The House That £100k Built: Challenging ideas

Wednesday 2 October 2013, 12:16

Piers Taylor Piers Taylor Architect

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With design, everyone has an opinion.

Clearly, an individual’s taste is critical, though, as an architect, it’s less about what we ‘like’ and more about opening up possibilities for people that they hadn’t previously been aware of.

Generally, people are so familiar with houses and buildings that many of us think we know exactly what we want. But if we only ever built what we knew, the world would be a very dull place.

Part of the fun of The House That £100k Built has been taking self-builders who are working within a £100k budget to see extraordinary, exemplar projects for inspiration, and, yes, taking them right out of their comfort zones.

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Presenter Kieran Long wants to demonstrate that grey timber doesn’t have to look like a shed

Many self-builders will have architects working closely with them – but most of the ones on the series did not.

For these people, I acted as a kind of mentor, helping maximise the potential of buildings that might otherwise have been ordinary, or soulless.

At times, yes, I had to use the power of persuasion, and try very hard to change people’s minds – because diverging from what you know and think you already like can be pretty scary.

There’s a huge amount of trust, and a great responsibility to act wisely on this trust.

A criticism that might be levelled at an architect is that we just hoist our opinions on an unsuspecting client.

But we’re trained to solve other people’s problems by finding inventive and imaginative solutions. Ideas are our main currency – not just drawing up what someone has asked for.

I’d say that the episode which meant the most to me was episode two – Sumati is a great example of one of the self-builders in the series that rose to the challenge of the new.

Initially, she was so browbeaten by the dilapidation of her existing home that she was not aware that there was any alternative to replacing her house in the most rudimentary way possible and so she’d instructed an architect to draw up the most basic of plans.

The house that she had had designed lacked, as we pointed out, any joy.

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Piers and Sumati visit The Hen House on the Isle of Skye for inspiration

By showing her that there were alternative solutions to planning her house layout and raising the ceiling to maximise the sense of space, showing her there were potential savings in going beyond the obvious choices for finishes, she has a house that fills her with delight.

There were many changes that Kieran Long and I would love to have suggested to all of the self-builders on the series, but most already had planning permission when we got involved with them, meaning that we were bound to work within their original consent.

There was an extraordinarily steep learning curve for most of the self-builders, not just in terms of design, but also in terms of construction.

They all had limited building experience yet they all had a sophisticated challenge – that of building an extremely low cost house.

Very ordinary houses in the UK typically cost around £1000 sq m – and a bespoke, one off house usually starts at around £1500 sq m, yet many of our self-builders were aiming for close to £500 sq m, which meant being ingenious on so many levels.

Tony and Ruth Tony and Ruth want to build a 200 sq m house with a 100 sq m basement on their £99,000 budget

They were all pushing boundaries - very brave indeed!

My main piece of advice is to engage a really good architect early on, even if they don’t supervise the build.

They will be able to negotiate planning permission (all being well!), and should be able to work with a self-builder’s budget and knowledge, and design appropriately.

It is essential to budget. Rather than beginning with a pot of money and spending without a plan, do prepare a cost plan that allocates sums of money for each aspect of the build, and stick to it rigorously.

There’s something that we call ‘creeping enhancement’ - which is the tendency to keep embellishing or enhancing a project once it is underway.

Avoid creeping enhancement at all costs, otherwise you will shoot over budget.

Finally – building a house is a little like having a baby. It is incredibly painful and angst ridden at the time, but pretty soon you forget the pain of childbirth and enjoy your beautiful creation!

Good luck!

Piers Taylor is an architect and alongside Kieran Long presents The House That £100k Built.

The House That £100k Built continues on Wednesday, 2 October at 8pm on BBC Two and BBC Two HD. For further programme times please see the episode guide.

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    The first house in the series cost £200K i.e land £100K + £100K borrowed from his parents for the build?
    The second house in scotland still didnt have exterior cladding.

    Maybe a change of title for such an excellent series.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    While in some cases the program is interesting I do find the tone of both Piers and Kieran deeply condescending to the home builders. Home builders are told their ideas are simply wrong, there is a big difference between wrong and "not the same as mine". I found it particularly disingenuous to dismiss the couple in ep 3's timber shading when arriving in the middle of winter rain and would be interested to see how hot the house is in midsummer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    cutting up gas bottles is a good way to injure or kill your self apart from the fact that the bottles always remain the property of the suppliers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    I think the program is fantastic and it is amazing how creative homes can be on a budget. The homes also appear to be very energy efficient. It would be interesting to see what the final ECP rating is as running costs are a huge factor in the life cycle costs. It was great to see LED lighting included in the design, but was very surprised to hear the initial quote for £11,000. I purchased LED bulbs from [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator] for less than £10 each and these are all retro fit so standard fittings can be used.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    In the episode featuring the Shropshire farmers, inspiration was sort from a trendy cafe/bar in (I think) London, the bar was clad in all kinds of interesting recycled materials. Anybody out there able to tell me the name of the bar?

