaffolding which projected out over the river

The open plan ground floor of a self build in Lewes

In order to provide the large open plan ground floor the family were after (free from structural posts), the ground floor of this self build has been constructed in steel frame, with structural insulated panels (SIPs) making up the structure for the first floor

Thanks to cornerless glazing from IQ Glass the homeowners can view the nature reserve from their self build

The new kitchen/dining/living space spans the width of the property and overlooks the nature reserve through full-height glazed walls

Picture windows feature in the master bedroom of this contemporary self build

Vaulted ceilings add to the spacious feel of the master bedroom. Meanwhile, frameless glazing from IQ Glass, which appears to puncture the cor-ten steel façade, offers stunning views from the bed

Marble cut-offs feature as flooring in the bathrooms

Marble offcuts have been utilised to create a mosaic-style flooring, which further stands out against the minimalist bathroom fittings and sanitaryware. Full-height glazing here brings in plenty of natural light, while the cor-ten mesh exterior offers privacy

Inside, the ground floor features a predominately open plan layout, with a home office, utility and storage, leading off. The first floor comprises two large en suite bedrooms which bookend the upper level accommodation, with three smaller interconnecting bedrooms in between. These smaller spaces offer flexible living down the line for children’s bedrooms and a playroom between.

Bitten by the building bug, Stephen has now turned his attention to converting a Georgian office in Lewes into a six-bed home, with this house currently for sale through The Modern House: and Lewes Estates:

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