Case Studies

Chris Birakos & Kirstie Pottier

Chris Birakos & Kirstie Pottier

Chris Birakos and Kirstie Pottier had recently completed a refurbishment of a flat and were actively seeking other projects. With Chris working for a small property development company at the time and gaining enough experience to undertake a self-build project, they thought, what’s the worst that can happen?

Chris and Kristie started the search by conducting extensive online research around materials and details. Having collected and subscribed to various self-build magazines for a long time, the couple gained lots of inspiration for their project. They also spoke to various contacts in the trade including experienced developers for their comments.

The couple found their plot by complete chance through a local estate agent email. The site included a plot of five garages which had detailed planning permission in place already for a contemporary new build property. The details included a CGI of the proposed development which immediately captured their imagination. After meeting with the seller and getting on so well, Chris and Kristie submitted a conditional proposal which was accepted two weeks later. Chris notes, “it was love at first sight”.

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During the project, Chris and Kristie were involved throughout, managing the build directly themselves and designing and redesigning extensively. They coordinated the site in terms of upcoming deliveries and planning the next stage and became very hands on in completing the decoration and preparation work for the final stage. They worked with an experienced main contractor to deliver a watertight shell; and then another, different, skilled craftsman who completed the external cladding, which has lots of intricate details. There were many highlights of self-building, but the most rewarding for the couple would be winning the Daily Telegraph Homebuilding & Renovating Award for Most Inspiring Home 2016.

Kirstie is a qualified accountant and so the couple understood the importance of keeping up to date on their finance. They set up various basic spreadsheets to keep an eye on progress and spending to date, however, looking back Chris states “if we are being completely honest with ourselves, we were so focussed on getting the product perfect and to finished exacting standards that we definitely took our eyes off the management of budgets towards the end of the project. This is something that we wouldn’t make the mistake of doing next time around”.

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Hints & Tips

  • Do not underestimate the importance of the design stage
  • Test all of your consultants and design team as to why something is the way it is. Could it be different? Could it be cheaper? Could it be better?
  • Seek out bargains, ex-display items, end of line tiles and old stock carpets
  • It is very useful to have mood boards for the sorts of details and finishes that you are trying to achieve and making sure that everyone involved in the project is on the same page
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Chris and Kristie approached BuildStore shortly after their initial research into the different options available for financing the project and the couple note they “received genuine honest and useful advice”. The couple also met with our finance team at a trade show at the National Self Build & Renovation Centre in Swindon - which was created by BuildStore and is the UK’s only permanent exhibition centre for Self Build, Renovation and Home Improvements.

The couple would definitely recommend BuildStore, mentioning they “dealt with some very professional individuals throughout the project and always felt our best interests were being look after”. In terms of embarking on another project in the future, Chris advises that even though their self-build project was a complex site and build by any comparison they would “absolutely do it again” but possibly look for something a bit simpler. Chris’s thoughts really highlight how much work is involved and how stressful it can be at times but states “we guarantee that it will absolutely be worth it in the end”.

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Location Bristol
Project Contemporary Self Build
Construction
Brick and Block
Plot Cost
£87,000
Build Cost
£300,000