At the end of last week, we completed the purchase of a house that we plan to demolish and replace. It’s just six miles away in the village of Linton and it’s going to be quite an upheaval after 15 settled years in our current house, which we built back in 1992. Our three boys were three, 18 months and six months old when we moved in here: it was little better than a building site. But looking back, they were good times. Somehow the boys have survived the intervening years and the eldest — the renowned shower fiend — is about to celebrate his coming of age.
So why move now? The house we have is lovely, the surroundings are great and the neighbours are on the whole pretty friendly. There are gripes: mostly at the moment to do with the continual ferrying of our teenagers around at all hours of the day and night. Weston Colville isn’t exactly blessed with much in the way of public transport whereas Linton at least has a half hourly bus service into Cambridge. But as friends have pointed out, the teenage ferrying years don’t go on forever and we are probably almost half way through them, so this in itself is not a good reason to move.
No, the real reason we are moving is that I relish the challenge of creating a new house and nobody has screamed loudly enough to stop me. I have been looking at sites for ages and have once or twice bid on plots and barns, only to be outbid by people more bullish than me. But in October we came across a site that we really liked in a road where we had looked at another house five years previously and, after much soul-searching, we decided to put in a good bid, close to the asking price.
This knocked out all the professional developers who would normally be scanning for sites like this, a tired 60s house on a large plot. The only way a developer could possibly hope to make a turn on this site would be by building two houses on it, which would be technically possible as the garden could be easily subdivided. But the large garden is precisely what attracted us to the site in the first place and we are rich and lazy enough not to worry about having to maximise every ounce of value from a site. And also not to have to move into a rented house or a caravan. No, this project is going to be done at the comfortable, bridging-loan end of the selfbuild spectrum.
The house we hope to build will be about the same size as the one we already live in, that is about 200m2. In fact, it’s not even that much bigger than the 60s house that is already there. But our hope is that it will be a whole lot lovelier. Exactly what we are going to put there remains to be seen, but the blog will be covering the story as it unfolds.