5 Questions You Should Ask About Self-Building Your Next Home

"5 Questions You Should Ask About Self-Building Your Next Home"

We have received a huge spike in interest & enquiries with regards to self-building since we built our latest project “live” on Facebook so to speak.

Over the last 14 weeks our email subscribers and our Facebook fans have watched the progress of the 5 bedroom, 5 bathroom 272 square metre cedar clad home take shape.

Last week we saw a huge surge in people wanting to know which architect designed the house, how we got planning permission to build it, how much it cost etc. 

It’s such a fascinating subject that so many people are interested in but very few ever get to do because in the UK it is still extremely rare to be able to self-build your dream home unless you have an unlimited budget.

What we have strived to do over the last 4 years is to make self-building in the UK more of an option for more people. We have been at the forefront of changing the perception of self-building and helping people bridge some of the huge gaps in information about self-building in general.

Feature Article:5 Questions You Should Ask About Self-Building Your Next Home

"5 Questions You Should Ask About Self-Building Your Next Home"

1. Why Should I Consider Self-Building?

The real benefits of self-building your dream home are:-

  1. It’s a great investment.
  2. It’s typically a better quality of build with superior materials to the standard commercial build homes on offer in the UK.
  3. It can be custom-made to suit your exact family needs.
  4. It is the easiest way to make use of all the best energy-efficient and modern technology ideas for your home.
  5. A self-build home can be adapted for disabilities and / or caring needs.
  6. It is the easiest way to own a unique modern style contemporary home.
  7. It is all about building a home that is worth at least 25%-50% more on the open market at roughly half the cost.

When you look at the alternatives (for example buying a commercially built new home) you will be buying the property at the current market valuation with little or no scope for future investment.

You may also be restricted (primarily by the size of the house and plot) to be able to make any extensions or changes to the layout of the house if you wanted to in the future.

You run the risk of future increases in the mortgage rates making your new home harder to afford on a month to month basis.

Self-building makes more sense as an investment purchase due to the valuation of the house being built being much higher than the actual cost of the build itself. By self-building you are injecting instant equity into your home giving you more flexibility in the future.

2. What Type Of Self-Build Home Is The Best?

Just a few years ago (when we took up the challenge of making self-building more available to more people) the best options were:-

  1. A log home kit (from countries like Finland or Sweden)
  2. A SIPS panel home or Passive House (typically from Germany and being extremely energy-efficient)

Nowadays (in 2015) there are UK companies offering self-build homes in various ways that are every bit as good as our European neighbours and is something we have used successfully in our latest self-build house project.

Timber frame building options have presented the UK consumer looking to self-build with a viable option that compares favourably with log home kits imported from Europe when it comes to cost.

Inevitably the cost of a timber frame home is an attractive part of self-building however as you may have seen on TV programmes building a house for under £100,000 isn’t really viable.

There are costs to factor in for services, foundations, exterior finishes, internal finishes, roofing, plumbing & heating, electrics, kitchen, bathrooms and a whole host of reports and testing requiring certification that can easily double your estimated costing.

Turn-key services are still the most popular choice when it comes to self-building as very few people have any experience of building a house or project of this size.

3. What Type Of House Style Am I Likely To Get Planning For?

Despite what you may think is “in keeping” with your particular location, we have found that Local Planning Authorities often favour something that is more contemporary and modern in style than something traditional that looks the same as everything else in your particular area.

The very best way to understand what your particular Local Planning Authority are more likely to approve, elect to tender a pre-application and then listen to the feedback and recommendations of your LPA closely.

There is no point in going to all the expense of having plans drawn up and then finding out your LPA doesn’t like the look of them and there is zero chance of you insisting that they do anything that they consider is against current planning laws.

Your best bet is to approach the whole process as a team effort respecting the expertise and experience of your Local Planning Authority and following their recommendations.

Many people who experience a “no” initially do not approach it in the right way. Sometimes planning consultants are the best route as they know how to make the application so that the Local Planning Authorities are more likely to receive it well.

4. What Are The Biggest Problems With Self-Building?

1.Finding plots of land to build on is still a challenge, especially in an area where you would most like to live. We firmly believe that this will change in the not too distant future as the glut of new homes being built on land that would have previously been rejected for planning approval sets new precedents when it comes to village boundaries and open countryside.

One of the best ways to fund self-building is to buy a plot of land with planning permission for several houses already granted and buy it as a group of people looking to self-build. That way the cost of the land is more manageable and you can all benefit from the experience.

2.Obtaining planning permission for where you want to build your new home. (See the previous paragraph for tips on how to improve your chances of gaining planning approval.

3.Financing the project. For the most part self-builders that we have worked with and assisted have basically had the money in the bank so to speak to finance the build. Typically they have sold their previous property and are funding the build with the equity released from the sale. If mortgages are required SIPS panel homes are favoured by lenders and as the demand for self-build mortgages grows more lenders will become available.

5. What Is A Self-Build Home Likely To Be Worth When Completed?

If there is one aspect of self-building your own home that appeals the most it’s the valuation of the house on the open market when it’s built.

As a lot of self-builders build a home to match their own particular lifestyle relatively few then sell them on once they have been completed as they are unlikely to be able to find anything better.

But the concept of self-building is the ability to build a superior home (to those available by commercial builders) at around half the cost of what it would have cost you to buy “off the shelf” as it were.

This presents the self-builder with a unique advantage to most people who buy homes in the hope that their value will increase over time so that they will sell it on and move up the housing ladder.

The self-builder makes almost what would be considered to be a quantum leap to the top of the ladder by self-building at a reduced cost (potentially savings thousands in mortgage interest repayments too) plus building in instant equity into a home that will be worth at least 25% – 50% more than its build cost if it was to be put on the open market.

So if you ever though self-building was a “cheap” way to build a home, it is compared to having to buy something you hate or buying something to renovate or make into something you would like to live in but ultimately it is a very SMART way to think about the biggest purchase you are ever likely to make in life.

Summary

  1. There are many ways to think about self-building, not just the cost.
  2. The best type of self-build homes right now that is right for the UK market are SIPS Panel Homes or Timber Frame.
  3. The 3 main problems to overcome when considering self-building.
  4. Planning permission is essential, approach it with care and pay attention to your Local Planning Authority’s recommendations.
  5. The real benefits of self-building is to play it smarter with your money.

As always we look forward to your thoughts and comments below or join in the conversation on our Facebook Page !

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About The Author

Diane Cossie

Why@dianecossie? Diane Cossie is a UK based interior design & self-build enthusiast and pioneer for self-building in the UK. We are on a mission to inspire others to dream BIG and self-build their next home and to offer a new choice to the UK consumer (like the rest of the developed Western world) when it comes to their next house move. You can rent, you can buy or you can self-build!

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