When it comes to home-ownership, there are two main options available to you: buying a pre-built home or embarking on a journey to build your own. The former is more straightforward but offers you fewer options, while the latter is a potentially more daunting and difficult task but arguably gives you much more control over what the final product looks like and how it reflects your personality. In short, if you have the resources and the inclination, you should definitely build your own home (or enlist someone to do it).
Setting out to build your own home is a tricky task in and of itself, however. There’s a lot to consider. Do you have enough land? What does your budget looking like? Will you attempt a self-build (very risky) or will you enlist someone to help you (less risky but potentially more costly)? You’ve got to take all of these factors and more into account, and doing so alone – or even with a partner – can be very worrisome if you overlook just one thing. We’ve put together a guide on what you need to know if you’re setting out to build your own home.
Prepare the land first
Before you set out to actually start the build, you need to conduct a thorough survey of the land you’ll be building on. Are you building close to a wooded area? You’ll need a solid, dependable source of forest management. Wherever you’re building, you’ll also need to obtain the relevant planning permission. The cost – and likelihood of success – of this factor will change depending on where you are and what the scope of your project is. Make sure to conduct thorough research on these aspects before you begin, because they can scupper even the most determined home builder.
Set out a realistic budget
Your budget will need to include more than just the cost of actually building the home. Paying for a plot of land will cost money, of course, but there’s also designer’s fees (if you’re using an external architectural designer), extra parts, and other expenses. There are mortgages available for those who want to self-build, and this would also be an excellent time to dip into your savings or the equity for a property you already own. This is, after all, going to be your home for life (presumably) – if you’re not saving your money for this, then what are you saving it for? You might have times throughout the process where you need to allocate money quickly, this is where a company like Loans2Go might be handy.
Choose your route
There are a number of ways you can approach a self-build project. You can go down the entirely DIY route, which is to say you can handle every aspect of the build yourself. We wouldn’t recommend doing so unless you are extremely confident that you have the skills and technical know-how. Far more common are the self-managed or professionally managed routes, which give you varying degrees of control over a team of builders who work according to your specifications. Remember, don’t attempt a full self-build unless you’re confident it will succeed.
Design the home
Just like the building process, you’ll probably want to employ a professional to help you design your home. You may think you have a clear and precise idea of exactly what you want your home to look like, but trust us when we say that your own personal designs will almost never turn out as well-constructed as a professional’s would. The process of hiring an architectural designer involves checking their credentials, how many houses they’ve designed in the past, and whether they’d be the right person for your project; even great designers sometimes have ideas that are at odds with yours.
Find a builder
If you’re not going down the full DIY route for your self-build, then you need to find a reputable, reliable builder. There are many ways that you can ensure your builder is the right one for your home. If you’ve got friends who have completed self-build projects, ask them which builder they opted for. Research which builders have the best reputations online and make a list of options that you think would be right for you. Whatever you do, make sure that you’re certain the builder you choose is definitely the one you want to work on your home.
Most insurance companies will offer specific policies for self-builders, so as soon as you’ve locked the specifics down in terms of documents, make sure you pursue a self-build insurance plan. This will usually involve liabilities should any accidents or injuries occur on your self-build plot, as well as risk insurance for contractors, tool replacement, and materials. These policies will differ from standard home insurance (although you will probably also need to obtain that once the project is finished) as they’ll cover every aspect of the building process.
Find somewhere to live while the project is underway
This is a step that trips up more people than you might expect. Finding somewhere to live while your project is underway can be a tricky step if you’ve poured everything you have into this build, especially if you’ve sold your current property. It’s a good idea to live with parents, in-laws, or understanding family members or friends while your new home is being built. You could also rent temporary accommodation such as a hotel room or an Airbnb room. This is only a good idea if you don’t think the project will run into any snags because it can run you serious money in the long-term.
Inspect your new home thoroughly
Don’t let the project finish without a full and thorough inspection of everything the builders have constructed. It’s better to identify potential problems now rather than realise they’re problems several weeks or months down the line. Talk to your contractors extensively and make sure they report any issues to you. Ideally, this should be done during the project, but if that’s not possible for whatever reason then a full inventory of the house should be taken at completion. If you’ve opted for reputable builders, this should be standard practice.