Greg Simmonds and Jonny Stiff talk about why Graven Hill was the ideal choice for them and how their unique Custom Build New Home is perfect for their needs.


Greg Simmonds and Jonny Stiff had been renting for a combined total of 12 years before deciding that it was time to purchase their first home. The pair were keen to stay close to Oxford, however, with Greg commuting to London daily, excellent transport links were a top priority.

Jonny discovered Graven Hill early on in their property search and they quickly decided that it was the only place for them. Although the couple weren’t consciously looking for a new build, after researching Graven Hill, it became clear that it was the ideal choice. Both the location and the unique homes on offer were perfect for their needs, and all other homes that they had seen quickly lost their appeal. Within a month of visiting Graven Hill, Greg and Jonny had purchased their first home together, a four-bed Custom Build house.

Plot 230 - Greg Simmonds & Johnny Stiff - External

Realising the dream

Plot 230 - Greg Simmonds & Johnny Stiff - Kitchen“We’d both been living in Oxford for years. In fact, when we met, we quickly discovered that we only lived down the road from each other! Our first rental home as a couple was a Victorian terraced house near the heart of the city. It met our needs but was dark and made up of so many rooms that we just didn’t use. Plus, renting in Oxford was not the most cost-effective way for us to live.

“When Jonny came across Graven Hill, we were blown away by the light and airy feel of the Custom Build New Homes. They were so different from what we were used to, both in terms of openness and modernity. Unlike other new build developments, every home at Graven Hill has its own distinctive edge, which is something we really love about living here.

“We viewed the site in April, and by May we’d chosen a plot and made the purchase. Everything about Graven Hill felt right for us – we couldn’t wait to move in. Thankfully, we only had to wait until September!”

The location

“As soon as we arrived at Graven Hill we fell in love. There is a sense of creativity that flows through the site, giving it a bespoke feel that is rare to find in new build developments.

“Having lived close to Oxford city centre before, it’s lovely to now be surrounded by greenery and open space. Although there is still building work taking place, the site never feels cluttered, especially with the bordering woods and nature reserves that surround us.

“The location of Graven Hill also made sense for Greg’s commute – it is a countryside setting with city links. Before we moved here, Greg would get on the train at Oxford Station and pass through Bicester to get to London. Now that he can go directly from Bicester station, it has cut his commute time from just over an hour to 45 minutes. 15 minutes might not seem like much, but the time really adds up and means that we can make the most of our evenings.”

The design

“Our home is 1,521 sq. ft. and has four bedrooms, one of which we’ve converted into a study. We love the freedom that owning our own home has given us. Sometimes we still forget that it’s ours and that we’re allowed to drill holes in walls and customise it!

Plot 230 - Greg Simmonds & Johnny Stiff - Dining Area

“The spacious downstairs has got to be our favourite feature. It’s open plan with large windows, making the space incredibly light. We also love the modern feel to both the interior and exterior. It’s not a generic-looking house – something that drew us to it in the first place.

“We wanted to escape the dark and dreary rooms of our rented home, and we’ve certainly achieved that here at Graven Hill!”

Advice to others

“We’d recommend purchasing a Custom Build New Home at Graven Hill to anyone. The process was pretty much effortless from start to finish.

“Even though the site is still young, an amazing community has already been established. It’s a place that breeds creativity and individualism, full of unique, yet like-minded people that are as diverse as the houses they live in.”

If you’re interested in our Custom Build New Homes and finding out more about making Graven Hill your new home, get in touch with our Sales team on 01869 390 009 or email [email protected] to make an appointment or arrange a site visit.