Ray and Michele Blundell have built their own Tudor home in Lichfield, Staffordshire. This is no mock-Tudor modern box; it's an authentic, half-timbered house on a traditional oak frame, complete with exposed beams and an ancient tiled roof. The couple spent just £200,000 on the project and their self-built home is now worth more than £600,000.
The Daily Mail reported that the Blundells started this massive project out of necessity in 1998. They were both divorced and starting again with very little money, so they decided to build a house themselves. They bought the land for £90,000 and spent just £110,000 on the house itself.
According to The Mirror, they had no building experience. Ray worked in sales and Michele worked at a children's nursery. However, after buying an oak frame and paying builders to erect it, they did everything else themselves. They taught themselves how to do the plumbing, tiling, wiring, medieval carpentry, and filling the panels between the timber framing. To keep costs down they lived on-site in a caravan during the two and a half years it took to build the property.
The house was finished in 2001, and now Ray has built two more and sold them to local families. The couple are now planning a new wing, and an oak-framed greenhouse.
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It was a huge leap of faith by the couple, but they are not alone in taking on the kind of building project that would terrify most people. We reported in February on the lawyer from Kempshott in Hampshire who was ripped off by cowboy builders, who she had paid to transform her bungalow. Left with no cash to complete the project, she knocked the whole thing down and built it herself, from scratch. She attended courses to learn bricklaying, carpentry and plumbing, and even installed her own underfloor heating.
Then there was architect Laura Jane Clark, who struggled to find anywhere to buy and turn into a home on a budget. In the end she bought an underground toilet in Crystal Palace and transformed it into a chic one-bedroom flat, which even has its own outdoor terrace. The work cost her just £65,000. She kept her costs down by doing much of the labouring herself - partly because it was such hard and dirty work that she struggled to keep builders on the job for long.
And at the even-more-budget end of the spectrum there was the farm labourer who built his own wooden home in Winkleigh in Devon, for just £3,000. The property started life as a tractor trailer, and his carpenter father helped him with some of the trickier aspects of building.
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