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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

October 2017

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Picture Perfect

When Ed and Beth Peers bought an unassuming three-bedroom 1960s house in Woking they knew that very little of the original building would remain untouched. The dated three-storey townhouse offered the perfect opportunity for a renovation project. Inspired by Japanese and Scandinavian design, their contemporary home features concrete panel and Douglas fir-faced ply walls and concrete flooring and natural materials that enhance everyday life. “It’s the little details which really make the house a joy to live in,” says Ed.

Putting Down Roots

“Our aim was to blend in at the front and add a bit of a wow factor at the rear,” say Lee and Rebecca Thorpe of their extended and remodelled bungalow. From the road, the cedar-clad entrance is the only clue that the property isn’t a 60s bungalow. Now more than doubled in size, it has a modern interior and rear elevations. “Initially we didn’t plan for eco credentials but after substantial research we took on the principles of a Passivhaus design by taking airtightness to the limit for a traditionally-constructed house and adding an MVHR system.” 

Gingerbread House

It was a neighbour who first nicknamed Laura Dewe Mathew's award-winning, shingle-clad house – its quirky cedar shingle exterior reminded him of the Hansel and Gretel fairytale. Built on an awkward London infill plot for just £245,000 using cross-laminated timber panels, its construction was fast and the panels form the internal finish of the house. "We were initially looking for an industrial building to convert,” says Laura "we were very lucky to find this rectangular plot, which was entirely built over and used for storage." 

Stylish Sanctuary

The old garden workshop, overgrown in ivy and bamboo, was falling into disrepair. New external weatherboard cladding, reroofing with handmade clay tiles and installing new windows and doors has transformed the building into a luxury New Forest retreat.

Interview - Alan Gardner

Garden designer, TV presenter and creator of more than 40 RHS show gardens, Alan Gardner talks to us about the influence of autism on his career, how he became a TV presenter and offers advice on how to approach garden design.  

Holiday Hideaway

An award-winning barn conversion in Cornwall posed a few technical problems for the designers and suppliers of the oak frame.

Special Feature - A House Less Ordinary

A 1960s mid-terrace ex-council house in Battersea has been overhauled by celebrity architect Zac Munro to become an elegant family home. “I hope that we have addressed the stigma attached to social housing by elevating something very humble in a very simple way,” says Zac.

Going Open Plan

An open-plan layout has many advantages for a modern lifestyle, but requires careful consideration. Before you decide if open plan is right for you, we look at what you should think about and offer top tips for open-plan living, including hidden storage and lighting.

Bedtime Stories

Fun ideas for kids' bedrooms.


Sara Corker has transformed her Cornish holiday home into a haven of contemporary, soft industrial style. “Lighting was carefully chosen to create atmosphere, with arrow and star lighting pieces introduced for a fun feel.”

Spotlight on External Doors

When it comes to your home, first impressions count, and the right front door can make all the difference. It’s not just appearances that matter  – security and insulation are also important. To choose the safest and most efficient external doors, it's a smart first step to study the different materials on the market. We look at the options available.

Topping Out - Six Green Toughts

When you buy a plot, you are buying outside space as well, and it’s wise to consider the best use of both – for yourself and for any potential future buyer, says Gerald Cole.

Expert Advice

Legal advice: Property law specialist, Guy Elyahou, advises on your responsibilities to notify neighbours of impending works.

Plot Doctor, Roy Speer, looks at whether there is any hope of permission to build on a back garden where an application appeal has been rejected.

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,Top Tips for your SelfBuild and much more.

You can buy the October 2017 magazine by clicking here

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