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Frequently Asked Questions

Self build simply means that you have a direct involvement in the design and construction of your new home. You do not need any special skills to be a successful self builder or to actually do any of the work yourself. There are numerous advantages to self build including flexibility of design – you are able to create something unique and tailored to fit your lifestyle.

Why self build? - Read more.
Yes. A properly planned and executed self build project should show a saving of 10-30% over the purchase of a similar, ready built property; but more importantly you will get to build the home that you want, not the one that someone else wants you to have.

You will save money by cutting out ‘the middle man’ (i.e. the developer) and often by paying stamp duty only on the land purchase price. Self building is without doubt the most affordable and cost effective way of building your dream home.
Potton show centre
Yes, we have 5 show houses at our Show Centre in St Neots, Cambridgeshire. From traditional homes through to a contemporary barn, there is something for all tastes. In addition, we also have the Ruskin show house within the National Self Build & Renovation Centre at Swindon. Please take a look at the Show Centre page for information and opening times, no appointments are necessary and our expert staff are always available to answer questions and provide advice.
Potton Brochure Download
Our architectural team is capable of design any style or size of home. There are some smaller designs in our Ideas Book and these have often been created to suit particular requirements – mainly tight site restrictions. The smallest we’ve designed was around 80m², with a footprint about the same size as a double garage.
If you already have land please contact us to discuss how we can help. If you are still looking for a building plot then why not request or download the Potton literature or contact us directly for further information. Our Self Build Academy provides a range of seminars, workshops, courses and events for aspiring self builders. Why not book yourself onto one of our events.
We offer an extension service to previous Potton customers but not for extensions to other buildings. Extensions require a number of decisions to be made on site and through the progression of the build which is not best suited to a pre-fabricated design. A local builder is the best solution for this type of work as they are on site throughout the build and able to make decisions as they go.

How to Self Build Guides

Each stage of the process explained, from design, to planning, project management and build routes. These handy guides are a must-read!
 

Download the guides here.

How to Guides Download

Top 10 Self Build Questions

The cost of the build will depend upon many different factors. Architectural style, size of property, ground conditions and level of specification all have a bearing on the build cost as well as your location and the route which you intend to use to undertake the construction work.

Whilst we can provide an indication of your likely build costs, we always recommend that you obtain expert advice when establishing your budget, and we can put you in touch with someone to provide this.

The good news is that self building is without doubt the most affordable and cost effective way of building your dream home and can yield savings of up to 30% when compared to buying a new house from a builder or developer.
We are able to offer a turnkey solution on a regional basis for those customers who do not have the time or confidence to manage the project themselves. This service is provided through our network of recommended builders, project managers and subcontractors who can be employed to undertake a full or part project, tailored to suit your specific requirements.
Using our detailed build programme, you can expect to complete the construction element of your project in 6-8 months.  Remember that prior to this, you will need to have your planning permission and building regulations approval in place, which may take up to 12 weeks.
No, in fact very few self builders actually do much of the work themselves. Many of our customers manage the build themselves others appoint a project manager or main contractor to run the build for them.

We are able to offer a turnkey solution on a regional basis for those self builders who do not have the time or confidence to manage the project themselves. This service is provided through our network of recommended builders, project managers and subcontractors who can be employed to undertake a full or part project, tailored to suit the customer’s specific requirements.
Timber frame and masonry are normally very similar in cost, though much will depend upon the specifics of the design. When comparing different build methods it’s important to ensure that performance levels between different systems are similar and that the timescales involved are understood.

Timber frame is credited as being one of the fastest and most reliable methods of build as much of the work is done off site in factory conditions.  Faster build times reduce site preliminary and labour costs and as there is less chance for things to go wrong or delays to be caused by bad weather, the price of a timber frame build is much more certain, which is a major benefit for the self-builder.

Timber Frame Build Systems - Read more
As this is only a guide, there could be other costs depending upon your requirements and any specific site conditions.
To ensure that you fully understand the costs involved and do not incur any unexpected additional costs we always recommend that you put together a detailed budget for your project.
We can help you put this together by putting you in touch with experts who have had many years of experience in building and financially planning self build projects.
Yes. Many of our customers order extra items years after completing their initial build. Simply call our Customer Services Department on 01767 676400 who will be happy to help.
Most subcontractors will have their own insurance for carrying out the work that they have quoted to do. We always recommend that before appointing a subcontractor, you  satisfy yourself that they have the appropriate insurances and that you keep a copy of their insurance certificate for future reference.
Following the Potton Frame Check and handover the first trade to follow the frame erection will be the roofer who will fix the waterproof membrane and battens to keep the house dry inside so internal work can commence (plumbing and electric first fix).

