"We didn't intend to build a house. We just wanted to move - somewhere a bit bigger, with more of a garden: commonplace enough ambitions, especially for families with young children, especially in Britain, where property is wealth, and so, in some vague and unexamined sense, identity. Not that we were thinking about anything like that."
The true and very funny story of how journalist, Geraldine Bedell and her husband Charlie Leadbeater, with no savings and no knowledge of architecture nearly make themselves bankrupt in an attempt to build their dream home. Far more than that, it's about the ultimate fantasy - creating your own made to measure living space.
The Handmade House tells the story, alternately comical and horrifying, of one family's ambitious and inept attempt to build the perfect home.
From the Inside Flap
approached it from the house to the North, a wide 1950s villa situated in
the road behind, which was privately-owned, for some obscure historical
reason, and policed by the owner-residents with ferocity: if you parked
here for more than five minutes, you were liable to be clamped. We parked
anyway, and went in through the side gate.
Most of the large garden belonged to the house. There was a wide terrace,
with a magnolia tree, borders sprinkled with muscari and irises, a
top-of-the-range children's climbing frame, and, at the bottom, a patch of
nettles and scrub. The sun was shining and the air was warm enough to wear
a t-shirt; it was one of those days when you realise with relief that
summer has come. I stood there in the sunshine listening to birdsong and
feeling obscurely happy, seized by certainty. The lane was a nightmare:
narrow, with no turning points. It was lethal to tyres, and it didn't feel
remotely like the wide and elegant avenue behind; it felt like the side
road to a factory. `I like it; it's edgy,' I told Joyce.
The address would be 1, Ivy Grove Lane. That decided it. It was too nice an
address to pass up. `I want it,' I said recklessly, oblivious to the first
rule of house buying, ie., don't look too keen. Charlie hadn't even seen
it. In the sunshine, squinting at the rubble and ferns, I offered the