Gemma & James

Gemma and James’ striking timber-framed home successfully secured the award for Best Off-Site Manufactured Home at the 2022 Build It Awards.

Delivered on a turn-key basis , every component of their home was built off-site and manufactured within 10 days of them finalising the design. The whole structure was up and watertight in less than a week, providing them with everything, including decoration, with the only element left to complete being the kitchen.

Relocating for a 1-bedroom flat in London, the Dan-Wood home has been comprehensively customised by the owners. Doors windows and walls were moved and dark anthracite grey render and larch cladding added, along with a balcony to maximise the exceptional views of the Graven Hill woodlands.

There is no gas to the property, the fully electric solution includes an air source heat pump which provides 75% of the heating from a free of charge natural resource. With SIPs panels effectively and healthily insulating the property and modern method of construction ensuring the homes is exceptionally airtight, heating bills are kept to a minimum. Solar gain has also been taken into account with the configuration and design of the home.

Gemma & James Hooker, Self-builders at Graven Hill


Dean & Hannah

Building a home, building a family.

Already living in a rented cottage in Steeple Aston, around 10 miles away, Dean and Hannah decided they wanted to put down more permanent roots. Graven Hill’s location was perfect for them, ideally situated for work and visiting friends, the proximity to the town meant they had much easier access to amenities than before.

“It was important for both Hannah and I to make sure that the home we were building was not just somewhere to live for now, but somewhere our son, Hugo, will proudly call home too. We’re also both incredibly environmentally conscious, and it was essential for us to create something that was not only good for the family, but good for the environment”.

Designed to the highest energy-efficiency standards, their home, affectionately nicknamed, ‘The Cube’, is incredibly thermally efficient. The structure includes heaps of insulation, airtight construction, triple glazing and a good-quality MVHR system – as such, they rarely need to use any form of heating such as gas or electricity, even in winter.

Dean and Hannah’s home is a testament to self-builders everywhere. With its striking, three-storey appearance, the only thing it has in common with the surrounding homes is its uniqueness. Made from timber, ‘The Cube’ contains three bedrooms, an open plan kitchen/diner, living space with a separate television room and a study. It boasts large south-facing windows that let in plenty of natural light and overlook the lovely garden.

“Being able to say ‘we built our own house’ is so rewarding but adding that to the community we have found here is priceless. For anybody hoping to follow in our footsteps, and potentially become our newest neighbours, we say: first, plan the finances and timescales to make sure you can achieve it, then go for it and open your mind as to what you can build!”

Dean Scott and Hannah Hammond-Scott, self-builders at Graven Hill

Darren & Christine

Darren Adams had always wanted to build his own home, but the circumstances had never been quite right to do so. That was until he and his wife, Christine discovered Graven Hill, where they found a plot that suited every need from size and cost, to location. Having renovated properties in the past, the couple got stuck in with the project, taking a hands-on approach.

The finished product is a modern four-bedroom detached home, with three bathrooms and two reception rooms. Three stories and a roof terrace provide the home with external wow factor, while the inside is full of contemporary features and natural light. White brick, double height windows and timber cladding, as well as a flat roof, create a striking finish to the asymmetric home.

“We couldn’t be happier with the way our home turned out. Brick was definitely the right choice for us, creating a visually stunning but also structurally sound and energy efficient result. It is unlike any home we have seen before, and we’re incredibly proud to call it our own.

“Being retired, we were able to completely dedicate ourselves to the building of this home, from landscaping and carpentry work to general project management. Our heart and soul is in the very structure of this house and we hope to live here for many years to come.”

Darren & Christine Adams, Self-builders at Graven Hill


Robert Dunoyer

Construction and design have been a passion of Robert Dunoyer’s throughout his life, having started his career in the construction industry 36 years ago as a woodworking apprentice. He later went on to gain a degree in interior design, before progressing to an architecture degree.

A few years later, Robert completed as an RIBA chartered architect, eventually becoming the director of his own architecture company. In 2019, after living and working in Dubai for 11 years, Robert decided the time had come to move back to the UK and pursue his self-build aspirations. While searching for plots, he discovered Graven Hill, and now is the proud owner of a three-bedroom detached home, built almost entirely with his own hands.

