Going solo

Complete strip out and renovation in Boars Hill


At Barr Build there is no ‘one approach fits all’ ethos. We explore a client-led renovation project, characterised by accelerated onset with ongoing design work.

In the world of residential renovation, there are many different build models. The Barr Build ethos is to put the client at the forefront of everything we do.

At Longwych in Boars Hill, our clients James and Liz were keen to proceed with their renovation works without a lengthy tender process. With the aim of moving their young family from London to the Oxfordshire countryside, they had found and procured their soon-to be-perfect family home and were keen to proceed with renovation works the second the ink had dried on their exchange documents. School places were waiting, and their rental property was on a non-extendable six-month contract.

LONGWYCH 02 4094 lo res
LONGWYCH 02 4098 lo res

Rather than engaging a conventional contract administration package, James opted to take on the project management role himself, supported by the Barr Build team and the services of Knight Frank (on a consultancy basis) and Debbie Gee Interiors.

To allow quick commencement, the project was priced within two weeks of the initial enquiry, based on a predefined schedule of works drawn up by Henry Longton (RICS) of Knight Frank. Henry also provided contract administration services, which included monthly site visits and valuations throughout the project. From there, the Barr Build team worked with James to cost engineer the overall scope, working together to reach a price which fitted the envelope without compromising project ambitions. Works commenced on-site just days later, with some provisional sums firmed up during the early stages of the project. The fundamentals included a complete electrical and plumbing refit, in conjunction with subtle but extensive remodelling throughout.

LONGWYCH 0896 lo res
LONGWYCH 02 4101 lo res

With significantly improved flow and proportions, the rooms and hallways of Longwych are now more naturally configured. The ground floor includes a split-level, where previously a stylised curved wall configuration led down to the formal sitting room. The new layout achieves classic lines and a more elegant approach to the lower ground floor. Similarly, wall removal and beam insertion to the back of the house has created a separate, spacious home office that is both functional and usable.

Having worked with Debbie Gee on their previous property, James and Liz asked her to help them recreate the same look and feel at Longwych. “In an ideal world I think James and Liz would have liked to lift the interior straight from their Clapham home and drop it into Boars Hill,” says Debbie. “Working together on elements of Longwych by reworking previous drawings made perfect sense.”

LONGWYCH 02 4151 lo res
LONGWYCH 0907 lo res edit
LONGWYCH 02 4163 lo res Edit

Having already built a strong working relationship, James and Liz knew Debbie would be able to step in and help where needed but be equally happy to hand back the reigns where they had the time and capability to design and project manage themselves. “Debbie’s role was to produce technical drawings for the internal remodelling of the property, as well as bespoke cabinetry throughout – allowing the Barr Build team, alongside other subcontractors, to bring it all to life,” says James. “Stepping back in at the end of the project, Debbie worked with us on finishes, soft furnishings, and upholstery, whilst still leaving fabric and furnishing choices very much to us.”

The repositioning of various apertures, along with replacement timber windows throughout, brought light into previously dingy parts of the house. A wine room, large boot room (with buckets of bespoke storage) and a reconfigured, made-to-measure kitchen are just a few of the adjusted spaces that have contributed to making Longwych the perfect home. In addition to works to the main house, the original garaging has been remodelled to include a two-storey home gym, with a weights room downstairs and aerobic equipment on the first floor.

LONGWYCH 02 4163 lo res EDIT
LONGWYCH 02 4106 lo res

When asked for his advice for future self-project-managers, James says to only take on the role if you are sure you have time, and surround yourself with a professional team who can fully support you where required. “We had a hard stop on our rental property, which certainly gave a sense of urgency and helped everyone meet our six-month timeline,” he says. “I would use Barr Build again, and have recommended them to a close member of my own family for a renovation in Chipping Norton.”

We thank James and Liz for trusting us with their renovation, and for allowing us to share their project story.

LONGWYCH 0856 lo res
Explore our services