If you’ve ever imagined building your own home, you’re not alone. Finding that perfect plot of land and constructing a dream house with stunning views is a wish of many.
For some, that dream becomes reality – why not for you, too? If you are seriously thinking about building your own home in the future, here are five things you should know first:
Self-Building Can Save You Money
By doing your sums thoroughly and setting a realistic budget, including a 10% contingency, self-builders can save between 30% and 40% of the cost of buying an existing home.
Self builds make good economic sense in other ways too; with modern construction, these houses are far more energy efficient, so you can also save money with smaller utility bills – plus there are Eco Grants available to really make the most of this opportunity (check out http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/ for more info.)
Getting finance in place may seem daunting, but self-build mortgages are a lot like regular mortgages – you can borrow an amount determined by your income (approx 3 to 4 times) and significantly, the mortgage is worked on the cost of the project rather than what the house will be worth when completed.
Finding A Plot Isn’t Always Easy
A big part of pulling off a successful self-build project is finding a suitable plot. Plots are scarce in the UK and you will likely have to compromise on something. Bear in mind that getting the plot is the major part of your investment (up to 80% of the total price, in fact). Depending on what you need, though, you might be able to get a better deal. For example, the plot may be completely overgrown and in need of a digger and some serious manpower to tame it. Or there may not be telecoms in close proximity for you to use, but there are ways round this and the things some people may consider ‘negatives’ can make the plot more affordable.
As plots don’t tend to come up often, you’ll need to keep in regular touch with local estate agents and let them know what you are after. A list of plots available for sale in the UK can be found online (e.g. Prime Location, plotfinder.net) and make enquiries with the local authority, too.
You’ll Need Construction Insurance
Most people are fully aware they need to consult with their local authority planning department for pre-application advice about planning permission, building control approval, conservation area consent etc. They also know they would need to engage the services of a professional architect and/or kit home builder before starting any building work.
However, they don’t always realise that they need construction insurance, too. Even if your contractors already hold insurance policies, you still need specialist self-build insurance from a provider. Also called ‘structural defects insurance’, this type of cover protects you against faults in the design of the property or construction and it is important not to overlook this.
There’s a Difference Between Brick & Block Or Timber Frame
A timber frame is pre-fabricated off site and may take a few short weeks, whereas a brick and block construction can begin taking shape just as soon as your contractor is available to start on site. The main difference is that a timber frame supports the entire building, so there’s no need for load bearing walls inside the property. A masonry structure on the other hand means that the load of the house is distributed over all the walls, both internal and external. Both options are robust and costs vary. Often, your architect or kit home supplier will recommend a construction system for you.
There Isn’t A Certain Type Of Self-Builder
The appeal of going down the self-build route is wide-reaching and self-builders don’t fall into any particular category – young and old alike with modest or large scale budgets to play with. Many self-builders use a company that will lead them through the entire design and build process, choosing either off the peg or bespoke house designs. Others will opt to engage an architect and contractor, possibly a project manager too, although a lot of people take on that role and take control of the process themselves to reduce costs.
Do your homework properly and you may discover that self-building is a very viable option for you and a great opportunity to create the house of your dreams!