At the close of a difficult operating year, Build It magazine has celebrated the best products, businesses and projects a the Build It Awards 2020.

As with so much in 2020, the Build It Awards were hosted virtually, and you can still watch the awards ceremony online.

The National Custom and Self Build Association was please to see many of its members shortlisted and winning awards, and particularly wishes well done to Glasgow City Council for its inspiring work in custom and self build, and especially the MaryHill project. Have a look back to an interview at the very start of the project.

Among the highlights  of the 2020 Build It Awards included A’Bear & Ball Architects stunning Chapel House and Strom Architects’ Island Rest home.

Best Architect or Designer for a Self Build Project Strom Architects – Island Rest

The judges were wowed by this elegant, low-impact design that disappears into its site and allows the stunning views to do the talking (main picture).

This luxurious contemporary home on the Isle of Wight was designed for an outdoorsy family with young children. The simple rectilinear layout gives every bedroom a sea view, with an open plan social space in the centre of the house.

Strom’s clean single-storey design and understated palette of black-stained larch and oiled oak creates a smart, modern look. It also helps the house to recede into the dark backdrop of the trees behind the plot. Part of the design cantilevers out from the sloping site on stilts, creating the illusion of the house floating over the landscape.

Best Self Build for Under £250k Frame Technologies – Birchfield

Frame Technologies Birchfield Self Build House

Birchfield by Frame Technologies won Best Self Build for Under £250k at the Build It Awards

Frame Technologies, a NaCSBA member, won the award for its Birchfield house, a three bedroom, two-storey cottage in Hereford. The custom-designed timber-frame home spans across a plot of 160m², centred around an open-plan living space.

The category looked for high-quality self build homes that represent great value-for-money and make the best use of the budget available. Homeowner Leanne Player had a strict budget and managed to build a high-quality contemporary home to meet her exact needs for a total build cost of around £170,000

Simon Orrells, Managing Director of Frame Technologies says: “Some people view self build as being prohibitively expensive but Birchfield challenges this notion and shows how a self builder has managed to build a home that meets their exact needs and lifestyle while keeping the costs low.”

Best Architect/Designer for a Renovation or Extension Project A’Bear & Ball Architects

Chapel House Abear and ball architects

Chapel House by A’Bear & Ball Architects, winner of the Best Architect/Designer for a Renovation or Extension Project at the Build It Awards 2020

Scoring highly with both the judges and the public… this is truly breathtaking project that combines a full refurbishment with a stunning contemporary extension that’s sympathetic to the original building.

In order to bring a contemporary touch to this 19th century Methodist chapel conversion, A’Ball & Bear Architects first had to remove the existing low-quality extension to reveal the original period detailing. They replaced this with an ultra-modern cedar and metal clad extension, creating a distinction between the old red brick building and new structure.

The building was fully renovated internally, enhancing the ecclesiastical detailing and original chapel features. A glazed link connects the old and new spaces, and the floorplan has been opened up to increase the sense of space.

The Build It Awards 2020

Best SIPs Home Potton – The Jays

Best Heating System or Product Orangehouse Renewables – Water Source Heat Pump

Best Custom Build Project or Model Livedin – Ingoldisthorpe

Best Plumbing or Drainage System or Product Marley Plumbing & Drainage – Foundry Finish Rainwater System

Best Self Build for Under £250k Frame Technologies – Birchfield

Best Sustainable Technology or Product CorkSol UK – Thermocork

Best Off-Site Manufactured Home The Wee House Company – Wee House for David & Christine

Best Timber Frame Home Graven Hill & A’Bear & Ball Architects LLP – The Omotayo’s Home

Best Eco Home Buildakit – Toller Grove

Best Windows air – MOD Series

Best Oak Frame Home Complete Oak Home – Chiltern Cottage

Best Accessible and Inclusive Home lapd Architects – Greenfields

Best Council for Custom or Self Builders Glasgow City Council

Best Home Technology Product or Installation Baulogic – Baulogic Wired Smart Home System

Best Roofing System or Product Wallbarn – M-Tray Instant Green Roof System

Best ICF Home van Ellen + Sheryn – Beechwood

Best Joinery Product Kloepping TSS – Thatch Barn Staircase

Best Glazed Doors Express Bi-Folding Doors – XP Vision

Best Brick Home Northcot Brick – Northcot House

Best Self Build Lender Ecology Building Society

Best Self Build or Renovation Project Sharon & Martin Newman

Best Cladding System or Product Cupa Pizarras – Cupaclad Natural Slate Rainscreen Cladding System

Innovation in Insulation Core Conservation – TermoRasante AeroGel Thermal Lime Plaster

The UK’s largest custom and self-build development, Graven Hill, has been named the Best Residential Development of the year by Oxfordshire property awards, Oxprop.

