Guest Blog from lapd Architects

Stef and Pauline’s Graven Hill Journey: Beginning and Designing

lapd Architects have worked with several Graven Hill self-builders who are currently building their dream homes on site. If you are interested in self-building at Graven Hill, the team at lapd Architects have kindly documented the journeys of some of these self-builders.

Here you’ll find a short explanation of the first steps in a Graven Hill self-build journey, from the beginnings of the self-build dream through to getting through plot passport compliance.

The Dream

Graven Hill has given hundreds of self-builders the opportunity they thought they might never have, to build their own home designed around their life. The freedom that serviced plots and reduced red tape gives self-builders to realise this dream is a wonderful thing to be a part of. lapd Architects have several clients building their new dream homes at Graven Hill, including, Stef and Pauline, who are well on the way to realising their vision. They had a dream of building a South African inspired home in Bicester that could make the most of the summer months in the UK. They loved contemporary design, and wanted to build something that truly reflected their lifestyle and design tastes. Graven Hill is all about bringing these ideas and dreams that have been there for years, bubbling away in the background, into existence. But how does this happen?

The collaborative design process
The collaborative design process
Appointing an Architect

Well, one of the first steps is to appoint a professional you trust to design your home. Stef and Pauline got in touch with the team at lapd Architects after a rocky start with another company; they felt that their self-build was heading in the wrong direction. So, they booked in a free initial consultation, chatted with Opinder, one director at lapd, and began to get an idea of first steps and what the reality of the self-build process is like. At the same time they were talking with the team at Graven Hill, having reserved a crescent plot they loved that had beautiful views of the surrounding area.  Things were beginning to move in the right direction.

Initial Brief

After they had reserved their plot, the Graven Hill process began to move. This process is all about making sure key targets are hit along the self-build journey. Stef and Pauline worked with lapd to create their initial concept designs, as they were communicating with the Graven Hill team at the same time. Communication is a big part of the role of an architect, not just with clients but also with other professionals. The first part of this design process was all about Stef and Pauline making sure that we understood exactly where they were coming from, and explaining to us why they were self-building. The lapd team already had a good idea from their initial conversations, but making sure everything is clear from the get-go is so important for setting firm foundations for the design process.

Concept Design

Off the back of this initial design process lapd Architects created 3D Lumion images, as you can see below. It was time to transform something that had only ever been inside their heads into something that could actually be built. This design not only looked the part, but it was achievable: designed to the specs of their plot at Graven Hill as well as being designed according to their budget and time scale goals. The South African concept of a pyjama lounge (the equivalent of a snug room) is the main living area and is located on the first floor. It will command beautiful views of the surrounding area through a striking front gable which has extensive glazing, allowing natural sunlight to fill the room. To the rear the kitchen leads onto a patio with an outdoor kitchen, where those long British summer nights can be spent with good food and good company.

Stef and Pauline’s 3D images for their Graven Hill self-build
Stef and Pauline’s 3D images for their Graven Hill self-build

Stef and Pauline were wowed by this first design. It’s always quite a special moment when a self-builder first sees the concept design as a 3D image. This design forms the basis for a conversation where all sorts of different aspects are refined, and where it’s ensured that clients have the time and head space to properly think about any changes they might want to make. Stef and Pauline took the time to think through the design, and how it works with their daily routines. lapd Architects’ working relationship gave them the confidence to make the decisions which mattered most to them in order to get the home they truly wanted.

Plot Passport Compliance

Once Stef and Pauline were happy the design was submitted for plot passport compliance (a Graven Hill-specific process). This was then accepted by the local authority and the team at Graven Hill. One of the benefits of building at Graven Hill is that this process is much simpler and quicker than your normal planning application.

Stef and Pauline are looking forward to the next part of the process now. In the next instalment of their self-build journey we will see what the golden brick foundations look like and experience the excitement of the first truckloads of material arriving on site along with them.

If you want to read in more detail about this part of their journey, then you can find more information by reading lapd Architect’s full length blog post. If you would like to talk to lapd about exploring the option of self-building, then do not hesitate to get in touch. lapd Architects are currently offering free initial consultations over Zoom. If you are considering self-build, and want some more information, why not take a virtual tour the award-winning Build It Self-Build Education House? This first of its kind project allows you to explore a real self-build, and see what it actually looks like, helping you to think through your dream project.

There are just a few self-build plots remaining on Phase 1 at Graven Hill, so be sure to get in touch with our Sales team today to discuss your requirements and kick-start your journey towards your dream home for 2021.