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14 Tips For A Successful Self Build Project

Posted on Thursday, March 22, 2018

14 Tips For A Successful Self Build Project

According to www.self-build.co.uk self-building is “...is the act of commissioning a bespoke home that’s tailored to your design requirements and suits your lifestyle, as well as your budget…” and according to them, some 13,000 people each year choose to build their dream home.  With that much activity, there is the distinct possibility that somebody in the Vale of the White Horse is thinking about joining them so we wanted to put together a few pointers to help you on your way.

1.  Budget Meticulously

You must work out your total budget before doing anything about finding land or even thinking of design.  Do not be tempted to even just take a look at any potential plots because you risk being emotionally side-swiped by finding the perfect opportunity.  At the budgeting stage, emotions have to be put to one side. This is about planning the hard cash that you will need to buy and build your next home.  Work out what liquid assets and equity you have, add this to your borrowing capacity and that is maximum total budget. Take that figure and minus 10% to get the maximum figure you can spend along with having some money in the bank for emergencies.

2.  Now Stick To It!

Now you have your budget, stick to it!  That is not to say that the budget for something cannot be allocated somewhere else, but the overall top level figure must be maintained.  Make sure that all purchases are drawn down and accounted for. Managing the budget closely will allow you to plan and negotiate those big purchases.  The budget plan is a ‘live’ entity that is reviewed and updated on a continuous basis.

3. What Is Your Long-Term Plan?

Is this the forever home or something that is filling gap ready for the next one?  Understand the longer term objectives will filter back into the budget and affect how you add those finishing and sometimes expensive touches.  Buy and build with the end goal in mind.

4.  Design To The Plot

It is easy to start planning and drawing out your new property before securing the land.  Everyone has an idea of what they want the property to be but it is important to build with the land as opposed to against it.  Being too rigid about the house design may cause you to overlook a potential plot. Advances in building techniques and materials does now mean that awkward piece of land could easily become a feature of your new home.

5. Design To The Budget

Your build budget is your total budget minus the cost of the land and the associated purchase expenses.  Your designer or architect must be crystal clear of the amounts they are working with. Their job is not to tempt and tease you with a “this is what you could have won” approach.

6.  Immerse Yourself In Your New World

There are a wealth of websites and magazines that are excellent resources for understanding the world you are entering.  There are also various national house building events and online discussion forums where you can meet and engage with people who have either been where you are or are also starting their self-build journey.

7. Understand The Planning Process

Rather than going into great detail here, you can muse over to our Stages and Resources to Help You through The Planning Process [insert link] blog post for insight on what to expect.

8.  Understand The Market

Not just the housing market in terms of what prices of similar properties are achieving, but the market for any of the products and services that you may need.  Research and negotiate getting a minimum of three quotes for everything.

10.  Get To Know The Builders

For that matter, get to know everyone in the self-build process.  It is going to be a relationship that is likely to be tested at times.  It goes without saying that getting recommendations and proof of previous work is a must.  In a similar vein, keep your new neighbours onside and up to date with what you are planning.  Up setting them at the building stage is unlikely to lead to happy neighbourly relationships. The perfect way to make a friend for life is to replace and improve any adjoining fences or driveways/access points.

11.  Avoid Paying Up Front

The minute you pay large sums up front or in advance, you’ve lost control of the situation.  Never pay large sums in advance. Any contractor pays their labour in arrears (your own wages are almost certainly paid monthly in arrears).  Any financially stable entity will be paying for materials in arrears, probably at the end of the month following the month of invoice.

12.  Plan Your Orders In Good Time

Many things will have a long lead-in time and, unless you are aware of that and order things in good time, you’ll introduce long delays to your project.  Idle time on site may mean losing labour to other jobs and it can lead to a general malaise or neglect. Remember, the site that maintains continuity comes in on budget.

13.  Don’t Sweat The Date


It is good to have aspirations.  It is perfectly understandable to ‘want to be in by Christmas’.  But don’t get too stressed about it. In the end it is just a date in the calendar.

14.  Make Your Presence Known

Appearing on site regularly links you to what is happening.  It affirms that it’s your site and that your, hopefully daily, inspection of progress and work is an integral part of the project.

If you are thinking about embarking on a self-build project and looking for a site then please call 01367 820070 where any one of the Waymark team can help.



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