Marc and Laura dreamed of creating a new life outside of London for their growing family.
Pioneers at Graven Hill, the UK’s largest custom build site near Bicester, Marc and Laura wanted to build a family home that they had a hand in designing.
While inspired to design and build their own home, the couple were busy working in London with little time to deal with the traditional process of a self build project. They decided that a custom build site could offer them the simplest and fastest way to find a plot and build their dream house.
Many people first come across Facit Homes on Grand Designs. Marc and Laura had seen the episode a few years before and remembered being impressed by our unique digital manufacturing approach.
Busy in their careers and with a young, growing family to care for, they were aware that a project like this was going to be challenging. But the concept of working with Facit Homes from start to finish reassured them and they were pleased by the efficiency of working with a single company.
"We got to be part of the design team but then left the professionals to crack on and build our house. It was the best of both worlds. The house has exceeded all our expectations, it’s so light and spacious, especially with the huge skylights over the stairwell and landing which are open most of the time, allowing fresh cool air to flow around the house."
The site was in an area they know and love, and with an easy commute to London.
Drawn to Graven Hill and the idea of a self builder community Marc and Laura expected the site to cultivate, they found the perfect plot overlooking Graven Hill and it's stunning ancient woodland.
The next step was appointing us to design and build their family home.
With no fixed vision of how they wanted their house to look, but clear ideas about how they wanted to live, we worked closely with Marc and Laura to define how the internal layout could support their lifestyle before deciding on the external look and feel.
Starting with the essential requirements for their home, in this case, light, space and open plan living, we found that their preferences and expectations naturally aligned with Facit Homes’ contemporary style.
Marc and Laura placed high importance on the placement of windows to enable them to feel part of the landscape. They were also keen on the aesthetics and texture of charred timber and weathering steel, so we were more than happy to incorporate materials we know and love.
For the design of the front elevation, we worked from the inside out and developed a striking sawtooth roof profile that gave drama and height to the interior, with a first floor balcony running across the south facing facade on which to bask in the sun.
During the design phase, we created a 3D model to walk Marc and Laura through their home and discuss how things might work. Finalising the practical and technical aspects of the design before construction began, we were able to discuss features in detail, such as internal finishes and kitchen layout, to minimise the inefficiency of any late changes.
The devil is in the detail. Discussing everything with Marc and Laura gave them the opportunity to contribute to every decision, creating a house designed and built especially for them and the way they live. They brought lots of fantastic ideas, such as painting the cupboard doors that filled the space under the stairs in chalk paint to create a ‘chalk wall’ for their family to doodle on.
From the carefully designed and digitally manufactured birch plywood staircase to the beautiful copper kitchen island worktop, every detail was considered. And super-insulated walls, triple glazed windows, high level of airtightness, MVHR and underfloor heating ensure the property requires very little energy to run.
Marc and Laura are now enjoying the ‘spirit of shared endeavour’ and the collaborative community culture that Graven Hill has created, all from the comfort of their beautiful new home.
Since lockdown in March, Marc and Laura have been busy setting up their new granola business, Granola Girls, from their beautiful kitchen.
To learn more about the build and entire process, visit Marc and Laura's personal 'project blog' for Build It.