Beautiful, bespoke, energy saving homes

Self Build Case Studies

For 45 years we have been helping clients in every corner of the land, build beautiful, bespoke, energy saving homes; from cosy cottages to large country houses and from traditional to contemporary cutting edge design. We have an unrivalled depth of experience and can provide you with everything you need to successfully build your own home.

The following Case Studies are just a few examples of the thousands of clients who we have helped to achieve their dream of building their own home. Click on the image for details of the project.

Vernacular design Conservation Area

Cutting edge contemporary design

Mansion with pool and home gym

Expat returns to build dream home

Style and Symmetry in the suburbs

New for old with wow factors

Our Head of Design builds her own home

Contemporary cottage by the sea

Mr and Mrs Chubb

Beautiful cottage built in local stone and slate

  • Replacement dwelling for retirement designed using 'Lifetime Homes' criteria.
  • The hub of the house - open plan living.
  • Our clients chose a white kitchen to reflect light round the room.
  • We designed a covered glazed area to link the utility to the garage.
  • A roof lantern and 'conservatory' provide lots of natural light to the breakfast area.
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Designed for a retired RAF officer and his wife, it was a major priority that their new home should fit seamlessly into the Cotswolds village scene. We think the images of the completed dwelling speak for themselves. Energy efficiency and ‘Lifetime Homes’ criteria were also important aspects of the clients’ brief.

“Dealing with your company was a delight and a pleasure. Throughout the whole process all of your staff were of the utmost help, always courteous and nothing seemed too difficult for any of them! Whenever talking about the house build I have had no hesitation in recommending D&M. I have nothing but admiration for all of your team.”

Mr and Mrs Brown

Cutting edge design incorporating ‘Passive Principles’

  • This eye catching home is at the cutting edge of modern design.
  • Folding doors bring the terrance and kitchen family area seemlessly together.
  • A state of the art kitchen to match the contemporary theme.
  • Open plan family room and kitchen.
  • The view from the  master bedroom and balcony is stunning.
  • Clean lines and simplicity define this modern design.
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We created this contemporary design to replace a 1960’s bungalow in a suburban Conservation Area. We were able to persuade the planners that a modern, energy saving design has the right to sit alongside conventional buildings. It was vital that the new dwelling be two-storey and of a size that made the project viable.

“Design & Materials and their team of people far exceeded our expectations, from initial design and budgeting to helping with our vat reclaim they delivered every step of the way. Choosing them to be part of your team is the best decision you will make … and we mean that!”

Dr and Mrs Pacey

Stunning country house in natural stone with indoor pool, gym and home office

  • Natural Ashlar stone, sash windows and selected slates set this stunning house apart.
  • A huge kitchen family area stretches across the back of the house.
  • Open plan living area.
  • A glazed corridor links the house to garage which incorporates an attic studio.
  • The indoor pool includes two sets of fully glazed folding doors.
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  • Upper Floor Plan


These clients had been searching for a building plot big enough for a large family house, triple garage, indoor swimming pool, gymnasium and home office. But that task proved impossible so they switched their attention to old properties with the intention of demolishing and re-building. The project took less than 21 months to complete from initial design to final completion; an impressive statistic when you consider the house measures 980m² including indoor swimming pool. So much for the claim that ‘brick & block’ is a slower method of building!

“It wasn’t until we had completed the build that we realised just how much Design & Materials did for us. Our new home is beyond our wildest expectations and much of that is down to the D&M service and their brilliant team. But a special thanks has to go to Beverley Pemberton for creating such a wonderful design for us.”

Mr Haycock

Fabulous villa in the Scottish countryside

  • This beautiful rural family home is virtually self sustaining and includes many ECO features.
  • Laid out in a classic courtyard format with garage and studio.
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  • A beautifully wide hallway leads to a feature staircase.
  • Music room, another of our client’s passions.
  • Light floods in through the feature window to the music room.
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  • Upper Floor Plan


Our client was returning to the UK following extended periods of working in the Middle and Far East. He was anxious to create a truly individual home to suit his budget and personal requirements. He recognised the importance of choosing a company able to translate his ideas into a coherent design, navigate his project through Planning, have expert knowledge of building materials, good local contacts and be at his side throughout the whole project and beyond.

“Given that this was my first self-build project I had no prior experience of building a house and no knowledge of the trades and the suppliers needed to get the job done. I also had no idea of the demands and the complexity involved in project managing a house build. Looking back choosing Design & Materials was the best decision I could have made. Beverley did a brilliant job of interpreting the design brief and came up with something which really did fulfil my requirements, both functionally and aesthetically, first time round. Their experience in preparing the planning submission and building warrant documents was also highly professional and equally invaluable. The whole team proved to be extremely supportive and accessible at every stage of the design and build from start to completion.”

Mr and Mrs Lewis

What a transformation!

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In many parts of the country the only realistic option for the aspiring self-builder is old for new.

As you can see from the ‘before and after’ images this Case Study is a shining example of what can be achieved by demolishing an old, out of date dwelling and replacing with a larger, exciting, modern, energy efficient home. The original dwelling was a drab single storey building measuring around 150m². Contrast that with the magnificent new dwelling, rising two storeys and with a living area of 600m².

