Selfbuilder Diaries

After overcoming a rocky start, Kerri and her family are now making headway with a self-build in the Suffolk village they’ve lived in for years. She says the excitement and enthusiasm is building as their new home starts to take shape

We are the Morleys! I am Kerri, my husband is Tom, and we have two children aged five and four. We live in a quiet village in Suffolk where I have lived all my life. We love where we live, and have always said we want to stay in this area as it is near our family and friends, but having outgrown our current home we were on the lookout for our next adventure for several years (checking Rightmove daily). But we never found anything that made us want to make the move. Building our own home has always been a dream of ours, and something we had always talked about doing one day.  

Cut to November 2021, and a plot of land went up for sale very close to our current home (around the corner in fact). There was a derelict house on the land, but the land already had planning permission. It was perfect. Exactly what we had been looking for!  

The sale quickly went to sealed bids however, as it had a lot of interest, which worried us, but after a few anxious weeks we found out our offer had been accepted. There were many other complications when buying the land, from access queries to road ownership, boundary debates, and all the usual issues that can come up with a sale of property. But finally, in August 2022,
the sale was completed and the land was ours.

The following 12 months was a time of many, many issues and a lot of stress. One of the first headaches was related to bats, and being told that we would not be allowed to knock down the existing property for a long period. We then found out the land had a final ‘overage’ on it which caused us some trouble in obtaining the self-build mortgage. But after overcoming the many hurdles, the property was deemed unstable and a hazard to the general public! In November 2022 we were finally permitted to knock it down, and we didn’t wait around. By December 2022 it was gone, leaving us with the perfect plot to build our home on. 

By this time, we had completely changed the plans from what had been originally approved. We’d been liaising with an architect throughout planning and managed to finalise some new plans for a two storey, four bedroom, detached, chalet bungalow with an outbuilding to the front, and a gorgeous, south facing garden. 

After submitting the plans, we were asked to make a few changes, and reduce the footprint of the house slightly. After a few resulting tweaks, in September last year our plans were
finally approved! 

We already had our builders lined up and read to go, and a week later the work began – we broke ground. 

So far, things have been going great. We decided to project manage the build ourselves to allow us to choose our own tradesman and source our own materials. My husband has mainly taken the lead in this role. I’m just patiently waiting for the time when I can start to make all the exciting decisions internally, particularly choosing our kitchen. 

We didn’t realise the true scale of the build until it began, and it certainly looks much bigger than it did on the architect’s drawings, but watching things come to life over the last few months has been incredible! The children love walking over to the plot at weekends to see what has changed. We can now also see all the internal walls outlining the rooms – it’s very exciting!  

Looking ahead, we are hoping to be in the position to begin the construction of the roof in early March, and get it water tight by April. 

We are still in the early stages of the build, and we are under no illusion that we may run into delays throughout our project, but we are keeping everything crossed that things continue to go to plan. We’re hoping that winter is kind to us and that we can be in the house for Christmas 2024 – that’s our aim anyway. We just can’t wait to create something special for our family to enjoy for many years to come. 

We’d love you to follow our journey on Instagram @4_downthelane. We have been documenting our journey so we have something to look back on, to remind us how far we’ve come, and how we made our dream a reality!