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Digital Subscriptions > Build It > June 2017 > A BOLD MOVE

A BOLD MOVE

John Verrall and Jacques Bland have created a striking oak frame home that sits comfortably in the Sussex countryside

John Verrall and Jacques Bland both grew up in West Sussex and know the area well. When they viewed this plot in summer 2012, Jacques realised the place looked familiar. “I used to sit on the top deck of the school bus and look over the hedge at this house, wishing we had a swimming pool like they did, ” she says. “I never thought I’d be living here one day.”

The couple were drawn to the property’s five acres, rather than the 1930s house that stood on it, which in winter needed towels wedged around the windows to keep out the cold. John and Jacques were keen to self build, but this wasn’t a plot for the faint hearted. Besides the lack of planning permission for a new house, they also needed to deal with a set of concrete outbuildings used as greyhound kennels that had been built with asbestos and needed removing.

Big ideas

Despite the challenges, John never doubted their decision. “The site was a mess and I knew that the planners would want to see it cleared up, ” he says. “At the very least I was confident we’d be able to replace the house like for like, plus the additional space we could have created through an extension under permitted development.”

Having stepped down from running his haulage and plant hire business, John wasted no time getting ideas together. He sketched out a rough floorplan before the sale had even completed. From the off, the couple were sure they wanted an oak frame home. “We disagree a lot but we never argued about the house as we both have the same taste, ” says Jacques. “We like Sussex barn conversions, so our design combines this with modern technology and materials.”

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About Build It

The June edition of Build It magazine is packed full of inspiration and advice for your self build, renovation or extension project - including: • An amazing oak frame self build (page 20) • Total makeover of a 1960s house (page 39) • How to self build on a budget (page 64) • Can solar hot water panels save you money? (page 71) • Design details: exposed beams (page 74) • Guide to designing the perfect barn conversion (page 90) • Assessing a building plot's potential (page 100) … and more!
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