If the house has a chimney, construction of this can also commence at this stage. We also provide all our customers with a comprehensive guide to help you successfully complete your project.
The timber used in our products is kiln dried to low moisture levels. Exposure to rain during erection will not have any adverse effect as the timber will quickly dry out once the roof has been felt and battened. However, to ensure that exposure is kept to a minimum, we recommend that roof coverings are fixed immediately following completion of the timber structure. Damage to membranes should also be repaired as and when necessary.

Land & Plot

Sorry, we don’t sell land – you will need to source your own building plot. However, through our Self Build Academy we provide an excellent seminar that will provide you with detailed advice on how to go about finding and appraising a plot of land. Once you have found a plot of land the another of the Self Build Academy workshops will provide you with site specific advice on how to make the most of your plot.

Visit our land finding page for links and information.
There are many ways of finding land, the most popular being the web based services such as Plotsearch, Plotfinder and Landbank.

Some larger estate agents will also have land for sale. Many of the houses we build are replacements of existing dwellings, so looking for properties suitable for replacement is also a good idea. The best advice is to be as proactive and innovative as possible….the land won’t find you.

Visit our land finding page for links and information or attend one of our free Self Build Academy events where we can offer lots more advice.
Contact Potton. Whilst we cannot visit potential plots with you, we are more than happy to offer you advice on any potential plots you may have identified and provide a free of charge formal appraisal of those that look promising. This may be advice on the current planning permission that exists on the plot, the suitability of replacing the existing dwelling or whether that piece of land you’ve found really is a plot.
There is no real answer here other than to ensure that the house you wish to build will fit onto the land with sufficient garden/separation/parking space. Shape can sometimes be as important as size.

The guide document for our Show Centre provides information on the plot sizes we have used at the Show Centre. This may well be a good starting point.

Developers often build at a density of 10-15 houses an acre (so 0.07 acres per plot) but many self builders look for plots around 0.15 acre upwards.
The cost of the plot will be determined by the house values in the area. The more expensive the houses, the more expensive the land. As a very basic rule of thumb, the cost of the land plus your estimated build costs should be 10-20% less than the value of the similar sized properties in the area.

Use websites such as Zoopla or Rightmove which have useful tools to help establish the value of a completed home in any given postcode.
Yes, our contracts team will visit your site to determine the access arrangements prior to commencing manufacture of your timber frame so that components can be adjusted where necessary to allow them to be delivered and erected. We have built on islands in the River Thames, in the middle of woodlands in Hampshire, and down tiny lanes in Cornwall; we’ve never been beaten yet!
No, our contracts team will always visit your site prior to manufacture of your timber frame so that components can be adjusted where necessary to allow them to be erected using smaller cranes, or other lifting techniques.
This will depend on the nature of the refusal. If planning permission is refused due to the design, then we will negotiate with the LPA to see what is acceptable. The design would then be amended and re-submitted on your instruction. If you are not prepared to change the design then you can always appeal the decision through The Planning Inspectorate in Bristol.

Design & Planning

ranch
Some people think that Potton's home styles all come from a catalogue. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is a fact that of the thousands of designs we have created, no two are the same.
Our brochure provides a range of houses for you to browse for ideas, yes you can select a design from our existing range or back catalogue and change it to suit your needs, but you can also start with a blank canvas and let us develop a design specifically to suit your lifestyle and budget.

Take a look at the diverse range of Potton homes in our online gallery, or download our Ideas Book here.
Yes. All of published our designs can be modified to suit your specific requirements, both internally and externally. Many of our customers chose to do just that. Take a look at a range of traditional Potton homes which have been tailored for customers.

Our architectural team also provide a bespoke design service and now well over half of the homes we create are completely bespoke.
Yes. Not only do we help but we submit the planning application for your new home as part of the comprehensive architectural services package we offer. We will then act as your agent until a planning decision is made.

Read more about our Architectural & Planning Services.
OPP means outline planning permission. Essentially, this means that the principle of planning permission has been granted but not for any specific design.

DPP is detailed planning permission. This means that planning permission has been granted for a specific design.
A basement can be an easy addition to a timber frame property and in most cases, the timber frame will sit on the sub structure in the same way as it would if there was no basement. The important thing when considering a basement is to get professional advice and carry out the correct investigation work so you are not faced with any nasty surprises during construction.
It is initially the job of our self build consultants to advise and help you with the design of your new home.
When you are ready, we will instruct our design team to produce the plans and elevations of your new home. Once these are completed to your satisfaction and you are ready for the design to be submitted to your local planning authority, our designers will prepare the remaining planning drawings and necessary documents and submit the application on your behalf.

