HPH217 : What to do if your partner wants to build a house! – with Kay Adam-Smith
Ben Adam-Smith chats to his wife Kay about what it's been like building a house. She never wanted a new build, preferring to buy a period property instead. So why did she agree to do this? And what can we learn about trying to get a partner on board with a self build?
Interview with Kay Adam-Smith
My wife, Kay Adam-Smith, describes her ideal home as ‘a beautiful old thatched cottage in a beautiful, well-established country garden.'
She loves the fact that it's full of character.
Kay wanted me to achieve my goal of building an eco home
In any good relationship there is give and take. So why did Kay shelf plans for a period property and agree to build a new house?
Kay says: “I was a little disappointed because you used to have the same vision as me. But I knew it was something you wanted to do.”
Yes, she did this for me. Hopefully I didn't bully her into it but I was also confident that she would enjoy a home tailored to our needs.
Get involved in the process
When you tackle a build as a couple, it's really important that you both find ways to engage in the process.
This wasn't difficult for Kay. In fact she has some skills that are incredibly useful, having been a project manager (in marketing departments) for big companies.
Kay comments: “That’s probably my strength, I keep on top of things and I make sure things run smoothly, on time and on budget.”
These are skills I don't have, so there is no doubt this has been a great asset.
Set up some non-negotiables
If you find yourself drawn into a self build by your other half, at least establish some parameters.
After all, this is going to demand a lot of your time and energy (even if you're choosing the easiest procurement route).
With two young children, Kay was adamant that we would not be living in a caravan on site!
It was also important for her to know that we had the financial means to complete the project . . . before we got started.
Get additional support where you can
Having family to lean on has made life a lot easier for us.
Although the decision-making has come in waves, when we've needed the time to focus our to-do list we've been able to create it (thanks to the grandparents taking over the childcare!).
A good team will take you a long way
Hiring Parsons + Whittley, Mars Builders and Gabrielle Blackman has brought a great deal of experience to our project.
For our life stage – with two young children – we made the right decision with our procurement route (main contractor and full package from our architecture firm).
Reflecting on the build progress Kay says: “It’s gone how I thought it would. Probably more smoothly than I thought it would, after watching things like Grand Designs!”
A house build can change you in ways you may not expect
I don't think I have imagined this, but Kay has grown in confidence through this project.
I'm not referring to the work she has put into this because those skills were already well developed.
She has never been one to step in front of the camera . . . until now. Little by little she has featured on various podcasts and has now agreed to this interview. What next? A West End role?!
It's difficult to predict what a new build will feel like
When you are buying a property, you get a feel for the building as soon as you step inside.
That's not something you can do with the new build . . . until it's been built!
This house is tailored to our needs and much larger than anything we've lived in before, so it looks great on paper.
We will have to do our best to make it a home (and share our blessings with others).
Remember: it's just a house
If all else fails when you embark on this journey, remember than it's not the end of the world when something goes wrong.
“It's just a house!”
Download a transcript of the interview with Kay Adam-Smith.
Watch Mike Coe's latest video
Mike Coe and his partner Lizzie Stoodley are embarking on their second self build project in Portree, Scotland.
Mike is a retired ITV News cameraman and is making video reports as they go through the process.
This one includes a short history of the Isle of Skye and then an update on how their house designs have developed.