Michael & Tracy Hobbs
Michael and Tracy were no strangers to renovation projects having always extended properties previously. The opportunity to convert a Dutch Barn happened purely because of their horses, with the owner of the yard offering them first refusal on the barn and land. It would be a massive undertaking – as in 240 square meters.
For the last 3 years the couple had previously been using the land to keep their horses in however they considered the plot for their self build and couldn’t refuse the offer they had received. They decided to go ahead, having no prior self build experience to this scale.
With planning permission already granted prior to purchase, Michael and Tracy employed a local Architect who knew the area very well and also had experience with this type of construction. The build was given permission under permitted planning for converting agriculture buildings. This meant that there were restrictions; in that the Hobbs’ could only build within the outline of the original building and had to incorporate the steel frame.
The best tip would be to definitely live on site where possible, it was the best decision we made albeit difficult at times. We could make decisions straightaway and were on site for deliveries at times not convenient for the builders
The couple project managed the build, working alongside the builders. Michael managed the builders and was also very much hands on. They both did as much of the manual labour as possible to keep the cost of the build down with their children helping out too, giving them the opportunity to learn new skills. With Tracy being an accountant by trade, she was in charge of budgeting and managing the finances throughout the project.
BuildStore came up on the majority of searches Michael and Tracy did into financing their project. They dealt with BuildStore’s, Nigel Crook, who gave them his all and Tracy describes 'was not only helpful but absolutely went above and beyond.' Following a visit from the lenders surveyor, the couple’s first mortgage deal was refused but Nigel continued his search and didn’t give up on them and Tracy stated 'we cannot thank him enough'
With Tracy being an accountant by trade, she was in charge of budgeting and managing the finances throughout the project.
Throughout their dealings with BuildStore, the couple felt they were given 100%. They stated emails were returned promptly and if they didn’t understand something they would receive a phone call to clarify, with release of payments being timely and upon request.
Living in a static caravan with 3 children and a Labrador puppy was one of the main challenges the Hobbs’ faced however their great sense of humour helped! With regards to the build, they had a massive roof span to complete during the months of November and December which was of concern to themselves and the builders. However Michael and Tracy managed to hire a crane and driver to hoist the steels up into place, as this was the only way. The steels were extremely heavy and long and most definitely not for the faint hearted!
Flexibility was key to the success of the build. “The best tip would be to definitely live on site where possible, it was the best decision we made albeit difficult at times. We could make decisions straightaway and were on site for deliveries at times not convenient for the builders” says Tracy.
We were very passionate about the build, we had so much involvement in how it progressed.
The highs of their self build project were easy for the family to identify as they laughed lots and it was a brilliant experience - one they will not forget! The family moved out of their house in October 2015 to live in a static caravan and the lows of self building were very much dependant on the weather. This meant things were much harder due to the confined space but the build itself was very smooth and a quick process considering the size.
Now that the house is complete, Michael and Tracy are delighted with the results. The couple summed up their experience as being incredibly satisfying because they are able to live in something that “we can honestly say we built.” Tracy stated “we were very passionate about the build, we had so much involvement in how it progressed.” This was the Hobbs’ first self build project and although a “fantastic experience”, the family are unsure they will ever want to move but never say never!
Location Drakes Broughton, Worcester
Project Conversion, four bedroom detached house
Construction Timber frame
Plot Cost £200,000
Build Cost £150,000