Take a look at our exterior and interior galleries for some design inspiration...
Yes, subject to an appraisal of your requirements.  We can also provide a bespoke design service. Potton Select is a new service specifically intended for the self builder who has used an architect or other specialist to create the design for their home and obtain the necessary planning approvals.

Potton Select offers a range of options, all backed by our many years of experience and unmatched product quality and service levels.

Find out more about our Potton Select service.
Not usually. In most cases we would go straight for detailed planning permission.

On sites where planning permission does not exist, but we believe there is a good chance of planning permission being granted, we may choose to submit a pre-application enquiry to ensure that this is the case. Upon receiving a positive response from the LPA (Local Planning Authority), a detailed application would be submitted.
This will depend on the nature of the refusal. If planning permission is refused due to the design, then we will negotiate with the LPA to see what is acceptable. The design would then be amended and re-submitted on your instruction. If you are not prepared to change the design then you can always appeal the decision through The Planning Inspectorate in Bristol.
Not necessarily, the cost of re-submitting the planning application will depend on the amount of work required to prepare the new application and we will discuss and agree this with you on a case by case basis. The good news is that you will not have to pay another submission fee to the LPA (Local Planning Authority).
No, but many of our customers do start from something in our brochure as these can provide a good source of inspiration. Many other customers come to us with either a set of plans already drawn or approved, and others come to us with a list of requirements for their house on their plot and we can work with then to produce a bespoke design to suit.

Download our Ideas Book or visit our gallery pages for design inspiration.
The topographical survey provides us with all of the information we require to prepare a detailed site plan. It allows us to identify/determine the following:-

a. The levels across the site.
b. The ridge heights of adjacent properties (important when considering how high the proposed property can be)
c. The location of all of the boundaries on the site (important when deciding where the property will be sited and ensures it will fit when construction commences)
d. Trees and hedgerows on and surrounding the site (important when determining root protection zones for trees and landscaping for the site)
e. Existing drainage and invert levels on the site (important when designing the drainage scheme for the new dwelling)
Where Potton have secured your Planning Permission, we can also prepare and submit the required application for the Discharge of Planning Conditions, however, an extra fee is applicable if we are to do this.
Potton timber frames can be finished externally with most forms of cladding. In fact almost any form of cladding can be accommodated provided it has a drained and vented cavity behind it. So, you can incorporate anything from facing brickwork to render to timber boarding, tile hanging or even metal panels.
There are numerous options available for all of the second fix items supplied within the Potton package. Further details on the wide range of products we can provide is available from our website.
As long as we are made aware in advance, we can ensure that floors are appropriately engineered to take account of almost any exceptional loads. In most cases the changes required are minimal.
Living room with large window and exposed beams
No. The exposed posts and beams are a feature in around 20% of the houses we construct. It’s up to you. If you want them we can provide them as an integral and essential part of the structure. If you don’t then we’ll design your house without them. The choice is yours!

Take a look at our Interior Gallery and see homes with and without exposed beams.
Depending on where you are building and the requirements of the local planning authority, it is possible that you may require one or a few different specialist reports. However, it really does depend on the precise details of the plot you have found and the specific policies or demands of the local authority and planning officers – as a result it very frequently isn’t possible for us, or anyone else, to predict what reports you will need to commission. Experience has told us that in the vast majority of cases it is preferable to wait and see what reports the planners require and then to commission them.

The list below shows the most commonly requested surveys but in specific situations there are almost certainly others:
  • Ecological report
  • Aboricultural survey
  • Bat survey
  • Flood risk assessment
  • Archaeological survey
  • Contamination report (Previous activity or Natural)
  • Mining report
  • Noise survey
  • Traffic management report

Finance & Payment

Potton don't directly advise on self build finance. We suggest you contact BuildStore Financial Services who many of our clients use. They are the biggest self build finance provider in the UK.

Read our guides on financing your build.
Yes, timber frame is the most widely used structural system in the developed world, it is used by many of the UKs largest housebuilders and accounts for well over 70% of all new housing in Scotland.
Our standard terms are 10% deposit on placement of order, so we can prepare information for Building Regulations approval,with a further 10% required in order to secure a delivery date.

