Mimi da Costa's Grand Designs house in Kent

Mimi Da Costa’s minimalist family home in Kent

Mimi Da Costa shares her tips for building an eco-friendly family home in the Kent countryside

By Alys Denby | 3 January 2017

Mimi Da Costa and her husband Andre project managed the construction of their modern family home in Kent, despite no previous self-build experience. The project featured on Grand Designs series 9, back in 2009.

Here, Mimi takes shares lessons learned from the project…

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.’

Mimi and Andre da Costa's minimalist family home in Kent

Photo: Jefferson Smith

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.’

Mimi and Andre da Costa's Grand Designs house in Kent

Photo: Jefferson Smith

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.’

Mimi and Andre da Costa's Grand Designs house in Kent

Photo: Jefferson Smith

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.’