‘We liked it just as much inside,’ said Andrew. ‘We could certainly see its potential. In effect, we bought it by candlelight. Everyone thought we were mad. We didn’t bother with a surveyors report because we knew it was going to be a full-scale renovation job and just expected the worst. It was actually advertised as a building plot, but we thought it would be cheaper to renovate the school rather than knock it down and start again.’
They each secured a mortgage for half the amount and as soon as planning permission was granted to convert it into a family home, they started work.
‘We were going to live in a caravan, but the people in the village were so supportive of what we were doing that a neighbour, who was going away, said we could house sit for her rent-free for as long as we needed to.’
Lucy and Andrew knew they wouldn’t be able to do everything themselves, but after working on community build projects in Scotland they understood the benefits of many hands making light work.
‘Traditional architecture has become very divorced from modern building work, so we thought it would be useful to create a situation where self-builders and architectural students could learn practical skills,’ said Andrew, who was lecturing at five different universities at the time. So they launched a series of self-build workshops that offered hands-on experience in return for food and accommodation.