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How To Build a House

Want to know how to build a house? Self-builds are a large commitment, and if not planned properly, could end up costing over the odds. Here are our steps to making your self-build work for you:

How to build a house: is it viable?

Work out the price of property in your area to see if a self-build is good value. Research the local market, and get to know house prices and plots for sale in your area. It may be that you can buy the type of property you are looking for cheaply, in which case you may want to review your idea to self-build. However, if you are looking at building your own home, it is likely that you are looking for something specific – a little quirky, or an eco-build, in which case a self-build may be the only way to achieve your dream home.

How to build a house: set a budget

It can be tough setting a budget before you get started, but you know what you can afford. Work out your upper spend limit, which should include a 10% contingency. If it turns out that building a house on your budget just isn’t possible, then you may need to look at alternative options.

How to build a house: arrange finance

Get your self-build mortgage in place to make sure you are ready once you find the right plot. Finding the right plot can be time-consuming and competition for a plot can be high. If you have your finances ready to go, you could have the upper hand when making an offer.

How to build a house: find a plot

These may be advertised or via word of mouth. Put the word out that you are looking for a plot in the area. Some plots are sold with full or outline planning permission – these are likely to cost more than other plots, but come with some assurance that you will be able to build your house!

How to build a house: choose your building options. You may want opt for a kit or package company who offers customised builds or standard packages. Other self-builders may choose an architect or project manager, while others may prefer to manage the project themselves. Neither route is better than the other, they simply depend on your experience and circumstances. If you don’t have the time or experience to manage the project, it may be cheaper in the long-term to engage a package company or employ a specialist project manager. If, however, you are able to manage your self-build yourself, this option (if done properly) is usually cheaper and allows you to stay in control of every decision.

How to build a house: design your home

If you are undertaking a self-build, you probably have a good idea of what you are looking for. Your architect will help you to create a space that works from you, and take into account drainage, water and electricity supply, access points and planning implications. Some things (like quantity and location of power sockets) can be changed around a bit, but others (like your home’s footprint) need to be confirmed and kept to, to ensure the project runs smoothly.

How to build a house: contact the planners

Before buying your plot, you will have a good idea of any existing planning permission. Develop a relationship with your local planners, so you can get a good idea of what you can, and can’t, do. Once you have spoken to your architect, project manager, or package company it is essential that you get the relevant building consent (planning permission, building control and any other permissions relevant to the area). Even if you bought your plot with outline permission, make sure that you have full permission for every last detail to safeguard your time and money.

How to build a house: prepare the plot

Before major building works can get under way you will need to clear the plot, levelling where needed, clearing vegetation and digging trenches. Initially, staking out the area will give you a good idea of how your property will sit within the plot – take heed, as this is one of your last opportunities to change your mind! Once the plot is cleared, drainage can be implemented and the foundations poured.

How to build a house: the big build!

Once you get started on the structure, your plans for your dream home will really start to take shape, literally! The two most common construction methods for self-builds are timber-frame or brick and block, although the form your home takes will depend on your budget, specific requirements, and recommendations from the architect.

Once your foundations are done and the basic structure is complete, the project phases are: wind and weather proofing (windows, door and roof); first fix (structural carpentry, plastering, services); second fix (post-plaster work, such as light fitting and fixtures); and final decoration. If you are not using a package company or project manager, it is important that you are familiar with the time and budgetary requirements of each phase in order to maintain control of the project.

How to build a home: completion

Once your home is complete, you are ready to move in! Make sure you get your build signed off – you will need a Completion Certificate from Building Control, need to register with the Valuation Office for Council Tax, reclaim VAT and deal with minor snags (snagging is a process all new builds go through to get perfection). Once this is done, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy your new home.

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