A new run of shows starts with an overgrown, neglected half-acre site in the heart of a Gloucestershire town. It could be the perfect plot to build a house - if you were allowed to cut down its 27 protected trees and clear the site. But local plumber Jon Martin and ceramicist Noreen Jaafar have a much better solution. They love trees and they love their home town, so they're going to build a big modern tree house. The house will be way up in the trees, with stilts screwed into the earth and featuring balconies that see for miles. The only problem is building it, especially on a tight budget. It takes almost two years to crack the engineering as the project becomes an epic self-build, 40 feet up, as an exhausted Jon and Noreen battle towards the finish.
Why are our homes so often designed to be so serious and purely practical? Surely there's space for a bit more fun? That's what Matt and Sophie White from Sussex believe. They want to build a giant family house of fun for themselves and their children. It will be a mysterious black home kitted out with a revolving bookcase door, secret dens, hiding places behind one-way mirrors and a fireman's pole. Matt wants the house to evolve, so he uses a steel frame system which means they can change the layout whenever they want. There are other changes too - like amending the window shapes and sizes and adding a new half floor to create a James Bond room. Just what will this house look like in the end?
Tom and Danielle Raffield's lifelong passion is steam-bending wood into extraordinary curvy shapes. They've spent much of their working lives using the technique to make furniture and lighting. Desperate to escape their tiny gamekeeper's lodge, they've decided to build a spectacular wavy wooden house in South Cornwall, with curvy cladding, twisty furniture, and interior walls covered with naturally-weathered timber. With only a ú100k budget to play with, they decide to do a lot of the building themselves. But have they taken on too much?
After artist and teacher Michelle Parsons recovered from serious illness, she and her architect husband David decided it was time to seize the day and build the private hideaway they'd always yearned for. David devised a sleek, black-clad, three bedroom house for a beautiful plot in an Essex woodland, with a separate studio for Michelle. The couple project manage the build, which gets off to a sticky start, including a dangerous gas leak and torrential rain. As the building finally starts to take shape, the big question remains - by choosing to eliminate windows on two sides of the property, could their new home turn out to be just a gloomy bunker?
Can you really build a Grand Design when you've only got ú500 to start with? That's what Simon and Jasmine Dale had in the bank when they started to build their unique three bedroom family house high up in the hills of rural Pembrokeshire. This is their take on 21st century low-impact self-building, featuring foraged and recycled materials. Despite the budget, their house will be open plan, have underfloor heating, an inside flushing loo, and a set of greenhouses that wouldn't disgrace Kew Gardens. They are part of a pioneering, government-backed, sustainable village called Lammas, which has a fierce planning condition attached: in return for the right to build on open farmland, they must become self-sufficient on their seven acre plot in five years, or lose everything. It's a huge double challenge.
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