Great British Homes

Great British Homes

Great British Homes, brought to you by the experts behind Homebuilding & Renovating magazine, is filled with some of the finest and most inspiring self-build, renovation and extension projects completed in the UK in recent years.

United Kingdom
Future Publishing Ltd


built to last

The architect/owner project (an architect designing a project for themselves) is usually a recipe for disaster — a chance for the frustrated designer, finally unfettered after all those years of having to compromise on pent-up ideas due to clients who rather inconveniently want what they want, is free to unleash all sorts of bonkers features and ‘clever’ concepts on a one-off house. With nobody to say no to them, the house ends up a statement calling card and all too often a total write-off. Well — Martin Hall and Kelly Bednarczyk’s house is the exact opposite of all that. It is, without fear of exaggeration, a truly exceptional testament to how high-quality, thoughtful design can meet well-considered, sensitive specification and result in a truly family-orientated home that is both of a…

rescued from the brink

The Old Pest House was originally built in the late 18th century, in an isolated position in the middle of a common in East Grinstead, West Sussex — designed as a ‘pest’ or quarantine house for people with infectious diseases. By the time architectural designer Jam Koramshai found the building, it was a private home in a residential street that had fallen into disrepair. “There were huge cracks in the walls and the building was leaning,” says Jam. “The structural engineers confirmed that the whole thing was in danger of falling down.” Having found the property online, Jam and his wife Lesley drove from London to view it. They arrived at 3pm, spent 15 minutes looking around and had an offer accepted by 5.30pm. Once the sale had gone through, they…

drama masterclass

“I can just glide around and see the garden from any room in the house” For 28 years, Johnny Jones and Jane Hughes-Jones looked out on the near-derelict Ivy Cottage from their Edwardian villa opposite in Hertfordshire. Keen readers of Homebuilding and Renovating magazine and regular visitors to the Homebuilding & Renovating Shows, it was perhaps inevitable that they would one day buy the property as their first renovation project. “We had our eye on the house, but after having surveys done and speaking with our first architect, we realised there was nothing worth keeping,” remembers Johnny. But getting planning permission for a demolition and new build was a two-year struggle — two refusals, £4,500 worth of bat works and a failed appeal later, the couple turned to oak frame specialists Oakwrights and…

heaven sent

“Our friends are happy to come round to see us now,” says Jean Rhodes in the kitchen of her new Cambridgeshire self-built home, designed by the imperious James Snell of Snell David Architects. Imperious is a strong word, but it is entirely justified in this case — for Jean and husband Ian’s new family home (they have two teenage daughters) is a masterclass in how to instil period charm – beauty, really – in a house built in the 21st century. It’s notoriously difficult to do well – requiring an exacting attention to detail and a willingness to go the extra mile in design terms – but, when done well, there isn’t anything better. Crafting the Design Jean and Ian bought their original home and knew it had certain faults that needed…

a light touch

“The second we walked in, we could see its potential — it was very authentic” “I think we’ve created a cottage for 21st-century living while still maintaining the integrity of the building,” begins Lydia Robinson, modestly describing the ‘light touch’ restoration she has undertaken with partner Lawrence Grigg. The project has transformed the fortunes of an ailing building within a Somerset village. Originally two 18th-century miners’ cottages, the dwellings had been turned into one home in the 1950s, with a series of rear lean-to additions built over the years. The result was a rather jumbled warren of dark rooms. “There were seven doors between the front door and garden alone; it was quite claustrophobic,” begins Lawrence. The challenging property, which was for sale at auction, was, however, perfect for the couple who, after…

restoring the front façade

“In the 1950s, the windows had been replaced with PVCu windows of a standard size: 1,200x900mm. Due to their size, you almost felt you were standing on the road,” begins Lydia. Discovering an old photograph of the cottages in a local pub, together with an original window frame found within the property, enabled the couple to restore the street-facing façade. The window was used as a template to craft new timber windows. The stonework was repointed in lime and cleaned. “We were surprised how successfully the front façade turned out,” she says. “The stone cleaned up really well. We were worried that we would have to lime render the exterior if the stonework was not in good enough condition.”…