Self-Build Home: The Full Facts

If you have ever had a dream about the exact house you want to live in or have ideas about how you would make a home from scratch, then the path of self-build may be ideal for you.  Whether you are building an entire home or considering Extensions to add to your existing home, there are lots of self-build options and ways to approach it.  Here’s our beginner’s guide to the self-build.

What is a self-build home?

Put basically, a self-build home is one you build yourself.  Of course, this can be open to lots of different interpretations.  You may commission someone to build you a custom home right through to you may be the one that actually does the building yourself – all of these are varieties of self-build.

In fact, statistics from the Build It magazine show that:

  • 35% of self-builders act as project managers, employing and managing contractors to build the house and doing around one-quarter of the work themselves
  • 17% project manage and do 5-24% of the work themselves
  • 16% oversee the project only
  • 15% get most of the work done by a main contractor, usually a builder
  • 13% project manage and then handle interior decorating themselves
  • 4% commission a turnkey home from a company that builds and finishes the home

Most self-builders do the work of finding and purchasing their own plots of land and have a key role in the design process to get the house of their dreams, usually with an architect, designer or a specialist company.  Then there are various paths to project manage and work on the house yourself, depending on your skills, experience and other commitments.

How much do self-build homes cost?

Another big question around self-builds regards the cost and this is a complex question because there are so many variables.  The cost of the land, the labour costs in the area you are building and the materials you use in the property all have an impact on the cost of the project.  Don’t forget there are extra costs such as obtaining Planning Permission and conforming to building regulations that also need to be included in the budget.

There are some building cost calculators on the internet that give you an idea what the cost would be depending on same basics of the property.  But the best way is to work with the various specialists and build a complete picture of the property you desire and its cost.

How long does a self-build take?

The average self-build project can take around a year on site and around a year in pre-planning.  Preliminaries such as sorting finance can take time and then you need to have the design creating and go through the planning permission process before you can start on the site.

Normally, it takes around two months to get a design and work out the basic budget for the project then another 2-3 months for the planning permission.  You can use this time to start working with builders. The shell construction can take 3-4 months depending on the materials being used and the internal work is usually around twice this.  So, you should expect 12-18 months to be ready to move in.

Masonry projects take longer than timber frame projects, which are largely put together off-site then brought and finished.  Encapsulated kits can take a matter of days to erect and make waterproof. Always consider the time of year for the project as you don’t want to be working outdoors in winter and the weather will often delay the project.

Designing the house

The joy of self-build is that every property is a little different – of the 11,000 homes
built each year across the country, each is unique in its own way.  You can replicate styles you love such as Tudor or Victorian or have those cosy cottage interiors. You can have ultra-modern looks and concentrate on features such as energy efficiency and renewable energy sources.

Most people work with a designer or architect or a company who offer to create the property for you.  You do want an idea of what you want the house to look like before you start, and the experts can then help make this into a reality, considering regulations and other rules.

Self-build extensions

Self-build isn’t just for new homes either – they are a popular route for extensions, especially with styles such as timber framed extensions that don’t need as much work as other styles.  You can use the same principles of project manager or full involvement and ensure you get the extension you want while complying with planning permission and building regulations.

Always work with an expert to get the plans in place to ensure you cover all your requirements and also that you don’t run into trouble with the local authority at some later point – this applies for extensions as well as full self-build home projects.