Work out your budget
A self build is a big financial commitment, but with careful planning you can create a realistic budget and keep costs under control.
Firstly, figure out how you will fund the build. This could be one or a combination of a cash-lump sum, remortgaging or selling your current home, or taking out a self-build mortgage. If you’re seeking the latter you’ll need to provide the lender with detailed information about the build, including drawings of the proposed house, site details, a timetable of the building stages, a copy of the planning permission, plus estimated build costs from your architect or surveyor.
When estimating the costs, be sure to include:
- cost of the plot, with related legal and registration fees
- site survey and investigation
- professional fees such as main contractors, architect/design, structural engineer, energy assessment project management
- building materials
- fixtures and fittings
- planning permission
- insurances and legal fees
- living costs during the build, such as rent or mortgage
- contingency - at least 10% to cover any unexpected costs.
Find your plot
It can be tricky finding a spot for your dream home, so patience, creativity and an open mind are needed. Search online and check newspaper classifieds and community message boards where you are likely to find private sales. Register your interest with land and estate in your desired areas. Spread the word to your family and friends that you’re on the hunt for a plot. Look out for land and property auctions, disused brownfield sites or spacious garden plots. You could even buy an existing property to demolish then build your home on the plot.
Before you purchase the land, be sure to get pre-planning advice to assess the physical and legal suitability for building (factors such as access to services, ground conditions, rights of way), and for any potential obstacles to obtaining planning permission. Planning can be an extremely lengthy process so this step is essential.
Decide on your build approach
One of the first choices to make in a self build project is how much “self” you want to be involved in the process. Do you want to get hands-on with the building or take an eagle-eyed view and let the pros run the show? Options include:
- Main contractor - the most simple and common option is appointing a main contractor to manage the build, hire and manage subcontractors and buy materials. You will still need to have time to communicate frequently with the contractor throughout the build.
- Project manager - this can be a good solution for easing your workload, with varying levels of service from appointing contractors to a full-time onsite presence.
- Managing the entire build yourself - it can be tempting to take on a lot of the work yourself to save costs, but it will be highly stressful, time consuming and a potentially risky option if you are inexperienced.