Bespoke Beauty

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Carolyn Merrifield and Nic Downs have built an incredible, sculptural, low-energy house on a garden site in Cardiff. “Although designing so many bespoke items meant that the budget swelled, we wanted to build something really special,” reflects Carolyn. The house was designed around the family’s current and future needs, with a limited palette of materials chosen to blend in with the surroundings - natural slate, lime render, zinc and timber.

Park Life

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A 1920s timber kit home in the foothills of Dartmoor National park has been painstakingly restored and extended by Adam Sawers and Stephen Atkins. While the front of the house retained the traditional cladding, the rear extension is much more contemporary. “The house had a history which we wanted to save, and we spent a year installing insulation and central heating, replacing floors and generally restoring the building,” explains Stephen.

Tales of the Riverbank

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Victoria and David Austin have more than doubled the size of their 1980s bungalow by extending upwards to create a stunning three-storey house. Set on the banks of the River Thames, the upper two storeys have been clad in black-painted timber for a boathouse feel. One of their top tips is to bulk buy items like flooring and sanitaryware to save money. They chose the same bathroom throughout the house, and bought timber products direct from a timber mill.

Getting Creative

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Tom and Nicola Webb were keen to let their imagination run wild in their second self build, with a Cubist inspired home in mind that would better suit their needs and lifestyle. They advise making decisions and planning interiors early to ensure it’s all in place. They chose industrial-style finishes, including a concrete worktop, table top and concrete-effect porcelain floor tiles. “I have rose-tinted memories now, but there was a lot of stress at the time,” recalls Tom.

Creating a Garden

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Self building can often mean a blank canvas when it comes to landscaping. We provide 13 top tips for creating a garden from scratch, giving advice on everything from planning and budgeting to applying for planning permission.

Natural Building Materials

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Natural local materials offer a green and user-friendly option for your build. We look at straw bale, cob, rammed earth and adobe as alternative building materials.

This Guide is one of our series of Beginners Guides: Next Steps - available online to SelfBuild & Design subscribers

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Interiors - Set in Stone

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Pale marble and neutral colours have transformed a London home into a haven of peace and elegance. Carrera marble has been used extensively in the bathroom, while quiet tones in the living room act as a backdrop to showcase key mid-century pieces of furniture and artwork.

Interview with Abel Hinchliffe

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At just 27, Abel Hinchliffe is an associate director and shareholder at award-winning multidisciplinary practice CODA Studios. He leads a team specialising in designing luxurious extensions, renovations and new homes, usually overseeing around 30 projects at any one time.

Spotlight on Garden Lighting

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Creating an atmospheric lighting scheme can transform your night-time garden. We look at an array of options, from sphere lights and bulkheads to fire logs, garden torches and solar decking lights.

Expert Advice

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Legal advice: property law specialist Guy Elyahou takes a look at dealing with an insolvent builder.

PlotDoctor Roy Speer gives advice on revising plans for an approved home.

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