It’s all too easy to be swept away by the benefits of self-build but it is important to understand that it is not necessarily the easy option. Its important to be aware of the problems of self build.
If you intend funding part or all of your self-build with a mortgage, bear in mind that only a few mortgage providers cater for self-builders. However, the problems of finance fade into the distance compared to solving the scarcity of plots. The scarcity of suitable plots means that prices are high, and rising. Obviously, this problem disappears if you have sufficient funds of your own.
Speaking of budgets, for the first self-build, it’s normal for the design to be complex and packed with features and the budget to be totally unrealistic. Think about using a QS to audit your materials and labour schedule once the plans have been drafted. This will allow potential cost issues to be sorted at the planning stage rather than during the build.
In order to avoid large unexpected groundworks bills, investigate the site thoroughly. Start with desk research to see what has been recorded on the deeds and in Ordnance Surveys maps. Then dig trial holes on site and commission further investigation if required.
Custom Build can reduce the risks associated with groundwork costs over-run. There are several flavours of Custom build and the basic idea is that a developer divides a large area of land into serviced plots that are sold to self builders. Versions that avoid groundwork cost over-runs are (1) Plots that are offered with fixed-price build costs, and (2) Golden Brick Plots that already have slab foundations in place.
And, finally, use the mantra “Fabric First” when it comes to making your house energy-efficient. Don’t throw money at the sustainable energy kit at the expense of the building fabric. Start by minimising energy use and heat demand in the house, then consider what materials you will use to retain the heat in the house during winter and keep it cool during summer.