Build A New Life In The Country

Series 4 - Episode 3: Lancashire

Episode 3: Lancashire

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Ian and Elpi plan to convert an 18th-century windmill into a plush family home. But the stress of overseeing the build and caring for her one-year-old son soon takes its toll on project manager Elpi, threatening the entire venture.

Ian and Elpi have moved from Wigan to the Lancashire countryside, where they plan to transform a Grade II-listed windmill and a 1980s-era house into a modern family home. Their plan is to renovate the industrial windmill, which has never been converted, and link it to the modern house, which will be extended and enhanced. The couple and their baby son, William, have been living in the neighbouring summerhouse for a year while they waited for planning permission.

On his first visit, Charlie is impressed by the conical shape of the windmill. “There’s no doubt that this is going to be the most amazing family house,” he affirms. However, he is concerned by Ian and Elpi’s decision not to use an architect or dedicated project manager during the build. Instead, the project will be overseen by head builder Bernard.

“I can’t help thinking that something out of budget, deadline or quality is going to have to give,” he says. While Ian puts in long hours at his solicitors’ firm, Elpi spends all day with William at the summerhouse – which she calls a ‘shed’ – and at the building site.“It comes across sometimes as though it’s total confusion, but it’s organised chaos!” Bernard jokes.

Matters are not helped by the difficult nature of the windmill conversion. It is a huge challenge to fit windows into its curving walls. Elpi decides to take on the role of project manager. “It’s exceedingly daunting,” she admits. But her structured approach to coordinating the tradesmen and ordering materials helps drive the project forward.

The dual jobs of managing the complex build and looking after the baby soon take their toll on Elpi. Moreover, she is sick and tired of living in the ‘shed’, where she has to boil a kettle just to get hot water. The project seems to be moving in the right direction when Elpi is struck another major blow.

The budget has been spent and the project is only 75 per cent complete. The couple need another £50,000 to finish. All work stops and Elpi’s dream of being in the house by Christmas – already rather optimistic – is over.

Worse still, Elpi considers giving up and selling the house. “I don’t know if this will be my dream house anymore because I’ve had so much heartache,” she says. “She’s in a very dark place,” adds Ian. “She’s fallen out of love with the property.” Can the couple scrape together the money they need and restore the project to life?

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  • Series 4 - Episode 4: Kent

    Charlie Luxton meets a couple planning to convert a Kent sawmill into a family home. Claire and Stuart want to give their young children a country upbringing.


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