narrow space. As Nikki says, “It’s the Australian way, and seems to work fine. It’s perfectly legal within Building Regulations, as long as you have the necessary extraction.” Deciding on Potton as the solution for building

the home partly came about due to the com- pany being well-known in Cambridgeshire, with its base a few miles from Comberton in Sandy, Beds. Nikki visited friends of friends who had a Potton-built timber house and was impressed, and a subsequent visit to the St Neots centre cemented her and Ray’s impression that they could get an appropriate building for the site. Says Nikki: “The system is developed to suit

British house styles and people do say it has settled in very well. It definitely feels very good in the setting.” She could have gone the whole hog and

project managed the scheme, but due to her needing to care for Ray and manage a part time job as a receptionist, Nikki decided on the project managed option. This turned out to be a great idea, as Brent was invaluable in helping Nikki through the design process, and in mak- ing sure the tweaks she wanted on the plan were achievable and completed. The relatively narrow 19 metre plot meant a

slight compromise in that the originally intended Caxton design from Potton could not be used (architect Adrian Bussetil advised it would not get through planning). A slightly older model, Haslingfield, was used instead, but like other

Potton designs it has an attractive exposed tim- ber frame, which is constructed in just days.

The plusses of a project manager

Potton handled a great deal of the project, in fact all project management up to the watertight stage, while Adrian, of Partners in Planning and Architecture, had the equally crucial role of liais- ing with planning to ensure the building fitted in its context. Nikki discovered that “there’s a lot to building a house before the building goes up that I hadn’t realised.” This included appointing the contractors to install services such as drainage and electricity, however project man- ager Brent “pointed me in the right direction,” she says. Going with a project managed option, at

least in Potton’s case, means that as well as the timings of all crucial stages being coordinated, a handy list of expenditure is provided. Nikki says: “We did have the Potton manual, but I relied on Brent for telling me to do certain things at certain times.” She adds however that it’s important to remember that although the com- pany takes responsibility for a lot of aspects, “they might not be actually responsible for quite a few of them.” As with any project, appointing services sub- contractors didn’t always run smoothly. Examples included phoning UK Power Networks to connect

the electricity, and being “referred to someone else because they were being privatised,” or hav- ing to alert the council to close the road when the drains are being connected. On the financial side, things went according

to plan, although handling this was a daunting challenge for Nikki to tackle alone. She and Ray bought the land for £150,000 and spent just short of £300,000 on the build, which was within their initial estimate. She says: “Ray used to do all our finances, and it was very new to me to write all these enormous cheques.” Brent Ackerman was invaluable in helping

make the design changes to the standard Potton layout which Nikki wanted, although as she says, “once or twice he looked at me as if I was bonkers.” These changes included borrowing space from one of the two guest bedrooms to give the other a bit more room, and moving a wall on the landing to provide the perfect airing cupboard – backing onto the chimney and the multi-fuel burner in the living room below. In addition, instead of having an alcove on

the landing, Nikki changed the design to fit a shower behind the door in the bathroom. Lastly on the first floor, she stopped Potton building a wall “which would give the wardrobe a strange shape” and instead provided space for a desk on the landing. The en suite bathroom to the master bedroom has the only Velux rooflight in the property, because it is under the eaves. The open plan ground floor was made more

selfbuilder & homemaker 21


Seeing several pallets of bricks sitting in a quagmire and

covered in ice and snow for several weeks in December and January – and willing them to be on the house!

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