Tag Archives: grand designs

What everybody should know about self-building

Builders make a nice fat profit – without a main contractor you could afford a house worth 30% more.

It isn’t as hard as you think it is, you’ve seen Grand Designs, they all end up with a lovely house and you don’t even need Kevin McCloud (even though it would be nice).

Keep your budget realistic and always try to get three quotes for everything, even small things (Mr Clark made me get three even for loft hatches!)

If you have friends in the building trade – shamelessly pick their brains.

Trust your gut feelings, your instincts are probably right when employing subcontractors (you’ll see what I mean when you read the book).

Timber frame small

If you would like to read my book Mud and Marriage and find out all about my housebuilding adventures, you can buy it from Amazon.co.uk  or from this website – Kindle edition out now.


Self-build and salvation – are you losing the plot?

Often when I tell people about Mr Clark and me building our own house, they say ‘you’re still together then?’ It surprises me every time, of course we are. They’ve obviously been watching Grand Designs which skilfully gives us a glimpse into the ups and downs of couples building their houses, but I expect they don’t have time or probably the permission to delve that deeply into people’s dirty laundry baskets. I saw one episode of Grand Designs where Kevin McCloud asked the couple building how they were getting on with their construction; the couple obviously weren’t talking to each other as the camera showed them arms folded, lips pursed and cheeks sucked in.

Yes it is true, every couple will have a moment or two of cheek sucking when in the midst of a build and it can get quite stressful at times when one party gets a bit exasperated with the other, but that’s life isn’t it? They do say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I say If you can take a shed apart and put it back together again without killing each other, you’re gonna make it.

There are only about 3 photos taken of me during our whole house build. It isn’t just because I’m camera shy, it’s because I was the one taking the pictures, and who wants their picture taken when they have hat hair? I think Mr Clark knew that it was no good to even try to take a picture of me – my photo face is usually my hand.

Our house has only been lived in for six years, but because of the beating it gets by the weather up here on the hill it looks like it has been here for one hundred. Mind you if I had been standing outside for six years, I’d probably resemble Treebeard the Ent by now.

I was site manager over the course of our build which took a year to complete. I got a bit weathered physically and mentally, gnashing my teeth from time to time, but it was a great experience and Mr Clark and I are still very happy together thanks for asking. He came rushing in the other day and said excitedly ‘there’s a plot of land for sale in Cornwall, shall we buy it? It hasn’t got planning permission but shall we buy it anyway?’ I said ‘yes of course, let’s buy it now!’ Can anyone lend us £20,000?


If you are trying to find a building plot, a visit to PlotSearch at the National Self Build and Renovation Centre in Swindon might be of help. www.nsbrc.co.uk/whats-here.html