How should you make the key decisions? Relatively few people each year in the UK self build their own home (around 11,000) but, thanks to television programmes such as Grand Designs, almost everyone seems to have an opinion. If you’re the brave self builder in the middle, it’s easy to be influenced by the myths that have built up around self build over the years.
What you really want, considering this is likely to be one of the biggest decisions and investments you’ll ever make, is the truth.
Getting planning consent can be very straightforward, as long as you do your homework.
It all depends on the individual plot and where it is situated. If it’s in the middle of open countryside then, on the balance of probability, you won’t get planning approval for a new house – but then again, what you have is not so much a building plot, more a field.
If you’ve bought a building plot then it should already have outline planning consent for a home or a very good chance of getting it as it will already be within the settlement development boundary (if it’s in your own garden, for example).
Local authorities are more inclined to grant approval to individual homes than they have been in decades – and the attitudes towards styles have changed, too.
Many people build very modern homes in village conservation areas – so don’t assume the worst. Making a coherent, logical argument for your new home is not always going to achieve the result you want, but you have a better chance than ever.
There’s no doubt – it is easier to buy a new home from a developer than have one built for you.
And, if you intend to build a new home that replicates the look and quality of a standard developer home, then you probably are best served doing just that.
But self-builders choose to build their own homes because they want attractive, individual design – a home suited to their particular tastes, usually on bigger plots and in a nicer setting – and a choice in terms of high quality specification and finish quality.
By controlling the build process, you as the end user can control quality – and who wouldn’t want that?
Whether it’s because they’re relatively light, or because we’ve all grown up in the UK with the belief that all homes are built out of blocks and bricks – or maybe because we all grew up on The Three Little Pigs?
Somehow many people remain suspicious of timber frame homes. As with all forms of construction, including blockwork, there are good and bad examples, but some of the oldest buildings still standing in the UK are in fact timber framed.
Centuries of engineering and science have gone into ensuring that timber frame homes are not just as good as any other in terms of stability, longevity and performance, but that they exceed these standards.
And, of course, all homes make massive use of timber for engineering and structurally critical areas – you only need to look in your roof to confirm that. And if you still remain to be convinced, just ask all of the major housebuilders in the UK – they all use timber frames to build at least part of their new home portfolio each year.
Why not visit our Self Build Show Centre in St Neots, Cambridgeshire where you can experience our homes for yourself. There are five timber frame and SIP houses to browse, three of which were built over 25 years ago. We have been in the business of self-build homes for over 50 years.
Tales of 'cowboy builders' have been amplified by the media because they’re a good story – but they certainly don’t reflect 99% of the building trade, which is hard-working, honest and reliable.
As anyone who has carried out a similar project knows, there is always the occasional tradesman you won’t get on with – but as with any profession, there are some who are more customer-friendly than others.
Using package suppliers significantly reduces your exposure to using unknown, untested tradesmen to do things they’re not familiar with.
If you're thinking about self-building then a visit to our self build show centre in St Neots, Cambridgeshire is a must. Open Tues-Fri 9-5 and Saturday 10-4.
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