27 Jul 2017

How one couple enhanced their view of the striking vistas surrounding their home

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The idea of self-building one’s very own home is highly admired within the UK; with the idea of a dwelling suited to homeowners’ needs, inclusive of all amenities that have been tailored to personal specifications, gaining traction across the nation. The notion is so widespread that many self-builders are undertaking not one, but two or more projects during their lifetime.

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This trend of recreating yet another self-build may arise from inadequate planning, building envelope materials that have proven insufficient or just through a pure desire to recreate an entirely new scheme from scratch. Whatever the reason, more and more self-builders are in search of their next big project and Buckinghamshire-based couple, Lindsey Russel and Greg Freiberg, are no exception. With a wealth of experience in the construction industry, both Lindsey and her husband, Greg, were well aware of the process of building their own home when they decided to embark on another self-build project.

Having designed and built their previous home, the couple knew precisely what they wanted to achieve from the design and layout of this new two-storey home – and used the subsequent opportunity to amend any features they wished to change within their first project.

Location is key

Situated in rural Soulbury, a village within the Aylesbury Vale district of Buckinghamshire, Lindsey and Greg’s new home has perfectly met their needs, as Lindsey explains: “Being our last and final build, this site was perfect. I fell in love with the garden and the small village location Soulbury gave us.”

Lindsey came across the site via online real estate company, Rightmove, and the plot proved perfect for the couple’s needs, providing them with both privacy and seclusion in a countryside location away from the diluted hustle-and-bustle of the neighbouring village, inclusive of spectacular, relaxing vistas as well as a paddock for the couple’s llamas to inhabit. Lindsey commented: “As we are situated down a private lane, we don’t often come across any by-passers.”

With the pair’s land for their self-build in clear sight, next on the agenda was the design of the house itself. For many creating their own home, whether a highly experienced or intermediate self-builder, design is often no objective. Influences from travels, friend’s homes and magazines have an enormous impact on a self-builder’s decision-making. This may be taken from small, delicate details or on a greater scale; perhaps from the way a home has been fabricated. For Lindsey, her inspiration came from magazine cuttings and a selection of photographs that she had collected over the years.

“When it came to the design of our new home, I sat down with a folder of photographs that I had personally taken, and magazine clippings that I had collected throughout the years and designed the whole house around these.”

Once the design was finalised, Lindsey and Greg appointed a planning consultant to assist with their planning application for their Soulbury home. Julie explains: “We hired a planning consultant due to the fact that the planners made it extremely clear that they weren’t keen on new and different balconies and modern glass!”. It took Lindsey and Greg three years to gain the required approval to start their build. “Unbelievably, when we finished, the planners asked us if they could put our house up for an award – we declined as they hadn’t made it easy for us!”.

The pair hired and architect to draw up the plans, however – a regular trend within the self-build world – Lindsey and Greg project managed the build themselves and hired a quantity surveyor. “We didn’t require any ‘special’ requirements,” explains Lindsey, “we just wanted something a little different and special to achieve that ‘wow’ factor.”

Comfortable accommodation

After a difficult planning process, the couple’s next stage was the build. The first port of call for Lindsey and Greg was the garage block. An innovative consideration, the garage block being built as a priority provided Lindsey and Greg with comfortable accommodation whilst the main build commenced.

Three years on from laying the foundations for their temporary garage accommodation, Lindsey and Greg moved into their Buckinghamshire new home. Today, their home sits seamlessly within the immediate landscape, complementing the green, luscious countryside panoramas. The couple opted for an upside-down-style house so they could fully appreciate the panoramas offered by the Aylesbury countryside.

Upside-down homes are a growing trend within the self-build market. The theory involves designing in all living spaces to sit at the top of a house, where the homeowners will spend the majority of their time. This is proving popular amongst self-builders within the UK, particularly, as in the case of Lindsey and Greg’s rural retreat, when the built property will offer the owners enviable views.

The main focus for Lindsey and Greg was their self-build’s exterior areas, as Lindsey explains: “The house was all about the outside and I hope we have achieved this; we have one-acre of beautiful garden full of stunning trees and bushes. We have designed our home on an open-plan basis to fully appreciate our surroundings.”

