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A country escape

The Milnes hadn’t contemplated selfbuilding before – but taking the plunge has given them the idyllic rural village lifestyle they craved

Lisa and Ian Milne had been living close to Watford for 17 years when they decided the time was right to escape to a more rural area. “We wanted to be somewhere more tranquil but were both commuting into London for work, so wherever we moved would need to have good transport connections,”says Lisa.

They hit a stumbling block, however, as they discovered the housing market was still quite tough following the recession. “We finally found a house we liked but ended up losing out in a bidding war, so we were very disheartened. As I worked in property funding I had good industry contacts, so we decided to change tack and look for a piece of land on which to build our own home.”

Planning pitfalls

The couple found what looked like the perfect plot in Flitton, Bedfordshire – a rural site just three miles from the train station. But it seemed their hopes were set to be dashed when they investigated further and discovered the land came with an incredible 26 planning conditions.

“It sounded like it would be a nightmare, so we decided not to pursue it,”says Lisa. “Shortly afterwards we went away on holiday and I was looking at the plot and initial design again on my laptop, when a guy sat next to me commented: ‘that looks like a nice green oak frame’. We didn’t know what that meant – but when we researched it we thought oak buildings looked great.”

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About Build It

The November edition of Build It magazine brings you all the inspiration & practical advice you need to complete your home building project on time and on budget, including: • A self-built first home for just £47,000 (page 48) • Why build with oak? (page 64) • Rainwater goods: repair or replace? (page 67) • 5 renovation tips for a healthy home (page 81) • Is open plan living right for you (page 103) • Expert guide to lighting and electrics (page 112) … and more!