How this creative couple completed a remarkably unique development

If you had the opportunity to choose your perfect home, what would it be like?

How about a shed?

That is what two highly creative people decided to build. Tracy Fox, a freelance set designer, and her partner Steve, a scenic artist were inspired by the industrial style and the workaday materials of such buildings – and set about building the Urban Shed.

But make no mistake.

The Urban Shed would be no ordinary shed. The couple wanted to incorporate the materials around a classical architectural design drawn up by friend Jonathan Tuckey. But they had a particular budget, and a limited amount of time. Would they be able to do it?

Building the Urban Shed

In their favour, Tracy and Steve already had previous experience in property development. So the project was not entirely new to them.

Previously, the couple had bought properties at auction. And after a lick of paint, a new thing here, a better kitchen there, they had improved these properties — making them to be much more liveable, and easier to sell on.

But Tracy says it had been a long-term ambition to build their very own permanent home from scratch.

Would their experience be enough to get them through the design and build of their own personal project?

Home in southeast London

In order to raise initial funds, Tracy and Steve sold their previous home, renting somewhere to stay whilst they built the new one.

The build would go up on a small patch of land tucked behind some shops in southeast London. Tracy had found the area and it cost £400,000, leaving the pair with £300,000 to build the property.

But there would be problems.

10 months later

The project had stalled. Tracy said it was proving very difficult to get anyone to build the new home with the £300,000 in the bank.

This was related to the tendering process. It seemed many contractors only wanted to take on the project for large amounts of money. The highest offer was £1.2 million.

So it became evident they would need more to spend. The couple decided to lose the designer and oversee the project themselves. This gave more to spend, and soon they found contractors who could take on the project: Remy and Romas.

The project could move again.

Budget creeps up

No sooner had the build started than a problem arose. To approve the plans for the home, the council said Tracy and Steve had to drill down further than they had expected – which meant changing the drains from five surrounding houses.

Thanks to the groundwork and professional fees the budget crept up to over £400,000. Steve and Tracy had started to consider ways of obtaining more finance.

And this was just the start of the building process.

Several months on

As the project went on, the couple had quickly spent the £425,000 budget, were trying to take on as much work as possible, and were even contemplating selling the car.

But despite their hard effort, the building work came to a standstill. Work on the property had to stall until money was available for the contractors.

They decided to apply for a loan for £200,000 in order to finish the house.

Five weeks to go

After the couple met the conditions for the loan, building recommenced.

But with just five weeks left to complete the project – would they be able to finish it in time?

Remember: this project was no ordinary shed. It was inspired by agricultural barns and industrial sheds, with the help of renowned architect Jonathan Tuckey.

Tuckey’s design uses the materials of standard builder’s fair. And they are intended to be left visible.  On the inside this includes raw grey corrugated cement fibre sheeting used as cladding for insulation.

And for the outside, enormous semi-transparent polycarbonate panels, or rodeca. A material Tracy says will help them to beautifully light up the courtyard.

So with all these complicated design elements, would they finish in time, and would it look any good?


The team came together. Tracy, Steve, Remy and Romas applied all their skills, knowledge and passion to complete a remarkably unique project in the heart of southeast London.

The Channel 4 presenter Kevin McCloud said: “This building really delivers… If you’re going to build a shed, let it look like this.”

Hit a snag in your own grand design?

Then get the project moving again. With Affirmative you can borrow between £10,000 and £2 million. Your loan can be ready in hours, secured against an existing property and / or a property being purchased as a first or second charge.

For more about fast finance call our Manchester office on 08000 44 84 84.