about us

Hello, hello, hello

I'm Tara Murphy. After years of following other's blogs this is my first blog.  I'm hoping that blogging will keep everyone we know, and potentially don't (that's more scary) up to date with the creation of our new home.  I hope this will be a very honest diary of events - i'm not interested in presenting a 'perfect' version of reality.  Dimitri is telling me that he may get around to posting as well every now and then - i bet you can't wait!

Before we went travelling we both did CELTA (TEFL) certificates, hence the title, sorry if you thought you were reading a grammar blog.  The fact that we find this amusing illustrates that we are geeks with science degrees.  I studied neuroscience and then became a teacher. Dimitri did Physics and is a software engineer. This may explain a lot...

Our property story so far

After living in Brixton, Peckham, and Herne Hill in London, we bought our first property, a Victorian flat in Borough. Hilariously it was in a building called Murphy House, so it seemed like destiny...

A couple of years later we then left our jobs, rented out the flat and travelled around the world for a couple of years.  We returned to London, via Oxford, and then started our family. Borough didn't seem quite the right place to be with a baby, and certainly not in a flat on the 3rd storey with no lift.  So we rented out the flat again and moved to Richmond, Surrey.  Life was fantastic here with Richmond Park, Kew Gardens and the Thames riverside on the doorstep.  The centre of London was just a 20min train ride away so we didn't feel too cut off from our old lives. We had 3 happy years here but it was too expensive to consider buying a house. 

So we moved West again.  By now we had two small children and had sold the Borough flat.  We hunted for houses in Bristol, Bath and surrounding area, but nothing and nowhere felt quite right. We decided we'd find somewhere to rent to try out village life. As Dimitri and I were both raised in cities, Oxford and London, we had no idea whether rural life would suit us or not.

We have now been living in an old English cottage in a South Gloucestershire village for the past 2 and half years and we now have 3 children.

Why build?

A long time ago, probably on a long walk, Dimitri & I both talked about a future aim to build our own home. We have both always been interested in and enjoyed architecture, especially modern exciting stuff. We loved the idea of creating a bespoke, individual home. So has been a long held ambition of ours.

Why build now?

Dimitri was very keen to point out the economic fact that we would be able to build a home for less than buying the equivalent on the open market. He was also very keen on the idea of building an energy efficient house (it's the physicist in him).  The question became, why wouldn't you build a house if you can?  To which my response was -"I'm quite occupied with 3 young children presently!  Won't we also have to compromise on the house we would want? (I have no income whilst I'm having a career break while the children are small.)" 

I did look into the idea before we left London, but plots were priced sky high. When we moved West it became more likely that we would find an affordable plot.  We were also more flexible whilst renting. We had cash savings from the sale of our flat, so ideally placed financially.  I was convinced to begin the search for a plot (for more see here).  I can tell you that I am ridiculously busy and involved but it would be even more hectic with a job as well.  The full extent of the financial stress and compromises remain to seen, as we are building on a very tight budget.  But i think no matter what your budget is you will have to go through the same process, it's human nature to want slightly more than you have/can get.


  1. Hi Tara, great blog, thanks for the link, and good luck with it all. Read your bit about kitchens with a wry smile. After a load of quick work (hence no ukes) we're putting our place on the market this weekend, and hopefully moving to Bristol Harbourside. We worked out that, over the last 18 years, we've had three different kitchens! Looking forward to seeing your progress...

    1. Thanks so much for the lovely comment - my first! I think your news is very exciting, a home by the water and so close to all the theatres, venues and museums will be amazing.

  2. Hi Tara, I have recently become mildly obsessed by passivhaus principles and I am wondering why we aren't all fervently building them. I'm a physicist turned S/W Developer also. I look forward to hear how you are getting along.

  3. Thanks for the interest in our project. I think it will be interesting to see how the dynamic between science/design/budget plays out!