lapd Architects design for a self build at Graven Hill

NaCSBA member lapd Architects is working with several self builders on projects at Graven Hill, Oxfordshire – the UK’s largest self and custom build site. We’re following one family’s journey to their dream home in this blog.


The Self Build Dream

Stef and Pauline commissioned lapd Architects to work on their build at Graven Hill. The vision was to create a South African-inspired home in Bicester that could make the most of the summer time in the UK.

Ideas like this are often the starting point for great design. Stef and Pauline had been pondering what kind of a home they would like to live in, where they might build that home, and what their key must-haves were for years by this point. That thinking paid off when it came to those first crucial steps along the journey towards their dream self-build home.

Appointing an Architect

Stef and Pauline got in touch with the team at lapd Architects after a rocky start with another company, where they felt that their self-build was heading in the wrong direction.

The couple booked in a free initial consultation, chatted with Opinder, one of the directors at lapd, and began to get an idea of the reality of the self-build process and how to get started.

With the help of the team at Graven Hill, they had reserved a plot with beautiful views, and things were beginning to move in the right direction.

Initial Brief

With the plot reserved, the process was underway, and Stef and Pauline were out of the starting blocks in terms of turning their dream of self-build home into a reality. A crucial first step for any would be self builders is to ensure that the your architects understand exactly what it is that you want, and why. This buy-in is crucial to ensure that everything is clear from the get go, and that the professionals you choose to work with are on the same wavelength from the outset.

Self builders Stef and Pauline  The collaborative design process with lapd

Concept Design

Following the initial meetings, a concept design was drawn up, with lapd Architects creating 3D Lumion images, for the first time rendering the couple’s vision into a tangible set of drawings. This is the real value in using professionals, as they are can translate dreams into something that can actually be built.

The South African concept of a pyjama lounge (a sort of snug) is the main living space, and takes pride of place on the first floor. It has been designed to command beautiful views of the surrounding area through a striking front gable.

At the back, the kitchen opens onto a patio with an outdoor kitchen, extending the usable space and make the most of long summer nights – perfect for entertaining. Lifestyle and design go hand in hand, and every room in a self-build should be designed around the self-builder’s day to day life as well as their own personal taste in design.

lapd Architects design for a self build at Graven Hill

Stef and Pauline’s 3D images for their Graven Hill self-build

The concept drawings are key to refining the design, and the initial images rarely reflect the final product. This stage marks the beginning of a conversation, across several meetings, where the design is refined to meet the clients’ needs.

Getting the working relationship with the professionals gives self builder the confidence to make the decisions that are most important to them, to help them get the home they truly want.

Plot Passport Compliance

Graven Hill plots come with a document called a Plot Passport, which sets out any restrictions on the plot, such as design limitations or positioning. Once Stef and Pauline were happy the design was submitted for plot passport compliance (a Graven Hill specific process).

This was then accepted by the local authority and the team at Graven Hill. One of the benefits of building at Graven Hill is that this process is much simpler and quicker than your normal planning application.

The next stage for Stef and Pauline is the Golden Brick process, where the foundations are constructed and the plot is handed over – another unique feature of building at Graven Hill.

More images and news to come soon as Stef and Pauline continue their journey.


Start your own Self Build journey

If you would like to talk to lapd about exploring the option of self-building, either at Graven Hill or elsewhere, then get in touch, as lapd Architects offers a free initial consultation via zoom. Or check out lapd’s checklist for building at Graven Hill. 

Alternatively, if you are considering self-build, and want some more information, why not visit the award-winning Build It Self-Build Education House? This first of its kind project allows you to explore a real self-build, and see what it actually looks like, helping you to think through your dream project.

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