Self Build Projects, 5 Points To Think About…

Sourcing a plot – Sounds easier than you think, and after all the shows on TV people have become mad for self building in the UK and plots of land are few and far between, so think outside the box look at dilapidated properties with nice amounts of land that you could knock down & rebuild, or do what is becoming very popular, use theoriginal house shell as a template and utilize every space to remodel the whole look of the place, naturally this won’t have as much planning issues as complete new builds.There seems to be a lot of property’s being bought and divided, the original house and some of the land sold to one buyer and then part of the land sold off as a building plot with outline planning obtained.Tip: if it’s already happened to one house on the street it sets a precedence, meaning it’s more likely you will get similar planning permissions.

Planning permission – There is no way around planning permission you have to get it unless your build falls under permitted development. Failure to do so can be costly.

A little tale, a beautiful plot of land came available near me with agricultural planning permission, a man who wanted to be a ‘farmer’ bought the plot of land with a view to keeping livestock there, he needed a barn, so started building one with a slate roof, stone work and running services such as electricity, plumbing, shower and a sweeping stone drive with dry stone walls, you get the picture. This wasn’t just an agricultural barn, it was built with the intention that eventually he would live there near his livestock & would move in to what could be a 4 bedroom home. it was a very high spec barn. Go there now and all the windows are gone it’s scaled down in size and the stone & block-work has been sold off, he was well and truly in the wrong and thought he could diddle the planners.

So be clear and realistic with the planners and get some idea of feasibility before you purchase your land.

Selecting an Architect – House designs can be bought off the peg but when designing your dream self build most people choose to go with an architect, so shop around there are many websites now with reputable Architects, you can even search by area, which makes it easier for working together. My advice is once you’ve narrowed your choices down go and look at the architects designs that have already been commissioned, visit them if possible and learn what works for you. Seeing plans on paper is one thing but actually walking around a house is completely different, especially when it comes to size, it is very hard to get a sense of size from a drawing no matter how detailed it is and it’s very hard and costly to alter designs once building starts.

Building materials – Choosing the right building materials can make or break a design, obviously the Architect will have their own ideas when designing your home, but it pays for you to do a bit of research and steer the architect in the right directions. We obviously like a bit of oak ourselves, as its sustainable, green and well quite frankly, gorgeous! But it’s all a matter of taste and personality, so look around at houses in the area if you want to be in keeping with the surrounding houses, or if you are going for modern, Eco, or passive house try and see and talk to as many self builders in your area as possible, it’s a great community that can help each other, reach out & get a feel for all the building materials available!

Project managing – Your need a project manager, so either hire a professional or you do it yourself, be realistic as it does require your time, your be needed on site at least every two days & although there will be a lot of initial planning to get everything in place before the build starts, don’t underestimate the time you will need to put in during the actual build, problems always arise and if you or the project manager aren’t always available the build could grind to a halt, this will cause problems & could cost money too.

To project manage you need to be able to arrange all the initial contractors / designers / architects and surveyors then organise contractors to arrive when required, arranging delivery for materials to arrive at the right time so the project keeps flowing, there’s nothing worse than workmen turning up to complete a job and the materials are not there.

Project managing is a lot about logistics & negotiating, being a people person helps but you need to be strong as you may need to replace someone, negotiate a better deal or complain about something not going to plan, could you do this? Time will be the biggest issue, if you cannot spend the time needed you may be better to invest in a professional planner, it is a big part of the build.

So what are you waiting for keep your eyes peeled for that elusive plot of land, watch out for your dream house design and get saving those pennies, as building your own home truly is an adventure of a lifetime.