Starting a self build

by Gill Deeks
1st March 2010

My husband, Barry, and I are finally on track to build our dream home, and although it’ll mean living in a caravan for over four months while we project manage the build by ourselves, we’re confident that it’ll be worth every minute.

We’d pursued various sites over the years but for one reason or another, they fell through. It wasn’t until a local developer advertised a former pub for development in Barnet that we found out about this plot – the old pub garden.

As we were in Potters Bar it was close enough to be of interest, so we checked out the owner’s address on the Land Registry and popped a note through his letter box expressing our interest.

He rang us back that afternoon. We met him the next day and within a week had sealed the deal, subject to planning being achieved. This was all back in July 2009.

We knew we wanted to use a package company, as it’s a fast and efficient way to build that just makes sense to us. We’re fans of Georgian architecture and had long had our eye on the Kingspan Potton’s Brandham B design, which gives a smart nod to this enduring style.

As we liked two of their designs we worked with the team to tailor our plans, cherry-picking our favourite features. We employed a local architect that the original developer was using, and who had a good relationship with local planners.

The great thing about Potton is that they’re very flexible and will pull out all the stops to help you get the home you really want.

For us, it’s all about family, and although our children are grown up, we wanted somewhere we could all relax when they came to visit. We’ve also included a space in the roof that Gill can use as an art studio.

House plans

Click here to open the plans for this house in a new window

Click here to open house plans (new window)

Initially we submitted a set of plans for quite a small house, thinking the planners would be more likely to go for it, but they weren’t totally happy with the scale. So, we produced the full Brandham B from Potton that we had our heart set on, and incredibly they loved it!

Because we’re in a conservation area, the plans had to go through various committees, but cleared them all with flying colours, and by October we’d got our planning permission and completed the land purchase. The next step was to order the timber frame, which had a decent lead time, as we didn’t want to be working over December.

In the meantime we needed to make the site ready, with fencing and preparing the access.

As part of the deal, Kingspan Potton gives you a handy guide to building your own house that tells you what to do and when, which has become our bible. It includes a recommended list of tradespeople, too, which helps ensure the people we’ll be working with are used to timber-frame builds.


  1. vaughanwo says:

    Enjoyed reading that, thank you Gill. Where can I get a copy of Potton’s Self-Build Bible?

  2. Chris says:

    Hi Vaughnwo. AFAIK the Potton Handbook is only available to Potton customers – so you get access to it once you’ve agreed a contract with them.

    If you’re looking into project management, check out our dedicated knowledge bank at

    You might want to consider signing up to a course. The National Self Build & Renovation Centre in Swindon offers a number of attractive options (including a course run by Build It expert Mike Hardwick).

    There’s also Potton’s excellent new Self Build Academy, which Build It has helped to create:

    Chris Bates (Deputy Editor & Online Editor)

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