Image for SumatiNot currently available on BBC iPlayer

Episode 2 of 6

Duration: 1 hour

Architectural journalist Kieran Long and architect Piers Taylor are following self-builders as they take on the biggest gamble of their lives. Yet all of them have less than £100k to spend, little or no experience and have their life savings on the line - it will not be easy.

Twice-widowed, Sumati Bala thought she had found the perfect spot to spend the rest of her life: a beautifully located cottage in need of updating just outside Berwick upon Tweed. She moved in and planned to run her small cookery school there but the house of her dreams soon turns into a nightmare as serious problems emerged, from asbestos to rising damp. With the house condemned, Sumati is forced to knock down the troubled cottage and try to build a new one in its place. As the bulldozers move in, she witnesses the bulk of her life savings pulled to the ground and with just £50,000 left, she has to start from scratch. Homeless, with no self-build experience or family nearby, Sumati is facing the monumental challenge alone.

To help Sumati make the most of her incredibly tight budget Kieran and Piers attempt to steer her in the right direction. Kieran tracks down inspirational properties that are relevant to her budget build while Piers takes her to the dramatic island location of Skye to visit contemporary, affordable homes so she can see first-hand what she can achieve with a minimal budget. Can Piers persuade her to adopt his more ambitious and contemporary plans for her dream home and cookery school?

But the reluctant self builder soon finds the demands of supervising the build overwhelming and the build grinds to a halt. Faced with the prospect of being without a home and no income, Sumati has to make some tough decisions to get her life back on track.


Kieran Long
Piers Taylor
Executive Producer
Annette Clarke
Series Editor
Joff Wilson


We’d like to hear your story

We’d like to hear your story

Are you planning to build or are you partway through building the home of your dreams?

The challenge of the new

The challenge of the new

"Diverging from what you know and think you already like can be pretty scary”

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.