Case Studies

Bob & Laura MacDonald

Bob & Laura MacDonald

Bobby and Laura MacDonald decided to take on a self-build project when they came across an old barn for sale in the village next to the one they were currently living in. Properties in their local area were particularly expensive as they live in such a sought after location, therefore they figured that the cost of the barn plus the amount they would spend on the project would be somewhat less than purchasing a new property of a similar size and specification.

Although Bobby and Laura had no prior self building or renovating experience, Bobby works in the construction and building trade so the couple knew they wouldn’t have any trouble finding a reliable builder!

Before any works commenced they needed to make sure that their finance was in place, so Laura began researching the Internet and that’s when she came across BuildStore. Bobby and Laura’s next step was to read all current documentation related to the building as there was already planning consent to convert the barn. Finally, the couple decided on a builder who Bobby knew and had experience in converting old buildings.

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Hints & Tips

Budget for early expenses which you may not think of and add up to thousands e.g. site insurances, the cost of submitting planning conditions, architect fees, structural warranties, structural engineer plans etc

As previously mentioned, the barn came with planning permission however Bobby and Laura ended up having to re-build the structure rather than converting it. With only a very brief structural report when purchasing the building it was difficult for them to know from looking whether any aspects of the building could be saved or re-used. With the advice of architects, new structural plans and their builder the couple were able to re-build. This was much slower and more costly than a demolition and new build would have been but Bobby and Laura worked with planning to change the permission from a conversion to re-build.

The project was managed by the builder and the couple used some trades through his recommendation. Other trades were sourced by Bobby and Laura and they were dependant on quotes for things such as windows, doors and tiling the whole of the ground floor. Other than Bobby helping with the scaffolding, the couple left the building work to the professionals.

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Electrical Planning

Have an electrical plan drawn up and walk through this a number of times yourselves and with your electrician. We didn’t seem to miss anything doing this

View our Electrical Guide

One of the difficulties the couple faced was with their decision to tile the whole of the ground floor. A delay on some of the tiles, which were special order tiles, followed by not having enough and then some being discontinued created a slight problem but the couple persevered and are very happy with the end result.

When it came to the finance side of things, Laura describes BuildStore as ‘exceptionally helpful… the process was complex but from the start everything was made as simple as possible with the help of our advisor and staff at BuildStore.’

‘Our advisor was honest and clear about a process we had no knowledge or experience with. No question was too much trouble and the communication via email and phone was exceptional…’

‘Although BuildStore to my knowledge are a relatively large company from the customer service we experienced it felt very personal. Everybody I spoke to seemed to know in detail which stage we were at and nothing was too much trouble. I had a million questions and my emails were responded to very quickly and there was always somebody at the end of the phone to speak to.’

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Bobby and Laura kept a close eye on their finances throughout the job and Laura took on the task of managing all the paperwork involved with the project. The couple managed to stay roughly within budget but they decided their bathrooms and kitchen were not something they wanted to cut back costs on, which meant it took them slightly over what they had originally budgeted for.

Laura notes the project from start to finish has been ‘the biggest and most challenging lesson’ the couple have ever had to face and she feels she has learnt more in the last two years than she has in her whole career so far. However the ultimate high for Laura has been the ‘self-satisfaction’ for what they have been able to achieve for their family.

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Hints & Tips

Research planning laws thoroughly in line with what you are about to take on

Read our guide to planning
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The couple would ‘without a shadow of a doubt’ recommend BuildStore’s services and Laura adds ‘you need services that care and are super helpful during this process and there’s not many like that out there.’ Their self build experience has been ‘rewarding’, ‘life changing’ and ‘worthwhile’ although stressful at times!

Bobby and Laura love their new home and have settled in and already started to build some wonderful memories there. Although this would be Laura’s ‘first and last’ her husband would say differently, so who knows, their next big project could be just around the corner!

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Location Roydon, Essex
Project
Barn conversion, three bedroom detached house
Construction
Traditional brick and block
Plot Cost
£480,000
Build Cost
£200,000