Self Building at Graven Hill – Karen & Rhys

Play on YouTube

In this instalment of a series of interviews with other self builders, I’ve been talking to Karen & Rhys who’ve built a 5 bed house on Graven Hill’s Roberts Drive.

You can listen to the interview here.

Karen & Rhys were looking for somewhere to suit their home-working lifestyle, and with limited options in the standard housing market saw the opportunity for something bespoke at Graven Hill.

Their hearts were fully set on a large corner plot, which would allow them to build the ground floor layout they wanted – separate office spaces and plenty of room for entertaining guests. The clever part of their design was to allow for future adaptions – offices could become living spaces for example.

The style of the house is contemporary, with plenty twists, such as the varying roof-lines. There is also the eye-catching full height glazing in the entrance/stairwell, which helps to flood the open plan kitchen/diner with light.

About as savvy as it’s possible to be as self builders, Karen & Rhys went full turn key, but still carefully managed the process to ensure it stayed on track. They faced plenty of perils, including their turnkey company running into financial problems, but were able to complete by their intended target of winter 2018 – which is just as well because they had the date literally carved in stone!

They are thrilled with the result, making the effort truly worthwhile. Now, Graven Hill just needs a pub to complete the dream 🙂





Design & Planning





It's Do-able

“[we thought] self build is something you do on Grand Designs…but when we heard what Graven Hill had to say…it suddenly felt really doable”


“with the turnkey option…you’re paying someone else to have the agro”

Keeping on Top of Things

“We kept on top of the turnkey company – we were up here every day”

Choosing the Plot

“This was the only plot we were interested in, to give us the ground floor space”

House Style

“We wanted a contemporary design with a classis twist”


“Pinterest is very useful and something we’d definitely recommend in the early stages”

See Karen & Rhys’s Pinterest board here…

Making Decisions!

“There is a danger of getting swamped with things as mundane a door handle…”

Getting Inspiration

“We spent two and half years of our lives doing nothing but going to home shows and exhibitions”

The Wow-Factor

“The staircase is our wow-factor…”

Keep a Record

“It’s really important with a main contractor – make sure you record, or minute the discussions”

Site Meetings

“We had a site meeting every Friday morning at 8am”

Be Proactive

“Don’t wait to be told when to make a decision – be proactive”


“Check the key measurements yourself…”

Fixed Price

“We agreed a fixed price”

Making Payments

“Don’t pay up front, unless you have to (like the timber frame)”


Would you recommend insurance against contractor insolvency?

“we would strongly recommend it”

Moving In

“We were ecstatic to actually have the house – we’d moved into an AirBnB”

Dream House

“We haven’t gained a massive amount financially through the process, but we’ve got a dream house”

Lots of Light

“The light is the key thing – we wanted lots of light”


“We’re thrilled with the end result – we would definitely do it again”

Unique House

“I would urge everyone to look at self build…your house is unique to you”

On Graven Hill

“We’ve got a fantastic community on Graven Hill…we knew everyone before laying a brick”

All Self Building at Graven Hill Posts...


Leave a reply



Log in with your credentials

Forgot your details?