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10 brilliant brick self-builds

Find inspiration for building your own house with these innovative examples

By Sarah Warwick | 30 July 2019

The design possibilities when building with brick are wide and varied. Selecting between handmade, a handmade look and the smoother texture of machine-made bricks will have a big impact on the finished effect.

Meanwhile, different profiles, laying patterns and colours – including black, blue, red, orange, yellow, cream and white, with the option to use them in any number of combinations – offer a world of possibility.

Conservation area build

A plan to reconfigure, extend and add a basement to one half of a pair of semi-detached London houses evolved into the design of a new-build instead. The property is situated in a conservation area, so using brick that matched the neighbouring home satisfied planning requirements.

Granit Architects selected Ibstock Tradesman Sandfaced Red Multi bricks with mortar in charcoal grey, and included a deep raked joint every third course at ground-floor level to emulate rustication.

This is where surfaces are given a contrasting textural finish to smooth squared block masonry. Details such as a recessed pointing band at ground-floor level and the use of stone around parapet walls pay homage to neighbouring homes.

a brick self build home in abercorn place by Granit

Image: Granit

Re-use and reclaim

The couple who own this Hertfordshire home self-built on the plot in the 1980s using reclaimed bricks from a Manchester warehouse. After 20 years abroad, during which time the house was rented out, they came back to a property that was tired and outdated, so they commissioned Paul Archer Design to extend and rejuvenate it.

The palette of brickwork and glass was retained, and the scale remains close to the original, but the architects made improvements to the internal layout.

As a result, the house is open and light with additional garden views. To limit the environmental impact, the original bricks were re-used along with a mix of new and reclaimed options. A similar project would cost around £3,750 per square metre.

Willowbrook brick self build home by Paul Archer architecture

Image: Paul Archer Design

Contrasting bricks

The owners of this property needed to remedy the problem of a small kitchen and utility room, as well as a poor connection to the garden.

They also wanted to improve the house’s fabric, prolonging its lifespan, and reduce its carbon footprint. Catriona Burns Architects incorporated a kitchen and dining room extension as part of a reconfiguration of the ground floor.

Built using d81 bricks from Petersen Tegl, the new addition features a random pattern of pale and dark tones, which complements the original brickwork and the natural oak finishes on the bespoke doors and windows.

The project was part of New London Architecture’s Don’t Move, Improve! competition.

Catriona Burns Architects brick self build home

Image: Catriona Burns Architects

Grey bricks

Graux & Baeyens opted for the qualities of handmade Kolumba bricks from Petersen Tegl in its design of a new family home in Deinze, Belgium. The long bricks bend or become crooked in the baking process, giving each a unique shape. The grey shade was chosen to complement many of the materials used in the interior.

The plot for the five-bed house posed a challenge because it’s narrow, with the rear aspect to the north. So, the house is composed of three two-storey blocks positioned to maximise light.

Graux & Baeyens brick self build home using Petersen Tegl

Image: Graux & Baeyens

Pattern play

The owners of this Victorian terraced home in Melbourne, Australia, asked architect Wowowa for a rear extension that would respect the heritage of their property.

The original brickwork included a pattern traditionally known as a ‘tiger prawn’, which inspired the architects and was reinterpreted to form the distinctive scallop-shaped extension.

The silvery grey bricks create a sense of movement to enhance the form of the new addition, which includes tall windows to maximise the natural light coming into the interiors.

brick self build home by Wowowa, called Tiger Prawn, owned by Shannon McGrath in Australia

Image: Wowowa

Weathered to suit

Bought as a property for a couple and their grown-up sons to share, this 1830s Grade II-listed home is in a great location in north London, but had been badly extended in the past. The bathroom was a floor down from the bedrooms and the lower-ground-floor dining room lacked natural light. To fix these issues, Dominic McKenzie Architects designed a two-and-a-half-storey rear extension to replace the previous addition.

To complement the surrounding architecture, the slender tower was built in London stock brick. Once installed, it was weathered to tone closely with the existing stock.

The garden was excavated to reach the lower ground-floor level, and a 3.5-metre sash window creates views from the dining table. The project, part of New London Architecture’s Don’t Move, Improve! competition, cost around £250,000.

brick rear extension on a terrace house by Dominic McKenzie Architects

Image: Dominic McKenzie Architects

Slim profile

Formerly the wing of a hospital, this north London house comprises generous open spaces. But with windows on all elevations there was limited wall space for the owners to hang their art collection. 23+GS/318 designed new extensions for one side of the property and chose Petersen Tegl bricks, which have a slimmer profile than the London stock format of the original building.

The bricks were made in the architect’s required colour, tone and texture, and designed to contrast with the more ornate architecture of the main house. A similar project, including fit out and finishes, would cost approximately £4,500 per square metre.

brick extension terrace by 23 Architecture using Petersen Tegl bricks

Image: 23+GS/318 

Locally sourced brick

Jackson Ingham Architects designed this three-bed Buckinghamshire home for the owners’ retirement.

The property takes advantage of the views over the brook and rear garden that attracted the owners to the plot. It is constructed with red brick from Northcot Brick (0800 0389 575;, which is in keeping with the conservation area, and was locally sourced.

Minimal Windows sliding doors, around £1,000 per square metre from IQ Glass, maximise daylight to the interior.

Jackson Ingham Architects designed this three-bed Buckinghamshire home for the owners’ retirement.

Photo: James Morris

Inspired by history

This Hertfordshire home’s location on the site of a former brickworks prompted the use of brick in the design.

The house – designed by Metropolitan Workshop, with interiors by Living in Space – features large expanses of glazing, so the bricks were used in a non-load-bearing basketweave bond.

Developed with York Handmade Brick Company, the long, Roman-style format of the bricks was influenced by the proximity of a Roman road.

The house had to be sustainable, so it includes a mechanical ventilation heat-recovery system and ground-source heat pump. The project cost around £2,815 per square metre.

Metropolitan Workshop designed brick self build home featuring York handmade bricks

Image: Metropolitan Workshop

Suit the setting

Threefold Architects chose to use brick for a garden pavilion in this south London family home. The owners wanted a pool house to shelter them from the rain as they got into the water.

The new-build also needed to harmonise with the main house and its setting, so the architect used Marziale brick from Wienerberger, which complements the brick used in the house, but has a softer appearance that suits the garden setting. A zinc roof tops the brickwork, and sliding glass panels enclose the spaces between the walls.

brick self build pool house in south London designed by threefold architects

Photo: Threefold Architects