The new house includes a number of ‘wow’ factors and interesting design features such as the glazed dining area with master bedroom balcony above, spacious open gallery, state of the art kitchen and built-in wine store.

Look around your area, you may see something suitable or your current home may even be worth considering.

“This is the second home we have built using Design & Materials. Their team is friendly, efficient and responsive – we have no hesitation in recommending their service.”

Ian Dolan and Jan Stansfield

Retirement bliss by the south coast

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Our clients had spent their working lives in Lancashire and planned to spend their retirement in the West Country. They couldn’t find a house that fitted their style of living so they decided to build their own home.

They found a plot for sale on the Devon / Dorset border less than 1 mile from the beach with planning permission to replace a derelict outbuilding. It was love at first sight. Jan and Ian had a fixed pot of money for the whole project and once they had paid for their plot it left them with a finite amount with which to build their new home. So working to a realistic budget was important to them.

Knowing they needed professional help they contacted a number of companies including Design & Materials and a local architect. They spoke to our Project Coordinator, Ian Watson who arranged to meet them at the plot to undertake a Project Appraisal, which we are happy to do free of charge for clients who own their plot. Satisfied that we could bring their project together for the available budget, they decided to use our service.

The first step was to design the dwelling. Our clients met with Ian Watson and Beverley Pemberton (our Head of Design) to discuss and agree a detailed design brief. Two weeks later Beverley sent her initial proposal to the clients. It hit the brief first time and following a few minor amendments we submitted a planning application on the clients’ behalf. In common with most replacement dwellings there were restrictions on the floor area and ridge height. The planners loved the design and a Full Planning Approval was issued 8 weeks later.

The next stage was to tender to builders and materials manufactures which took around 6 weeks to complete. The figures came in on budget which gave the clients the peace of mind that they could afford to build before committing to the expense of third party fees, building regulations and other associated costs. Ian Watson then arranged to meet the clients on site with the two most competitive builders and the clients opted for an established firm based 20 miles from the site.

Building work went very smoothly and from laying foundations to completion took around 30 weeks. Our clients are to be congratulated on their choice of finishes and furnishings, which complement and enhance the modern style of the dwelling.

“We had no knowledge of building so we needed someone with real experience. It was also important that the people we chose understood our needs and aspirations and just as importantly, who would respect our budget. Beverley’s interpretation of the design brief was spot on. The design she created was exactly what we were looking for. We wanted an energy efficient, low maintenance home with solid walls which mixed traditional and modern styles.

The entire team at Design & Materials couldn’t have been more helpful and supportive … now we’ve finally moved in, all the effort of the last year or so has been worth it. We’re absolutely delighted and very proud of our home. Thank you very much to all at Design & Materials for helping us to achieve it.”

Dr and Dr Ahmed

Style and Symmetry – Echoes of the Past

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These clients worked in the City and were looking for a new home in the suburbs. They had no experience of the building industry and had very limited time to devote to their project therefore our extensive experience and comprehensive service immediately appealed to them.

Unable to find a vacant plot they eventually secured an existing 1970s chalet in poor condition and ripe for replacement. The existing property was of a reasonable size but out of character with the other houses in the area. Knowing if we could secure planning permission for a substantial dwelling the clients felt there was real potential to build a high end period style home and also maximise their investment.

The local council liked our design proposal so from meeting the clients to obtaining planning permission took only 14 weeks. Preparation of the technical drawings and the tender process took another 10 weeks at which point the builder was appointed. It is a large dwelling of around 600m² built to a high standard with a number of architectural features so naturally that takes some time to achieve. However by utilising our thin-bed masonry system we were able to complete the build in only 9 months.

 “We were ‘time poor’ so we needed someone who could provide a high level of personal service. We were really happy with the Design & Materials process and the communication to get the project underway. They were always available to talk to us and discuss any concerns we had over the next steps … budgeting, design, selecting a builder and materials choices.”

Beverley Pemberton

Our Head of Design builds her own home

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Beverley had built her own home a few years earlier but still had the bug to do it again. Like most of you, finding the right plot was her first task. Driving home one day she passed through a village she didn’t often visit. Between two houses she noticed a sizeable gap obscured by a tall hedge. She stopped her car to take a closer look and found a small gap at one end of the hedge. On the other side was an old overgrown orchard with established boundaries each side. It appeared that the orchard did not belong to either of the adjoining properties so Beverley set about tracking down the owners. As it transpired the plot was owned by a family living 20 miles away who had no use for the land. Negotiations followed and a price was agreed.

To harmonise with the village street scene Beverley decided on a Rectory style, at least for the external look. Internally though she was determined to create a modern, open plan living space that reflected the way she wanted to live. She also decided to include a number of design features such as a through fireplace, a dining hall, vaulted ceiling and Parisian style balcony.

Beverley employed a proven builder to construct the weathertight shell and then employed individual subcontractors (plumber, plasterer, electrician etc.) to complete the build. She chose masonry as the construction method and specified a solid upper floor with solid walls throughout as she wanted a quiet, energy efficient home which would be economical to run.

“I am often asked if it was worth all the effort … all I would say is that every time I walk through my front door I feel a rush of strong emotions – achievement, satisfaction and fulfillment, but the overwhelming one is a deep sense of contentment, I am home.”  Beverley Pemberton