Are you dreaming what I’m dreaming? I’ve long had the desire to build my own home, but what is it that feeds this dream and keeps it alive? What do I feel my self-build home can bring me and how will I achieve it? How will it differ from the other homes I’ve know?
My desire to build my own home comes from wanting to create a space that is beautiful, functional and affordable, in a location that fulfils my ever-changing priorities. I can’t order into importance any of these things, although I am aware that compromises will undoubtedly be made in order to achieve this dream.
My ideal location is probably my biggest hurdle. A home by the sea in a remote location is what always springs to the forefront of my mind. In reality, I already experience some of the problems this would involve. Whilst remoteness appeals to myself and my partner it’s not ideal for life with a family. My children enjoy the interaction with their friends and the freedom they have when they go off and play together; out on the street, in and out of each other’s houses and around the village. I too enjoy their short absences; the opportunity to get on with tasks, a quiet moment and some space to think. Remoteness brings beauty and space when life runs well and the sun is warm but when the storms roll in, you’ve no neighbours to call on, the isolation becomes apparent and the contrast is stark.
Outside space is important to us, as a family we love to connect with the outdoors. I enjoy our large garden where our chickens run free, the dog frolics and the children play. We enjoy campfires, al fresco dining, stargazing, den building and our view across the estuary. Our large garden comes at a price, it’s a relentless jungle in the summer, a never ending fight with choking bindweed and grass that grows as quickly as you blink. I wonder if the aspects I love about our garden could be achieved in the great outdoors or in communal spaces. If our home was near woods, a lake, the beach or had shared open landscapes we could enjoy all our garden fun out in the open, without the responsibility of the upkeep of a large garden. We would compromise on privacy but our garden activities are social, they encompass togetherness so it would seem almost natural to share these experiences.
I want my home to be about family, a space that is social, functional, cosy, fun, inspiring and creative, these are the things that I know, I know if my home encompasses all of these things then they will make it beautiful, I also know that these are the things that are achievable. Sometimes I dream of a large house with big open spaces, lots of room and places for people to stay. Sometimes I dream of simplifying life, downsizing, de-cluttering, of just having less; less stuff, less worry, less stress. I find inspiration in other people’s homes, there are aspects I would like to include; mezzanines, floating corridors, high ceilings, a visible timber frame, a wood burning stove, a bespoke kitchen, a wet room, swings and a slide. Obviously some of these ideas are more practical than others, ridiculous to some, but isn’t that the point of a self-build?
Open plan living space would work for my family, the kitchen is the heart of our home so it seems natural to have it as a family area encompassing dining and living spaces. I’ve seen some imaginative ways of dividing open plan areas into their separate parts, a blend of functional and fun.
My children are young so their spaces would need to grow with them and be usable when they move on. I intend my self-build home to be my forever home, longevity in its design and materials are important to me. The idea of a spare room is appealing but also disagreeable, the thought of having a space that is little used doesn’t work for me, a spare room would need to share the dual purpose of office and creative space. Perhaps this space could take the form of garden room and I could join the growing trend of Shedworkers.
We have a lot of outdoor toys and Don and our son love to tinker, our home wouldn’t be complete without some sort of workshop and storage space. I’m not too worried about a covered space for the vehicles, a garage isn’t necessary for us but I know Don would appreciate a workshop large enough to work on our vintage VW when the weathers bad.
The external appearance and materials used in my self-build are also significant. I’m drawn towards an exterior that reflects and compliments the surrounding landscape. I’m interested in pattern, design, cultural references and stories that materials evoke. Somehow I want to include and combine this with texture and colour, both within and outside. I would hope to encompass reclaimed items which would embrace cultures and tell a story.
My ethics lead me to wanting to build a home that is environmentally friendly, achieving this feels overwhelming. The information is vast and often conflicting, meaning I don’t really know where to start. Is it possible to build a carbon negative home using sustainable material? Possibly not, but does that matter if it’s carbon negative? I’d like to use renewable resources such as solar energy and rainwater harvesting but do these technologies offer longevity or will they need replacing before they have earned their worth? How do I find a balance?
For me, the idea of building my own home raises lots of questions of which all won’t be answered but the uncertainty is exciting and because it’s my own home it doesn’t matter (until it’s built) if I change my mind or opinions. Part of the journey is making the decisions that will form your home, learning about yourself, your desires and needs and that of your family. Ultimately it is budget that will determine many decisions but it’s important for me to determine where my priorities lie. For now I will keep on dreaming……