The world of self-building has become increasingly popular in recent years, mostly thanks to the rapidly overheating of the UK’s property market. For many, building their own home was considered the only realistic way to get the home of their dreams, and self builds now account for around 12,000 new homes in the UK each year.
The practice of self-building is by no means an easy feat, and can be eye-wateringly expensive without the right planning or foresight. However, with so much assistance out there for budding self-builders, there has been no better time than now to create your personal palace.
What Kind of Self Build?
Firstly, there are a few types of self-build projects that you might embark on. The most common ones are:
- Self-built one-off homes. These are more for experienced builders or designers who have contacts within the building industry; however, inexperienced builders have also been successful in completing fully solo self-builds.
A solo self-build one-0ff home gives you complete control over the design and building of your project, and which contractors will do the work. It can also work out cheaper too.
- Contractor-built one-off homes. These are usually built in liaison with an experienced constructor or construction company, engaging their team of approved contractors and giving you a dedicated onsite manager who will report how the progress is going. It can be reasonably cost-effective (though it is easier for costs to spiral if you are not careful), but it alleviates much of the burden of taking it on by yourself.
Other types include independent and supported community-built projects, and developer-built one-off and group-led projects.
Here are the x things you’ll need to acquire before you start your self-build and throughout its duration.
1. Planning Permission
Your application for planning permission can be made through your local council. Obtain a physical paper form from the council office or complete the application electronically via their website instead.
If you are building a property from scratch, you’ll need to complete a full, detailed permission application for new buildings. This will encourage you to consider all aspects of the building process – some of which you may not have thought of – and include details of ownership for any surrounding land or roads that will be affected.
If you’re converting an existing building, you may also need to complete a change-of-use application as well the initial application. For extensions or outbuildings, you can simply complete a simplified app known as a householder application. Meanwhile, if you’re looking to build with a purpose of selling, then an outline permission application will be for you.
2. Self Build Mortgage
There’s a lot of financial help available out there for people interested in a self build, so be sure to talk to your local building society which will only be happy to help. Norwich & Peterborough, Saffron Building Society. BM Solutions, and Leeds Building Society all have a good reputation for assisting with self builds.
The end value of your mortgage will depend on permissions obtained; plans for the property and the stages of the build, so you’ll need to provide all of this information to your lender. According to Buildstore, you should be able to secure a loan that covers 75% of the land value and 75% of the end value for building costs.
As soon as your build is finished, be sure to ask your lender to perform a valuation as this may help you to get a lower rate mortgage, as well as kickstart you on a repayment mortgage.
3. Utility Connections
It is recommended you get in touch with your utility provider at least a year before the build is expected to be finished so that a connection date can be agreed in advance. The provider will also be able to supply you with a map of nearby service locations so that you do not accidentally interfere or clash with any of these facilities during building.
If you or any of your contractors are going to be living on-site during the build, it is essential you get a temporary water service set up in the meantime. Even if nobody will be living on-site for the duration, a water supply is still a useful thing to have to hand when carrying out the strenuous work.
Whether you’re working with a construction company or managing your project solo, you will likely be involved in the process of sourcing and obtaining the materials for your self build. The materials you will need will largely depend on the construction method you wish to use. This will itself depend on factors like the design of your home; availability; practicality and convenience of moving the materials; whether or not your home will be an eco-friendly home and your budget.
Most British builders for example choose to use masonry or brick-and-block, whilst in Scotland. timber-framed homes are more common. Other types of commonly-used materials for construction include:
- steel frame
- straw bales
- structural insulated panels (SIPs).
Taking all practical aspects into account as well as your personal hopes for the project, you should be able to seek reputable advice and decide on the right materials for your project.
5. Tools and Equipment
As with materials, there may be a stage during the build where you will be responsible for sourcing the appropriate tools and equipment needed for the work. You will be able to liaise with your on-site manager (if relevant) about this, to find out what will be needed and at what stages. Above all however, its important to plan ahead so that the contractors have everything to hand when they need it, avoiding holdups.
One thing you will most certainly need for your self build project is scaffolding, which will line the perimeter of the building site to prevent theft of equipment and injuries to the public. You may also need excavation equipment to take care of groundwork such as trenches for plumbing and cabling, and access equipment is essential for the moving of tools, men and equipment; as well as working at height.
Access equipment, or MEWPs (mobile elevated work platforms) can be hired for use and there are a range of different types of platform to suit your requirements. A construction company is likely to provide their own, but it is nevertheless important to consult your on-site manager to make sure that all contractors and subs are IPAF trained in the use of such equipment.
Set up accounts with local tool companies who will be able to advise you in the hiring/buying of appropriate tools, or point you in the direction of another source.
Remember that the construction method you choose will also bring its own requirements for alternative or additional equipment (as is the case for steel frame; insulating concrete forms and SIPs).