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Meet Charlie & Helen self-builders of @cottage.church

Meet Charlie and Helen who are in the process of building their first house with us. They are next door neighbours to Craig and LB who are also building their first house together. They are about to dig footings for their build  this week, follow their journey on Instagram here: @cottage.church

Helen is a farmer’s daughter from Gloucestershire. Although she lives the 9-5 life in the office as an Accountant, she’s a true country girl and has grown up on a dairy farm and ridden horses all her life. With a passion for travelling (now restricted by becoming a self-builder!) she also has an endless list of hobbies including going to the gym, cycling and running with the dogs.

Charlie who was raised in Spain with his sister LB (as seen on Craig and LB’s blog) is now a true ‘Herefordian’. He embraces the countryside and all of it’s sports – just like his fiancé Helen! He’s also the Head of Oakwrights Country Buildings and GreenRooms departments, so he’s looking forward to building his own home.

Read their first Q&A with us here:

What have been the highlights so far?
Demolishing the existing house was good fun. ​We working alongside Craig and LB (@selfbuildlife) to take it down by hand to the ground level and then got a digger in to finish the job off. Designing the kitchen has also been enjoyable ​- we have had little pieces of paper cut to scale (fridge, sink, dishwasher etc) and moved them around the ‘kitchen’ to make sure we have everything in the right place! We have spent hours on this! Going to various kitchen showrooms has been really fun and this has helped develop our ideas and style of the end goal. We are getting closer! 

What problems have you had to overcome? E.g problems with planning, planning conditions, demolition, design.
As we are still very early into the process we have not had many major issues yet… Getting the planning conditions signed off was a challenge as we have Methane in the ground. This took a long time and felt never ending, with no one giving clear instructions to what needed to happen or reports we needed to have prepared. We also wanted to change the position of the house, along with a few windows to doors etc and we needed to go back into planning for this. This still hasn’t been signed off and is 2 months over the scheduled target date… it is like pulling teeth out to get someone to sign it off! 

Why did you choose to build with an oak frame?
There are so many new build developments, all softwood timber frame and we feel that they all lack character. We love the oak for what it brings to the property; its tactile, and visually beautiful, there are not many new build oak frame properties a young couple can buy as developers are too margin driven.

What is it about your project that’s exciting you most?
Having a space we have designed ourselves is probably the most exciting thing. We are really looking forward to an open plan space downstairs and excited to host future dinner parties with the kitchen, dining and lounge all linked. 

What are your needs and requirements for your new home?  
It is just us at the moment, however we know it won’t be forever (dogs and hopefully children!). Therefore, we have made decisions on a space that we would want now, but also a space that a young family can live in. Having a super cool space fit for magazines is fine for now, but is not going to suit where there are little grubby mits around!

Where did you find your plot for sale?
The plot was for sale through Oakwrights, it is the first phase of a development on the main site. 

What would you do differently in your process so far if you were to have your time again?
Nothing yet… time will tell!

What’s your biggest piece of advice to other self-builders?
It’s a long journey. Not many people get the opportunity to carry out a self-build so if you do, then we urge you to stick at it and it will all be worth it in the long run. Know your numbers – try and uncover every potential cost before it arises. It is worth getting a Quantity Surveyor budget produced to give you a benchmark and direction when getting costs together. Also, use a mortgage adviser. We have had a great one helping us with the self build mortgage application as this is a very lengthy tick box process. 

How have you found having full time jobs and managing your project at the same time?
Being at the early stage so far we have not had much impact yet as it has been all weekend work and some evening work. As we get deeper into the build I can imagine there may be some knock on, hopefully not though as we need our jobs to pay for the build!

Have you both taken on different roles with the project?
Not yet, it will be interesting to see how this evolves!

 

Follow their journey on Instagram here: @cottage.church 

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