12 steps to creating a self-build

Buying a home and re-furnishing it to your taste isn’t always enough. Many of us are turning to self-building, creating our own homes from scratch with the help of an architect and a building company. If you’re interested in finding out more but don’t know where to start, our 12 step guide will help you visualise managing the project from start to finish. You’ll know what to do and when and won’t miss out anything important.

1) Record your specifications

Look through self-build and interior design magazines and come up with material and visual ideas for how you want your finished home to look. You could create a list of ‘must-haves’ and ‘would likes’ or draw your ideas together on a moodboard. Not all new-builds look modern with multiple glass walls – you can build to suit a more traditional taste.

2) Come up with a budget

Work out a realistic budget for how much the work will cost. Be aware that you’ll always need to build in contingency and account for any hidden costs along the way that you weren’t expecting.

3) Investigate plot opportunities

Some people have this covered already. They see a plot of land in an area that they like and want to start the process immediately. Other people know that they want to build a home from scratch but need to have a look around first, just like when you decide to move house.

Picture of a house in a green field

4) Arrange for a survey on the plot

Before you buy a plot, hire a surveyor to inspect it to uncover any potential problems that could come up in the construction, or dare we say it, after you’ve moved in! He or she should be able to give you an approximate cost of building on the site too.

5) Buy a plot

Once you’ve found a plot that you like within budget, hire a solicitor or licensed conveyancer and put in an offer before someone else snaps it up!

 6) Design your new build

Hire an architect if you’re not experienced in house design to come up with a design that puts your ideas into reality. If you’ve already created that list of ‘must-haves’ and ‘would likes’ or put together a mood board, it’ll make the process even easier as he/she will have more of an idea of what you’re looking to create. It’s a good idea to ask for a copy of his/her indemnity insurance as you’ll often need this before any loaned money is released.

Picture of hands over a planning inspection

7) Apply for planning permission

Don’t fall into the trap of building first and applying for planning permission once you’ve been threatened with demolition by officials. Apply for planning permission through your local planning department. For more information, have a browse of Planning Portal.

8) Apply for building regulations approval

An application for building regulations approval can be made through your local council and it’s there to make sure that new building work is safe and energy efficient. It’s a similar piece of legislation to planning permission – the only difference is it puts the emphasis on safety rather than visual appearance.

9) Get a mortgage agreement

Many self-build mortgages provide you with loans to help you buy the plot of land and give you enough money to finance your project. The initial loan can’t exceed 80% of the plot or property’s current value or purchase price, or the total loan, whichever is the least amount. The rest of the loan is then given at specific times in the building process, once inspectors check that the work is being completed as scheduled.

Picture of a man in a high vis jacket in a house being constructed

10) Search for a builder

You may already have a working relationship with a builder but if he/she’s busy or you have no one in mind that could tackle an ambitious project, an online recommendation site could be the answer. You’ll be able to post your job and select a tradesperson that you’re happy working with.

At Rated, we provide you with tradespeople profiles, so you can check their ratings and previous customer recommendations to give you confidence in the hiring process. For a large project like this, going online could be a good idea to make sure that your job post reaches larger building companies with multiple employees.

11) Purchase insurance for the build

It’s a good idea to get insurance to protect yourself and your new home. Self-build policies will cover any damage to your incomplete property from events such as a heavy storm, an act of vandalism, a fire or theft. If your building company isn’t insured, I’d advise taking out public and liability insurance (PLI).

12) Set a start date

Once you’ve finalised all of the above, all that’s left to do is to set a date to let your builders start work on your plot!

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