16 Aug 2021

The Self-build Diaries: Jason and Caroline Sadler

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The old adage ‘travel broadens the mind’ has never been more valid than in the world of architecture and design. Not only does travel leave the once regimented a little more open-minded, but it also pushes the boundaries of creativity and design

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For Lincolnshire-based couple, Jason and Caroline Sadler, their years of globe-trotting certainly left an impression on their countryside, Californian architecture-inspired Paragraph 79 self-build home. With a dazzling and distinctive design, the perfect mix of complementary building materials and an elegant open-plan interior, ‘Bekstone House’ is the brainchild of the Sadlers. Here, i-Build Editor, Rebecca Kemp, talks to Caroline about the forever home that she and Jason created from scratch, where they live with their two teenagers and Cavapoo, Taylor.

RK: What inspired you to embark on your own project rather than buying?
CS: After making our mark on previous homes, we wanted to build a house that suited our lifestyle. Adding our own unique style to a brand-new property is something that we have always wanted to do.

RK: What was the vision and inspiration behind your new home?
CS: We love travelling all over the world, and the style of Californian homes inspired both the outside and inside living areas for our home. Our plans show that our home is casual, comfortable and modern.

RK: How did you approach finalising your design brief?
CS: We had many consultations with Studio 11 Architects; the whole family was involved.

RK: Did your project need to cater for any special requirements?
CS: We had specific stipulations in respect of a Paragraph 79 home, and conditions from the local council. Studio 11 helped us design a truly outstanding home reflecting the highest standards in architecture, and this would help to raise standards of design in rural and semi-rural areas.

RK: How and why did you choose this plot?
CS: We began looking for plots near where we lived, and after cycling past, we came across this pocket of land, which was private. The area is semi-rural with great views.

RK: How long did it take to gain planning permission?
CS: It took us one year in total.

RK: Were there any challenging aspects to the project and build?
CS: Yes! Many different elements took a lot of head-scratching – even at the very beginning of the build when piling started. The curtain wall window, bespoke windows and the pool house, to name only a few.

RK: Did you project manage the build yourself?
CS: Partly. The first builder that we had struggled with the demands of a bespoke build. Between ourselves and finding a new young building company, Ciantia, the project was managed more efficiently.

RK: Did you work with an architect at any point in the process?
CS: At the beginning we did. As the build progressed, the builder often communicated with the architects to discuss drawings and any design elements with reference to the Paragraph 79 status.

RK: How did you approach material and product specification?
CS: We attended Grand Designs, researched materials and started to contact local merchants and trades to ideally source all our building and material products from nearby suppliers.

RK: Did you install any renewable systems?
CS: Yes. We installed an air source pump and a rainwater harvesting system.

RK: How does the property respond to Passive House principles?
CS: We installed a heat recovery system and superinsulation.

RK: How long did the project take?
CS: Altogether, it took four years. The build did take longer due to its bespoke design.

RK: Did you remain within the original budget?
CS: No, we didn’t stay within the budget. We anticipated that building a bespoke home would cost more. Also, during the process, we upgraded systems.

RK: Please give us an overview of the interior and exterior spaces.
CS: Our interior follows a spacious open-plan living layout, with a separate movie room, gym and craft room overlooking the pool house. The exterior has a full 360° walk around the front and back. The garden is private. Each bedroom has its very own balcony facing the rear garden.

RK: How does the property respond to its surrounding landscape?
CS: The Tata Steel Urban ‘Colorcoat’ fits in beautifully with the landscape.

RK: What was your vision for the garden?
CS: The landscaping was going to be considered after we completely finished the build; however, when the pandemic hit, rather than sit still, we halted work on the inside and planned the hardstand areas for the garden. We chose resin, gabion walls as main features, and the planting landscaping will come later. A ‘Wimbledon’ lawn is the main feature at the moment. Luckily, our builder has gardening experience and constructed the gabions, the resin walkways and laid the garden turf and porcelain tiles. We have planted laurel shrubs to the front perimeter of the house, and we will be laying a sedum roof on top of the triple garage.

RK: What does the local community think of the new property?
CS: Everyone’s been very complimentary and positive.

RK: Is the final property everything that you hoped it would be?
CS: Yes, and much more! The tranquillity that the home brings makes it the perfect place to relax.

RK: What’s your favourite thing about your new home?
CS: The freedom, space, security and views.

RK: Is there anything that you would have done differently?
CS: My husband, Jason, would have liked a bigger plant room for all the pool equipment.

RK: Would you do the whole thing again?
CS: Yes; although, not right now!

RK: What advice would you offer to anyone looking to self-build?
CS: Ensure that you employ a reputable quantity surveyor who will hold your hand throughout the build process.

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