(c) Valerie Bearne 2018
Is Self Build for Me?

How do I know if I could design and build my own house? Why would I want to? The reasons for deciding to be a self-builder can be many and various, but expect them to include some of the following:

Houses are expensive, so why pay a developer their 20% profit on a brand new home that isn’t quite right. Use that 20% either to build a cheaper house, or invest it in a higher spec…

Build a more ecological house; use recycled materials, go for sustainability, recycle rainwater and grey water, install solar heating, a condensing boiler, achieve high code levels…

Be innovative; you could use polystyrene blocks, or aircrete blocks with the thin mortar system, or structural insulated panels, or go for mediaeval style green oak timber frame. All can be faced with brick or stone to look like any normal house. Include a heat exchanger, central vacuum system, a home cinema, wire the whole house for sound and lighting, computers and phones. Put sound insulation around the teenagers’ bedrooms. You can even avoid gutters and down pipes if you wish.

Have a modern open-plan home. Use American or Scandinavian house designs to enhance the interior spaces.

Have a traditional style home, but include a double height sitting room, or a gallery over the dining hall, or a sunroom with a ceiling lantern…

Design for an elderly or disabled person; include wheelchair access throughout, grab rails, extra wide doors. Consider a granny annexe.

Design in as much built-in storage space as you want. Have your own dressing room.

Use the attic space for extra rooms, well insulated with good access and plenty of headroom.

Build in a basement or semi-basement. Use it for a sitting room, office, garden room, games room, guest room, gymnasium, granny annexe, or garage and workshop…

Remember, for a brand new house the VAT is zero-rated. Some VAT is never charged, some is reclaimed on completion.

If you have an architectural or building background then you will probably want to do a lot of the design or building work yourself. If you are good at organising and have the time, you can do your own project management and source the materials. If you don’t, then a package company can complete the whole of the process for you. You supply plot and finance. The most suitable design for that plot within the constraints of both the Planning Dept and your budget will follow on.

Will it be easy? Probably not, unless you already own suitable land. If you have to find a plot from scratch, then it may be difficult.

Nationally about 10 – 15,000 people a year achieve their dream of their own house. Could you do it too? You can if you really want to.

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