The Bicester-based development beat off stiff competition to win the award, recognising housing developments that manage to match the requirements of planners, as well as the local community, and help to fulfil the needs of Oxfordshire’s housing plans.

Award-winning project, ‘The Street’, is the first completed phase of Graven Hill, revolutionising how properties are designed and built. Graven Hill’s approach has become the prototype for similar local authority and private housebuilding developments throughout the UK and, once complete, the project will have delivered over 1,900 new homes.

Karen Curtin, managing director at Graven Hill, said: “The OxProp awards are a brilliant opportunity to showcase the projects at the heart of the Oxfordshire property community, so a win in this category is fantastic.

“We are extremely proud of the community that is taking shape at Graven Hill and the role we are playing in helping people to discover their perfect home.

“By promoting a high degree of design creativity and prioritising wellbeing, Graven Hill is fulfilling the dreams of many and boosting the local area.”

Adrian James, managing director of Adrian James Architects, designers of three of the ten houses on The Street, added: “The Street is a microcosm of the Graven Hill blueprint and is a celebration of creativity, design freedom, inclusivity, and community spirit.

“It demonstrates how the self-build process can become a choice for a far larger number of prospective homeowners in the future who want something more than the cookie-cutter boxes provided by the big housebuilders.”

Package home design and build firm Baufritz has been awarded a local Cambridgeshire business award in the category of Architectural Design Company of the Year 2020, for its Treehouse home.

For anyone looking for a company to design and build their self build home, industry awards are a great way of establishing the reputation of a company and its work, in the same way as viewing their gallery of case studies. Both offer an insight into the quality and reliability of the company.

Choosing the manufacturer and/or builder of your future project is one of the biggest decisions that you will make on a self build, with the biggest price tag. So getting it right is crucial, and awards can be a good piece of additional evidence.

Don’t be afraid of asking a package manufacturer if you can visit one of their built homes, or even whether they have show houses or open houses available to visit. For example, buyers of a Baufritz can, by appointment, visit its factory in Germany, to support them with the process of choosing design elements (but buyers must either have a plan or plot first). They can even choose to stay in one of Baufritz’s houses as means of trying the home, with a range of homes across the county to rent/experience.

Oliver Rehm, CEO of Baufritz in Cambridge said: “We are delighted to have won this local business award, which recognises our involvement and commitment towards the community since the arrival of Baufritz in the UK in 2006. It also proves that our approach to create prefabricated and sustainable eco houses of the highest quality are as sought after in the UK as they are in the rest of Europe.”

The Cambridgeshire Prestige Awards recognise businesses located in the East of England that provide a personal approach towards their customers to maintain a high quality level of service and experience. The judging panel based their decisions upon areas such as service excellence, quality of the product/ service provided, innovative practices, value, ethical or sustainable methods of working, as well as consistency in performance.

“Baufritz built our extraordinary eco family house in Central Cambridge five years ago. Every single day we express our disbelief and grateful thanks that we live in this gorgeous space. It truly is a modern house with soul.” Owner of Treehouse Cambridge

The Treehouse will be featured as part of Cambridge’s Open Eco Homes event – online this year due to Covid.

Check out the timelapse video of the Cambridge Treehouse being built on site

For the first time, the company behind the successful Homebuilding & Renovating magazine and shows ran industry awards for businesses, celebrating the providers and service companies in the sector.

The Homebuilding & Renovating Industry Awards 2020 received 100s of entries, with the shortlist including a range of innovative products, reputable companies and people that set the benchmark for self build.

Anyone self building should consider the winners when researching their own project, as a short cut to a trustworthy supplier. And the National Custom and Self Build Association is thrilled that several of its members made the winning list, including Self Build Zone, Beco Products, Kloeber and Fleming Homes.

