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Craig & LB @selfbuildlife

Meet Craig and LB who are in the early stages of building their own oak frame forever home with us!

They are currently setting up the site after overcoming a tricky planning process. Follow them on our blog (or on their own instagram page @selfbuildlife ) to learn about every stage of their self-build journey- the highs and lows!

Craig, who’s born and bred in Hereford was previously a carpenter. In 2014 he stepped back from his tools and became Business Development Manager here at Oakwrights. He’s a fair weather cyclist, father of two and has a passion for bee keeping! He’ll be passing on his oak frame home building wisdom to you, and LB.

LB who’s lived around the globe in Marbella, the Algarve, Madrid and London currently works in marketing for an insulation company. She moved back to Herefordshire to be with Craig, her now fiance. She loves keeping fit, good food, and a bottomless brunch. She also apparently knows nothing about building houses!

Demolition in process Photo credit: Craig & LB

What have been the highlights of your journey so far?

Craig: Removing the original house was the biggest stress buster, there is nothing better than knocking walls down with a sledge hammer.

LB: I loved the process of the oak frame model review with our Oakwrights team, and really seeing our house come to life for the first time.

What problems have you had to overcome? (E.g problems with planning, planning conditions, demolition, design.)

Craig: Planning conditions have been a nightmare. We had to provide an ecological method statement, along with some more onerous conditions such as “full written technical specification for the soil and gas preventions measures”. This is mainly because there is an old landfill site close which will generate methane for the next few years.

Why did you choose to build with an oak frame?

Craig: I would imagine most people would think we are building an oak frame because I work for Oakwrights, but this is not the case, I was a carpenter long before I started with Oakwrights and love the look of a natural material in the house, plus I appreciate the craftsmanship.

LB: I too love the look and feel of the oak, it gives you the character that so many new builds lack.

What is it about your project that’s exciting you most?

LB: We have pretty split views on this! I’m looking forward to putting my stamp on our home having rented for the past nine years… and so I can finally get a dog of my own (a chocolate Working Cocker Spaniel called Margaux – not that I’ve thought about it much).

Craig: I’m just looking forward to thinking I’ve built a home for us.

What are your needs and requirements for your new home?

LB: I think there are three main areas for me. We love cooking and entertaining so the layout downstairs has been highly debated –  we are looking to create a space that makes people feel at home and flows effortlessly. Another area of importance for me is daylight, I grew up in Southern Spain and love the sunshine, so having lots of light flood our home is vital. Finally,  we do a lot together but I think it’s so important to be able to have your own space to think, read and unwind in peace.

Craig: I am keen to achieve a high level of finish that is as cost effective as possible. It’s also important that our home continues to evolve with us as our family grows.

Photo credit: Craig & LB

What would you do differently in your process so far if you were to have your time again?

LB: I would try to manage my expectations of how long things take. I have found myself feeling immensely frustrated at times, but that’s all part of the self-build life!

What’s your biggest piece of advice to other self-builders?

Craig: Pick your battles. Accept that not everything will go how you want it to, but that’s ok. Decide what’s most important to you and let the rest slide – within reason, of course!

How have you found having full time jobs and managing your project at the same time?

Craig: It’s not been easy. I have had to put in the hours to get both done, whether that’s working late on site or battling through planning conditions and calculating levels for the foundations. It’s not about having time, it’s about making time and telling your friends you’ll see them at the housewarming in a year’s time.

Have you both taken on different roles with the project?

LB: Craig has over fifteen years of experience in the construction industry so he is ‘The Boss’. I help where I can and ensure everyone on site is fed and watered at all times. I would say I have a fairly clear idea of how I want the end product to look and love spending time reading interiors books and blogs and scrolling through Pinterest, Houzz and Instagram looking for inspiration. We are trying to make key decisions early on to avoid the inevitable regret of rushed and panicked choices further down the line.

Best day so far?

LB: Although I probably wouldn’t have said this at the time, knocking down most of the house by hand felt like a huge achievement – hindsight is a wonderful thing!

Worst day so far?

Craig: Removing seven layers of sixty-year-old bitumen felt from the roof!  

Anything else you’d like to add…

LB: Make friends with your neighbours, be open and transparent with your plans and keep them in the loop.

 

Follow their Instagram here and keep an eye our blogs page to hear about the next stage of their process!

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