Should I self build?

People usually undertake a self build if they want a home which is perfectly tailored to their needs so long as they can afford to build them. These people would have had a vision for a while of their dream abode and have decided that they would rather build it themselves in a location of their choosing, than pay over the odds for it in a place that may not be ideally where the person would like to live. 

Self building also comes with many other advantages. Because it’s a home that is tailored to you, once the home is built it becomes a low maintenance home for the builder that can change with them as their needs change. However, just because it’s a very personal project that you’ll be very much involved in, that doesn’t mean that you’ll be down the site at first light every morning digging the very foundation upon which your castle will rest.

Now there are a fair few options when it comes to the self build routes and they all depend on the time you have available to spend on the site, the budget which you have allocated for the build and your skill set when it comes to the build. You can go for a really hands off approach and hire a main contractor to oversee the construction, or you could get really stuck in, lending a hand to anyone who needs it and really take charge of the building of your home.

Whatever you decide to do a self build requires intricate thought and planning and will require you to make key decisions throughout the process, from before the first brick is laid to where the last brick is laid. 

Cost is a big part of the self build project, it’s one of the main aspects of attraction towards the idea of a self build as people believe they can get their perfect home at the fraction of the price of buying it already built. Now it is undoubtedly true that the self build is cheaper than buying a house outright, however this does not make it cheap.

The prices of self builds usually vary from about £1000 to £3000 per square metre, but costs also depend on the location of the build, the shape and layout of the build, the specifications of your materials and how much you are willing or able to self involve. On average the self builder will save 30% on the market value of a house. 

Financing a self build can be quite tricky, you’ll need to provide funds to buy a building plot, to pay for professionals to draw up the plans for your build, any site surveys that may be required, and for the cost of the build itself. Money will usually come from the savings of the self builder, equity in the self builders home, through a self build mortgage or all three. The reason why it can be tricky to finance self builds despite the projected 30% savings on cost is because self build mortgages are more complex than traditional mortgages and you’ll need to provide your plans and cost documentation to your mortgage provider to show them what you need the money for. Something else to bear in mind is that you will also need to set aside between 15%-25% of your budget for contingencies, just so that you have something to fall back on in case something goes wrong.

Finding yourself not just a plot of land but the right plot of land can be a tricky affair, after all I’m sure half of your list of demands for a dream house are to do with the location more than the build itself, so here are some tips to finding the right plot of land.

First is one of the biggest decisions and seems so simple yet people still get it very wrong, you have to decide which city/town/village it is that you would like to live in. With this you are choosing your community, choosing how far away you will live from work or from your loved ones, you are choosing what shops and facilities you would like to live close to. As a self builder the world is essentially your oyster as you can basically build anywhere with the right amount of money behind you so you can afford to be picky as to where you’d like to live.

The second piece of advice is that you consult local experts when you find a bit of land so that they can assess the land and tell you exactly what you’re trying to build on top of. Lastly ensure that your title deeds are all in order for you to build, for example make sure that the deeds are “absolute” rather than “possessory”. 

The last thing to think about before committing to a self build is which self build route would you like to take? You’ve got the plot, you’ve got the plans, now it’s time to decide how you’d like your project to be handled. You could decide that you want a very hands on approach to the project and manage the site yourself, which would mean you’d need to be readily available and on hand at the site most of the time. Or you could decide that you don’t bring anything to the build except for the financial aspects and the initial idea and so you may hire a main contractor who will be familiar with your plans and your end goals but also with construction and getting projects done in a timely manner, this means that you relinquish your own input for the ease of not actually having to hire tradesmen and buy materials yourself. 

Leave a Reply