Common mistakes to avoid when building your own home

There’s a lot to learn when embarking on a self-build project, but we can help you skip to the head of the class! Read our guide to the 6 mistakes to avoid when building a new house. 
Key takeaways
  • Curveballs are an inevitable part of the building process - plan at least 10% contingency in your budget.
  • Once you’ve made a decision try to stick to it. The cost of making changes increases the further the build progresses.
  • While it’s fun to spend on the glamorous details, don’t skimp on crucial elements like insulation, windows, doors and heating that create a home built to last.

1. Plot issues

Hooray, you’ve found the perfect plot for your dream home at last! But before you rush off to the bank, there are some very important details to check before buying.

Planning permission - never purchase a plot of land without planning permission in place. Get in touch with the local planning department to find out if the plot has planning permission, whether it’s outline or full planning permission.

Services - find out the availability and cost of connecting essential services like water, sewage, electricity and broadband. If services are not already connected or unavailable, you’ll need to get connection quotes or seek off-grid solutions.

Soil survey - before you lay the foundations for your home it’s vital to know the type and quality of ground you’re dealing with, as it will inform what kind of foundation is required. If the ground needs complex engineering such as a piled foundation, this will increase your budget so it’s best to get a full picture at the start of the planning process.

2. Not making important decisions at the design stage

When building your own house one of the biggest mistakes to avoid is changing your mind about design issues after building has started. The more details you decide before work begins, the smoother and quicker the project is likely to be. Take the time to lock down major architectural and design choices as well as smaller details like windows, doors, appliances and fixtures. Making these decisions early on means you can give the builder more detailed information, which allows them to work efficiently. It also means you can procure materials in advance.

3. Going over budget

Blowing the budget is perhaps the most frequent mistake of self-builders, usually in one of two ways:

Starting with an inadequate budget

It’s easy to underestimate project costs and/or how far the budget can stretch. Be sure to take time in the planning stages to do thorough costings so the vision for your dream home can align with the reality of your funds.

Not having a contingency

Unexpected costs are practically a given when building your own home so it’s important to plan for this from the start. You never know at what stage of the process a curveball could be thrown, from a procurement issue to weather delays. You can avoid one of the most common mistakes self-builders make by setting aside at least 10% contingency for your project.

4. Having an unrealistic schedule

While you may be yearning to get moved into your new home ASAP, rushing can lead to disappointment in the final product or it not being finished to the highest quality. Even if your contractors are on board for meeting your timescale expectations, they may charge more for the privilege. Creating a realistic schedule allows for quality work plus the headspace to make clear, calm decisions when you need to

5. Changing your mind after work has started

Once you’ve made a decision try to stick to it. The cost of making changes increases the further the build progresses - and it’s both a financial and time cost. Changing your mind when your plans are on paper is a minimal cost compared to doing so when materials have been procured and work is in full swing.

6. Overspending in the wrong areas

It’s easy to be dazzled by the more glamorous bits like kitchen and bathroom fixtures and end up cutting back on those less fancy elements that will help your home in the long haul. While good quality insulation, windows, doors and heating systems are not as exciting as sleek appliances and fancy lighting, they’re vital for building a solid home that lasts for decades. It’s okay to splash out on the finer details if they’re meaningful to you - it’s your bespoke home after all! - but make sure you cover the basics to a quality standard too.

Get advice for your self-build from VELUX

Another common mistake people make in the planning stages is not thinking about the amount of natural light that will be in their new home. Here at VELUX we can help you create a home where daylight is all part of the design.
The more decisions you can make before building starts, the smoother and quicker the project is likely to be - not to mention less stressful!

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VELUX Editorial team

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