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21st Century B&B – Buy and Build

Designing a property to your own specifications can be achieved in a number of ways: from using a ready-made build plan and making your own adjustments; or working with an architect to design a property from scratch to suit your exact requirements. Gerry and Kathryn Stewart from Leeds took the third option to build their very own dream retreat in Akkaya, an unspoilt valley in the Turkish mountains near Dalaman.

Like many looking to buy a property abroad, the Stewart's didn't realise that building their own property would be a financially viable option, "we had no idea that building our own home would be a possibility, but apparently it was within our budget," explains Gerry. The couple discovered that construction costs are usually provided per square metre for a given location, but vary widely from resort to resort. As a general guide the cost of a 3 or 4 bedroom villa in Turkey where the Stewarts bought, on a 500m2 plot varies from £100,000 to £200,000 plus. The price of the chosen plot of land, the size and style of the villa and pool, garden landscaping and fittings and fixtures determine the final cost.

Gerry and Kathryn decided upon a 1,230 m2 plot with fantastic views of the mountains and the nearby Akkaya lake, and local planning regulations allowed them to build two storeys on 185 m² of the land, with terraces and a swimming pool not included. This build-figure is dictated by local planning regulations which determine how large a house you can build on a given plot of land, with limits on the area of the building's base, or 'footprint', and the number of floors. Building companies are well versed on local planning rules and a creative architect can often gain extra space if needed by adding a bedroom in the roof space or putting a bedroom, or even a self-contained flat, below the house or swimming pool if the land is sloping.

Through working closely with the local architect and trawling the internet and interior design magazines for ideas and inspiration, Gerry and Kathryn compiled a list of features they wanted for their house. These included a second living area on the first floor level that could enjoy a completely unobstructed view of the surrounding stunning scenery, a galleried hall with spiralled staircase to create a dramatic entrance, and open fires to ensure the living spaces were cosy in wintertime. An interesting process, the couple learnt that some of their ideas weren't practical options given the space and budget available – "we were doing a lot of fantasising!" laughs Kathryn – but they also learnt a great deal from their architect who made alternative suggestions that worked well, such as adding a round feature window above the front door and pillars to the living room.

The couple found, like many who design their own home, that dreams need to fit with the practicalities for the property to work off-paper but that when the plans are finalised it is hugely rewarding to see your vision grow to become a reality: "It was really exciting to see the building take shape and to know that it was going to be your home" says Kathryn who had a monthly report sent through to keep them up-to-date with progress, "On the first day of every month we received a progress report and pictures from the builder," says Kathryn. "We agreed to only open them together, so we'd both rush home!" Keeping well informed of how the building work is taking shape helps to ease the build process for overseas buyers and in the Stewart's case helped to take a weight off of their minds. 

Turkey has an excellent selection of high-quality fixtures and fittings- many made locally and available at much lower prices than in the UK. Being involved in the design process means that British buyers can choose a contemporary design or bring traditional Turkish or Mediterranean features into their property – with architectural features that include an internal courtyard, bay windows and covered balconies and the use of wood and natural stone. The Stewarts were pleasantly surprised by the choice of tiles, fittings and appliances available in Turkey but found it difficult to make a decision "It was really hard work because of the huge selection!" explains Gerry, but "the design team also made some great suggestions, such as incorporating mosaic panels into the tiled floors and adding a false ceiling and spot lights in the living rooms."

When the process had reached completion and the house was finished, Kathryn and Gerry took a trip to Turkey to see their finished home for the first time – and both were over the moon: "It was very emotional and I burst into tears when I saw it for the first time" says Kathryn, and Gerry's reaction was no less delighted: "I was so excited that I could hardly sleep that first night and I was up at 4am clambering around the mountainside with a video camera!" he laughs.

The Stewarts are prime examples of the great sense of achievement felt when a self-designed project is completed and Dominic Whiting, editor of the Buying in Turkey Guide agrees, "Building your own property means that you can adapt the property to suit you, rather than having to adapt your family and needs to suit the property. In this way, you can have the house you want in the location you want, with little or no compromises. With property values rising rapidly in Turkey, building your own property makes excellent financial sense also, allowing you to secure tomorrow's property at today's price."

According to Dominic Whiting, the cost of building can also be spread with a number of stage payments made throughout the build process, helping your finances and giving you security and piece-of-mind. Generally speaking, 90-95% of the building costs will be paid during construction, which typically lasts 12-18 months, with the remaining instalment payable when the keys are handed over on completion and you receive the property title deeds.