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.
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.