Missed ‘Grand Designs: The Street’ on Channel 4 last night?

Here’s what you need to know…

Grand Designs: The Street – is shining a light on 10 couples’ self- build journeys – In last night’s episode we trailed the journey of first-time buyers and a local Bicester-based couple – both of whom refused to let budget constraints impede their self-build dreams

Featured last night:
Maximising your budget — Chris and Roxie


Last night we got a glimpse into the lives of the youngest self-builders on ‘The Street’Chris and Roxie. The couple, both aged 24, were living with their parents in a bid to save for their first home together. Graven Hill gave them the opportunity they were looking for and they put all their savings into an architect-led, innovative and contemporary design.

In the episode we see them build their home with a brilliant but labour-intensive construction system, whilst holding down full-time jobs. They receive a massive boost when their architects draft in a team of architectural students, who camp out nearby in return for experience. Although the project has been a great opportunity for Chris and Roxie, it is not one without risk. As a home with real architectural merit starts to emerge, so do cracks in a once concrete relationship.

This episode emphasises the beauty of building your own home, highlighting that you can have the freedom and flexibility to choose your build options and design to suit your budget. Chris and Roxie fully embraced the opportunity to build their own home and took a leap on experimental build methods that complimented their finances.

The details: 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom, started in June 2017, completed in December 2017, final build cost £299k.

Keeping it local — Peter and Anita


Peter and Anita, and their two teenage children, outgrew their local Bicester property and were looking for options to upsize. Outpriced by most of the traditional choices on the local market, the ambitious couple took the leap and decided to build their own home with the aim of making it big enough and bespoke enough to meet the needs of their whole family. In this episode we see the importance of having a clear plan – and sticking to it. Not only that, they use their budget wisely to ensure they are now mortgage free.

The details: 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom, started in June 2017, still in progress, estimated build costs £180k.

Controlling your self-build costs

Our pioneers have shown real creativity in terms of maximising their return on their investments. Here are 5 ways to keep control of your budget:

  1. Make sure you do your homework

Peter and Anita knew that they wanted to remain local to Bicester, but thought having a new, larger home in the area wasn’t possible. They researched their options thoroughly and realised that although not a ‘traditional’ route, a self-build would certainly give them more for their money.

  1. Manage as much of the build as you can

Peter was able to take on an active role in the project management of his family’s build – with the reluctant help from his son, Sam. Not only did managing the project himself shave off some cost, Peter also built quite a lot of the property too – unearthing some unexpected hidden talents.

  1. Choose your build type wisely

The beauty of self-building is that you have full control over the style, design, materials, process and labour, which means that you can upscale and downscale your costs depending on what you value most. For Roxie and Chris, keeping their costs low saw them embark on a modular home that was built entirely to scale off-site, and brought to site ready to assemble – a ‘flat pack home’ if you will.

To see some custom-build, modular homes available on the site, visit here.

  1. Creative solutions for your gaps in knowledge and expertise

Quickly identifying your core skills – and any gaps – can help you to think creatively about how to fill the holes. Planning ahead will enable you to seek out lower costs solutions without impacting the timescale of your build.

Working in partnership with the architect, Chris and Roxie’s labour-intensive flat-pack home needed all hands on deck when it arrive on site. They enlisted a group of volunteer architectural students from the practice to help construct their home, in return for bags of experience.

  1. Make sure the location is worth it

Choosing to build or moving location altogether is a decision that has a number of different factors to consider. One crucial question is – is the location of your new home worth it? Building a home at Graven Hill is more than just four walls and a roof, it’s a community.

Not only do you want to be surrounded by like-minded people, you should also take into account the local amenities.

Here’s why we love Bicester

  • It has the perfect balance of rural scenery and buzzing town life
  • It’s home to many high-quality events such as the Jazz Festival, Last Night of the Proms and Bicester Heritage’s Sunday Scramble to name but a few
  • It’s within commuting distance from London with great transport links
  • A stone’s throw from the Cotswolds
  • Perfectly placed in the golden triangle of London, Oxford and Birmingham
  • Close to Bicester Village
  • It is a nominated Garden Town, shaped by its greenery, heritage and natural environment
  • There’s a Farmer’s market every Friday in the Market Square

To find out more about Graven Hill’s build options, contact us here.