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How to Self Build your Dream House

Title image: Jim Stephenson

From setting a budget to hiring a contractor, read on for our steps to custom building a new home to suit your needs.

Self building a brand new home can seem like a daunting task. From setting a budget and honing your own DIY skills to the time you realistically have available, follow our step by step guide to self build home success.

Find the best building plot

You’ll be up against fierce competition when you start looking for potential building plots. Professional builders and ‘land finders’ – as well as other aspiring self builders – will be on the lookout for development land.

Take advantage of online resources to help research. Alternatively, you might find word of mouth is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal.

Could you build the house yourself?

If you have some well-honed construction skills – you’re able to lay your own bricks, for example – then you’ll enjoy getting your hands dirty and save money in the process, too.

If you are a capable DIYer, taking on site preparation works, labouring on site for the builder and providing assistance for tradesmen as and when required should be well within your remit. But in the vast majority of cases, self-builders don’t have the time to spare or the skills necessary to undertake the whole build process on a DIY basis.

Get involved in building in other ways

Even without a background in construction, there are many ways you can be involved in your project. For example, you can help your build progress from behind the scenes with site organisation and scheduling or even by doing the project management.

Taking on the project management means you have to be well prepared – you can learn many of the necessary skills by going on a specialist course, like at the National Self Build & Renovation Centre in Swindon who provide day courses. If you are a self-build novice, the knowledge you’ll garner from a focused course will prove invaluable.

Set a Budget

When setting a realistic budget, always include a 10% contingency of your overall budget. You should only use this money for unexpected project costs such as unavoidable delays. And if you don’t end up using the contingency, you’ve got some extra money to invest in interior fixtures and fittings or landscaping designs.

Arrange Finance

One of the most crucial things you’ll need to do before starting on your self build, is finding funding for your project. Having the funding right from the very start can help to secure a deal on your dream plot.

Self build mortgage providers are widely available and work on a stage payment basis, where funding is released at key points during your project.

Figure out the essential permissions

Before you even start on your project you need to make sure you have the essential building consents in place. This might include planning permissions, building control approval and listed building consent.

To be on the safe side, it’s also essential to get the right documentation in place, such as getting the right contracts, an insurance policy and relevant warranties.

Choose the construction method

Most self builders choose from two main methods for the structural shell of their home. Many choose the traditional Brick and Block, while the timber frame structure is increasing in popularity due to tis cost effectiveness and reliable construction.

We recommend researching the other options on the market too, including SIPs (Structured Insulated Panels) and insulated concrete framework.

Hiring a professional designer and builder

Many self-builders choose to take on the management of their project, while others will want the reassurance of a professional overseeing the work. You can be hands-on throughout or take a back seat and leave the stress to the professionals.

Some will take their architect’s design to a single main contractor to work on, or even work with a package company who will work for you from conception to completion, providing an architectural design service as well as all of the main materials needed to build the house for an agreed price.

All of these routes (and more) fall under the umbrella of self build; you just need to select the system that best suits your circumstances.

House completion practicalities

With your house build complete and your interiors finished, there are a few extra considerations to tick off.

You’ll need to obtain a completion certificate from building control, apply for the all-important VAT reclaim and put in place a ‘snagging’ list ensuring all small issues are dealt with accordingly. After that, it’s time to move in to your brand new home.

Original article on Grand Designs Magazine.

Words: Anna-Marie Desouza

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