Thursday, 9 May 2019

A solution to our housing problems: self-build, modular and community

Tonight saw the last episode of Grand Designs: The Street:
Grand Designs: The Street - All 4
Q&A with Kevin McCloud on Grand Designs: The Street - Grand Designs Magazine

There's been a lot of interest:
Grand Designs The Street: Do couple end up homeless in finale of 2019 show? | Express.co.uk
Definite heartbreak and financial ruin: is the dream of a Grand Designs self build really worth it?  | Daily Mail Online
Grand Designs: The Street six-part series ends with a challenging £280k Modular House — built in a factory in nine weeks and assembled on site | Homes and Property

Here's The Sun's take at the beginning of the series: 


Life on Grand Designs street where 10 families have built their own homes in £100k plot on ex-MoD land in UK first

The pioneering community spent between £60,000-£500,000 on their charismatic builds in a UK first

By Hana Carter
4th April 2019

NESTLED among trees and Oxfordshire greenery is a cluster of very unique homes, all built from scratch by a tiny community of creative self-builders. After a plot of ex-MoD land was put up for sale, ten families bought their own slice of the 188-acres for £100,000 to design their very own stunning build. Every single home is completely different on the brand new street with each one made from different materials and seemingly inspired by various eras and tastes.

The little community near Bicester Village, Oxfordshire will be Britain's largest self-build project, all starting and finishing at the same time. With each patch being sold by Cherwell District Council and they invited buyers to be as ambitious as they pleased when it came to deciding on how they were going to build their dream home. And they did just that, in fact, the residents of Graven Hill were so innovative that Channel 4's Grand Designs will be featuring them on tonight's episode.

Kevin McCloud, who visited a self-built town in Amsterdam in 2010 had been looking for a British counterpart ever since, so was elated when he discovered the commuter town adjacent to the A41. He said that constructing your own house means "you get a highly bespoke home that's suited to your needs and reflects who you are."

The homeowners on the street vary from age 24 to 72 and each spent between £60,000-£500,000 to build their stunning properties.

Lynn, 65, who originally lived in an 18th-century cottage in Northamptonshire, said she decided to apply for the scheme with her neighbours, Terry and Olwen. All three of them got their homes accepted and retired school teacher Lynn got to work on her clay tiled house. Her property is made from Siberian larch with an oast house-inspired roundel. Light spills into the rooms which are spacious and bright.

She told The Daily Telegraph: "Every day, I come down and can't stop smiling that this is where I live. I've wanted to build a forever home before someone puts me in one."

With rolling fields, nature all around and a safe community, what better place to bring up a child and for Blanka and Paul that couldn't be more true. They live in their eco home with their two kids, which worked out to be the cheapest on the street.

Prior to the build, they were renting a cottage nearby. If they were to buy something similar it would have cost them £700,000 - something the couple didn't want to part with. So they whimsically decided to build one themselves with a budget of just £60,000.

Paul, a human rights lawyer, said: "I just thought, 'how hard can it be to build a house?'"

Their home is built using Hempcrete, a biocomposite made from hemp hurds and lime - an environmentally friendly and cheap material. The couple ended up spending £300,000 on their home after admitting that they had massively under-budgeted. But their home was completed after Paul took a few courses and watched a load of YouTube tutorials.

In the next decade the spot of land is expected to house up to 1,900 homes which will all be variations on a short list of home blueprints.

Graven Hill managing director Karen Curtin said: "The opportunity to showcase the first 10 self-builders at Graven Hill on the national stage is a milestone not only for the development and its community but also for the future of UK house building. The series will give viewers an insight into a bold and unique type of housing project, which has the potential to revolutionise the way that people approach both choosing – or building – a new home, and the environmental challenges the UK currently faces."

It will also have a new primary school, village centre, supermarket, village green, pub and maybe even a gym. All the residents at Graven Hill are friends and have a tight-knit community and for Paul, his advice to those wanting to turn their hand to building is - "just go for it."

Grand Designs: The Street will air tonight at 9pm. 

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