The full list of winners includes:

Lifetime Achievement: John Greene, Founder, Border Oak

Best Self-Build Insurance Provider: Self-Build Zone

Best Door Supplier: Kloeber

Best Joinery Supplier/Manufacturer: Carbon by Design

Best Renewables Supplier: Geo Green Power

Best Flooring Supplier: Karndean Designflooring

Best Heating & Plumbing Supplier: Stovax

Best Roofing Supplier: SIG Roofing

Best House Designer: PJT Design Ltd

Best ICF Supplier: Beco Products Ltd

Best Insulation Supplier: Core Conservation Ltd

Best Kitchen Supplier: deVOL Kitchens

Best Landscaping Supplier: Studio 31 Landscape Architects

Best Loft Conversion: Econoloft

Best Oak Frame Supplier: Border Oak

Best Rainwater Goods Supplier: Rainwater Harvesting

Best Render & Cladding Supplier: K Rend

Best Brick Supplier: Ibstock Brick

Best Rooflight Supplier: Korniche Aluminium Systems / Made for Trade

Best Self Build Lender: Saffron Building Society

Best SIPs Supplier: Sips Eco Panels

Best Timber Frame Supplier: Fleming Homes

Best Ventilation Supplier: Total Air Quality Ltd

Best Bathroom Supplier: Easy Bathrooms

Best Window Supplier: Kloeber

Special congratulations go to Kloeber, which was the winner of two awards!

Homebuilding & Renovating award2 Homebuilding & Renovating award1

Matt Higgs, Kloeber’s Sales Director commented, “We are proud of our market-leading products and services and are delighted with our double win! We were very happy to have been shortlisted along with some amazing companies and are honoured to have won in both categories! ”

You can check out Kloeber’s winning products in the flesh at one of its four showrooms: Cambridgeshire, Buckinghamshire, West London and West Sussex. All with strict safety protocols in place for visits!

Main pic: Kloeber FunkyFront Door

The Daily Telegraph Homebuilding & Renovating Awards 2020 are now open to applications from all self builds, renovations, conversions or extensions. The awards celebrate some of the best homes of the last year, both designs and the spirit and ambition of the homeowners – a positive message in the current climate of bad news.

So if you’re self isolating in your new home, why not take the time to enter the awards and showcase all your hard work! There are 10 categories to consider, with one of the winners being chosen as the Home of the Year, as shown on TV, with the homeowner grabbing a prize of £1,000 of John Lewis vouchers.

Best Contemporary-Style Self Build — sponsored by Potton

Best Traditional-Style Self Build

Best Extension — sponsored by IDSystems

Best Renovation

Best Conversion

Best Sustainable Home — sponsored by Icynene

Best Value Home 

Spirit of Self Build — sponsored by Sips Eco

Readers’ Choice Award — sponsored by Selfbuild & Contract Floors

Best Interior

Plus Home of the Future — sponsored by ecoHaus

Find out more and what you need to do to enter, including the application form on Homebuilding & Renovating’s website.


Credit: Homebuilding & Renovating/Simon Maxwell

The Build It Awards 2019 once again hosted a gala evening to celebrate the best of custom and self build.


The best new homes of 2019 have been awarded in the Home of the Year awards by Homebuilding and Renovating and the Daily Telegraph, including Self Builds, extensions, conversions and renovations.

The awards have been running for nearly thirty years now, meaning that the judges have a good idea of what’s needed to elevate the entries into the winning criteria.

The overall winner of the Home of the Year & Best Contemporary Self Build went to  Bunch Lane House, which had a build cost of £425,000 by Architect Vint & Smith Architecture + Design, pictured.

The judges felt that the house was a great design crafted for a great value of £1,500/m2, created by owner and architect Tavia and Richard Vint through the clever use of cost effective materials.

HB&R winners 2019

Best Contemporary-Style Self Build — sponsored by Folding Doors 2 U

Best Traditional-Style Self Build — sponsored by Rationel Windows & Doors

Best Extension — sponsored by ABC+ Warranty

Best Renovation — sponsored by Yeoman Rainguard

Best Conversion — sponsored by Etex (Exteriors) UK, providers of Eternit Slates

Best Eco Home — sponsored by Ecology Building Society

Home of the Year — sponsored by Icynene

Spirit of Self Build — sponsored by Hörmann

Readers’ Choice Award — sponsored by Selfbuild & Contract Floors

Check out all the winners on Homebuilding & Renovating’s website. 


Credit: Homebuilding & Renovating/Simon Maxwell

House Lessans in Northern Ireland’s County Down beat a host of homes to be awarded House of the Year by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), announced in a special four-episode programme of Channel 4’s Grand Designs.

The home, an unassuming yet elegant barn-style house, was built for a very realistic budget of £335,000 on the family’s farm in the rolling Co Down landscape. Scooping the prize demonstrates that quality and design are achievable on a modest budget – good news for any would-be Self Builder, as presenter Kevin McCloud commented that it was built at half the cost of an average but quality Self Build.

The home was in the Down to Earth category of the show, and was designed by Kieran McGonigle of architectural practice McGonigle McGrath. Its L-shaped design utilises a limited colour palette and affordable budget materials, such as concrete bricks, to create a show-stopping house, that offers a new way to build in the countryside.