Take in the view

Further enhancing the couple’s views of the adjacent scenery is the choice of Balconette’s glass balcony solutions. Situated on the upper floor, extending off the roof of the kitchen, the choice in Balconette’s Hybrid glass balustrade system has provided Lindsey and Greg with uninterrupted sights out onto their llama paddock and act as the main feature of the house. Hybrid’s combination of lightness and strength lies in the design of its aluminium profiles, which make use of a hidden cantilever construction within the handrail, enabling long runs of glass without interruption – offering Lindsey and Greg the continual views they sought.

Installed by Surrey-based Balcony Systems Solutions of Blindley Heath, the main exterior solutions comprise Balconette’s 29m by 1.10m-high glass balustrade Hybrid Aerofoil system accompanied by an Aerofoil shaped handrail. The finish Lindsey and Greg opted for – a bronze anodised finish with 10mm bronze-tinted toughened glass – complements the main build seamlessly. To further complement the installation, Balconette’s 3m by 1.10m-high Hybrid Aerofoil glass Juliet balcony was appointed in the same bronze anodised finish as Lindsey and Greg’s balustrade – as well as a 19.35m by 1.10m-high additional balustrade for the extension of the couple’s balcony.

As well as utilising Balconette’s products externally, Lindsey and Greg opted for the company’s solutions for the interior of their property. Inside, completing their impressive double staircase, Balconette’s Hybrid Aerofoil balustrade has been installed on the stairs and the landing area in, again, the same bronze anodised finish as Balconette’s exterior solutions to keep a continuous feel throughout the entire establishment.

Lindsey and Greg’s home is equally impressive internally as it is externally. While the exterior walls have been treated to monocouche render, Lindsey and Greg have opted for plaster and paint within, complemented by stone walls within the kitchen-cum-dining area.

Commenting on the final build, Lindsey enlightened: “The house is absolutely everything that I had hoped it would be and, as time has passed since our first move-in, we’re contemplating adding an all-glass wall into the kitchen to make it even better.”

The couple did run slightly over budget for their home, however, as Lindsey explained: “This was with the internal aspects rather than the externals.”

Home sweet home

Lindsey continues: “I have many favourite aspects of my house, from the glass balconies for the views, the kitchen-cum-diner for family get-togethers and, of course, our gorgeous bedroom – it’s very difficult to choose a particular preference and there’s nothing that I would have done differently.

“When it came to the garden, we continued the existing theme that was already present, acting as the caretaker for the doctor who planted the trees. We also built a large pond and waterfall with a bridge supported over it – our drive also accommodates steps guiding you down to the pond area.”

When asked if she would do it all over again, Lindsey replied: “No, I don’t think I would do it all over again, that’s only because I don’t want to move! It was also extremely hard work and takes up 100% of both your time and money. My advice for other self-builders would be to prepare for a self-build to control your life for the length of the build.”

Further information....

External

Glass balustrade: Hybrid Aerofoil system (Aerofoil shaped handrail) 29m (1.10m height)
Colour finish: bronze anodised
Glass: 10mm bronze tint toughened
Glass Juliet balcony: Hybrid Aerofoil system (Aerofoil shaped handrail) 3m (1.10m height)
Colour finish: bronze anodised
Glass: 10mm bronze tint toughened
Glass balustrade: Hybrid Aerofoil system (Aerofoil shaped handrail) 19.35m (1.10m height)
Colour finish: bronze anodised
Glass: 10mm bronze tint toughened

Internal

Balustrade for stairs:
Hybrid Aerofoil system (Aerofoil shaped handrail) 18.7m (4.3m x 4 + 1.5m) (900mm height)
Colour finish: bronze anodised
Glass: 10mm clear toughened
Balustrade for landing: Hybrid Aerofoil system (Aerofoil shaped handrail) 9.5m (900mm height)
Colour finish: bronze anodised
Glass: 10mm clear toughened one curved patio door.

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