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5 self-build houses on difficult plots

Difficult plots don't have to stand in the way of incredible self builds

By Sarah Warwick | 5 September 2021

Searching for a plot for your self-build home is no easy task. Not only do you have location, views and infrastructure to consider, but also planning permission and any site restrictions that may be in place. However, difficult plots don’t have to be a barrier to your self-build dream. With a good architect on board, you can still create some great design ideas, like these grand designers did in the face of an awkward plot…

1. Plot hole: flood risks

The edge-of-village land Ben and Merry Albright bought in Herefordshire had a mixed flood classification although it contained only a tiny brook, had never flooded, and is at a distance from and higher than the river. Built on a section of the plot assessed as no risk, the couple still had to prove there were emergency exit routes for a 1:1,000 year flood event, and the house was also designed with a raised slab that is 700mm higher than any recorded flood.

They opted for a design by Border Oak with a handmade frame and structural insulated panels similar to those found in other local barns. Its U-shape reduces its visual impact from the village, too. The project cost around £800,000 including the plot, garage and landscaping.

self build on a low risk flood plain

Photo: Border Oak

2. Plot problem: navigating rail, road and sewer

Olaf Mason, a carpenter specialising in high-end bespoke interiors, decided to turn his hand to construction in the 2021 series of Grand Designs. Olaf and his wife Fritha attempted to fit a clever triangular house into a small plot constricted by a busy main road, a railway line and a sewer near Billingshurst in West Sussex. It was no mean feat, but the couple took this 3D geometrical puzzle in their stride, along with the arrival of their baby daughter during the build. This is the guy you need to call when considering difficult plots!

Read more about the triangle house Grand Designs project here

A triangular self-build house in Billingshurst, West Sussex, from the new series of Grand Designs

Photo: Jefferson Smith