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When Piers Taylor spotted a crumbling old crenellated school house – parts of which were sinking into the ground – enveloped in dense, overgrown woodland, he knew in a millisecond that this was going to be home.Piers paid £320,000 for the house and the land, in Ashwicke, outside Bath, and spent £160,000 on the build.Lee Manning, an accountant, and his partner Mike Ellis, a nurse, have been searching for years for the right parcel of land on which to build their dream home.With a tight budget, they finally found a quarter of an acre of land with sweeping views of the Kerswell valley, Devon, with planning permission for a dormer bungalow for £110,000.
The couple drafted an absolute must-list for every stage of the build, which helped them stick to their budget of £260,000.
It was designed to get as much out of the space as possible, using technology that would require common sense, rather than specialist skill, he says.
It also needed to accommodate the growing family – four children, now aged 3, 9, 11 and 23.
“I realised a decade ago that to buy a tiny cottage in the area for the same money, I could build my own family house with a good amount of land – if I was resourceful.” The woodland setting, and uninterrupted views, which sold the property to him in the first place, are its most mesmerising features: a soft, patchwork quilt of green and yellow fields, folding away into St Catherine’s valley beyond.
“The building almost disappears so you can experience all the seasons,” says Piers.
Utility fittings look contemporary and are cheaper, i.e. Create a building which is robust enough to take clutter.