Last year, Exmoor Young Voices launched its innovative Self Build Scheme. Led by experienced Self Builder and EYV advisor, Justin Tyers, the scheme aims to help people with a local tie, who are in housing need, build themselves an affordable home on Exmoor.
One couple taking part in the scheme are Laura and Jamie from North Devon. Jamie has worked in and around Exmoor for many years as a gardener, and the moors have played a huge role in their lives. Our Media Coordinator, Megan, recently caught up with them to see how they are getting on with the self build process so far…
Laura and Jamie, many young people are struggling to afford their own homes on Exmoor. The property prices are extremely high, forcing young people to continue living with their parents, rent or move away to other areas. We're interested to hear how you discovered the 'less obvious' possibility of a Self Build on Exmoor and what made you decide it was the right route for you to go down?
"I first heard of the scheme through my boss's husband," says Laura. "He had overheard someone in the Poltimore Arms Pub speaking about Exmoor Young Voices and the potential of building homes on the moors. I was completely in disbelief at first as I had always been under the impression this was not an option for us. In fact, we have always looked away from Exmoor National Park due to the cost and believing planning would never be attainable. Luckily, I reached out to Exmoor Young Voices, and that's when it all started to feel more possible."
We're pleased that word is starting to get around about Exmoor Young Voices and the idea of Self Build homes for young people on the moor. Part of the reason we want to document your 'journey,' and the other couples' involved in the Self Build Scheme, is to inspire other young people to explore what's possible. But of course, we also want to be honest about the process, and we know it isn't always straightforward. So, how have you been finding things so far?
"We were told at the start that the ride is never going to be easy, but the rewards will pay off for those willing to wait. We have definitely struggled with finding definitive answers to some of our questions on occasions, and there is a tendency with some of the authorities and organisations to be passed from one department to another. But, Justin at EYV has been extremely helpful and supports us in ironing out any bumps when they arrive. Many people want to help you - you just have to let them."
Laura adds, "sometimes you can feel overwhelmed, but we try to remind ourselves that we won't know all of the answers - we've never built a home before! All being well, we are hoping to put our plans in at the end of this month."
Yes, patience and perseverance are key and as Justin says, "success always comes to those who refuse to give in!" It's really exciting that you hope to have your Self Build planning application in soon, and it leads us nicely onto the next question. What does your future home look like in your head, and where have you drawn inspiration from?
"A dream home to us is a home that has a minimal environmental impact but does not scrimp on what we all consider modern luxuries. We have always had a passion for learning about alternative living, such as Earthships, cob houses, straw bale and passive solar homes. We hope to combine several of these styles and make a hybrid! Our must-haves are, most importantly, low running costs and a place we can feel safe and secure. As they say, an Englishman's home is his castle, and we couldn't think of anywhere else we would rather live than Exmoor. Country life suits us!"
An inspirational build - Image Source
It's great that you are exploring the idea of a Self Build design with a minimal environmental impact that will lend itself to the moor. And that's one of the points we're trying to make at Exmoor Young Voices - young people aren't asking for an awful lot. They just want a safe and secure home that they can afford. I know we're all excited to see your project progress. Do you have any advice for any other young people on Exmoor interested in an affordable self build?
"There is always support if you look for it, but the answers won't just come to you. You have to communicate with locals and planners and be proactive. It would be very helpful if someone who has built their own home could write a book called 'how to self build for dummies!"
Watch this space!
Thank you to Laura and Jamie for taking part in our first EYV Self Builder interview. We look forward to catching up with them shortly to see how they're getting on.
For now, make sure you follow Exmoor Young Voices on social media and subscribe to our mailing list for our latest news and updates. If you are interested in finding out more about our Self Build Scheme, please get in touch.