Self Builds

by Hannah Fenton

February 16, 2017

Curved house on Lake Zürich, Switzerland

Stefan Camenzind had to think outside the box - literally - to create his remarkable curved home on Lake Zürich, Switzerland. When you finish a project…

Mimi Da Costa shares her tips for building a minimalist, eco-friendly family home inspired by the Kent countryside.

tv series secrets minimalist family home

Who? Mimi and Andre Da Costa
What? Despite no previous self-build experience, Mimi project managed the construction of their modern family home in series 9, back in 2009
Where? Kent

What advice would you give to others who are thinking about project managing their build?
‘Do your research before you begin – that’s the most important thing. It’s vital that you understand every part of what you’re building, because when you’re on site you’re going to have a hundred people asking you questions. Also, you’ll need to be readily available as much as possible, so that you can solve problems as they occur.’

How did you manage to keep your budget under control, even though you went over schedule?
‘Before we started, we made sure everything was priced up. Hiring builders was slightly more expensive than it would be normally, because they included the risk of things going wrong in their fee, but on the plus side that does mean the subcontractors will absorb the extra cost when delays throw your timetable out.’

tv series secrets minimalist family home2

Is it hard squaring minimalism with a
 family home?
‘We kept the house minimalist, because the surrounding landscape is so spectacular, so we didn’t want anything to detract from the view. Our home is very much designed around us. Open-plan living suits us and our sons, Sean and Tyrone (above with Mimi), because we’re a very close-knit family and do lots of things together.’

What was the best moment of the project?
‘Throughout the build you have peaks and troughs. There were high points, such as when the panels arrived, and then things would calm down until the next major element was delivered. Finally being in our home has been the ultimate good experience.’

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