Self Building at Graven Hill – Nerina & Philip

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Welcome to the second in a series of interviews with other self builders, sharing some of the stories at Graven Hill.

This time I’m talking to Nerina & Philip, who have built a 4 bed home on a nice corner plot overlooking the woodland at the bottom of the hill. As one of the first to build at Graven Hill, Nerina & Philip have played a huge part in developing the community spirit here, with Philip recently taking on the Chair of the residents association.

You can listen to the interview here.

They had previously completed a renovation, giving them the confidence to try a full self build project. Once they stumbled on Graven Hill, they finally found the right opportunity to give it a shot.

With the intention to manage the internal fit-out themselves, they hired an experienced project manager to take the build from foundations to weather-tight to ensure this critical phase went as smoothly as possible. This worked out well, and despite the usual self-build challenges, successfully completed by their target of Christmas 2018.

They wanted a house to suite the local style, opting for a Cotswold stone finish. The internal layout suits the way Nerina & Philip want to live, with an open plan kitchen-diner (with larder!) leading out to a quiet garden space. One of the most pleasing features is the bedroom balcony, giving them a lovely spot for a morning coffee in the sun (or shaded respite in the afternoon!), with views over the forest.

With the build complete, attention has turned to the landscaping – making for a beautiful, peaceful corner of Graven Hill’s Westacott Road.






Design & Planning



Floor Plans/Elevations

Finished House

Build Progress



“It’s really important to write a good budget – it gives you sanity in the middle of the project when the money is going out really fast!”


“Always have a good contingency – it’s not just for things that go wrong, it’s for things you hadn’t thought of”

Know Your Limits

“It’s important to know your own limitations…which is why we took on a project manager up to the watertight stage”

Managing the Build

“Get yourself a personal recommendation of a good project manager and employ local trades”

Energy Costs

“We paid for extra Insulation…it’s the best investment to save future energy costs…”


“Take the option to get the service ducts installed with the Golden Brick”

Things Go Wrong...

“Things to go wrong – and you have to accept that…”

The Balcony...

“If it hadn’t been for us , just keeping going, pursuing it…we wouldn’t have got there”

Moving In

“We hoped to be in by the winter…and we were…just!”

Favourite Feature

“One of my favourite features about the kitchen is we had a larder built in…that’s wonderful!”

Mistakes Can be Made...

“Check the foundations and Golden Brick are exactly what you require before the frame is delivered…mistakes can be made”

Life at Graven Hill

“I love living here”

Life at Graven Hill

“it’s a marvellous little community that helps each other”

Was it Worth It?

“Definitely yes!”

All Self Building at Graven Hill Posts...


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