Payment of the balance in cleared funds is required prior to delivery. A pro-forma invoice will be sent six weeks before your delivery date which will show the outstanding payment required.
VAT will be charged at the prevailing rate on all the supply only items in the Potton package. VAT is zero rated for the main part of the frame provided this is erected by Potton.

For further information, read our self build VAT reclaim guide.
No, there is no difference in the buildings insurance required for a timber frame building.
Preparing and setting a budget is important to your self build project and will depend on your specific requirements and financial circumstances. As well as plot purchase and build costs, you will need to include allowances for insurances, professional fees, connections to mains services, garage and landscaping, plus a contingency.

You will need to have a method of recording costs and remember to keep all your VAT invoices for your VAT reclaim at the end of your build. Our self build experts are always on hand to provide advice and further guidance on budgeting your build.

Read more about self build VAT reclaim here.

Timber Frame

It’s quick, easier to organise, easier to budget and has very good energy efficiency. It is therefore easier to comply with the ever increasing demands of energy efficiency regulations and aspirations. Most importantly by working with Potton, responsibility for the design, supply and construction of the entire superstructure for your new home is in the hands of one experienced and specialist business; the risk management / reduction benefits of this should not be underestimated.
Wood carve post
There are a number of finishes available for our posts and beams. You can view samples of these at our Show Centre.

Click for details and opening times.
The structural timber used in the wall panels is generally European whitewood which is strength graded and kiln dried so that it is appropriate for construction purposes.

The exposed large timber posts and beams are Douglas Fir from North America. Almost all of the timber we use is independently certified by the FSC® (C109304) or PEFC to be from sources with genuine sustainability credentials.
No.
Oak, which is normally provided green in timber frame applications, requires specialist design and manufacturing skills that are different to those we have developed. Because of this, green oak structures are typically provided by niche manufacturers. However, we do offer oak joinery items such as stairs and doors etc.
The short answer is that buildings constructed using timber frame construction will last as long as those constructed from any other mainstream construction method.

The products, systems and methods used today are underpinned by a rigorous environment of regulations, standards and third party certification systems all designed to ensure that when adequately maintained all buildings perform to expected and accepted levels.

As part of a global PLC we place great emphasis on ensuring that the systems we provide are tested and approved by appropriate independent bodies.
Contracts manager checking a timber frame
Your Potton contracts manager will visit the site on completion of the timber frame to give it a final frame check. If necessary, a certificate can be provided in conjunction with your warranty provider to sign off this stage of the build.
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Your house will look exactly as you want it to. Some of our customers choose to make it obvious that they live in a timber frame house others don’t. It’s entirely up to you. For example, if you fully brick clad your Potton Home no one would know it was timber frame.

You can view a range of Potton houses on our gallery page. There is a diverse range of finished build styles with different cladding and finishes.
No, all buildings constructed in the UK, no matter what method is used, must adhere to the same set of Building Regulations. The UK government collects statistics on fires in buildings and these demonstrate that the number of fires in timber frame buildings correlates very closely with the number of fires in buildings constructed in other ways.
In short, timber frame is one of the most energy efficient methods of construction available today. Modern Building Regulations require all new houses to achieve a prescribed minimum level of energy efficiency and these days the regulations really are quite stringent.

However, most Potton customers want to improve further the energy efficiency of their properties, and our timber frame system is the best method of construction to be using if this is what you want to do. We adopt a fabric first approach to energy efficiency where the insulation is installed into the structure of the building on a fit and forget basis.

Package Options

Roofers
It is normal for the felt and batten element of roof construction to be included within the roofers package. The main reason for this is that the roofing specialist will want to set the battens out to precisely match the tiles they will be using.  If we were to fix the battens we would inevitably set them out slightly differently and this would cause problems. 
At Potton, we provide the insulation to your external wall panels; there are several specifications available including structural insulated panels. All remaining insulation to floors, ceilings, internal walls etc. is provided by Potton as part of our package.
Yes, as part of the many joinery options, triple glazing can be included.

Potton Involvement

The Potton package includes the design, supply and erection of the timber frame superstructure with pre-insulated external panels, and an appropriate roof structure.

We also supply a whole house insulation pack, second fix carpentry items (supply only and including staircase, skirting & architrave, doors).
All of our frames are provided on a supply and erect basis. This has some advantages with VAT (its zero rated at source with supply and erect, so reduces the cost and hence eases cashflow at the early stages of the project).

