A Begin­ner’s Guide to Self-build

How to get started on your project — plus, our guide on ev­ery­thing you need to know about build­ing con­tracts

Homebuilding & Renovating - - Contents -

Ac­cord­ing to a Build­ing So­ci­eties As­so­ci­a­tion sur­vey, one mil­lion peo­ple would like to build their own home in the next 12 months. Yet there were just shy of 13,000 self-builds com­pleted in the fi­nan­cial year 2016/2017. A short­age of plots and the sub­se­quent rise in price of those that are avail­able ex­plains part of this dis­con­nect, but it is clear that there are peo­ple will­ing and able to self-build, but strug­gling to take the first step.

The process of self-build­ing is chal­leng­ing, but like any ma­jor life step, it can be made eas­ier by arm­ing your­self with as much in­for­ma­tion as pos­si­ble.

Fi­nance Your Build Get­ting your fi­nances in or­der is the first and most im-

“Get­ting your fi­nances in or­der is the first and most im­por­tant con­sid­er­a­tion when it comes to pre­par­ing for a self- build”

por­tant con­sid­er­a­tion when it comes to pre­par­ing for a self-build. There are no two ways about it: you’ll need to en­sure that you have ac­cess to enough money to com­plete your build.

First per­form a re­al­is­tic au­dit of your cur­rent fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion, and then con­tact lenders to see what you will be able to bor­row to fund your project. Main­stream lenders tend to be wary of lend­ing on self-build projects, but there are spe­cial­ist lenders who will be able to pro­vide a range of op­tions, like Build­store, and pro­vide tai­lored mort­gage ad­vice.

Self-build mort­gages dif­fer from tra­di­tional mort­gages in that the funds are re­leased in stages (ei­ther in ar­rears, where the money is made avail­able af­ter a stage of the build has been com­pleted; or in ad­vance, when it’s re­leased at the start of each build stage).

At this point it’s also worth es­ti­mat­ing (roughly) your build costs. Typ­i­cally these can range from any­where be­tween un­der £1,000/m2 to over £3,000/m2, depend­ing on your build route and level of in­volve­ment, de­sired fin­ish, spec and where in the coun­try you plan to build — our build cost cal­cu­la­tor on page 194 and home­build­ing.co.uk/ cal­cu­la­tor should help.

Re­mem­ber, you’ll also need to ac­count for the cost of your plot, which will con­sume a size­able chunk of your bud­get and set aside be­tween 10% and 30% of your bud­get as a con­tin­gency. The golden rule is this: build cost, plus plot cost and con­tin­gency, should to­tal less than the value of your fin­ished house.

Se­cure a Plot Spe­cial­ist plot-find­ing ser­vices (like plotfinder.net) are in­cred­i­bly use­ful here, but they shouldn’t stop you from be­ing proac­tive. Drive around the area you’re look­ing at to spot any po­ten­tial op­por­tu­ni­ties, get on the web­site of lo­cal au­thor­i­ties and scan through the plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tions, and use Google Earth to iden­tify any po­ten­tial in­fill plots or where there might be room to build in ex­ist­ing gar­dens. Plots will rarely fall into your lap, so you’ll of­ten need to be savvy to se­cure one.

Also, make sure you reg­is­ter with your lo­cal author­ity un­der the Right to Build ( right­to­build­por­tal.org), which re­quires lo­cal au­thor­i­ties in Eng­land to keep track of the de­mand for ser­viced plots in their area. Choose a Build Route The term self-build can be some­thing of a mis­nomer — you don’t have to lay ev­ery brick to self-build. A broader def­i­ni­tion would see a self-builder as some­one who com­mis­sions the home they end up liv­ing in.

It’s im­por­tant to de­cide on your build route early in the process as it will have ma­jor im­pli­ca­tions on the costs. The ma­jor­ity of projects are han­dled by a main con­trac­tor/ builder or sub­con­trac­tors project man­aged by the home­own­ers. How­ever, you can also choose a turnkey or pack­age sup­plier, who will han­dle all as­pects of the de­sign and build process, with min­i­mal in­ter­ven­tion from you — though this comes at a cost.

