How to Build Your Own House - Design for Me

Build your Own House Design

Design Your Own Home / February 2, 2023

The Manning family are setting off on an awfully big adventure. They are selling their pretty thatched house in Wiltshire and moving to Scotland. There, an unprepossessing breezeblock barn is waiting for them at Strathaven, Lanarkshire. They plan to turn it into a large five-bedroom house. It is the culmination of a six-year plan, and they can’t quite believe the time has come.

Richard Manning is an airline pilot, so he feels he can live anywhere and still fly home after work. His wife, Karen, is returning to her Scottish roots. The children Natalie, 13, and Jonathan, 12, are excited. “We bought the plot about six years ago, ” says Richard. “We want a house which is brand new and incorporates all the modern technology such as geothermal underfloor heating and good Wi-Fi.”

Volumes of light, glass and sliding doors are must-haves, so they are selling five-bedroom Karrick House at Shrewton for £650, 000 through (41). “We are stepping into unknown territory and will have to rent while we build. But we will use a building system which will be made in a factory and assembled on site, so it should be quick, ” adds Richard.

As the recession recedes, more and more people are choosing to build their own home. “Many people feel they can’t find the house they want. They end up buying an old house and making a compromise, ” says Ed Cunningham of Knight Frank. “If you buy a plot, there is less stamp duty, and there is no VAT to pay on a new building. Individuals will usually buy a plot and spend half as much again on building costs.”

Those who buy without planning permission get an immediate price increase on the plot value assuming permission is granted. Richard and Rosalind Maudslay chased a plot for two years on the edge of Rothbury, in the heart of Northumberland. It extended across two acres with a derelict Seventies bungalow on it. “We took a deep breath and bought it without planning permission, believing it would all work out, ” explains Richard.

Old haunt: the Mannings's current home

So their current home, Priorsgate House at Brinkburn, near Morpeth, is now on the market. It is rather grand, with six bedrooms, a four-bedroom cottage, 10 acres and fishing on the River Coquet. Strutt & Parker (23) is asking £1.5 million. “It is wonderful but a bit big for us now, ” says Richard.

They, too, plan to rent while they build. “We have lived in a lot of 100-year-old houses – we know now what we like. We can put the best of all the ideas into the perfect house for our retirement.” Their daughter is an architect and is helping them. So far, so good – they have got their planning permission.

They were inspired partly by seeing exciting modern architecture when they lived in Mexico. But they were also impressed by Kevin McCloud and Grand Designs, which is seducing many homeowners into building new.

What is top of the Maudslays’ wish list? “Glass walls in the living room and drawing room so that we get the best of the views, ” says Richard. “And excellent energy efficiency with a ground source heat pump. But we also want four bedrooms, so that our grandchildren can stay.”

The urge to create is sometimes unstoppable. Dr Stephen Bell is a former rocket scientist in his 80s whose brain never rests. He and his wife, Barbara, live in Woodbridge, Suffolk, on a 10-acre plot where he wants to build something adventurous. On a sailing trip to Holland, he met the father of Jerry Tate, the architect who designed The Eden Project Core when he worked with Grimshaw Architects, and has since produced the Eden Walkway and fascinating properties, including the Hoo House at Melton in Suffolk.

Pastures new: the family are building a modern home in Scotland

“We wanted to produce a house of outstanding architectural quality, ” says Dr Bell. “It got bigger and bigger, and in the end we couldn’t afford to build it, so we are putting it on the market.” Strutt & Parker (41) has valued the plot with planning permission at £485, 000.

The build cost could come to £1 million or more. The design is for a half-buried organic-shape without a single straight line. The roof will be partly wild-flower meadow and partly a bold quiff of curving zinc. And that’s the advantage of building from scratch – you can have whatever you want.