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Tip of the week

Choosing materials – a contractor will usually choose for the cheapest, quickest, or most cost effective (for them) materials. Architects may go for cutting-edge products that will help to build their reputation. As a selfbuilder you owe it to yourself to research your house specification carefully. Use the web,  specialist books,  magazines and self build shows to do your own independent research.

Ross Stokes, editor, SelfBuild & Design

December 2015

Our 40 pages of inspiring case studies this month include the amazing transformation of a tired brick house into a thoroughly modern open-plan home, and a new build that took 10 years to achieve.

We also take a look at the winner and the shortlisted buildings for RIBA's Stephen Lawrence Prize for fresh architecture talent. And, as new research reveals that Britons would forego a holiday in order to finance a new kitchen, we show some of the newest designs and put the latest extractors and cooker hoods in the spotlight.

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Let There be Light

"The house wasn't the type of property we wanted to live in, be we immediately recognised its potential." In just a few months, a tired Derbyshire house was remodelled into a contemporary, light and open living space.

Material World

Predominantly clad in cedar shingles and with insulated render and stacked stone walling, architect James Falla's new build in Guernsey draws on the character of local architecture and reinterprets traditional materials in a contemporary, energy efficient home. "The idea was to create an elegant, sustainable house, using environmentally friendly materials," explains Jamie. 

Nesting Instinct

Siobhan and Mat Hayles have converted their granite farm buildings into a one-bedroom holiday let with an interior injected with dramatic flashes of colour inspired by the peacock that once roosted in the derelict barn.

A Life Changer

"It all started as a bit of a punt" says Ken Dennis. "I bought the land for £10,000 from the executor of my mother's estate, with the promise that if I did get planning permission, I'd pay a share of the market value to my brothers." That was in 2002 and it took seven years to get planning consent. "I looked around and saw that there were houses being built and extended in the area, so I knew it could be done."

A Home of Two Halves

A 17th century former village bakery in Sussex has been extended in timber and glass to create an idyllic family home. The new timber-frame extension, with its sharp lines and geometric forms contrasts with the more rough-hewn textures of the historic building.

At Your Service

A beginner's guide to utilities. Some of the things you should consider before signing on the dotted line. 

Interior Design: Kate's Creation

Kate Moss and Yoo founder John Hitchcox have joined forces to create The Barnhouse, a five-bedroom luxury retreat in the Cotswolds.

Image: Mel Yates

Stephen Lawrence Prize

The Fishing Hut by Niall McLaughlin Architects wins this coveted award for the best project by a fresh architecture talent that has a construction budget of less than £1m. We also look at the other five buildings that were short-listed. 

A Breath of Fresh Air

Our spotlight on some of the most innovative kitchen extractors and cookers hoods around and advice on how to choose.


A Flair for Colour and Design

We talk to architectural historian Edward Bulmer about his influences, his own home, his range of traditional paints and his involvement with the development of sustainable and affordable homes built with SIPs.

Kitchen Cool

We bring you inspiration for your new kitchen with a look at some of the latest offerings.


Expert Advice

Robert Matthews: reflects on the life and death of the 2016 Zero Carbon Target for new housing and what the future might hold.

Legal Advice: Easements - can energy provider insist on a wayleave agreement?

Plot Doctor: After application to build in garden is refused, is there any hope for permission to build in an area defined as "open countryside"?

In addition to these features, the magazine also brings you the latest news from the world of self build, new product information, guides, advice on planning and much more.

You can buy the December 2015 magazine by clicking here

Or with our introductory subscriber offer you can have the next 12 issues delivered to your door for just £12 as soon as they are published

As a subscriber you then have free access to all the Case Studies and on this website