Monday, June 1

Arch angels: Richard Zinzan on building your own grand design

- March 19, 2013

Self build is becoming a fast growing market in the UK with over 20,000 people building their own homes each year. So, what motivates the self builder? What are the pros and cons of doing it yourself? What key factors need to be considered and why?

Creating the home of your dreams can be an exciting yet daunting prospect. It means that you can build or renovate a house to meet your personal needs, circumstances and tastes. It could give you more choice of developing a home in a location you desire (subject to planning permission and availability).

It can be a good financial investment and prove to be more cost effective than buying as well as offer tax advantages (that is for self-build, not renovation).

It can enable you to make the most of innovative products and sustainable methods and materials, so that you can create a home that is
well designed, better equipped and more energy efficient than the market may offer. Over and above that, seeing your own home project from start to finish can give you an immense sense of satisfaction.

Gareth Reast is in the process of converting and extending a 120-year-old stone barn to create an attractive, adaptable and sustainable family home. Along with the help of his father-in-law Gwynn, Gareth is determined to plan, design and build his own grand design amidst the beautiful surroundings of West Wales.

What have been the main considerations?
Gareth needed a home that adapted to the changing needs of his family and wanted to make sure that the conversion was as eco-friendly as possible. Gareth was keen to use sustainable methods of construction, select materials with low environmental impact and has learned craft skills such as lead work, oak carpentry and stone masonry to enable him to work with the building first hand.

What are the main features and benefits?
Use of recycled and reclaimed building materials such as local roof slates, timber joists and floor boards is a more cost effective and environmentally friendly way of constructing the building. Along with timber frame construction, the use of hemp and lime insulation provides a high thermal value, which will insulate Gareth’s home more effectively; making it more energy efficient and at the same time allowing the solid stone structure to breathe naturally.

What are the challenges and limitations?
It is important to take planning considerations and building regulations into account and understand the build process. You need to carefully consider costs and establish a budget as well as consult with various experts along the way; including building control officers, structural engineers and architects. Along with the patience and ability to adapt to changes in plan, you can reap the rewards of building your own dream home.

For more information on self build, please visit
Why not let us help you create the home of your dreams?

Richard Zinzan and Nicola Thomas are founders of ARCH-angels Architects in Brighton, an approachable local practice specialising in environmentally conscious and cost effective architecture. We work closely with you to maximise your space and provide beautiful integrated buildings.

t 01273 267184

Related Topics:

Related articles

Leave a Comment