By erecting we ensure there are no areas of argument with the frame, such as “the frame was designed incorrectly” or “it’s been constructed poorly”.
It is the responsibility of the sub-contractor to verify (using documentation that we will provide) that the base is built to the correct dimensions. Our erectors will check the base as they lay the sole plate but expect it to have been handed over to us constructed accurately. Your Contracts Manager will be happy to advise further on this part of your project if required.
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Your Potton Self Build Consultant will look after you during the design and planning phase of your project, after which your project will be allocated to one of our Contracts Management team. They will coordinate the delivery and erection stage of your project with you. The Contracts Manager will also be available to provide advice and guidance until your build is completed.
Yes, we maintain a list of project managers and sub-contractors with experience of working on Potton projects.
Contracts manager checking timber frame
Yes. Your Contracts Manager will visit site to carry out a final check of the frame once our erectors have completed their work to make sure that it has been completed to our and your satisfaction.
DSC_0034 v2
Scaffolding will be required by a number of trades that follow on from Potton such as the roofer, bricklayer, plumber and decorator so it makes sense for the scaffolding to be provided by an independent scaffolding contractor rather than one employed by Potton.

Construction & Build Programme

Plasterboard is not included in our package and would normally be supplied by your dry lining subcontractor.
No. We will organise our deliveries to site with loads to suit the frame erection schedule i.e. we wouldn’t expect to send the roof trusses out on day one.

The second fix components such as stairs and internal doors will be delivered to suit your build timescales and we will arrange this in consultation with you. 

Please remember that supplier lead times can vary and may be extended particularly for bespoke items. We need a minimum of 8 weeks’ notice to arrange delivery of second fix items.
No. It is your subcontractor’s responsibility to ensure that the foundations / slab meet the necessary requirements and are dimensionally correct to Potton’s slab layout drawing. 

Your Potton contract manager will be happy to advise on this stage of construction if required.
The quantities of bricks required will be different on every project and are dependent upon the particular appearance and requirements of your design. Your brick supplier or local builder’s merchant will be able to provide you with advice on the quantities of bricks required for your build.
As part of the build, a ten year structural warranty is normally required if you are using a bank or building society to fund your project, and it is normal that you arrange this. A number of specialist providers can arrange this for you including LABC Warranty, Premier Guarantee and Self Build Zone.

Technical

Structural Insulated Panels, or SIPs for short, typically consist of 2 layers of oriented strand board (OSB) with a central core of rigid insulation bonded to the OSB.

SIP panels are typically stiffer and stronger than conventional timber frame, require less internal studding and deliver higher levels of airtightness with reduced thermal bridging. The panels we provide, a component part of the Kingspan TEK Building System, are arguably the highest performing SIPs in the world and have already been used to construct some of the most energy efficient buildings in the UK.

Further information on TEK, our SIPs system is available here.
U-Values provide a measure of heat loss for building elements (eg. complete wall, floor and roof constructions) and are expressed in W/m2K. They show the amount of heat lost in watts (W) per square metre of building element when the temperature (K) outside is at least one degree lower than that inside the building.

The lower the U-Value, the better the insulation provided by the element. It is important to remember that individual materials do not have U-Values, only complete elements, and that all of the materials used in the construction of the element will contribute something to its performance.

Typically the external walls we provide will have a U-Value of 0.14 W/m2K although we frequently provide walls with much lower U-Values; most things are possible but you need to make sure it’s sensible and we will help you do this.

It’s also equally important to note that U-Values are only one small part of what determines building envelope energy efficiency; providing an airtight structure, minimising thermal bridging and having a sensible heating and ventilation strategy are equally important.
Yes you can. Many of our customers install underfloor heating on the ground floor of their properties (usually constructed with beam and block or concrete) and some install it on the first floor as well, although people often opt for conventional radiators upstairs.
A number of products are available to screed at first floor level, however you must take this into consideration at the design stage of your house as the floor joists will have to be designed to take into account the additional loadings that this type of floor creates.
All common systems can easily be accommodated within the structures we provide. In very simple terms if there is a gas supply to your site then you should probably be using it. If there is not then air source heat pumps are the most popular choice. Several of the workshops provided through the Self Build Academy will help you decide the best heating system for you.
No. We provide open metal web floor joists rather than solid timber or I-joists. The plywood floor boards are nailed and glued to the joists to minimise the risk of squeaking. This type of floor construction makes it much easier to incorporate services into the floor zone without the risk of follow-on trades damaging the structure of the building. They also make it easier to include longer spans within the design of your new home.

Potton

Potton Head Office

Eltisley Road

Great Gransden

Sandy

SG19 3AR

441767 676400

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