An op­ti­mist’s guide to mak­ing your self-build dream a re­al­ity

There has never been a bet­ter time to self-build for those who look on the bright side of life. Sharon Dale re­ports.

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY -

WHILE many of us have been in­spired by Grand De­signs and dream of build­ing our own home, Ian Rock re­veals that only those whose glass is half-full will ever give it a go.

“Self-builders are op­ti­mists by na­ture be­cause pes­simists would never start,” says Ian, who is author of the bril­liant new Haynes man­ual Build Your Own House.

The book is an eas­ily di­gestible guide and will in­spire those who are se­ri­ous about mak­ing their dream home a re­al­ity.

And there has never been a bet­ter time to do self-build. Plots of land are less ex­pen­sive than they were a few years ago and as long as you have a rea­son­able de­posit, mort­gages are ob­tain­able.

“There are about 16 len­ders who do self-build mort­gages and they ask for at least a 25 per cent de­posit on the value of the fin­ished house,” says Ian.

“The main dif­fer­ence be­tween this and a con­ven­tional mort­gage is that the bank will only re­lease the money in staged pay­ments as you progress with the build.

“It’s best if you can pay for the plot out­right first and then use that as col­lat­eral to bor­row against when get­ting a mort­gage.”

Do­ing your home­work and get­ting the sums right are the start­ing point for a suc­cess­ful self-build. “This is where the op­ti­mism counts against you be­cause peo­ple will make the fig­ures fit, but you have to be re­al­is­tic and you have to fac­tor in a good cush­ion. You will need a good con­tin­gency fund for ex­tras like build­ing con­trol fees, things go­ing wrong and cost of ma­te­ri­als ris­ing,” says Ian.

De­tailed re­search and pre­cise plan­ning is where books like Ian’s and mag­a­zines like Home­build­ing & Ren­o­vat­ing are use­ful. If you are go­ing to project man­age your own build then great or­gan­i­sa­tional and peo­ple skills are key.

“It’s not rocket sci­ence but don’t as­sume that project man­ag­ing is just boss­ing peo­ple about. You need to be clear about what you want. I sug­gest writ­ing ev­ery­thing down in de­tail. Don’t just give your builder a set of draw­ings oth­er­wise the dan­ger is it won’t in­clude ev­ery­thing you want. That’s when builders start charg­ing ex­tra and it mounts up,” says Ian.

Af­ter metic­u­lous prepa­ra­tion, find­ing a plot is the next hur­dle and though most peo­ple dream of green and pleas­ant sites with stun­ning views, these are rare.

“To get some­thing like this you re­ally have to look for plots in dis­guise,” says Ian.

What­ever you choose, you can be sure there will be some stress in­volved and your home will cost more than you thought it would, but says Ian: “It’s worth it be­cause it gives you the chance to cre­ate some­thing that suits you and some­thing you can be proud of.

“And it will cost roughly 25 per cent less than if you bought it from a de­vel­oper. The sav­ings are po­ten­tially enor­mous.”

Build Your Own House by Ian Rock is pub­lished by Haynes, £19.99. To or­der a copy from the York­shire Post Book­shop, call free on 0800 0153232 or go on­line at www.york­shire post­book­shop.co.uk. P&P is £2.75.

“So look for an old bun­ga­low that you could de­mol­ish to make way for your dream home or find a chal­leng­ing site that de­vel­op­ers have shunned. “Sites like these might be steeply slop­ing and will cost more to build on be­cause the foun­da­tions will be tricky, but they of­fer a lot of op­por­tu­nity to de­sign some­thing dif­fer­ent and ex­cit­ing.”

Plots are more plen­ti­ful now that de­vel­op­ers have off-loaded land to stay afloat in the re­ces­sion, though gar­den grab­bing is less of an op­tion now the Govern­ment has re­clas­si­fied gar­dens as green­field rather than brown­field sites.

The choice of build­ing ma­te­ri­als has also ex­panded.

Tra­di­tional brick and block builds, which take time and are de­railed by bad weather, are be­ing re­placed with tim­ber or steel frames with ma­sonry cladding, and poly­styrene blocks filled with con­crete are grow­ing in pop­u­lar­ity, as are SIPS – struc­turally in­su­lated pan­els.

These mod­ern meth­ods of con­struc­tion have speeded up the build­ing process, though they are not nec­es­sar­ily cheaper and there can be fund­ing is­sues.

“The banks are quite con­ser­va­tive and sniffy about lend­ing on new meth­ods of con­struc­tion,” says Ian.

“You may only find a cou­ple of banks will­ing to lend and they may want a larger de­posit.”

STEEL WORKS: Holm­wood at Glais­dale, near Whitby, is built on a steel frame, and was de­signed around a steep, chal­leng­ing hill­side.

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