Advice on Building your Own home
I’m working on a project that’s about to be delayed by seven months because we’ve discovered a bat colony on site. Bats don’t like being moved and, what’s more, they are protected by legislation.
4 Don’t leave out the landscape
A lot of people just don’t get landscape, but if a house’s quality is not reflected in its surroundings, it looks like a piece of fluff.
5 Take your time
There’s a man on the latest series of Grand Designs who started his project when he was single, and is still working on it, even though he’s now married with two children.
6 Watch the weather
Cold and wet are the enemies of any building project. If you’re building with limecrete, for example (lime mixed with aggregate, an alternative to concrete), it can’t be used below 4C as it won’t set properly.
7 Don’t accept shoddiness
If you do, you’ll be paying out again in 18 months’ time.
8 Reject eco-tokenism
It’s everywhere and it’s awful. You get people who install great big solar panels on their roof, like some kind of shining breastplate, as if they’re brandishing their eco-credentials. In reality, they’d probably save more money and energy by installing an extra three millimetres of insulation in the loft (I suggest the wool of black mountain sheep, from Wales, which you can buy online). Men in particular are attracted to eco-bling. They love phrases such as “ground source heat pump” and “mechanical ventilation heat retention”. The latest is “photovoltaic thermal hybrid heat pump”.
9 Stay flexible
Think ahead. There’s no point building a place with seven bedrooms if your children will be grown-up and leaving home by the time it’s finished.
10 Avoid devolution
Don’t leave everything in your architect’s hands, or you’ll get the house he wants to build, not the one you want. Go to site meetings, take an interest and don’t hide. In other words, be a good client.