The £80k Starter Home Self Build

Phil Coe and Flo Cooper have self built their first home together on a tight budget of £80k.

Phil, a joiner by trade, began looking for a building project at the tender age of 22.

He found one close to home, too — an old agricultural shed in his parents’ garden.

Under local planning policy, Phil obtained permission to convert this building, which sits outside the development boundary, into a new home.

Phil and Flo’s new home was formerly an old agricultural shed which belonged to Phil’s parents. Much of existing fabric (including the asbestos cladding) has been stripped away, but the concrete portal frame remains

The shed before

A DIY Self Build

Given the tight budget, Phil took on most of the building work himself. “I didn’t have any building experience but that didn’t bother me,” he says. “I knew the basics from college and could find the rest online.”

In addition to stripping back the existing agricultural building, Phil also laid the new foundations, built the timber frame and installed the new timber cladding himself.

Phil made the kitchen units and the island, and since gone on to set up his own design and build company, Flo Coe, with partner Flo

He built the timber panels for the frame and the roof trusses on site before they were lifted into position with the help of friends and family.

Phil also went on to make the bespoke window frames, which again helped the couple keep to their budget. He spray-painted the frames and fitted with pre-cut glass made to order. “It took a couple of weekends to make the window frames,” Phil explains.

The couple hired an electrician, a plumber and a plasterer, but again Phil fitted the plasterboard and made the kitchen units, bathroom cabinets, hall furniture and the fitted wardrobes himself. He also took on the tiling and fitted the B&Q internal doors; Flo helped him decorate.

The statement Tom Dixon light fittings are one of the few items that Phil and Flo splashed out on in their low budget self build. Polished concrete lends an industrial feel

The Polished Concrete Floor

Phil and Flo chose to create their own polished concrete floor in order to keep within budget. “We wanted to save money on the ground floor by having a polished concrete floor finish instead of expensive tiles,” says Phil.

“The concrete was poured and left to settle and harden for a couple of months. Rather than get someone in to do it, I hired a machine to polish it,” begins Phil.

“If you decide to polish concrete yourself, you have to start by rough grinding the surface with metal bond diamond abrasives that prepare the concrete for the final smoothing. You then apply a liquid chemical hardener to provide extra protection against water and staining.”

Phil made the pine staircase, which has been whitewashed and finished with a 15mm toughened glass balustrade. He also polished the concrete floor himself

This task proved more challenging than anticipated. “It was a lot harder than I’d imagined to get the consistency and even finish we wanted. The consistency of the concrete had to be just right and the machine had to be kept absolutely level. I also rushed to try and save money,” says Phil.

“The aim of the final polish is to get a smooth, even finish, but we ended up with something much rougher and less perfect. We do like its character though and it works with the agricultural history of the building.”

The two bedrooms sit beneath sloping eaves. There is also a family bathroom and a mezzanine which doubles as a study on the first floor

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