The Build a Dream Self Build Association is a self help group for self builders. It started off in 2000 as the Bath & District Self Build Association. BADSBA Founder and Chair Valerie Bearne was hunting for a suitable self build plot, but none was suitable. She felt that there could be others also finding plots they didn’t want, and that it would help everyone to share information.
The group started with monthly meetings in Bath, discussing the difficulties of self building, and lobbying local councils etc for help – which was occasionally promised but never actually forthcoming.
Valerie then decided to invite local experts, professionals and others with an interest in self building to come and give talks. This proved very popular, and gradually BADSBA built up a network of contacts from across the country who would come and speak, give advice, answer questions, and generally help anyone trying to find a plot and to build a home for themselves.
Information is shared freely. Self builders are generally very thorough in researching the various alternatives and options for everything to do with their project. Experts offer spreadsheets and information sheets. New members are emailed a large amount of information when they join; followed up by weekly emails offering the latest news, free show tickets, special offers, and even some plots for sale, usually off market.
Members are also sent a free copy of the BADSBA Website Directory, which lists thousands of websites from Architects to Wildlife, including over 100 for plot seekers alone. This is easier to use than Google, as you can see at a glance how many websites are offered in each category, and just click on the ones that look interesting.
In recent years, there have been group visits for BADSBA members. Members have been happy to tramp around each other’s building plots, help with some construction tasks, give and get advice and tips. Visiting commercial companies, including builders merchants, kitchen and bathroom fitters, have been popular. Learning how to do high quality plaster finishes inspired several members. The commercial companies hosting the visits were glad of leads for contracts.
BADSBA now hopes to work with volunteers around the country to start more groups to run talks and visits for their own areas.