New self-builder? No problem!

self-build timber frame home

Brian and Amanda Sherrington were brand new to self-build and had no experience, even in serious DIY! So it was with a mixture of trepidation and excitement that they started their self-build journey with Fleming Homes. Yet, by the time their beautiful German-inspired dream home was complete, Brian was a hands-on, sleeves-rolled up enthusiast and Amanda reports “an indescribable sense of achievement” – to the point where they now feel they could do it again!

So how did the couple tackle the route from newbie to seasoned self-builder and come out smiling? “We’d spent our lives moving round Army rented accommodation dreaming of self-build, but hadn’t done any DIY. We came across Fleming Homes by chance. We’d been planning to talk to another company at Harrogate Self-Build Show, but their stand was too busy! We spoke to Jason Hartley from Fleming Homes and liked what we heard, so he paid us a home visit and we took it from there.”

On-Budget Design and DIY

“We didn’t have an architect and literally started with a blank sheet of paper,” says Brian. “We had a vision in our heads, from seeing houses we liked in Germany, and looked at Fleming Homes’ case studies. We worked out a floor plan together and Jason offered suggestions – it was a symbiotic process.”

The Sherringtons chose timber frame, partly for its “radical” qualities, having been impressed by the European approach to house construction “Scandinavian style, modern design, high insulation values, fast erection,” explains Brian. “And our house is really beautiful: white rendered, with a big gable, full of glass and light.”

The designs were sent through by email, and Amanda and Brian had plenty of time for reflection. “There was no real pressure. Fleming Homes were happy for us to take our time and make sure it was right.” Brian then commissioned building regs drawings from another company, thinking “we’d get it cheaper”.  With hindsight, he feels it would’ve worked out cheaper to stay in-house having building regulations and technical drawings done by the same people.

For project management, the Sherringtons struck gold after Amanda found an “astonishing” main contractor in Build It magazine. With the budget tight, the builder agreed to advise Brian on tradesmen and the project manager role, and get him DIY-ing where possible. “I did as much as I could – loads of non-technical work. It really helped that the jobs were in stages, small packages.”

Customer is King
Problem-solving is an inevitable part of any self-build project and the Sherringtons’ was no exception. “When the contractor did the blockwork, we realised the frame stepped out by 10-15 mm in the upper part of the end gable due to an erection issue, creating an issue with the void – building regs are very specific.”

“I panicked and got hold of Hayden, Fleming Homes’ Managing Director. Jason came for a look and got straight onto it the next day. This was solved by changing the blockwork to renderboard and some extra battening, which Fleming Homes paid for. This had a knock-on effect for our heavy Juliette balcony, as you can’t drill in render board. Again, this was solved quickly and effectively by Hayden and the team.”

“I was astounded how swiftly they got to grips with this and solved the problem. I had a direct line to Hayden. We were always made to feel as if I were their most important customers. One of the reasons we chose Fleming Homes is that we knew we weren’t likely to be pushed to the bottom of the pile by bigger contractors, as they only do one-off builds.”

Any Advice for New Self-Builders?
Two years on, and looking back, what advice can the Sherringtons offer to other self-builders? “Don’t work! It was stressful, as we were both working full-time. Lots going on in our lives, and were spending every weekend at the site, and some nights. It wasn’t easy.” But, adds Amanda, “it was brilliant as well”.

“Be careful with your team”, say Brian. “We know someone else doing a self-build that had loads of problems, so we were really lucky.” On Fleming Homes, he says: “Look nowhere else! The whole team was absolutely brilliant. They knew exactly what they were doing, at every stage.”

And the best bit? “Finishing it and moving in, knowing that, despite our huge inexperience, we’d done it, and it was something all our friends and family love, too.”

You can read more about Brian and Amanda’s self-build journey in the December 2018 issue of Self Build & Design Magazine Download the article here Sherrington Case Study Self Build & Design December 2018 Issue

Contact Fleming Homes today to get started with your timber self-build project.