Our Grand(ish) Design

Farm House2014 is set to be a really exciting year for us here at Emma's Pigs. We have at long last sorted the planning permission, cleared the conditions and secured the finance for our new farmhouse.

All we need now is a good stretch of dry weather!

For anyone who has ever thought of building their own house we intend to keep a record of our progress on this website. We will be quite honest, recording the highs the lows, the emotional stresses and joys and even the performance against our programme and budget. It will be our very own 'Grand Design' project on a more modest scale.

The Preparation

Neither of us have ever built a house before but we have watched a lot of television programmes on this subject! We are the people who shake our heads knowingly when novice house builders massively overshoot their budgets, have to wait months for glazing to arrive, and take several years to complete a six month project. Surely it can't be that hard to get it right? Surely it just comes down to good preparation? We shall see....!

The Budget

Setting a budget is much harder than it sounds, especially if you aren't exactly sure what needs to be done. Some general rules of thumb can be found on websites. A really vague guide appears to be £1000/m2. The trouble with using this generic guide is that it is impossible to tell whether you are 'on budget' until you either exceed it, or get to the end of the project. It does however provide more of a clue to the likely cost than the 'finger in the air' method or the 'how much money have I got to spend' method which we have seen used on the television programmes we so avidly follow.

Fortunately we have been given some additional help with this process from TJ Crump Oakwrights who have designed our house (one of the Woodhouse range) and are making our oak frame and highly insulated softwood wall and roof panels. As part of their service they have provided us with a slightly more detailed budget not only showing the actual costs of the oak frame and panels they are supplying, but also an estimate of the costs of the different stages of the build (groundworks, plumbing, electrics ...etc). We aim to do better than these estimates by doing most of the work ourselves.

The Timescale

"How long will it take you?" is one of our most commonly asked questions and probably the hardest one to answer as we are doing most of the work ourselves and trying to fit this building work around our business commitments at Emma's Pigs. We naively hope to be water tight before winter and finished within 12 months but only time will tell how realistic this is. We intend to keep a log of hours worked on the build, to help anyone else thinking of taking on a similar project, plan more accurately.

The Site

The site

This is where we are building. The field appears to be reasonably flat but actually slopes (to the left) quite significantly.

For this reason we will have to flatten the site before we can start our build.

Before that however there was one other task to be done. We needed a gateway and a drive so we could access the site with lorries, diggers, etc.


The tree at the top left hand corner of this picture is protected as it is a rare Black Poplar. We had many visits from the highways and environmental officers from the Council to ensure that our drive had the necessary visibility required without having to remove this tree. In order to help protect this species further we intend to take cuttings from it and propogate them around the edges of the field.