How we started

Our plot at Edenmouth

Our plot at Edenmouth

We often wonder how it was we decided to build a house! We’d been living in a pretty ordinary 4 bed detached house on a development on the edge of Oldham and now here we are, about to start building a beautiful, modern well-insulated house out in the countryside in the Scottish Borders.

We both wanted to move away from Oldham. We’ve been together here for over 20 years, and Joyce has been living in the area for much longer than that. I was keen to get back to the North East at some point but friends just over the border persuaded us that looking just a bit further north was an attractive proposition.

So we started looking for houses. Evenings spent poring over RightMove brought up a number of possibles in our budget range but none of them really fired the imagination (although one with a walled garden advertised a couple of months ago might have done – luck of the draw!)

At some point, and we still can’t pin down just when, we started thinking about buying some land and building on it. It was in that order too – buying land seemed a much better bet than leaving money in the bank. Then once we’d got our heads round that concept it was only a short leap of the imagination to entertain the idea of putting a house on it.

So we got going on a two pronged approach – find some land, and find a house to put on it.

First the land. We spent a few days touring all the possible plots in our search area between Berwick, Duns and Kelso. Eventually we came across a large plot near Duns, but after having a surveyor look it over we concluded it was too problematic for newbie builders and we backed out.

Around this time in late 2011, we were also attending the various trade shows for Homebuilders. At Harrogate we encountered David Snell, a journalist and long time self builder, and he agreed to feature us in one of his Plotfinder articles. So one cold, blustery December day in 2011, I met David in Wooler and over a cup of tea we planned our assault on plots in Scotland.

David Snell deep in thought over lunch in Duns

David Snell deep in thought over lunch in Duns

The pattern for the day was set at an exposed site above Kelso. We’d drive up and park. I would leap out of the car all enthusiastic and chase around admiring the glorious views and the lay of the land while David would slowly put his hat and gloves on, slowly get to his feet and wander around noncommittaly muttering “It’s a bit bleak” under his breath. Inevitably the rain came through and even managing to do a runner from the cafe in Duns didn’t cheer him up.

But then the sun came out and we drove up the lane to Edenmouth Farm and turned the corner. There nestling behind the farm buildings next to a mill undergoing renovation lay two perfectly formed green field plots. We looked at each other and said “Perfect”.

David went off to write up our day’s adventure, and I went off to negotiate for the plot. By the end of January we had bought and paid for the land, and we were in May’s magazine. Look out for another article when we’re done!

And the house? Well, that’s another story altogether.

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