Self build constructing your own home

self build construction site

Self Build

Self Build isn’t for everybody but we aim to provide you with some information as you could save some money even if you just pick the less complicated aspects.

The likelihood is that if you are reading this then you have been looking into self build for some time.  You’re not likely doing it on a whim.  You may have researched many options and the processes involved so that things will go smoothly.  There are still things to consider, however, and it is one thing reading about it when you have the time, but what about the problem solving?  When a decision is needed quickly to avoid wasted time onsite.  Aside from buying your perfect home, self build is probably the largest investment (in both time and money) you will ever make, so you will want it all to go very well.

There are many ways to construct, so this list is not exhaustive and another builder may have a different opinion but before you Self-Build consider the 10 topics below;

  1. What is actually involved?

    You are reading lots on self build so there’s a good start but I’m sure I could point you to even more resources!  One great place to look is at the Build It Live self-build show.  These offer seminars, workshops, free expert consultations and more.  In Swindon, there is the National Self Build and Renovation Centre.  This is free to attend and aside from the amazing construction projects on display, there are courses for self-builders that run regularly.

  2. Do you have the finances already?

    Have you ever wondered why builders don’t come back after looking at your project?  If you don’t have the finances in place or you have drastically under-estimated the build costs then this could indicate that you are not serious.  It could show that you expect the work to be done on the cheap.  It is not much different with self build.  If you don’t have the finances in place or if you have under estimated what you will be doing you will be causing delays, and delays cost more money.

  3. Work out what will be possible.

    Continuing on the above point, you need to understand what you can afford to self build.  Don’t start simply with what you would like to have. Simply going for the biggest, best and most elaborate is unlikely to set you on the road to a successful self build. Get a good, local designer involved early and let them know your financial position.  This gives a good starting point as there is little point creating a design that you can’t afford. A local designer should also understand the local planning policies, giving you a better chance of obtaining planning permission first time around.

  4. What is your motivation?

    You should understand why you want to carry out a self build. There can be many reasons, perhaps you are simply trying to get on the housing ladder.  Perhaps you would like to build your perfect home that you will live in forever. Maybe you want that perfect eco-house that reduces your living costs and is 100% sustainable. Whatever your reason, each route demands a different approach.  Eco homes can quickly soak up your budget with the cost of new and emerging technologies.  You could struggle to recoup your investment if you get it wrong. If you are building a starter home, with the intention of selling for profit later, then you need the mindset of a developer and keep your mind on adding value for as little cost as possible.

  5. Decide on the specification standard.

    There are some variations in price between different building materials, but not as much as you might think. The biggest costs come from labour and the finishing materials that you choose. It can be tempting to choose exotic materials for the kitchen or bathroom but it is important to set a budget based on what you hope to achieve and stick to it from the get-go.

  6. What lies beneath (the ground)!

    Underground problems can add to your build cost. Many projects can hit unexpected expenses because of buried pipes, soil contamination or other unknowns below the surface. It might not be possible to estimate what your actual build costs will be until you are out of the ground. Before you start, or indeed before you buy, find out what foundations might be required. Research where your services will be coming from, such as water and electric. The associated costs here will not add any value to your build so do as much research as possible.

  7. Get some insurance

    You may not have any spare capital after you sink every penny into this project.  Therefore, it is worth investing in some site insurance and cover the build with a structural warranty. Obviously you hope never to use the policy but you will be thankful if it is ever needed.

  8. Talk to the neighbours

    Think about the inconvenience you will be creating for those around you. If you need to block the road for deliveries, create noise every day while tradesmen are around, carry out works on the boundary; your neighbours are going to be less than enthusiastic.  Especially given the amount of time that this could be going on. Get in touch with them early, invite them around and get them interested in what you’re doing, give them your contact details or a number of who they can call if there are problems. They might still be frustrated but at least you have tried to show them consideration. Some will really appreciate it and might enjoy the process.

  9. How much will you do yourself

    No doubt you will take part in some parts of the build process.  You could do the painting and decorating at the end or project.  Perhaps project management is your thing?  If you are a tradesperson yourself and plan to carry out that aspect of the work then there is the potential to make great savings. However much work you intend to do yourself, you need to establish who will be doing what.  This will ensure your builder or trades people can price accordingly. In theory, you will save money by doing it yourself.  A professional will often carry out the work quicker and to a higher standard. It will also probably add more value to the finished project.

  10. Get ready to problem solve

    Stuff will happen, it’s inevitable! There are a lot of trades, many materials and lots of change so don’t expect this to go without a hitch. Watch for misunderstandings, problems with deliveries such as missing or incorrect materials.  Some items may have become broken in transit. Expect some issues and look forward to solving them. Frustration can be your enemy, keep positive!  Become an expert in solving problems and keep a sense of humour. Your project will test all relationships so keep everybody involved and keep your mind open to differing opinions, remember there are many ways to self-build.

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