Build A New Life In The Country

Series 4 - Episode 5: Norfolk

Episode 5: Norfolk

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Darren and Mel have swapped the bustling streets of Norwich for an idyllic country life near the village of Lodden. Their aim is to convert a 19th-century barn into a modern family home. "I love barns. The idea of a barn... it's magical, really," enthuses Mel. To finance the project, the couple hit on the idea of selling the barn's annexe. "We thought, 'why not sell the annexe?' The sale would then fund the other barn for our renovation," Darren explains.

The pair need to raise around £150,000 from the sale of the annexe. Charlie is impressed but worried by their high-risk strategy. "I really hope for their sakes that someone buys that barn," he says. Fortunately, the couple soon accept an offer on the annexefor the figure they need, so the builders set to work on the barn conversion.

As Bill the builder strips the roof, Darren takes on the role of project manager, while holding down his day job. "It's very stressful. The workload has just totally doubled," he says. Two months in, the couple are rocked by the news that the buyers of the annexe are struggling to get a mortgage. "We've had a bit of a disaster," says Darren. "It seems as though they're going to pull out." The credit crunch has struck Darren and Mel's project and, without another buyer, work grinds to a halt. "Nothing is selling quickly," the estate agent tells them.

A cash injection from Mel's dad enables them to complete the roof and start on the internal walls. Meanwhile, Darren and Mel reluctantly accept an offer on the annexe that is below their asking price. As they downgrade the scale of the project and divide it into sections, Mel reaffirms her desire to finish the house. "I feel a lot more attached to it now," she says. "I think Darren and Mel have shown a real strength of character so far," says Charlie. More bad news strikes when the second set of buyers pulls out. "It is taking its toll," Darren reflects.

"I have had a few sleepless nights." "You've got to pick yourself up and carry on, and think about what you're going to do next," adds Mel. The pair secure a £41,000 loan to carry on with the work, and opt to do a lot of the tasks themselves. At last, the windows are installed and the building is watertight. Having spent nearly a year living on site in a caravan, Darren and Mel are desperate to achieve their goal of spending Christmas in their new home.

A makeshift Christmas dinner is organised, but the house is far from complete. Their hopes now rest on an auction of the barn to raise the money they need to pay off their debts and finish the job. Unfortunately, the bidding falls agonisingly short of the £120,000 minimum they need. Can Darren and Mel pick themselves up from this latest setback and keep their dream alive?

More episodes


  • Series 4 - Episode 6: Harris

    This episode features hairdresser Harvey and social worker John, who have swapped the busy streets of Leeds for an isolated croft house on the Isle of Harris.


  • 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.

  • Series 4 - Episode 3: Lancashire

    Ian and Elpi plan to convert an 18th-century windmill into a plush family home. But the stress of overseeing the build takes its toll on project manager Elpi.

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Comments (8)

  • Darren Young

    11 months ago

    Darren Young

    Hi guys, we are still in the barn and working hard. We now have the pleasure of a 3 year old son to play in the barn and the land we have. Still living the dream, thanks for all your support

  • Christoffer

    over 1 year ago


    Hi, just watched your project here in Finland. The end result is one of the most beautiful houses I have seen. Well done and best of luck with finishing the project.

  • Caroline

    2 years ago


    Hi Mel and Darren, just watched your show on New Zealand tv, really loved it, especially the end when you had moved in and finally sold "the barn"!!! You guys were amazing throughout all of the adversity and showed that perseverance is the key. I am guessing that it is all finished by now, hope you are still enjoying it all. Best wishes to you.

  • Richard

    3 years ago


    Just watched it with my 9 yr old son, well done to you both, you deserve the barn after all your hard work

  • Yvonne Gibbs

    3 years ago

    Yvonne Gibbs

    WOW Its beautiful!! Well done to mel and you!! x:D

  • Yvonne Gibbs

    3 years ago

    Yvonne Gibbs


  • Darren Young

    3 years ago

    Darren Young

    Hi, Glad to see our show on Channel 5 again. Hope you enjoy watching the show, although we are still working very hard to complete the build things have moved along nicely. I'm currently writing this messgae from the office in the kitchen area which will highlight how far we have come. Thanks again for watching.

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