Doing your homework can help save on self-build costs
THE government is keen for us to build our own homes though there are many challenges to overcome for those who want to create their own grand design.
First you’ll need to find a plot and these are rare in good locations. You can subscribe to www.plotfinder.net, which lists land for sale or keep an eye out for property that can be demolished to make way for a new home. Getting a mortgage can also be a hurdle. Most of the mainstream banks don’t lend to self-builders though some building societies are happy to lend to those who have a large deposit.
If you do manage to get to the starting block, spend time doing your homework. Michael Holmes, editor of Homebuilding and Renovating magazine and spokesperson for The National Homebuilding and Renovating Show, believes careful management of your self-build budget can save up to 50 per cent on costs. Here are his tips: Concentrate on the basics when it comes to specification. Most people have a preconceived idea that the cost of material, labour and appliances will be really expensive. However, when on a tight budget, simple methods and materials that house builders have been using for years are usually the best option. For instance, a four bedroom detached house may need 15,000 bricks but by opting for the cheaply priced ones you could save yourself £10,500 in the process.
Corners add costs. A simple four corner house is cheaper to build than a six corner house because every time you add a corner you increase the build cost per m2. The simple ‘up and down’ roof required for a four corner house also makes it cheaper to build and allows you the option of opening up a third floor which can increase your floor area by 40 per cent.
Utilise the attic space. If there is enough space it can be transformed into an office or lounge or can become a study or an extra bedroom.
Roof tiles. By opting for largeformat concrete tiles you will end up saving more than if you purchase small, handmade tiles or those from natural materials.
Don’t include a chimney. They are costly to build and modern houses don’t need them. They stick out from the side wall and can significantly reduce the floor area of your house. By not including one in your self-build home, you can save around £2,000-£8,000.
Quoins and surrounds. Quoins are masonry blocks placed at the corner of a wall or window which provide a surrounding feature or decoration. A cheaper and equally effective option is to use contrasting brick or a raised render painted in a different colour.
Exclude bay windows: They require more work underground to form the foundations and you will also need special corner bricks and lintels and, usually, an insulated, tiled roof and internal ceiling for this. The lead flashings and cavity trays have to be handmade and fitted making this more expensive. As a result there is usually an extra cost of around £2,000-£4,000 per bay.
Keep landscaping simple and turf the garden: An average garden area can be transformed for less than £500. To turf all your garden areas by yourself just level, rake to remove stones then roll and get the turf ordered.
Grave. To make your driveway and pathway look better there are many types and colours of gravel to choose from and they can be mixed and matched to good effect. Always aim to order full loads rather than the tonne bags as this will save you money.
Patios. Simple 2x2 concrete riven-effect slabs can be bought for just a few pounds each and will quickly give you a decent patio area.
Fencing. An alternative and much easier way of putting up post and rail fencing is by using metal spikes instead of concrete to set the posts in position. This will make it faster, easier and cheaper and you could even do it yourself.