Meet the York self-builders who fell in love - and are telling their story on TV. Maxine Gordon has the story

A YORK couple who built their own homes just three doors apart in a pioneering self-build project are to star in a popular TV show.

Rich Randerson decided to join the unique home building scheme after a second date with Jane Calvert who had just bought one of the plots at the site in Acomb.

Three years later, the pair are now neighbours at the Lowfield Green development, where they live with their respective children.

And they are the subject of Tuesday night's Grand Designs: The Streets, on Channel 4, where presenter Kevin McLeod follows their story.

York Press: Rich and Jane at their self build in YorkRich and Jane at their self build in York

Dad-of-two Rich told The Press that building his own five-bedroom house from scratch was a big challenge. "I did a small extension at my previous house - but I had no experience of self building. And I am terrible at DIY."

Mum-of-three Jane was more confident of taking on the project. In the hour-long programme - the third in the new series of the Grand Designs spin-off which focusses on self-build communities across the UK - Jane shows off her have-a-go spirit. We see her securing the batons to the exterior of her five-bedroom self build and adding cladding.

Jane who also works full time in IT said: "I love doing anything that gets my hands dirty. But I get frustrated because it is hard to find the time. Also I don't have the height or strength."

Jane is 5ft tall and Rich is 6ft 8in - which caused one problem during the build. Jane had to have the door frames made bigger in her house to allow more head room for Rich.

Her only other issue was a lack of waterproofing on the balcony. "I had a leak and water was trickling through the light fitting in the kitchen room which was pretty awful. I got the builder back to waterproof it - but wish it had been highlighted."

York Press: Jane's kitchen which cost almost £35,000Jane's kitchen which cost almost £35,000

Rich had some stressful moments too, not least when he was told his foundations were wrong and the building would be too high. "Luckily that was solved on site easily with an extra bit of steel."

In the show, Rich holds his breath while a giant window is dropped into place in the roof. To save £500, Rich had booked a crane operator to do the task using straps rather than a fitting company which would use a more secure suction method to move the window from ground to roofline.

In all, each spend around £350,000 on their new homes, which included buying the plot (for about £100,000), paying for the construction, and interior finish and furnishings. They estimate their homes will be worth between £500,000-£600,000 to re-sell.

Rich admitted he was more comfortable appearing on TV than Jane. "I loved it. I love the programme. It was a lot of hours of filming - about 100. My kids are six and nine and don't really care than Dad is building a house so it is good to document it and when they are older they will think it was pretty cool!"

Jane said: "I reluctantly signed up, but I really enjoyed the filming days with Kevin. He is exactly like how he is on the telly and very conversational."

Now the pair have moved into their respective houses they have just one wish.

Jane would have liked an extra bedroom so the entire blended family could be together under one roof.

Would they do it again?

Rich said: "The plan is to do it again - and build one house."

Grand Designs: The Streets - story so far

CHANNEL 4's Grand Designs: The Streets is a spin-off of the popular self-build series fronted by Kevin McLeod.

Now in its third series, it follows self-building communities across the UK, including here in York.

In the first episode of the latest season, which aired two weeks ago, we meet two couples building at the Lowfield Green site - Nicola and Gareth. With only a small budget, former schoolteacher Nicola takes on the challenge of designing and project managing a traditional, redbrick, family home with a modern twist herself. But, working with a tight budget and lack of experience, things start to go wrong when the centrepiece of her vision - a spectacular triangular window - arrives but does not fit.

York Press: Aerial shot of the siteAerial shot of the site

A few doors down, an exciting Brazilian-inspired home is being built by Matt and Maryellen, with flamboyant colours, textures and a butterfly roof. Steelworker Matt is keen to use the material he loves wherever he can, but Maryellen fears it will make the building feel industrial. They have different ideas about what they want from the house. Matt wants a gothic bathroom all in black, like a nightclub, Maryellen in contrast, wants a glamorous white one. How will they compromise over their design differences?


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Later in the series, we will catch up with their neighbour Jonathan who has invented an experimental new building system with the help of world-class engineers, where the walls, floor and roof are made from wooden boxes held together only with bolts. Jonathan wants to push his concept further than ever - building up three stories, which has never been done before. If he pulls it off, it will be the largest structure ever made using this method.  More than just an experiment, his home will also be a place to settle down with his son and an opportunity to return to York, the city where he grew up. 

Grand Designs: The Streets is on Channel 4 on Tuesdays at 9pm. Catchup on the new series at

Lowfield Green - the site

THE couples in the Channel 4 series are building their own homes in the Lowfield Green development - on the site of the former Lowfield School.

York Press: Artist's impression of the site at Lowfield Green Artist's impression of the site at Lowfield Green

City of York Council's redevelopment of Lowfield Green includes a community of new houses as well as the six self-build plots - part of the first scheme of its kind in the country

Outline planning permission was already secured for the plots so construction work could begin as soon as the detailed plans for each house were approved.

All the plots were big enough for detached homes with three to five bedrooms and a garage if needed.

Each has south-facing back gardens.

Bids were invited for each plot, with the asking price cited at £95,000 or higher.