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    Right of reply.Q riv, what do you do with gas bottles dumped on your farm and no-one wants them back? .A. vent them safely then cut them up. I could write a book on the omissions and mis-truths about the programme Lets face it It was not about people building a house . It was about entertaining the viewers .full stop

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    Whilst I enjoy watching this programme and others like it on TV, I was horrified to see the guy cutting open the gas bottle with the angle grinder the other night - especially when there was no "don't try this at home kids" caveat. OK, the one he was cutting open might have been inert however how many "would be" DIY enthusiasts know this? I don't believe in sacrificing safety on account of entertainment - the building industry has spent a lot of time and effort in trying to clean up its act and make the workplace a safe place for all. If the BBC won't say it, I will - DONT TRY THIS AT HOME KIDS - UNLESS YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE REALLY DOING !!!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    Re Shropshire Farmers - The BBC should not be broadcasting illegal and dangerous DIY projects. I think you will find that gas bottles remain the property of the company that manufactured and filled them therefore it is illegal to cut them up and use them as light shades. Probably even worse from a health and safety aspect is the potential danger of taking an angle grinder to them to cut them up. If any gas remains in them then it is a potential bomb.

    Come on BBC what are your legal guys doing????

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    I can only agree with comments about how condescending these two twerps are. They seem to have the taste of a couple of hairdressers from Penge. (Sorry, hairdressers. Sorry, Penge.)

    My own additional moan would be that they never seem to imagine that a home should accommodate such things as books, paintings, drawings. The places they seem to admire have what can only be called naff interior decorator's ideas of what to put on or next to a wall. (Not sorry at all, naff interior decorators.) Their ideas of exciting whoopdidoo novelty - Bare metal! Wow! Bare building materials! Wow! - have been common as muck for decades (take a look at High-Tech, by Kron and Slesin, a very popular, truly excellent, book that's been around since 1978).

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    I'm going to ignore all the negative comments and just say that as someone who has always extended and improved my home and mid completion of converting a major renovation I wish this show had been made and aired a year ago. Unlike other renovation tv series that are completely spend sickening, I love the way design has been met with budget whether 100k or not. I particularly found Sumati's ability to take on ideas inspiring... I could have saved a small fortune if I had watched this before my build started, but will take inspiration for my next project..... cheap yet design savvy flooring ideas welcome ;-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    Some of the comments here miss the point. This show IS different to the norm, because it is asking self-builders to fully embrace the opportunities and challenges of low cost building to achieve a home they can be proud of. This will, invariably, involve taking full responsibility for choice of design, layout, materials, sourcing and fittings. The ep with Sumati was a perfect example- she started out 'thinking' of herself as a client, i.e. s/o else makes all the decisions to fulfil what she wanted. Midway, she realised those decisions had to be hers to maximise her 50k spend. The results were still beautiful and the process to reach that end nothing short of inspiring, even though. The architects do a superb job of showing options- that is their job! The self builders are challenged, not patronised! Who wants to watch a show where we see people build another boxy, standard looking home and professionals stand around offering no expertise?

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    @SussexUK The bar is 'Barrio East' Shoreditch (E1 6JE) :)

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    I really like the show. What it offers people is a little bit of architectural input where they otherwise couldn't afford it. It illustrates how an architect can elevate a simple box into a well designed living space exactly why we should value the profession and what it can bring to self build.

    I do worry about the budgets though, I am currently mid way through a 3 bedroom self build and have hit the £100k mark already (not including the site). I wouldn't want there to be a rush of enthusiastic self builders running out of money mid project.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    What’s most interesting, Kattrby, in your comments above, is despite trying to push your highbrow and literary aspirations, the only method you seem to have of judging anything is in the most superficial of ways – that of finishes. The big idea to me, here, seems to be how making fundamental changes to the spaces to the buildings as planned can make them much better – opening things up, taking walls out, raising ceilings etc – and the message seems to be one that is about questioning the norm – not dictating what the people should be doing. It’s a difficult thing for a TV to show, but al last someone is showing an alternative to the slick high end mainstream property that we are all saturated in. I think the people on the show seem delighted with the changes – whether you like them or not is besides the point. I expect you have (some pretty ordinary) books in your house, Kattrby, but you’re too busy being smugly condescending about finishes in the show that you can’t step back and see that this isn’t a show about finishes, it is a show about empowering every day people to go beyond what was obvious, or available, to them. You really do come across as a rather superficial twerp in your post above, Kattrby.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Episode re: Shropshire Farmers - would love to find out more about the black barn/house by Steven Turvil in Wiltshire shown on this episode. Can't find anything online - can anyone help please?


  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    Channel 4 have presenters of substance, BBC have pretentious wallies... Its one way to differentiate but quality would be better...

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    I think there are some fantastic ideas in this programme; it's great to hear some encouragement to be creative. And it was nice to see somebody sticking to their budget tonight! But I can hardly bear to watch it when Piers is on screen because of his 'windmill' arms. Please can somebody tie them up so that I can listen to what he says without the distraction of his hands waving about?

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    P.S. Yes - everywhere looks great opened up, but what about heating bills? I live in a relatively modern house with a porch and plastic front door less than 3 years old (don't blame me - it was here when I moved in!), but the porch is really cold. The lounge would be a lot colder if I 'opened up' the space. Same applies to taking ceilings out - we all know that heat rises...

    I think Kattrby has a point in that houses are for living in primarily. We like to make them look nice, but the first thought should be that it's practical and comfortable. It's no good looking at a fabulous and unique wall finish if you're shivering on a bum-aching bench and all your books are stuck miles up a ladder...

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    Can anyone help on Zoe and Tom's buld there was a multi coloured glass shade cluster pendant in the stairwell...I've trawled loads of websites but cant find anything like it ...does it look familiar to anyone - shades were pink, blue, green, yellow I think....thanks.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    Since when did osb scramboard become cheaper than plasterboard, Piers?


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