(c) Valerie Bearne 2018
Which kind of Self Builder

Did you know that there are 3 main types of self-builder? Choose - depending on how much knowledge, determination, time, money, skills, fitness, help and support you have.


1. Total D.I.Y.
About 1% of self-builders will actually do everything themselves. They will find the land, work out what sort of house they want and probably get an architect or architectural technician to draw up the plans. They may buy a kit house from a package company which may or may not be erected by that company. They will obtain planning permission, then sit down and plan out the logistics of the build, materials, costs, sources, timings. They will be very hands on in clearing the site, laying foundations, building and fitting out. They can be as perfectionist as they desire. This is the cheapest way to build, but also the slowest. A variation on this method is to get together with a group of others and build cooperatively, all working on each other’s houses, sharing skills, expertise, equipment and resources.


2. Self project-managed.
This is the commonest method that self-builders follow. They find the land and either commission the design as above, or work closely with a package company’s in-house architect to adapt a standard design to their own specific wishes. Project managing means you organise the foundation laying, builders, plasterers, plumbers, electricians etc and order the materials, all to be in the right place at the right time, in the right order, at the right price. The package company will probably erect the kit house, as that is the most cost effective and efficient way. Then you sort out everything else, possibly acting as labourer or site cleaner to the workmen as needed.


3. Turn-key package.
This is the easiest, simplest and certainly the quickest route to follow, but is also the most expensive. You still find the land yourself, although you may be helped by choosing a package company which has contacts in their area. Or you can approach a housing development company at the earliest stage before building commences, and agree with them that they will adapt their design to meet your specific requirements. You pay for the completed house as you would had you just bought it in a new estate. You miss saving on the developer’s profit margin though. Other options are to get several package companies to quote for putting a house on your plot – insist on a fixed price contract if you need to control the final cost. Alternatively you can employ a project manager directly yourself (the package company will probably recommend one if asked). You then rely on their ability to source workers and materials to complete the package build.


Whichever method you choose, remember that changing your mind during the course of the build normally increases costs, especially if you are upgrading the specifications as you go. Keep a contingency from the start of 10 – 20 % to cover any additional and unavoidable costs, or you may be struggling to increase your borrowings to meet substantial un-budgeted extras.

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