Wayne Hemingway on a mission to get more people building their own homes

“By going through the process of building your own home, you learn so much about life, yourself and your family.”

That’s the view of Wayne Hemingway MBE who is on a mission to get more people to go through that ‘life enhancing’ process.

The Lancashire-born designer and regeneration expert shared his views on self-building ahead of the launch of a pioneering new web series which he will host.

The first episode of Venturous Builds will go live this Autumn on structural defects insurance specialist CRL’s YouTube channel.

Wayne, 55, who founded Hemingway Design with wife Gerardine, said: “Anything that encourages people to build their own homes and then share it with other people, is great in my view.

“It’s like when you eat your own vegetables that you’ve grown in your garden – they taste better. When you catch your own fish, it always tastes better. There’s just something about doing something for yourself.

“But we absolutely need more people doing it, as so much of what is built for people is not good enough.”

Morecambe-born Wayne, who is the keynote speaker at next month’s Manchester Evening News Property Lunch, said building your own home doesn’t have to be done ‘the Grand Designs way’.

“We built our own house and the concept of that is an amazing thing to do, it’s life enhancing,” said Wayne.

“But it doesn’t have to cost a fortune, you don’t have to go over budget – Grand Designs is just a television program.

“There are many ways to build a home that can be just as cost effective or more cost effective than buying it from a housebuilder, because you are cutting out all the profit.

“You have to learn things though and get stuck in. Barriers do have to be broken down in two ways. One is the ‘Grand Designs’ way of doing things – it doesn’t have to be like that. The second barrier is a presumption that you have to have every single DIY skill in the book to do build your own home. It’s just not true at all.

“Myself and Gerardine built our own house, but it was other people who did the plumbing and electrics, and we just did bits as and when, which allowed us to focus more on the design.”

Wayne, who founded, built and sold the iconic brand Red or Dead with Gerardine, said ‘you aren’t always going to see eye-to-eye’ when going through the whole process of home building.

He said: “When you do something like this you are not always going to work perfectly in unison with your partner, husband or wife. But as mature adults you have to deal with that. Building your own home is never going to be the smoothest ride – it never is.

“The process for us has always been to design things that we would like. When we had Red or Dead we were designing stuff for us and trusting our taste. We’ve never ever thought about the end result as money.

“It’s the same when we do property and regeneration. We wouldn’t take on a property and design something that we didn’t like ourselves. We can appreciate other people doing things but we have to feel that we are giving ourselves and our tastes to it.


“And that applies to whatever you design for people. We are very lucky because we do very well and are able to choose projects that are to our taste, or designing for people who we like to design for.”

When it comes to specific tips Wayne said: “Number one is that you’ve got to study and read up about it. It’s got to be something you’re really interested in. There’s no point doing it if you are just thinking about making money.

“You have to have that desire to want to do it and if you have that burning desire you then study and learn and get on with it.

“We are always doing new projects and moving around with lots of new ideas so I’m really looking forward to seeing the Venturous Builds winning projects in person.

“The Hemingway Design office is in London but we work all over the country. We do a wide variety of things from regeneration through to uniforms and organising big events.”

Wayne is also a believer in ‘personal taste is personal taste’.

“If we all had the same taste life would be boring,” he said. “Designing and building your own home is about doing it and getting something you want, rather than getting something that someone else has designed for you. Lots of people do know what they want when it comes to their home, so ending up with something bespoke is a good thing.

“There are plenty of fantastic self-built homes in the country and around the world. But I always say that it’s not just about the design, it’s about the spirit of getting on and doing it. The fact there’s a wide choice when it comes to design is great. But people shouldn’t worry about entering CRL’s Venturous Builds competition just purely based on style. It’s about the philosophy and the people and the love of what you achieve at the end of the process.”

Glasgow - July 4: Wayne Hemmingway of Vintage Festival Glasgow poses for a picture at SouthBlock July 4, 2013 in Glasgow. (Photo by Mark Mainz)