When they finally moved into their grand timber-framed home in the heart of the Hampshire countryside, it was the end of a long road for the Curnow-Fords. Roseanne Field reports


The driveway leading up to the house and garage/office block, where the bungalow once sat

winding, narrow lane leads to Peter and Debbie Curnow-Ford’s home in the small village of Bramshott, Hampshire. The five- bedroom Potton house – which measures 374 m2


internally – has a traditional style which fits perfectly with its rural location and despite its substantial size, sits comfortably in the 2.6 acre plot.


Peter Curnow-Ford: Knowing we had planning and not being able to find a builder

july/august 2018

As you might expect, finding the ideal location for such a substantial house was no mean feat. “It took us over a year to find this project,” recalls Debbie. The idea of building their own house had been in the couple’s minds for some years – they first considered it back in the late 1990s. “We saw a piece of land, but the economics were not quite right,” says Peter. In the end, they took on a major renovation project on one of two 1780s Grade II listed gate lodges. However, 10 years later they were left with virtually no choice but to sell it. The owners of the new build property at the other end of the drive which the lodges were on had decided they wanted to purchase both lodges as well and made Peter and Debbie an offer they “seriously couldn’t refuse,” says Debbie. This force of circumstance led the couple back to the search for their ideal home. “Every property we went to view, we came away with a list of alterations, extensions and modifications that would have cost in excess of a couple of hundred thousand pounds,” Debbie explains. “We were dragging this poor builder around, and in the end he said ‘with the money you’re looking to spend why don’t you just build your own house?’”


Naturally they were apprehensive, given that the last time they considered self-build, the “wheels

One of the main attractions of the site was that it came with existing planning permission to do an extension to the 1950s bungalow that occupied it

fell off”. Nevertheless they began looking for projects and Debbie made contact with a ‘reverse estate agent’ who helps people find suitable properties. He was already searching in the area for another client so couldn’t officially help them, but had a property of his own that he was looking to put on the market that he thought would suit what they wanted to do. “It was just fortuitous we ended up with this,” Debbie says.

One of the main attractions of the site was that it came with existing planning permission to do an extension to the 1950s bungalow that occupied it. The bungalow was an added bonus for Debbie in particular, who had agreed to do a self-build on the condition that she “didn’t have to live in a caravan!” However, Peter and Debbie were less than impressed by the existing plans, but looking back discovered almost everyone who had owned it in the last 15 years had put in a planning application – one of which was for a new build.

It was at this point they called in Potton – specifically Sean Adams, who at the time worked as planning and self build consultant for the company. He covered the south east, taking existing Potton plans and designs and adapting them to suit clients’ requirements. They used one of these unbuilt designs as a starting point, making four months of changes before pressure from their buyer and their own concerns over losing the plot forced them to decide to go for it, “on the basis we were fairly confident we could get what we want,” explains Peter. They acquired the site in January 2011, did a 15

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