Self-build diary: the planning and design processes

Written by our in-house Architectural Design team


The proposed development site for Charlie and Helen and Craig and LB’s self-build cottages was the curtilage of a two storey cottage on a prominent corner plot near Swainshill, with an area of approximately 0.28 acres. The original cottage was a building of no architectural merit and was in quite a dilapidated condition, with unsympathetic flat-roofed extensions to the rear and side. The elevations of the cottage were rendered, and the pitched roof section had a concrete tile finish. Next to the cottage was a detached garage and shed which were also in poor condition.

In 2017, a planning application was submitted to build two oak frame cottages on the site, which was later approved. Due to their proximity to the former Stretton Sugwas landfill, it was anticipated that the proposed dwellings would require precautionary gas control measures, i.e. gas resistant barriers over a ventilated sub-floor void known as a methane membrane. This became a prior condition to the approval of the two cottages and is a topic that homeowners Craig and LB share their experience on in a later blog.

The two couples progressed with a scheme to build two detached bespoke cottage designs: Plot 1 (Church Cottage), owned by Charlie and Helen and Plot 2 (Manuka Cottage), owned by Craig and LB. Plot 1 has been designed as a replacement dwelling for the original cottage, positioned over the existing footprint, whereas Plot 2 has been designed in a complimentary style but planned to reflect the different orientation of the plot.

Utilising the extents and geometry of the site to develop an appropriate plot layout, the designs of the proposed cottages improve the current landscape. The homeowners wanted to welcome as much daylight into their homes and make the most of the rolling Herefordshire views towards the fields in the south. So, we worked with them to carefully consider the orientation of their individual plots: Charlie and Helen incorporated a vaulted oak glazed gable into their design, while Craig and LB opted for a sunroom extension.

Benefiting from the sustainability properties and natural appearance of an oak frame, both cottage designs enhance the overall look of the site. The builds are being constructed to a high-quality and respect the rural character of the neighbouring houses, using appropriate materials for the external finishes, such as oak weatherboarding, render, handmade brick and clay tile roofing.


Would you like to learn more about our oak frame Cottage range? Click here to view the six cottages and their unique floorplans.

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