The kitchen/diner is a generous space for entertaining

and the roof – the only elements of the work not undertaken by themselves. “We’d built up a good rapport so we felt comfortable leaving it with them,” says Nick. They would do a full ‘handover’ for each other when either of them left to explain where the project was at, as well as keeping in contact as much as possible. “We just had to try and communicate as best we could from the other side of the world,” Mark explains.

Their time away from home also meant sometimes taking a creative approach to placing orders. “We were organising materials and other things from far-flung countries via Skype and FaceTime,” says Mark.

Once back on site, they were living in the log cabins at the bottom of the garden. There were some issues with the cold and mould and damp during the winter months, but they did their best to make it homely as possible, including managing to put a Christmas tree up. Mark says such efforts helped with stress levels: “You’ve got to try and maintain some sort of normality because if you don’t, you’ll go stir-crazy”. One of the biggest challenges was the plasterboarding – something they’d never attempted before. “It was just never-ending,” says Nick. Installing the loft insulation was also particularly torturous. “It’s a big space and with the way the roof is structured it’s really difficult to get to the front,” Nick explains. “We were balancing on the beams trying to cut insulation with a saw,” adds Mark.

As well as Nick’s parents’ expertise, Nick’s uncle did all the electrics, and Mark’s dad helped out with the plastering, while Mark did almost all the decorating and coving. “That was how I was spending my days off.”


Somehow they managed to keep their entertainment business running successfully at the same time, with Nick hosting a resident DJ slot at a local hotel every weekend as well as singing at weddings and Christmas parties, and attending wedding fairs.

Eight months in to the project, in January 2017, Nick decided he wanted to get the house finished in time for Mark’s 40th birthday in July, despite Mark’s reluctance to impose this deadline: “I didn’t want to add to the stress and pressure Nick was already under,” he says. Nevertheless, Nick was typically determined: “His 40th was on a Monday and we moved in on the Sunday before.”

The couple are now just left with the rendering around the ground floor to be done, which will be an off-white colour, and the landscaping to the front and back.

DESIGN AND LAYOUT The original bungalow was 1,000 ft2 , and with

the extra storey they’ve doubled its floor area. The front door sits on the left-hand side of the hallway, with a useful storage cupboard to its right. The stairs are further down the hall, while to the right, double doors open to the large living room.

There’s a small utility room with a toilet between the lounge and the kitchen/diner, which stretches across the width of the house at the back. This impressive space features a large island with a partial false ceiling containing fixed uplighting hanging above it, along with a double oven and steam oven, a large American- style fridge freezer and a long dining table and seating area. Double doors lead out onto the garden.


 Bungalow cost: £427,000

 Cost of build: £110,000

 Estimated current value: £750,000 - £800,000

 Bungalow size: 1,000 ft2

 Finished house size: 2,000 ft2


 Attend self-build shows  Be organised with paperwork and trades

 Support each other  Research and learn  Don’t put pressure on the timescale

 Ask for advice  Be flexible

january/february 2018

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