Despite working as long-haul flight attendants and running their own business, Nick Housley and his partner took on the challenge of turning their Sussex bungalow into a ‘des res’. Roseanne Field reports


elf-build is in Nick Housley’s blood, his parents are serial self-builders who have taken on several projects over the years, and have passed on the tricks of the trade. Perhaps this is why Nick and partner Mark’s already hectic lifestyle didn’t put them off taking on their first large-scale renovation project. Nick and Mark work as flight attendants for British Airways on long-haul flights, meaning they’re both often away for days at a time. Nick also runs his own entertainment business singing and DJ-ing at weddings, which Mark helps out with. So the pair were already trying to balance more than most could easily manage, but they decided to add another big plate to the ones they were already spinning.

Clearly a highly motivated individual, Nick was adamant that they could create their dream home, despite the three-bedroom new build they were living in providing all the basics.


Having had first-hand experience of self-build projects growing up, the concept wasn’t daunting to Nick, and in fact it was how he got the bug. “I’d always wanted to do a project because my parents had done self-builds,” he explains. “We lived in a caravan when I was five when they did their first self-build, they did another when one I was 16, then they did a place out in Spain.” However, for Mark it was an entirely new experience. “I’ve just been dragged along!” he jokes.

They bought a modern home together on a small development of five new houses in the village of Crawley Down, handy for Gatwick Airport, but dreamed of owning something bigger. “Even after we’d moved we were constantly looking around big show homes, so we knew we weren’t settled,” says Mark. Nick explains that he knew self-build could be the key, given their limited resources: “I had this vision of what we could achieve because we could never afford to buy a house this size”. The pair began hunting for a suitable plot of land, but immediately ran into problems. “We were looking for a garden plot or anything where we could build from scratch,” says Nick, “but there was nothing because land’s so hard to come by around here.”

16 january/february 2018

The bungalow as it was when Nick and Mark bought it


The transformed house, with only the ground floor rendering to be completed


Doing the insulation and the plasterboarding

“It was all new to me and I was trying to learn everything because I didn’t want to be ripped off by anyone”

Nick Housley

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