Now that’s what I call quite good

One of the striking differences between buying a ready-made house and building one – setting aside for a moment the thousands of hours of work you’ll have to put in if you decide to build one – is that if you’re considering buying a house off-the-shelf for, say, £300,000 you know that it’s going to cost you around £300,000 …whereas when you build a house you have absolutely no idea how much it will cost. That simple fact will haunt you until the job is finally completed …over-budget.

Just as a man in possession of a million pounds is unable to afford an item whose price tag is two millions, a man in possession of a pound is unable to afford an item whose price is two pounds. Our budget, then, for this build is £65,000. Not a penny more.

Houses have been built for less, much less, but we want to live in a stylish house built from quality materials, and one which modest though our needs are – includes everything we’d like it have.

Medieval Frame

Medieval Frame – now that’s what I call ‘quite good’.

We like Medieval pegged joint frames. You can save a fortune by learning to design them from a book – armed with a passing interest in that sort of thing. When we lived in Scotland we had one designed for us – it was lovely, but somehow the design ran away from us and we ended up with a big house we couldn’t afford to build. This time we did it ourselves and t’s just right.

Two of the timbers in this photo – which was taken today, by the way …just so you know you’re right up-to-date – weigh just under ¼ ton each. When I saw them I realised that I was too old to build the house by myself and got some splendid framers to do all you can see here, for me.

When we were quoted £2,700 for connecting to a mains water tank situated 30 feet away from us, we baulked and got a dowser on to our plot to see if we had water on-site …below ground. He found three sources of water. His costs for drilling a bore hole were going to be similar – but e’d get free water. Whilst waiting six weeks for the drilling team to arrive, we had leisure to wonder if a spring which weeped reliably from some rocks on site would provide us with sufficient and potable water. We had it tested and found it was similar in quality to bottled water, so now we’ve made a connection to that, instead – and together with the pump and UV treatment have excellent free water for an investment of just under £2,000.

Electricity was similarly expensive: Early investigations showed it would cost £7,500 to connect, plus a pepper-corn rent to the owner of a field the cable would have to come through. It didn’t take long to decide, bravely we thought, to install equipment for all-off-grid electricity. We haven’t got that far yet, so I can’t tell you how it is all going …but it will be the subject of a future blog.

I’ll try to get a bit more organised in my next blog and give you a sense of the running order of our build …what has been done, and what has yet to be done. I’m rushing this a bit, I know …but we have only recently got broadband on site, and because we don’t yet have photo-voltaic electricity, I have to start the generator every time we want to turn on the router and go online. And because both the generator and my computer are in my workshop, I have about 20 minutes before I have to turn everything off and go outside to recover from carbon monoxide poisoning.

This is the workshop, it’s 40m2 and cost a whisker under £3,000 to build.



I’ll be back with more news soon – but in the meantime, thanks for following me, and here’s a piece of wood I’m working on. It measure a foot across by ten inches deep by ten feet long and weighs in at just under 300lb (140kg).

Shouldered Dovetail

Shouldered Dovetail

…I don’t know how I’m going to lift this one in place either – so if you happen to be passing…


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8 Responses to Now that’s what I call quite good

  1. Matt says:

    Did you buy a chain morticer? I’ve always wanted one of those but never had a good reason to get one. You’ve got a really good reason there. It’s looking fab!

  2. justintyers says:

    If I’d known you were after one we could have shared it. In the end I had the frame built for me by a couple of guys who had both a chain morticer AND youth. I take over from them and begin with framing-in a Dormer. Still time to get the morticer!

  3. Richard says:

    Justin, this looks amazing! Looking forward to seeing it in the wood – I’ll pop in when I’m down your way next.

  4. Pippa says:

    That looks beautiful, I am most impressed. Its a work of art ~ do you really need walls?
    I wish I could add a photo here ~ the construction ‘bones’ look so familiar ~ if you have ever been to Lavenham, Suffolk you would know why that frame looks so familiar ~ it is a Medieval village with over 300 listed buildings ~ many with a similar construction to yours.

    • justintyers says:

      Hi Pippa,

      Thanks for your enthusiasm! Medieval houses influenced the design. I’ve never been to Lavenham, sadly, but I have been to Singleton in Susses which sounds as though it has a similar collection. I’ve wanted a house like this ever since I went there for the first time in 1973!!

  5. John says:

    Justin, thank you for being to honest about the costs. Very useful for anybody dreaming.

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