The owners of the property, Sylvia and Michael, wanted to create a paired-down home large enough for visiting grown children to stay in on the remains of the existing small farmstead. The concrete blockwork and and zinc roofs help the building bed into its rural landscape, with the L-shape creating an intimate courtyard space, and double-height ceilings bringing airiness to the design.

RIBA President, Alan Jones, said: “House Lessans demonstrates that life enhancing architecture does not have to cost the earth. Executed with incredible clarity and restraint, McGonigle McGrath have used simple and cheap materials to create a truly bespoke home that resonates with its owners and its context. Even with the tightest of budgets, House Lessans shows that a dream home, designed by a talented architect, can be a reality.”

Catch up on Grand Designs House of the Year on Channel 4.

The Structural Timber Association has awarded Cullinan Studio the Custom and Self-Build Project of the Year category for its Push-Pull House in its Structural Timber Awards.

Run annually, Structural Timber Awards is a professional event that celebrates the best in timber frame technology, that includes a self-build category in acknowledgement of the sheer number of owner-commissioned homes that use timber frame as their construction method.

Timber frame is experiencing a boom as more and more organisation start to appreciate the benefits of offsite construction – where the entire building is precision made in a factory, ensuring efficiencies in time, quality and energy.

Push-Pull House

Cullinan Studio’s Push-Pull House is on a large plot in Amersham, in an area where the Arts and Crafts style dominates. The house is a playfully creative solution to the family’s brief to create a light-filled new-build, built using Cross Laminated Timber (CLT).

CLT uses layers of glued timber to create a strong and stable timber product, with the frame exposed throughout the interior. One of the advantages of CLT is that it is easily able to create long-spans, and the large house uses this to the maximum effect, creating uninterrupted roof spans and double-height walls that bring natural light deep inside the house, maximised by high clerestory windows. The exterior is clad in dark stained accoya boards that are fixed over a locally-sourced brick.

Judges’ comments included:

The head of the judging panel and Chief Executive of the Structural Timber Association, Andrew Carpenter said of the night: “The depth of expertise across all categories was impressive and the exceptional number of entries clearly demonstrates the upturn in the industry.”

Structural Timber Association and Self Build support

For anyone considering a timber frame home, the Structural Timber Association has a self build section on its website offering advice, with links to finding members that operate in the realm of Custom and Self Build.


Sign up for your Right to Build at the portal! 

Anyone wanting to Self Build in Shropshire will want to keep an eye on Shrewsbury, where Shropshire Council is planning to bring on a 47 plot Self-Build site, off London Road.

Shropshire Council recently ratified a decision to invest in the infrastructure for the site, meaning that the development can now be submitted for planning permission. This will include full permission for infrastructure by the end of the year, enabling the roads, landscaping and services to be put in, together with outline permission for the individual plots.

It is expected that each plot will come with a Plot Passport, setting out boundary and height restriction on some of the plots, otherwise the individual will be able to design their own unique home.

The 4.41 hectare site has excellent links with Shrewsbury, and slopes down towards the River Severn making it an appealing location.

If things work out the council is hoping to bring the plots to market in 2020, with 37 Self Build plots, and 10 affordable-housing plots on offer.”


Shropshire currently has around 80 people on its Custom and Self Build Register, with around 500 from previous registers. Many of the people registered have identified Shrewsbury, pictured, as a desirable place to build, creating local demand.

Councillor Robert Macey, Shropshire Council’s cabinet member for housing and strategic planning, said: “This is a really exciting initiative. The London Road development will be an exemplar scheme, which is eagerly anticipated by other councils that are contemplating their own Self Build schemes. It’s the first-of-its-kind for Shropshire Council and is intended to showcase the potential for future self build developments.

“We’re aiming to provide a low-density Self Build, low-carbon, hybrid and unique development scheme for people that want to build their own homes and we hope this will provide a stepping stone to further Self Build plots in the future.

Proactive in Self Build

Shropshire County Council has an excellent reputation for working to help more people Self Build, both through bringing projects on, but also in the fact that it contacts people on its register with a quarterly newsletter sharing advice and information about upcoming sites.

The council also carries information about available plots on its website, and has an innovative single affordable plots policy for qualifying Self Builders. Together, this work led to it winning Best Council for Custom and Self Builders’ at the prestigious Build It Awards in 2018.


Anyone interested in the London Road site should sign up  with Shropshire County Council’s Custom and Self Build register and keep an eye on the local press and the plots page on the council’s website. We hasten to add that by being on the register does not guarantee you a plot as demand is high.