The prospect of building your own house can be feel exciting and incredibly liberating – just think of all those innovative green features you can incorporate, for instance.
However, anyone who has watched even a couple of episodes of Kevin McCloud’s superb Grand Designs TV programme on Channel 4 will be aware that self-builds don’t always go according to plan and – unless you’ve planned thoroughly and carefully – your dream house could actually turn into your biggest nightmare.
Here is a list of the type of areas you should be particularly vigilant about when it comes to creating your dream home:
Obtaining planning permission prior to your build is essential – otherwise your local authority could insist the whole building be pulled down at any stage (even if you’ve recently completed it). For this reason, before you even buy the land, make sure you’ll get planning permission to erect your home.
If the particular plot in question has outline planning permission for a home then you have the green light and can send in detailed plans later before you start building.
Full planning permission (also known as ‘Detailed’) means there is approval for a specific type of dwelling – e.g. a four bedroom home - meaning that provided your plans meet this criteria you will be fine to go ahead. You can make a planning application online to your local authority. Obtaining planning permission prior to your build is essential – otherwise your local authority could insist the whole building be pulled down at any stage (even if you’ve recently completed it). For this reason, before you even buy the land, make sure you’ll get planning permission to erect your home.
There is other legislation concerning the land you are considering building on that is definitely worth consideration. This includes whether or not there is a right of way on the land (meaning whole swathes of hikers would be able to walk right through your garden). It’s also worth checking the council’s regeneration plans, for instance in case there are plans for a factory, new housing scheme etc nearby in the very near future.
Other things worth checking because they could make the house unsustainable to live in is whether the land is actually on or near a flood plain or even if it’s under a current or planned flight path (think Heathrow Terminal 3 and the housing difficulties that has caused for existing home owners).
By far the most common difficulty with a self-build project is that the budget runs over – usually because it hasn’t been worked out properly from the start. As well as the costs for the land and materials, there is also the architect and builders’ fees to consider, as well as furnishing the property itself.
Meanwhile, where are you going to live while the house is being built? Many people choose to live on-site in a caravan or similar but others – especially families - may need to rent, which can prove a very large on-going expense.
There is also the cost of the self-build mortgage. This is always far higher than a traditional residential mortgage and lenders require bigger deposits, with many lenders not releasing capital for self builds at all. There is also the fact that the money is released in stages, rather than paid out in one go.
Land Acquisition For Self Builds
There are a number of ways you can find out if there is land available to buy in the vicinity you’d like to live in. Land is often sold at auction, for instance, so check out local auction houses as well as ask around local estate agents and developers.
Another avenue could be a local family who may be happy to get rid of a piece of land they haven’t managed to do anything with to date. Finally, the government’s Home and Communities Agency site has a Land and Development Opportunities page which lists available land.
It may seem like a lot of organising at this point (and the above is only part of what you have to think about – there is organising an architect and building team too) but get a self-build right and you will save yourself thousands of pounds on the cost of your dream home. You’ll also have the satisfaction of having a home built the way you wanted.
Self Builds With BDS Architecture
Our team of architectural designers at BDS Architecture have all the skills and experience to guide you through your self build – all the way from the initial drawings to the last brick. With a combined design/build service at competitive rates, we take all the stress out of building your own home, so you can enjoy the adventure.
Get more information on self-building by sending a message through our website contact form, or call one of our team on 01332 830313 to discuss your plans.