How to build your own house

How to build your own house

15th Jun, 2016

Do you dream of building your own home from scratch? At Applegate Properties we are currently selling land in Holmfirth, with outline planning permission for two good size detached dwellings. If you’re an avid fan of Kevin McCloud’s Grand Designs, you’ll already know that a self build project is not for the faint hearted, though ultimately it could be the greatest achievement of your life! Here we explore the process of building your own home. 

The pros

Properly managed self builds should be worth significantly more than the costs of construction resulting in you getting your ideal home for a fraction of the going market rate.  When you build your own home, you have the freedom to include bespoke features, for example, energy efficient fittings that may be impossible or very expensive to install in existing properties. Luxuries like under floor heating can also be included in your self build at a much lower cost than installing them in an existing property.

Is it cheaper to buy a good-to-go property? 

The first thing to do is look around your local area, to ensure your dream property isn’t already out there. If you do find one that meets your needs, you’ll need to calculate whether you could build a replica for less than the cost of purchasing and renovating the existing property. If you find that you could build your own version for significantly less than the asking price, consider giving it a go.

Do a budget

You need to keep a tight rein on your spending when working on your self build home, as it’s easy to get carried away and let the costs spiral out of control. It’s important that you take into account the cost of land, the architect and tradesmen you will need to involve, all materials and anything else necessary to create your dream dwelling. Take an honest look at your financial situation and decide whether you can cope with the enormous financial commitment, while being able to support your lifestyle as you build. You will be able to reclaim VAT on building materials for your self build project at the end of construction, so bear this in mind when planning your budget.

Get a self build mortgage

A self build mortgage is specifically designed for anyone looking to build their own home. Unlike traditional mortgages, money is typically released in stages so you can pay for land, labour and materials as your build evolves. Self build mortgages are priced slightly higher than standard mortgages and a sizeable deposit will be required upfront. It is also common practice for self build mortgage lenders to vary the loan-to-value ratio. So, you may be offered 75% of the cost of plot but 85% of the projected cost of building the property.

Location, location, location

Finding the right plot of land on which to build is crucial. You probably already know the area where you hope to develop your self build, however some initial research prior to viewing specific plots is still worthwhile. Check out local crime levels online at and think about rail and road links so you’re confident that your workplace is within commuting distance. If you have young children, check that land you are considering is within the local schools’ catchment areas. 

Consider accessibility

Before buying a property, check that there is access to public roads to allow you (and build traffic) to drive onto the site without having to pay for right of access over someone else's land. You also need to check whether or not the land is on a flood plain, under a flight path, or close to a rail line or major road. Find out if there any planned developments nearby or public rights of way across the land. What are the views like from your plot and will your hypothetical property be overlooked by surrounding houses? Research the market value of neighbouring properties and see how the cost of land compares. This way you can ascertain whether or not the plot is worth the asking price and establish what, if any, profit you stand to gain if you sell it on at a later date. 

Get planning permission

This is essential. You have no legal right to start construction without permission, meaning your council could insist upon the destruction of any work at your own cost. So you’ll need to check planning permission rigorously and, tempting though it may be, resist buying a plot of land until the appropriate planning permission has been granted.

There are two levels of planning permission. Outline planning permission works by granting approval of an outline plan, meaning that a certain type of development can be built on the plot, but specific construction plans have yet to be agreed. Once outline planning permission is given, you have to submit a detailed plan for approval before construction commences. Outline planning permission is usually valid for three years, after which you would need to reapply. Detailed or full planning permission is where a full proposal for construction of a specific build has been agreed in detail. If your plans do not match the planning permission, you may be required to submit further construction plans for approval. Use the planning portal website to find your local planning permission office, to submit a planning application and to check details of any planning applications that have already been granted.

Purchase the plot

You are free to try and negotiate on the value of a plot of land exactly as you would be on a house. When you self build you only need to pay stamp duty on the cost of the plot itself, not on the value of the completed property. You do not have to pay any stamp duty at all if you purchase a plot for residential use costing less than £125,000.

Find an architect

Employing an architect to design your self build home is a no brainer. They will check your project complies with building regulations and planning permission, ensure your house is structurally sound, work with you to plan a build that is within your budget, incorporate unique features, advise on methods and materials, and manage the build project if you want them to. You’ll need to find an architect you can communicate effectively with in order to realise your dream home. Before making a decision, book initial meetings with a number of architects and discuss your plans with each of them. Look at their portfolios  and where possible seek testimonials from past clients. Use the Architects Registration Boardwebsite to find a local, certified architect. Be clear about your requirements for your self build while remaining flexible with how your ideas are implemented, to keep your costs down and ensure you stick to your budget. Consider the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you will need, how big you would like each room to be and whether you want a sizeable garden. 

Choose your team

Once you have found your architect and you have full planning permission, you’re ready to employ a team of tradesmen. Ask friends and family for their recommendations or use a website such as to find reputable professionals. Before work can begin, you may need an insurance policy that protects anyone working on the site. There are lots of site insurance policies available for self-builders. If you are unsure, speak to an independent financial advisor or insurance broker.

If you take on some of the tasks involved in building your home yourself, such as decorating, you can significantly reduce costs. You may also choose to project manage the build yourself, though be aware this is a very demanding role and you’ll need bags of time and patience to fulfil the responsibilities. Where possible, source materials yourself to cut costs and consider making use of second hand and salvaged materials to lessen the environmental impact of your project.

Although there are likely to be some unexpected obstacles that arise during construction due to the unique nature of your property, doing the ground work before building begins will make the process as stress-free as possible.


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