How To Build a New Life in the Country

Many people dream of leaving the city behind in favour of a brand new life in the peace of the countryside, but how many really know how to do it? This two-part series gives practical advice on how to create the perfect rural lifestyle. Using archive footage from the past three series of Build a New Life in the Country alongside new interviews with past contributors, the series explains how to successfully renovate an old property and relocate to pastures new. This second instalment offers tips on how to breathe new life into historic buildings.

Renovating a property in the country is not a project to be taken on lightly – especially if it is a historic building. Successful restorations of ancient or listed homes must take care to preserve the property’s character whilst adapting it to the demands of 21st-century life.

Nick and Lesley Vallance took on a massive project when they decided to move to Spain with their two boys. They paid £300,000 for a 400- year-old palace in the hillside town of Velez- Malaga, near the Costa del Sol. The historic palace had lain derelict for 25 years, and Nick and Lesley had a budget of £250,000 to turn it into an eight-bedroom designer hotel and family home.

Despite having 20 years’ experience as an architect, Nick soon ran into trouble coping with his new environment. None of the family could speak Spanish and the project was delayed for months as they waited for a special licence for work to begin. After four months of sitting around, disaster struck when a huge chunk of the palace collapsed, taking with it six rooms. Nick and Lesley’s ambitious deadline was written off and they had to begin major reconstruction work costing thousands of pounds. The family were forced to sell off all of their assets in a desperate bid to realise their dream.

This programme also catches up with a family who spent nearly four years renovating a water tower in Norfolk. David Forster took on one of the most ambitious projects ever seen on Build a New Life when he decided to transform a tower with no plumbing, electricity, floors or staircase into a sixfloor family home with breathtaking 360-degree views from the top.

A team of builders was hired to replace the roof and install the floors, but to keep to his £30,000 budget, David planned to do the rest of the job himself – all the while continuing to work full-time. The project soon fell behind as David struggled to clear out the 40-foot well at the bottom of the tower, and a major setback occurred when he was denied planning permission for solar tubes that he had already installed on the roof. With his deadline looking hopelessly unattainable, David was forced to draw up a realistic new schedule to get the project finished.

As well as these cautionary tales of the trials and tribulations of refurbishing historic homes, this show seeks out properties on the market that are ripe for renovation. And it highlights prime examples of homes that have already been renovated with care and attention to detail.

From July 17th at 8pm

We all dream of building a new life in the country but how many of us really know how to do it?

This new series gives you practical advice on how to create your dream home and make the move yourself.

Using archive footage from the past three series of Build a New Life in the Country with new interviews and new footage from past contributors, this series tells you everything you need to know about renovating an old property.

Each episode also shows properties on the market which are ready for converting into your dream family home.

  • BBC One
  • BBC Two
  • BBC Three
  • ITV1
  • ITV2
  • 4
  • E4
  • Film4
  • More4
  • Five
  • Fiver
  • Sky1