Grand Designs on a Budget


With consistently rising housing prices, increasing numbers of people are turning to alternative solutions to get into the housing market. One of such alternatives are self builds, which save money and allow homeowners complete control over the design and build of their new home. Here at ProDEM, we’re on hand to demolish old structures and clear sites, leaving the perfect foundations for a new home.

As an experienced renovator, Louise Tunnard and her husband Geoff decided to take on the challenge of a self-build for themselves, on a budget. The couple made the decision to build a home on the plot of the family farm, enabling them to work more practical hours by living on site, and to create a home that suited their requirements exactly.

Planning Permission

It can be tricky to get planning permission for a self-build, and the Tunnard’s quickly learned that they would need to adapt their plans to fit in with local neighbourhood dwellings, which meant repeated returns to the drawing board with their architect, Mark Dennis. They were also informed of an agricultural restriction in place on the plot, which further delayed building plans.


The couple finally settled on a building material for their home; using insulating concrete formwork (ICF) which is made using expanded polystyrene blocks dry stacked and filled with concrete. The main benefit of this material was that it builds an air-tight home, meaning the house could be built without the need for a main central heating system.


To insulate, they used Xtratherm insulation for the rafters, and relied heavily on the positioning of the sun for warmth when designing the house. This switch from a traditional brick and block house design to ICF enabled the Tunnards to reduce their heating bill by over 50%!


The couple acknowledge that the house’s positioning in the sun was imperative to staying warm without central heating. They designed the house with only two windows on the north side to prevent heat escaping, and structured a traditional roof overhang to provide shade in summer, but let in the low sun during winter months.


The housing exterior itself was fitted with an aged look, with a bespoke design of red and brown clay tiles made to fit in with near-by houses. This mix avoided the home looking too new, and allowed it to fit naturally into its setting.

The house took a total of 60 weeks to complete, with a total cost of £349,836. The Tunnard’s said they were thrilled with their new home, designed exactly how they imagined their dream house. With a current value of £595,000, it’s easy to see the benefits that can be gained with some hard work and dedicated planning.


If you’re inspired to build your own grand design, ProDEM are site clearance experts, ensuring that your plot is safely and reliably cleared. Any old structures that you want removing? Our trained team have a wealth of experience in demolishing, providing a clear site prepared for any future work.


Contact us today for more information, and we’ll be more than happy to help you on the first steps to creating your own self-built home.