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DIY barn conversion is great fun
for Peter and Silva

By Claire Long, Melton Times, February 28, 2002

Many people dream about building their own home and for Wymondham couple Silva and Peter Compton their dream has come true.

The couple from Main Street are converting a barn in Teigh, Rutland, at a cost of around £400,000 and say even though it is hard work it is well worth it.

Peter and Silva Compton [compton1.jpg, 15.3kB]
FAMILY AFFAIR: Peter and Silva Compton say the hard work their family has put in to converting their barn has been well worth it.

And they have made it a real family project with three children Michael (14), Aram (16) and Sonja (17), rolling up their sleeves to help out on the site.

Silva (49) said: "It's a lot more work than people realise. Some people think we're mad. We've always wanted to do it and we always thought the barn would make a nice home but it was not for sale so we were really pleased when it finally came on the market."

Work has involved renovating the old barn into a five-bedroomed house, all with en-suite shower rooms, knocking down two old storage buildings on either side of the barn and replacing them with two extended wings.

The couple got some advice about the laying out of the building from architects and most of the building work has been carried out by Nottingham-based firm Shakespeare and Alton. But they designed the majority of the project themselves and have been involved every step of the way.

Silva said: "When professionals design something they often want it to be such that it is commercially saleable whereas we had certain needs as a family."

She added: "We didn't want someone else to have control over it.

"If we change our minds about something we can just have a word with the builders and if they can change it they will."

Silva said she wanted a say in how big the rooms were, particularly the bedrooms which she wanted to be all the same size and separate to the rest of the house to give their children some privacy.

Silva said she got a lot of satisfaction from designing the building.

She said: "I find it quite relaxing to sit down with a piece of paper and plan and design things and try to fit things around each other.

"It's a very simple way of being creative. I can't paint or anything but I find it quite relaxing in a way and when it happens and it looks good it's just nice to be able to say I did that."

She added: "It's a nice feeling creating something that normally you probably wouldn't be able to afford."

Silva said husband Peter (58) also enjoyed being involved in designing and building their new home: "He is not a builder but he's quite technically orientated. He's quite knowledgeable and can figure out how things have to work."

So far work on the building, which they started when they bought the building in April 2002, has run fairly smoothly but there have been some setbacks and changes in the design.

When the shower rooms were being built they realised that they would be too small so they had to knock down the new interior walls in the extension and rebuild them.

And the design of the fireplace, which was going to be built out of stone, has been changed to make use of the handmade bricks found in the demolished buildings.

This is the first time the couple have tried their hand at such a big job but they got a taste for renovation when they moved from Norfolk into Wymondham house 16 years ago.

They spent the first seven months rebuilding parts of the floor and roof.

Silva said her father had built a house when she was a child and after seeing the satisfaction he got from it she knew she would like to do the same.

Although the amount of satisfaction she has got from the project has lived up to her expectations she says the house has changed from her original image.

But she is looking forward to finally seeing the house completed which she hopes will be in the spring.

Silva Compton on the site of her new home [compton2.jpg, 15.3kB]
LABOUR OF LOVE: Silva Compton was inspired by her father who built a house when she was a child.

Their experience so far has not put them off and even though they will have spent around two years planning and building the house, Silva says it is not bad going: "We've got friends who started working on their bathroom at the same time and it's still not finished.

"We would definitely do it again."

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