After a near-death experience, Bram and Lisa Vis bravely followed their dream to build a cutting-edge family home by the sea on the Isle of Wight
A life-changing event can dramatically alter a person’s perspective, something Bram Vis and his wife Lisa found out the hard way after he was struck with a brain haemorrhage, leaving him temporarily in a coma. They were just about to exchange on a house that needed a lot of work on the Isle of Wight, where Lisa grew up, when Bram was taken ill. But you could say that Bram’s illness had a silver lining…
Bram came out of his illness with a zest for life, and a determination to spend it in a home that was worthy of such a miraculous recovery. ‘The fact that we didn’t get the original house because of the brain haemorrhage actually turned out to be a good thing,’ he says. They had been to see countless homes on the island before the ordeal, but none of them could quite match up to the couple’s criteria.
‘We’ve been interested in dealing with property for years and moved to the island in 2010,’ explains Lisa. ‘But with every house we saw we wanted to change something. In the end Bram said, “This is ridiculous, there’s nothing that we like and you keep wanting to knock walls down, so why don’t we just build our own house?” So creating our own home from scratch came out of desire but also need, as we just couldn’t find what we wanted.’
A sea view was high on Bram’s wish list, so when the pair found a prime spot overlooking the Solent strait, they were excited by the prospect. ‘The land was owned by our current next-door neighbour and we knew that planning consent was difficult to obtain,’ explains Lisa. ‘He’d already put in for permission to build a house next to his, but this was rejected, so it wasn’t in place when we bought the plot. We made a deal to ensure that if we didn’t get approval, all bets were off and we could have our exchange money back.’
Luckily Lisa and Bram’s plans were approved, with the help of ex-grand designer and local architectural designer Lincoln Miles. He proposed a predominantly one-storey house with a dramatic V-shaped cantilevered frame that would be virtually invisible to passers-by, nestled in-between protected trees on the hillside. ‘If you’re on the ferry you can’t see our house,’ explains Lisa. ‘We wanted it to seem as though it belonged there already – not a stark new-build shouting like a pair of bright-white trainers.’ It wasn’t a straightforward process, however. Bram and Lisa took several leaps into the unknown, and at 836 square metres the sheer size of the house presented a unique challenge.