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An Ideal Plot And Design For New Home In Oxfordshire

Posted 26 February 2024 by Keith Osborne

Akshay and Teodora have created the new home they wanted at the growing Graven Hill development in Bicester...

Akshay Belwalkar and his wife Teodora had a dream of building their own home, but living in the popular commuter belt of Kent, the opportunities for self-build plots were few and far between.

Despite looking for several months no suitable sites were coming up and it was Akshay’s mortgage broker who advised him about a ground-breaking scheme in Oxfordshire with self-build plots, that could possibly be the answer.

“I looked up Graven Hill and thought it had so much potential. The fact you can buy a plot with the foundations and utilities already connected, and then design your own home both inside and outside, was really appealing.” said Akshay.

The Belwalkars did their research and then came to see Graven Hill, reserving the last available plot at that time – Plot 177 – on Read Place in March 2021. “We were happy with the location and just wanted to get started,” added Akshay.

The Belwalkars’ home at Graven HillThe Belwalkars’ home at Graven Hill

The Belwalkars’ dream home is a three-storey, four-double-bedroom dwelling with a study and three bathrooms covering over 2,200 sq ft. Downstairs is open-plan with a closed-off kitchen diner and a living room that has clever pocket doors to keep the open-plan aspect optional. As Akshay works from home as well as his office in London it was important to incorporate a home office, as well as have good rail links to the capital. To the outside of the property there is ample garden space, with plans for a decked seating area and a driveway for two cars with an electric car charging point.

The family bought a house and moved to Bicester in September 2022. It is never an easy decision to leave friends behind but they wanted to get their daughter settled into a local primary at the start of the new school year. Akshay explained: “It’s never that easy to move away from the community you know, but we were excited about the future and were looking forward to the opportunity to start building our new home.

“We wanted to go for a contemporary modern barn look for the outside. I like pitched roofs and I like the use of timber so more than 90% of the house is clad in Siberian Larch. This complements the large black windows and clay tiled roof.

“Given there were planning restrictions at the back we opted for a roof terrace and a balcony so we also have outlooks on both the front and rear aspects. I am passionate about design and architecture in addition to following online TV shows, so I had a good idea of how I wanted the layout to work and I created my own design. I then hired an architect to get my plans ready for the planning process.

“Inside we also wanted a good-size ground floor. Traditionally, if you have a house set over three floors the ground floor tends to be more limited, so we wanted decent ground floor space for the kitchen diner, a separate living room and a study. We wanted a big family space.”

The Belwalkars’ home at Graven HillThe Belwalkars’ home at Graven Hill

Plot 177 overlooks The Swale at Graven Hill, so the views were another big plus for the family.

The plot was handed over to the Belwalkars in late October 2022, and they started work on the timber frame the following month. Seven months on they completed the build and moved in early summer 2023.

“It was sensible to move to Bicester to be closer to the build, particularly as I was managing my own contractors as well as being pretty hands on. I particularly wanted to work on the outside cladding and I worked on that for a number of weeks with a professional joiner. When you are self-managing and hiring separate trades, there are a lot of jobs that fall on you! But it’s also essential to find the right sort of trades that are willing to partner with you in your journey,” said Akshay.

As well as the cladding Akshay became involved with the interior finishing, erecting stud walls, flooring and general labouring. The couple have also opted for top-end insulation in the roof, ground floor and walls for better heating efficiency, as well as choosing a smart heating system that is zoned and can be controlled room by room, remotely. Underfloor heating is also zoned on the ground floor, with 100% smart lighting throughout the house.

Akshay added: “The community here has been amazing, there has been plenty of offers of help and it’s really useful to hear of other people’s self-build experiences. I have been on site regularly and lots of people have stopped by to have little conversations as well as make offers of help. We felt very welcome even before we moved in, and we’re really looking forward to spending this summer in our new home.”

Find out more about Graven Hill.


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