“While I was living abroad, I searched for houses to buy in the UK, but they were all too expensive or required too many compromises. I felt like I’d hit a wall with my search, but then I had a lightbulb moment. My career background means I have the knowledge and the trade skill sets to design and build my own home – so why not? Graven Hill’s Plot Passports were particularly helpful, acting as a clear guide for the main construction elements of my home.

“Natural light and plenty of space were my priorities when designing my home. A large open plan living and kitchen area, with high ceilings and cove lighting, has given the downstairs of the house an airy and contemporary feel that I love. However, the most striking part of my home has to be the double height entrance hall with handmade oak staircase. It certainly makes a statement when you walk in. The rest of the house naturally progressed from these key areas, incorporating light and space into every room. I believe that interior architecture makes a home, so my initial focus was very much on the internal aspects. After all, that’s where we spend most of our time.”

Robert Dunoyer, self-builder at Graven Hill

Anna Allen

After living locally in a five-bedroom property for 28 years, Anna Allen decided it was time to downsize. In October 2020, she set her heart on a two-bed terraced new build home. Read about what attracted Anna to Graven Hill, and her experience so far, below. 

“Graven Hill has always been a point of reference for me, as it rises above the landscape, but I had no idea there was a housing development there. It was like finding a hidden gem.

“As soon as I rolled up Graven Hill Road, the site instantly piqued my interest. My dad is from Norway, where they are a lot more experimental with their housing developments, and it had a similar feel. The houses of all different shapes, sizes and materials, and the range of communal spaces stood out to me.

“Graven Hill felt like it offered something unique, perhaps even futuristic. It was well thought out and, although unfinished, still had a strong sense of community that was clear to see.

“As soon as I stepped through the front door, I knew it was the one. There were no doubts in my mind. I made an offer in October 2020, and just two months later, I was handed the keys. The pandemic may have made the buying process a little challenging at times, but the clear communication from the Graven Hill team helped everything to run as smoothly as possible in the circumstances. The speed in which I was able to complete also meant I could make the most of the Stamp Duty holiday, which was a nice bonus.

“As a lover of nature, the woodlands and wetlands that surround Graven Hill were a huge draw for me. Being able to walk out of my front door and into a place filled with greenery and wildlife has been brilliant, particularly during lockdown.

“Finding a home amongst nature that ticks every box has made downsizing from my beloved family home so much easier. I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds for myself and Graven Hill.”

Anna Allen, Custom Build homeowner

The Marsdales

The Marsdale family embarked on their self-build project in October 2017 and moved into their timber frame home in June 2019. Read about their experience of designing and building their dream home at Graven Hill below.

“From our perspective, self-building allowed us to design a home that answered both our need for a family-friendly space and our desire to live somewhere that reflects our personality. We discovered the perfect plot at Graven Hill in late 2017 and began building less than a year later in 2018.

“Our home wouldn’t be described as conventional; the first thing that people tend to notice is the three-peaked roof and the charred timber and corten steel-clad exterior. It certainly stands out! Inside, we have five bedrooms, four bathrooms, and an open plan lounge-kitchen-diner, which has proven to be ideal for entertaining family and friends.

“Light was another important factor for us when designing our home, large skylights over the stairwell and huge feature windows across the front of the home, mean that every room is flooded with natural light. Plus, the balcony at the front of the house not only lets in loads of daylight but also gives us unrivalled views over the ancient woodland surrounding Graven Hill.

“We reserved our plot in October 2017, and after working with our architect and builders, Facit Homes, on the layout and design, ground works finally began in August the following year. Using Facit’s unique construction technology, the build itself took just eight months, with the basic structure of the house being completed in three – much faster than many other construction routes. We moved into our new home in June 2019 and have now been living at Graven Hill for over a year. It really does feel like home.

“With two young children in tow, not having to worry about agreeing to site access, planning permission issues, and the hassle of connecting services were three huge benefits of choosing to self-build at Graven Hill, as opposed to taking a traditional route. A more hands-on approach wouldn’t have been practical for us, however the advantages of self-building at Graven Hill and the decision to go with a timber frame structure that could be manufactured offsite, gave us the chance to have our say on all the important aspects without having to be on-site 24/7.”

