The Middleton's Top Tips for Self Builders

Alan and Andrea Middleton chose Potton from their research of UK timber-frame suppliers to build their dream home; here are their Top Ten Tips for new self-builders...

Location, location , location

Orientation on the block is highly important – Think about the eco-elements of your build, for solar gain a south facing roof is vital to maximise natural light in the property

Position on the block – consider this early on how easy is access for deliveries and to the finished building once parking is required.

Preparation, preparation, preparation

  • Have a clear idea of what you want before ordering the frame – changes can cost money and cause delays once the frame is going up.

  • Consider all the components - posi joists make plumbing and electric installation much easier and a plant room can be added at design stage,

  • Plan kitchens and bathrooms before first fix starts, this ensures lights and sockets are in the right place, plumbing is in the right location and boxed in areas are organised.

Take lots of photos at each stage

These are invaluable when searching for pipes, cables, noggins at a later stage if required.

Give clear directions and specifications to the trades

Preparation time saves trade time later. As an example a copy of the plans with different coloured dots for each type and location of lighting and sockets (wall/ceiling/external) speeds up first fix electrics.

Safety: Be insured

Have a first aid kit and keep a fire extinguisher handy. Accidents do happen.



Manage the build yourself

If you have the time and ability - Do not underestimate the continued help available from Potton and the Self build Centre throughout the build. Their help can make the difference!

Build a good relationship with suppliers

Don’t be afraid to ask for discounts and mention better quotes from competitors. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Be realistic on budget and allow 10% for contingency

Be flexible enough to compromise on a cheaper solution if need be but be aware quality shows in the finishing touches.

Paying bills on time

Assuming there are no issues with deliveries or the quality of the work. This will make trades and suppliers more receptive to helping when there is an emergency.


Things will go wrong. Expect it, accept it and keep a sense of humour and a cool head. Bring things back into perspective and a solution will be found.

For more information on the Middleton's self-building experience, click here to visit their project website.