Cre­ate a De­sign Brief Most self-builders will em­ploy the ser­vices of a pro­fes­sional when it comes to the de­sign of their house — whether that’s an ARB/ Riba-af­fil­i­ated ar­chi­tect, an ar­chi­tec­tural de­signer or an in-house de­signer at a pack­age com­pany.

“Who­ever you choose, you will need to know that you can have a good rap­port and are able to get on well to­gether,” says De­sign and Ma­te­ri­als’ Bev­er­ley Pem­ber­ton. “A

good de­signer is also a good lis­tener and they will have flair, cre­ativ­ity and ex­pe­ri­ence. Ask to see ref­er­ences and ex­am­ples of the de­signer’s work, know their track record of plan­ning ap­provals and en­sure that they have a thor­ough un­der­stand­ing of the plan­ning sys­tem.”

Be­fore ap­proach­ing a pro­fes­sional, you will need to know what your pri­or­i­ties are for your new home and come up with a brief. Make sure, as well, that your de­signer re­turns fi­nal draw­ings that are achiev­able within your bud­get.

Get Ap­proval Plan­ning can seem like a com­pli­cated beast – less­ened some­what if you find a plot that has plan­ning per­mis­sion al­ready granted on it per­haps – but it’s about un­der­stand­ing the sit­u­a­tion within the con­text of where you want to build.

You should re­ceive an an­swer within eight weeks of sub­mit­ting your ap­pli­ca­tion, but be sure to keep track of your ap­pli­ca­tion.

Re­ceiv­ing ap­proval is not the end of your re­la­tion­ship with the plan­ning of­fi­cer. All plan­ning per­mis­sions are granted with con­di­tions at­tached. These can range from spec­i­fy­ing what type of roof ma­te­ri­als must be used to the date the project must start by.

Fail­ure to ad­dress the con­di­tions will in­val­i­date your con­sent, mak­ing any work done il­le­gal. Con­di­tions must be for­mally dis­charged (or sat­is­fied) in writ­ing, usu­ally through a form ob­tained through your lo­cal author­ity — and with a fee at­tached, of course.

You’ll also need to sub­mit de­tailed build­ing draw­ings for Build­ing Reg­u­la­tions’ ap­proval (or a Build­ing War­rant in Scot­land). Build­ing Regs are na­tional le­gal stan­dards for de­sign and con­struc­tion that ap­ply to all new builds. The as­sess­ment on whether your build will gain ap­proval can ei­ther be car­ried out by your lo­cal author­ity’s build­ing con­trol team, or you can ap­point a pri­vate ap­proved inspector.

You may also be able to sort your struc­tural war­ranty through an ap­proved inspector, which may save some costs.

Go out to Ten­der Much like find­ing a de­signer, choos­ing a builder re­quires plenty of re­search on your part. Ask your de­signer, friends, build­ing con­trol, neigh­bours and any­one else you know who’s had build­ing work done for rec­om­men­da­tions.

Meet and in­ter­view as many as you can and ask them to quote on your project based on ten­der doc­u­ments that your de­signer may have helped you to pre­pare.

Sort your In­sur­ance As soon as con­tracts are ex­changed on your plot, you will need to have in­sur­ance — usu­ally a spe­cial­ist pol­icy for self-builders. A com­pre­hen­sive self-build pol­icy is ad­vised. The pol­icy will cover pub­lic li­a­bil­ity, build­ing works, em­ploy­ers’ li­a­bil­ity and per­sonal ac­ci­dent.

Ar­range for Ser­vices Get­ting ser­vices to your site (if nec­es­sary) can cost be­tween £500 and £10,000+, depend­ing on your sit­u­a­tion and whether the con­nec­tion needs to be made across pri­vate land (where you’ll need to se­cure a wayleave to grant ac­cess to dig) or pub­lic high­ways (which may in­volve road digs). Though elec­tric­ity and gas are not es­sen­tials dur­ing the build, a wa­ter sup­ply is needed early on.

Start Build­ing Turn to page 190 for our self­build sched­ule so you know what to ex­pect dur­ing the build process.

DIY House

Justin and Linda Ty­ers built their house them­selves for £67k from straw bale and a tim­ber frame.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.