Learning About The Benefits Of Self-Build Homes

Post in collaboration with Grand Designs Live
Self-build homes from U-Build

As Grand Designs Live draws to a close, I wanted to take a moment to write about my visit and why I came away so incredibly inspired, despite not being able to invest in the thought of self-build homes just yet.

The show, sponsored by Anglian Home Improvements, really opened my eyes to possibilities of sustainable living, and self-building, rather than buying, my dream home in the future.

Visitors to the show got the chance to watch a live build take place, with a self-build house being created in just over a week using the U-Build concept, as developed by Studio Bark with help from Structure Workshop and Cut and Construct.

The U-Build building process is nothing like I’ve seen in real life, but if you’ve watched Grand Designs: The Street recently, you might be familiar.

U-Build was used in episode 4, which you can watch here, by 20-something couple, Chris and Roxie. The show is based in Graven Hill, follows the construction of ten self-build houses, on the UK’s largest custom built community, with 1900 plots made available.

A revolution in construction, U-Build provides a robust and affordable self-build homes solution, which can be assembled by a small team.

Self-build homes by U-Build

The advantages of the U-Build construction system are numerous; it is easy to build, enjoyable to inhabit, uses natural materials and is simple to deconstruct at the end of its useful life.

The system removes many of the difficulties associated with traditional construction, allowing individuals and communities to construct their own homes and buildings, with little or no construction experience, using simple hand tools.

The system also allows for certainty of cost in terms of material and quantity, as well as a high degree of flexibility and adaptability in design.

So how does the construction of self-build homes work?

  • A kit of precision-cut plywood panels arrives on site in flat pack form, with all fixtures included.
  • The panels fit together using specially cut joints and rubber mallets and are screwed together easily to form rigid boxes.
  • The boxes come in different shapes and sizes, which are bolted together and insulated to form the building shell.
  • Finally, membrane, cladding, windows and doors complete the building, creating a beautiful finished space, built by you.
sustainability and self-build homes at Grand Designs Live

During my visit to Grand Designs Live, I was fortunate to meet Host of The Street, Kevin McCloud (crush alert, he’s as charming in real life as I find him on TV), who took some time to showcase his ‘Green Heros’ – designs which present teco-innovations for home builders, owners and design enthusiast. These included:


Antwerp-based brand ecobirdy uses recycled plastic toys to create a range of sustainable, 100% recycled plastic furniture for children – aiming to raise their awareness for sustainability, with an overarching goal of introducing children to the concept of a circular economy.


The world’s first active sound system made of clay, the Mapuguaquen speaker fuses state of the art electronics and craft techniques to create unique, customised pieces, using raw, regional and biodegradable materials.

Poppy Pippin

Press moulded terracotta wall tiles from Poppy Pippin are designed to encourage moss growth to improve air quality in the urban environment by absorbing carbon dioxide. 

Musiccloth by Rehyphen

Tackling the issue of the obsolete nature of past technologies, Rehyphen uses the tape from cassette tapes, manipulating them into a durable and aesthetically pleasing material which can be used for a variety of items from art to fashion. This upcycling initiative aims to reduce and eliminate e-waste while giving life to a new product.

Vlisco Recycled Carpet Studio

Using leftover and rejected textiles from Dutch based textile manufacturer, Vlisco, Simone Post has developed a line of high-quality, environmentally supportable carpets. Whereas the destruction of the leftover and rejected textiles is time consuming and costly, recycling is environmentally sustainable and also offers a challenging platform for innovation.


Founded on the premise that good design can help mitigate climate change, perfectly echoing the ethos behind Kevin’s Green Heroes, Tala believe that beautiful objects and efficient technology belong together. This brand combines the best of British design with superior componentry, selecting methods and materials on their environmental impact, and remaining committed to reducing carbon emissions in the atmosphere.

Although this is a slightly different angle for me to cover on Apartment Number 4, I hope you enjoyed discovering something a little different. As my focus turns more and more to living a more sustainable life (more on that in the weeks to come), I found it super interesting to learn how the interiors and construction industry are making waves – albeit we’ve got a fair way to go yet in comparison to other industries.

Self-build homes by U-Build

Are self-build homes something you’d ever consider? Let me know in the comments below.

*Post in collaboration with Grand Designs Live but thoughts, as always, my own.

In case you missed it: How To Achieve A Modern Country Kitchen | How To Buy A Sofa For Your First Home | Discovering New Season Finds At Barker and Stonehouse

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About Victoria

Hello! I'm Victoria, the founder of multi-award winning interior design blog, Apartment Number 4. I can't wait to share my tips and tricks on creating a beautiful place to live on a budget, regardless of whether you're living in your forever home or your home that's perfect for now.

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  1. 5.19.19

    Great blog! Some really interesting ideas and products.
    We were really keen to make our build as sustainable and eco friendly as possible but it is difficult with building regs and a tiny budget. We will be checking out some of these ideas.