TOPPING OUT - GERALD COLE

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Five self-build luxuries

What indulgences can your project offer? 

Self build itself might be regarded as a luxury, but it can also be an opportunity to indulge in those little (or not so little) extras you have previously denied yourself. Here, then, are five hopefully helpful suggestions, along with some budget-saving options.

 

1 A boiling water tap 

Why waste time, effort and electricity filling an electric kettle, waiting while it heats up, finding the water’s cooled while you’ve searched for your favourite mug and/or the coffee/tea your life partner has annoyingly neglected to return to its correct place, meaning you now have to bring the kettle back to the boil? How much easier to have boiling water constantly on tap – from your kitchen tap.

Boiling water taps are supplied by an electrically heated tank, fed by the cold water supply, which keeps the contents at, or close to, boiling point. The tap is operated via a safety button and heavily insulated to prevent scalding.

It can be standalone or combine up to three additional feeds: normal hot and cold and filtered water. Prices start from around £600 to more than £1,900, though some brands include installation. 

Low-cost alternative: An electric kettle with temperature control and a warming function which can keep the contents hot, if not boiling, for between 30 minutes and 24 hours. Prices start from around £50.

 

2 Bidet WC

Until relatively recently a toilet was used strictly for the disposal of bodily wastes, while a bidet was something used by continentals, possibly related to romantic encounters. Bidet WCs, or smart toilets, offer the facilities of both. Typically a nozzle extends beneath you when you finish, spraying your nether regions with warm water, followed by a draught of warm air to dry you fully. The most luxurious versions include heated seats, automatic deodorisers and moving nozzles which can be adjusted for your personal convenience. 

Prices start from around £500 and go up to more than £1,900.

Low-cost alternative: Toilet attachments, which can be fitted to an existing WC, offer similar facilities, from around £400. Or simply fit a douche shower spray to the hot feed beside your WC, priced from around £25. 

 

3 Swimming pool

Fancy a heated garden pool, at least 11m by 4m - a recommended minimum for swimming lengths? Or an indoor version within its own structure, either separate or attached to the main house? Or a basement pool with underwater LED lighting, speakers and a movable floor, allowing you to vary the depth and even hide the pool entirely, creating space for a workout or a party dance floor? And how about a natural pool which uses organic filtration rather than chemicals to cleanse the water?

The range of home pools is close to infinite, as are the prices. Quotes don’t always include groundworks, which will vary with local ground conditions. And don’t forget the ongoing costs of heating, water pumps and filters, cleaning and regular maintenance. 

Prices for a professionally installed 11m x 4m open-air pool start from around £50,000 and considerably higher for indoor versions, though if part of your main build you won’t pay VAT.

Lower-cost alternative: A swim spa is a miniature pool, typically sized from 4.6m x 2.35m, where the occupant swims against an adjustable flow of water. Prices start from around £16,000. 

 

4 Wine cellar

If you’re a wine connoisseur collecting wines that mature with age or need preserving as investments, or you fancy becoming one, a dedicated storage space is essential. Basic requirements are darkness, a constant temperature of around 12°C and a humidity level of around 57 per cent. Cellars can provide that, but so too can rooms, cupboards and even display walls, with appropriate insulation and air conditioning. 

A popular retrofit option is a spiral cellar, essentially a circular pit around two metres in diameter and from two to three metres deep, containing a spiral staircase with niches built into the walls for wine storage. High-end versions have glass walk-on covers with motorised opening. Kits start from around £19,000.

Low-cost alternative: Wine cooler fridges, which keep wines at the optimum temperature for serving, start from around £300. Top-end fridges will mimic cellar conditions with different temperature zones. Expect to pay from £1,700 to several thousand pounds.

 

5 Garden studio

Lockdowns have boosted the popularity of garden buildings. But the mark of true luxury is a garden studio built to main house standards: secure foundations, insulated walls and roof, double glazing, connected utilities, heating (radiator, underfloor or wood-burner), air conditioning and a designer interior finish. It can be a fully equipped gym (with shower facility), guest accommodation or simple relaxation space.

Architect designs add to kudos, but modular design can be as impressive. For these expect to pay from £20,000 for an installed 4m x 3m studio, though utilities will be extra.  

Low-cost alternative: The perfect opportunity to try out your DIY skills, or discover those you lack?