Marc and Laura Marsdale, self-builders living at Graven Hill since June 2019

The Maliks

Ujjwal Malik and his family moved from a flat in Slough to a 4-bedroom detached custom build home in February 2020. Read about what brought them to Graven Hill, and their experience so far, below.

“We loved our flat in Slough, but with my son starting to find his legs, it became clear that we needed more space.

“My brother had been telling me about Graven Hill for a while, and I was intrigued by the self-build projects he and his friends had undertaken. However, I knew that with a toddler in tow, a self-build would take up too much of our time. Graven Hill’s custom build new homes offered the perfect solution for our needs as a young family, providing us with a level of control over customisation, without the need to get involved in the construction of the property.

“Each of the homes we looked at was beautiful, all with a modern design and light interiors. Compared to our old flat, they were so spacious, and the gardens were a huge benefit. When we came across The Dorn, we knew it would suit us completely.

“Having a garden and a large kitchen diner means we can invite my brother and his friends over without feeling cramped. Family really is at the heart of Graven Hill for us! Being able to watch my son play in the garden and take him on beautiful, local walks is everything my wife and I could have dreamed of.

“Bicester itself is also the ideal location for me and my work. The brilliant transport connections that surround the town make this a breeze, whether I need to travel by car or catch a train to London.

“To those searching for their next family home, we say come and look at Graven Hill. We couldn’t be happier.”

Ujjwal Malik, Custom Build homeowner

Greg Simmonds and Jonny Stiff

After renting in Oxford for a combined total of 12 years, first-time buyers Greg and Jonny quickly decided that Graven Hill was the only place for them.

Keen to stay close to Oxford, with Greg commuting into London, excellent transport links were a top priority. Although not consciously looking for a new build, after researching Graven Hill, it became clear that it was the ideal choice – both in terms of location and the unique homes on offer.

As well as gaining a 20-minute lie-in in the morning and extra time together in the evenings, Greg and Jonny are also excited to be part of our thriving new community.

Read Greg & Jonny’s full story in The Metro

Sanjeev Basra and Dheeraj Malik

Part of a group of friends from Slough looking to relocate and live in a community together.

Thrilled by the concept of building their own home, they have made swift progress on their builds using ICF system.

Soon to be joined by more of their friends, they are looking forward to joining the network of self-builders at Graven Hill.

Keeping up with the Kirkmans

Meet Maggie and Simon Kirkman, the first self-builders to move in to Graven Hill.

From picking their plot right through to moving in to their home in June 2018, the Kirkmans have shared every step of their self-build journey to help other self-builders moving to Graven Hill.

See the Kirkman’s experience of building their dream home at Graven Hill.

The Dunns

“I’d heard about Graven Hill in the news and thought it was just self-build, but I kept seeing Tailored Finish properties on Right Move. I live in Bicester already and wasn’t actually looking to move house but the opportunity to live in such an exciting new development prompted me to visit the Plot Shop.”

“We started our Tailored Finish journey in November 2017 and got in early so we had maximum options to tailor the home to our preferences. Since then we have picked our internal layout from two designs as well as choosing all of our fixtures and fittings.”

“There’s such a big interest in Graven Hill already, but now the houses are going up fast and people can really see what is going on, those homes are going to sell very fast!”

“Our home is located near the woodland area of the site and is a Passivhaus. I love that the site is environmentally friendly, full of green spaces and contains lots of wildlife.”

Sandra Dunn, moving in to a Custom Build New Home.

The Smiths

“Twenty years ago, we built our own home, but it became too much to maintain in retirement so we decided to move.”

“We didn’t want to build our own house again but after speaking to the team at the Plot Shop we found that the Tailored Finish coach house gave us exactly what we needed space-wise, plus we had additional design flexibility that you don’t get with standard new build homes.”

“Our coach house comes with a double garage. That was a huge selling point for us as we can use the additional space as a workshop. We’re also really excited that it is a Passivhaus so the bills will be considerably lower.”

“Graven Hill is in a great location. It’s close to the M40 so it’s ideal for travelling to see our daughter, we’ve got the woodlands on our doorstep and many cycle ways to explore.”

Martin and Christine Smith, moving in to a Custom Build New Home.

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